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Math The Courts Your Rights Online

Zazzle.com Thinks Depictions of Pi Are Protected Intellectual Property 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the attention-i-have-trademarked-the-space-between-letters-please-stop-using-it dept.
Byteme writes: "A number of Zazzle.com users have had their art and products removed from the site after a man named Paul Ingrisano was granted a trademark for 'Pi Productions' using a logo that consists of this freely available version of the pi symbol from the Wikimedia website combined with a period. He made infringement claims against several websites, and Zazzle took down many clothing products that featured designs using the pi symbol. When users called them on it, they locked a public forum thread and said they're evaluating Ingrisano's complaint."
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Zazzle.com Thinks Depictions of Pi Are Protected Intellectual Property

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  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday May 30, 2014 @12:27PM (#47129497) Homepage
  • Re:Prior Art Exists. (Score:5, Informative)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Friday May 30, 2014 @12:46PM (#47129683) Homepage Journal

    Actually, the greeks invented the symbol being held as IP.

  • by drstevep (2498222) on Friday May 30, 2014 @01:25PM (#47130027)
    Did you seriously read the patent? The patent is using the numbers in one of the claims as part of a mechanism. Schalfly is not patenting the numbers, just their use in a particular process. He is patenting the process, which involves using a designated set of primes to perform iterative calculations to compute "partial modular reduction of cryptographic variables."

    The concept (using a designated something as a component in a patented invention) was the same in patent number 1. In this patent, gears and cogs were used to improve the efficiency of locomotives going up hills. What was patented was using gears and cogs in a particular configuration to accomplish a goal. Gears and cogs were not patented. The construction was patented.

    The same thing here. The primes are not patented. You are free to use them however you want, as long as you do not use them in this particular machine to compute "partial reduciton[s] of cryptographic variables." Go ahead, use them as seeds in the dice roll generator for your RPG. Use them as dimensions of your mansion's living room. Print them out and use the paper to light a fire. You're allowed.
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday May 30, 2014 @01:33PM (#47130085)

    Zazzle is probably erring on the side of not getting sued.

    By someone who probably can't afford a decent lawyer to bring a case that would be quickly tossed out of court?

    No, Zazzle is simply a bunch of lazy ass wipes.

    Solution: Don't use their site. I certainly never have....

  • by American Patent Guy (653432) on Friday May 30, 2014 @02:56PM (#47130881) Homepage

    I can understand how many in this community would think that because a trademark (or copyright) has been registered, the registrant has "carte blanche" to use it and prohibit others from using it. That is, after all, how domain registrations work...

    What a registration really is is the filing and recognition of a CLAIM to ownership rights. The USPTO does do a search to make a determination of its own as to whether the registrant has any rights in a trademark, but that is far, far from conclusive. There are examples in the caselaw where some unknown guy out in the middle of Iowa has been using an unregistered trademark, someone else comes along later registering that same or a similar trademark (innocently and coincidentally), and the registrant can't stop the little guy from continuing his use. What the registration does is to put the world on notice of the intent of the registrant to use the registered trademark, and give him an avenue against parties who come along later wanting to use it. The registrant still has to prove in court that it has ownership rights, EVEN THOUGH it has registered the trademark.

    So this "PI." trademark could be attacked in a number of ways. It could be that the registrant really hasn't used (or continued to use) it in the marketplace. The symbol is arguably so generic that trademark rights cannot be had. Sometimes trademark rights are restricted to one field of use, and others get to use it for something else. And, from the example above, it could be that the alleged infringers started using the symbol before the registrant did.

    So what our legal system prescribes is that Zazzle and their suppliers go consult with their own attorneys, competent in trademark law, and decide whether they need to change their products. That's what lawyers are for...

: is not an identifier

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