SparkFun Gets a Cease and Desist Letter


We signed a co-existance agreement with SPARC International on April 2nd, 2010. This page is maintained for historical reasons.

SparkFun is all about open. Whether sharing the pcb design files for our products or posting pictures from the office on flickr, we're pretty open about what it's like to work here. Today we'd like to share with you a cease and desist letter we received from SPARC International. Here's a link to SPARC on wikipedia in case you don't know who SPARC is.

SPARC International's attorneys seem to think SPARC looks and sounds an awful lot like SparkFun. Tuesday morning we received a cease and desist letter from K&L Gates law firm. Amongst other things they demand that we "immediately take steps to transfer the sparkfun.com domain name to [SPARC International]." Right. Let me just find where I put that password...

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/CandD.jpg




I have the utmost respect for Sun Microsystems (owner of SPARC International). They're just down the road! I understand the need for SPARC International lawyers to protect the SPARC brand, but we really have nothing to do with a fine architecture that SPARC produces. I don't think anyone else would confuse the two.

Why did this come up? SparkFun filed for a trademark on January 21, 2009. The process is fairly long, and towards the end the trademark office allows anyone to file an objection to a new trademark. Enter SPARC International.

From the letter: "The SPARC trademark portfolio is an extremely valuable asset belonging to SI..." Indeed, I feel the same way. I would feel bad if anyone confused SparkFun with SPARC International, so let's compare trademarks:
http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/SPARC-logo.jpg

  http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/SF-Logo-2C-PC-120.jpg

I don't see how our trademarks could be confused.

Letter: "Because the dominant portion of the SparkFun mark, namely, SPARK, is phonetically identical and nearly visually identical to SI's SPARC mark, and because it is used in connection with identical goods, we believe confusion is likely to occur among the relevant purchasing group."
  • phonetically identical : Yes, English phonics work like that. However, 'spark' is not the dominant portion of our name. No one calls us 'SPARK'. We're always called 'Sparkfun' (even though we prefer 'SparkFun').
  • visually similar : No one calls us Spark. Have a look at our logo. We don't separate spark from fun. We are, and are known as 'SparkFun' as shown by our trademark.
  • used in connection with identical goods: No. We don't sell any product related to SPARC architecture.
  • confusion is likely to occur among the relevant purchasing group: I have no doubt that some of our customers purchase SPARC based servers. But we have not received an email or phone call from anyone on our website looking for the 'Server' product category.
Letter: "SparkFun Electronics, Inc. is using the term SPARKFUN as a trademark in connection with the sale of computer hardware, including integrated circuits and circuit boards."
  • The layman may call what we sell 'computer hardware' but we do not. We don't sell motherboards, computer processors, RAM, ISA cards, keyboards, or any hardware that is used inside a computer.
  • Yes we sell integrated circuits and circuit boards. But does SPARC International or their partners? They may sell large scale motherboards and riser cards, but not the raw, exposed, 'meant for research' circuit boards that we do. I don't think any of our customers confuse the parts that we sell with the well-designed RISC architecture that SPARC International creates.
 
Above is a combination gyro and accelerometer sensor board (sometimes called a 6DOF) that we design, build, and sell.
 

 
Here is the current offering of SPARC servers from Sun Microsystems. We do not sell anything like this. Nor does SPARC International sell any products close to ours.

SparkFun has been selling embedded electronics and actively using our trademark since January of 2003. We regularly post on our blog (300 posts and counting), we've made it into the New York Times, we've been hanging out at every Maker Faire (near Sun's Santa Clara headquarters), our full page ads are regularly featured in many tech magazines, and we paste our trademark all over our unsuspecting customers. SPARC International started using their trademark in 1989. SPARC International has been at it a lot longer! Let's see what google thinks: Although 10M hits looks large, searching for 'SPARC' grabs a variety of different companies, groups, and websites including the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Non-profit arts organization based in Venice, California, a site on divorce and custody help, amongst many others. We believe the term SPARC is confused by many people. However, when you search for SparkFun, every link has to do with us, the SparkFun company (admittedly I gave up after 11 pages).

What does it mean when folks at Sun (SunSpot is a Java development platform created by Sun) talk openly about using SparkFun products? Sun's employees don't seem to be confused, are you?

We care deeply for what we are trying to create at SparkFun. We don't want anyone to be confused, but we feel badgered, beat-up, and picked on by a much larger company. We would really appreciate your support and comments on this matter. Please post any comments below. Feel free to contact sparcinfo@sparc.org with your thoughts. CC in spark@sparkfun.com! We'd love to hear your thoughts as well.

If you're having problems accessing http://www.sparc.org, so did I. Try http://www.sparc.org/index.html

Comments 442 comments

  • You should definitely change your name. Here are a few suggestions:
    SunFun
    AppleFun
    EntelFun
    MikrosoftFun
    IBMFun
    or simply: ComeOnNoOneOwnsATrademarkOn,ThisDoThey?Fun

  • If I were Sun I would fire these lawyers. This is so stupid it embarassing.

  • Oh No! My boss gave me a $25,000 budget for a new fileserver and I accidentally bought 1,193 LilyPad Arduinos! The product descriptions were just so similar. Aparently both companies sell products that harness electrons. If I spend all weekend soldering the Arduinos together maybe my boss won?t notice the difference either. I?m going to need a lot more silver thread and a HUGE embroidery loop! Stoopid?Stoopid!

  • I’ve been so confused between Sparc International, and SparkFun for all these years, I’m glad that SI is finally doing something about it.
    Every time I go online to buy a huge clunky outdated server all I see on the web page are these darn little bitty parts.
    I just couldn’t understand what was wrong.
    Thank you, K&L Gates! Wait a minute. Is that Gates like Bill Gates? Are you Microsoft? I’m so confused! Lawyers, please help me!

  • Looks like the SPARC lawyers need to give themselves something to do to avoid corporate downsizing? They’ll need reasonable proof that their company has suffered major losses in some way. I highly doubt it.

  • TO K&L, SPARC
    Dear Sirs,
    You have apparently confused our address with that of the USPTO. If you would like to place a trademark on the common-as-dirt English language word “Spark” - you should address your correspondence to the USPTO. As they categorically deny thousands of trademark requests every month on the basis of being a common English word, we wish you well in your distinctive and extremely valuable quest.
    Please contact us when you have secured the word “Spark” as a trademark, until then we consider this matter frivolous and undeserving of any further attention.
    Much Love, the SparkFun family

  • I’m not confused. I’ve used Sparc’s, and I’ve bought and used a lot of stuff from SparkFun. Not confused a bit.
    This, however, simply sounds like SOP from Sun. Their legal department has historically been very aggressive to the point of absurdity. They are good at wearing people down. Remember all the lawsuits Sun brought over the Java trademark? As in: “OK, we decided to call our software Java now, so all you people that have been referring to your coffee as java for decades have to stop now. mK'thx.” They were so far around the bend on that one the Onion wrote a great parody about Sun suing the island of Java.
    Unfortunatly, Sun (and subsidiaries) simply see this as a game. The only way to win is to outlast them. It’s like trying to outlast the bean-eating champion of the word in a farting contest. Even when the champion knows his farts are offensive, he doesn’t care as long as he can win.
    Good luck, I hope you can win. Hold your nose.

  • I have used SPARC servers almost every workday for over twelve years. I have been a SparkFun customer/fan for several years now. It never once occurred to me that SPARC and SparkFun are phonetically similar.
    This is ludicrous.

  • Absurd. Sigh… I can’t expect this will be terribly hard to win, but it’s a nasty drain on time and resources. Sorry to hear you’re going to be burdened with this ridiculousness.
    Hope it’s resolved without too growing too much gray hair!

  • This is a direct result of Sun announcing that they are going to lay of 3000 employees this week. Some bone head attorneys need to justify their existence by filing frivolous BS claims. K&L’s retainer is probably up for renewal so they had to look busy.
    This is the final nail in the Sun coffin, they have stooped to a new low. Long live the golden days of Sun.
    Also, don’t go to sparc.org, it appears to have been exploited by hackers. Anyone having visited that site should sue them for serving and propagating malware.

  • Nate, I think your ability to break things down into digestible chunks (ones even SPARC’s lawyers will be able to understand) really shines in this post. They really don’t have a case, and after a certain amount of wasting everyone’s time I hope this gets resolved as painlessly as possible. Im sure I speak for your many fans when i say ‘You have our support’.

  • Don’t let them win! It’s BS and they know it. The recent dispute between Rock Art Brewery in VT and Hansen’s (owner of Monster Energy drinks) in regards to RA’s Vermonster beer is proof that with enough support and backlash from the public you can get the bullies to back off.

  • Thanks for bringing this to our attention so we can help you guys out in whatever way we can.
    I’ve emailed SI and put the word out on my Twitter channels @esawdust, @avrstuff, @onlyopensource
    SPARC is truly sunken to a new low - dredging the bottom like SCO.

  • Trademark trolling at it’s worst. Fight it.

  • I’d mail them a box of poo. No, really. I would.

  • This is almost as bad as Apple trying to sue everybody with a lower-case i at the beginning of their name… Just total BS.
    I agree with Nick Nunns, Rock Art Brewery is a small business & they fought off Monster. Monster is also trying to Cease & Desist a behind-the-scenes photo of an actor in a horror film (dressed as a ghoul) holding a can of their beverage… Or even the whole Ralph Lauren Photoshop-FAIL ad & wired… You’re not doing anything wrong, keep up the good work.
    If Sparc & SparkFun are confusingly similar, I think you’ve got bigger problems to worry about, like brain damage or poor eyesight,

  • SPARKFUN … it’s not just a name!
    It’s the definition of what this company provides.
    I proudly support SPARKFUN and am grateful for all the products, support, and education they provide to customers and communities.

  • Absofreakinglutely stupid!
    Spark, as in electrical!
    Fun, as in, not a megabuck data center monstrosity.
    Easy, as in, I am so glad I am not a lawyer.

  • The sad thing about this is that the only ones who benefit from any of this are the lawyers. No one else.
    And the only ones who might be confused are people like lawyers (or unfortunately judges) who will never even consider looking for information on the products of either companies let alone buy them. Anyone interested and knowledgeable enough to be looking to buy the products from SparkFun or SPARC will never be confused for even a millisecond.
    Again, that’s sad.
    Jean

  • So wait… Does Sun Microsystems own the Sun as well? (the big bright light in the sky) also umm expect the next letter from the lawyers of Spankfun

  • Well, that’s it for you guys. Pack it up.
    If it’s any consolation, it was a good run.

  • Sparkfun, this is what you do. I’ve been in a similar situation myself.
    This “lawfirm” doesn’t represent Sun. They represent only their own financial wellbeing and are embarrassing their client, Sun, in the process.
    Simply ignore and bypass the lawfirm, and get in contact with some reps/engineers at Sun. Explain to them the situation, and they’ll “discipline” the lawfirm themselves. Just be frank, courteous, and mature about it.

  • Still another that was ‘attcked’ by a larger company is blue jeans cable - take a look at the link and see what their responce was to an infringement claim:
    http://gizmodo.com/380055/blue-jeans-cable-calls-bs-on-monster-cable-patent-suit-vows-to-fight-to-bloody-death

  • You know ATMEL uses SPARC technology, and they might have a finger in this. We need a different micro processor for ARDUINO type device. I think SparkFun should stop selling ATMEL processors all together. Boycott ATMEL, that’s all I’d say. It doesn’t seem like this comes from SUN, they cannot be that stupid.

  • I just wanted to throw in my support for you guys. You’re an honest company with an integrity that so few other companies seem to even care about these days. More power to ya!

  • Aw c'mon guys, you know what this really is, right? Jealousy! That’s because nobody has ever mentioned “sparc” and “fun” in the same sentence in quite a few years! :-P
    You are related only in the aspect that you both make devices that shuffle electrons around. Aside from that very general description, all other comparisons fail.
    Good luck and Godspeed to you guys at SparkFun! May you trounce this case quickly and hopefully cheaply. This idiocy is astounding, let’s hope the judge agrees!
    B.R.

  • Sparc International, you SUCK. I hope the little sparkfun logo burns your rear.

  • Email sent to [Information removed by administrator]
    You guys made hackaday, as well. Get the word out. Publicity and the OpenSource community got your back.

  • Email written and sent to sparcinfo@sparc.org. I’m with you guys! Keep us posted on how this goes. You might want to submit this to consumerist.com - it’s right up their alley and more publicity will only help.

  • So, let me get this straight, because Spark and Sparc are so similar they think they have a case? You know what else is has the same Damerau?Levenshtein distance? PARC. And you know, PARC was developed the concepts most of us use today, maybe they should be sending a C&D letter to Sparc. Point is, this is retarded.
    Saying that their customers would have any trouble telling the difference between SFE and Sparc is either an insult to their customer’s intelligence or a useless attempt to gain publicity.
    The main issue is going to be that Sun has a lot of money, SFE has significantly less money that it can blow on a pointless law suit defending itself. To us the difference seems blatantly obvious but to someone who doesn’t understand the difference between a motherboard and ram (as most computer users don’t) they are essentially the same thing. I hope that SFE takes this seriously because if this goes to court there is a real possibility of a loss.
    The above does not constitute legal advice, I am not a lawyer. Fight ‘em SparkFun!

  • That explains a lot!!! I tried to buy a server from SPARCfun and it only cost $10 + $3 shipping. I should have suspected something was wrong because the price was so low. When I tried to install it, it didn’t even fit standard rack spacing (it was only a few inches wide!). Anyways, I am going to contact that associate to thank her for suing that scourge of the internet, “SPARCfun”. In case you want to thank her too (or whatever) here is the contact info:
    [Information removed by administrator]

  • For a moment there I thought it was April 1st.
    I don’t comprehend how SparkFun (or www.sparkfun.com) could have any impact whatsoever on SPARC.
    Talk about grasping at straws…

  • Ha! Did Levi Jeans sue Lee Jeans? Did Makro sue Mikro? Did Coke sue coconut distributors? I think not! You’d think people with an education, such as lawyers, would need a brain. ;-)

    • But the dominant portion of “coconut” is phonetically identical and nearly visually identical to “Coke”, and both are food products! People might confuse them!

  • ISA is a little outdated now isn’t it?…
    On the other hand: I didn’t know you guys sold sun systems! (ok I’m joking… No K&L you can’t have a quote from me)
    You just gotta love that Chrome thinks the SPARC site hosts malware… (http://attie.co.uk/img/download/508)
    Next time I need an few bits and bobs, I’ll be sure to check SPARC’s pricing… Oh wait, they don’t sell what I’m after…
    I wonder if their lawyers have been convinced that an Arduino Mini is comparable to a server motherboard…? you gotta wonder
    Good luck SparkFun! I’m behind you all the way.

    • PS: I hate the uneducated fighting battles like this
      And well said REdD:
      “No one who confuses SPARC with SparkFun could ever be a customer of either.”

    • So does firefox!
      “Reported Attack Site!
      This web site at www.sparc.org has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences.”

    • check your link it is dead right now

  • Sooooo! if sparkfun wins will you sell servers
    just kidding this is just a frivolous lawsuit and i hope the courts drop this at the lowest level possible

  • I can’t believe that SPARC is creating this mess. Is it because SUN is going down the toilet and laying off people that they need to recoup money by any means??? Sparkfun: screw them! Send them a nice letter including a huge pot of vaseline, for their own fun! Oh! there it is where the copycat is. You guys Sparkfun and they, Sparc having fun with the vaseline!

  • Your description above comparing the trademarks and product lines of SPARC International and SparkFun makes it very clear to me that this is a frivolous claim.
    I will also send an e-mail to sparcinfo@sparc.org complaining that this is an unjustified action on their part. I understand these are tight times, but the SI legal staff is wasting judicial time, and multiple parties money with this.

  • I wish I got paid $250. an hour to sue companies who are
    obviously not breaking the bank to survive. Its great to be rewarded for being a resourceful and original entrepreneur.
    (but then again I don’t really have the heart to knowingly screw people over!).!!!! Long Live Sparkfun !!!!

  • Wow, the Oracle merger must really be stalled out if the Sun lawyers have that kind of time on their hands.

  • ridiculous. a nice take apart of their cease and desist. I can’t see how the lay person can be confused as you don’t usually find sparkfun my accident!
    Best of luck

  • Fight it guys. Any of you with blogs need to get this out there. In trying to frivolously protect their brand, Sparc will just get a million hardware hackers hating their brand instead.
    Lots of those people have day jobs that may involve Sun software or hardware purchases…
    Bored attorneys run amok. Downsize those ones first Sun!
    SF should counter sue for damages. These guy’s are wasting sparkfun’s time and money.

  • I am sorry but for gods sake your name is NOTHING like SPARC’s apart from the first syllable of the first word of your logo. Speaking of which the logos are nothing like each other, unless using red and black is a crime (surely we should be punishing thousands of companies for that then?) which i dont believe it is. I find this ludicrous and downright mad that someone can think they can do this. You are a great web-store and electronics resource (although i havent bought anything from you YET (i swear i will i promise :P) and, quite frankly, sparc needs to leave you alone to get on with selling cool electronics products.
    Ps. i am saving up for the BlueScreen :D

  • Thats crazy!
    Just wait, they are gonna run all over you with their lawyers. The same thing did happen with me and my brothers firm here in Norway. They really tried to run us to the ground. They didnt even care!
    Luckily for us, we won the case. But hey, this did happen i Norway. What do you guys say? Only in America? Uhm, well anyway, i really hope this will straighten itselfs out soon. I would hate to go shopping at www.notsparkfun.com

  • Down with System! The logos or the name don’t confuse me.

  • If their name was SPARC!fun, as apparently it should be, then they might have a case. Ask a C programmer to explain if you’re confused.
    This is just another reason to boycott everything from SUN.

  • Hey Guys, Check out these youtube links from a small beer manufacturer in VT that took on Monster energy drinks for the same kind of baloney. Hang in there, you can win!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbG_woqXTeg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awtHQk2-Rfc

  • I’ve sent my email to sparcinfo@sparc.org hopefully they reconsider because its crazy how they could get confused by the two names

  • Seriously?
    The K&L Gates lawyers should be spanked for wasting the courts time and money. And not by some pansy overpriced Palo Alto wanna be dominatrix.
    First - its a .org
    “SPARC International is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to overseeing and guiding the evolution of SPARC and its open standards technology."
    Second - check out the list of trademarks they defend
    http://www.sparc.org/trademarksListing.html
    Really now, are they bullying EVERYONE?
    Third - SPARC does not provide me with any tools, parts or resources to build my next eTextile project ‘The Lawyer’s Rehabilitation Sports Coat’.
    excuse me while I get right on that….

  • I just read that Monster vs Vermonster article.
    Now it all makes sense. As Sun declines and Sparkfun grows, Sun is concerned that you might branch out and start selling servers and workstations.
    So this is just a ploy to get you to agree to not compete with them.
    How long does Sun have left? cash/burn rate - I don’t have their financials handy, but you might be able to stall this long enough to outlast them, and thus hold your rights to the high end workstation market intact.

  • Change your name to FunSparc and your domain could be FSparc.com.

  • I, being one of the young college students inspired by this site, fully support SparkFun. Count my vote here as 10, as I have a few friends who also bring their business here.
    Dear Sun/SPARC: Do what is right. You will ultimately stand accountable for your actions. Rough times do not call for rough treatment.
    SparkFun and fellow supporters: What ever happens, lets make the commitment today to never do this to another company/entity, for how often do people/groups/nations become the very thing that they have sworn to fight against? Stick up for your values now and forever.
    -Steve

  • I request that you guys cease and desist using the word fun in your title. Clearly you are trying to corner the world market on fun, and by including it in the name and requesting a trademark on said name you’re are trying make it so anyone having fun would have to pay you royalties.
    Regards,
    Fun Microsystems

  • Sorry to hear about this. Maybe you can make lemonade from lemons here and get some publicity out of this.
    Good luck with it and please don’t go away…

  • SparkFun, don’t give into these corporate goofballs! you OWN your name and they don’t have a leg to stand on.
    It’s utterly shameful the way these lawyer’s are out to get the little guys…SHAMEFUL!!!

  • “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers"
    William Shakespeare

  • Plus one. Let me know how/where I can contribute to the legal defense fund.

  • If you look up the SPARC trademark on the USPTO site you can see that the SPARC trademark was transferred from Sun to SPARC International.
    SPARC International seems to be some kind of intellectual property holding company whose business is centered around the SPARC architecture.
    The original trademark obtained from Sun was a goods and services mark for “computer hardware, namely microprocessors, central processing units, circuit boards and integrated circuits.” The kicker is that SI doesn’t actually sell any of these items. The only thing they appear to sell is standards documentation and licenses to use the SPARC trademark. I think their claim on the mark should be invalidated because their actual use of the mark doesn’t match the claimed use of the mark as described in the trademark documentation.

  • Pixel:
    *SPARC International is a IP-license in the field of microprocessors and computer-architecture. If you open sparckfun.com and click components, are there not 5 microcontroller-categorys there. Are these not microprocessors as well?

    I would say not. Yes they contain a microprocessor (as does nearly anything electronic these days), but a microcontroller is a small chip with simple integrated peripherals (serial, digital I/O, ADC etc.). Even the best microcontroller is in a different league to what SPARC produce. And, importantly, aimed at a totally different market.

  • SPARC = Scalable Processor ARChitecture.
    It is a RISC instruction set developed by Sun Microsystems introduced in 1986.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPARC
    sparkfun=spark+fun
    Refers to an electric spark, usually with a flash and a sharp noise, electrostatic discharge or an electrical discharge.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark
    Fun is the expenditure of time for refreshment of one’s body or mind.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fun
    Sparkfun the composite word (spark and fun together) describes the activity of performing research and competence development in an enjoyable manner, simply for fun. This activity is resulting valuable competence, learning by hands on experiments driven by and experiencing success. The sparkfun expression describes this in a short and practical way.
    SPARC and sparkfun cannot be confused.

  • [This was also emailed to SPARC International]
    I am gravely saddened to see the owners of what had been my preferred computer processor architecture threatening the one of my preferred sellers of components for hobbyist embedded electronics.
    The open-source nature of both contributes to why I like them, and I suspect that I am not alone in this among the people who have dealt with both. We know the utility that comes with being able to go beyond a manual and a promise to being able to check how something works by actually checking to see that it works. This has kept my preference in SPARC even past the point where it was overpowered by Power (and now also Cell) architecture, and now when even CISC chips are successfully displacing it in many markets.

    • But by taking legal action against a business supporting both the fun side of technology, and the principle of open design, SPARC has confused “RISC” with “risk”, and is now apparently intent on becoming the latter. It would have been wiser to have clarified the different brands with a simple note making the difference absolutely clear. This is a customer base that likes to put things they’ve soldered together onto rockets they’ve made. And SPARC has some notable space hardened processors that are not right for the “fun” applications, but the people who do such things for fun might be able to use at work.
      The action actually taken, however, reflects badly on the goals of SPARC management, and leaves me leery of the future directions of the organization and suspicious that further stagnation is forthcoming. The action against SparkFun by SPARC International has in itself besmirched the SPARC brand for me.
      […],
      Consumer of gigaflops at work, and milliwatts at play

  • Before everyone gets up in arms at Sun, this is not Sun Microsostems. Sparc international is the company represented by these lawyers. Sparc international is a “standards body” that have several members including Sun microsystems, Fujitsu and i think a few others still (far less than there used to be) who license the IP of the Sparc processors from SI. SI was created 10 years ago by sun, who placed the IP of the sparc processor into a non-profit org.

  • You are now promoted to “Darth Sparkfun”, confusion solved

  • Hmm, It seems like Sun’s own research arm doesn’t share the confusion over who Sparkfun is:
    http://research.sun.com/techrep/2009/smli_tr-2009-178.pdf
    They seem to have no problem using Sparkfun purchased solar cells!
    I’ve copied this pdf out just in case they pull it :)

  • I just copied the letter and web sites describing this BS on CNN ireport! Hope Apple doesn’t sue CNN iReport before I get it posted to bring a larger audience to bear on these assholes.

  • Don’t feel bad, SparkFun is not the only little guy being picked on:
    Checkout this news storie:
    “Monster Energy Drink Backs Down Due To Public Pressure; Vermonster Beer Lives On"
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091023/0448336651.shtml
    It is pretty much the same thing, except with beer and enegry drinks.

  • You have my complete support. I sent my email to them and copied you. This thing will pass.

  • This is the single, most absurd piece of litigation bs I have ever seen. I am familiar with SPARC and have been looking into its OpenSPARC platform and have never, even for a second, thought of SparkFun while reading about SPARC.
    This is plain stupid and I agree that the lawyers are the true winners in this. Do keep the SparkFun community posted on any updates and we’ll see how we can help out.

  • This is just plain stupid - no one with a working brain can be confused here.
    This claim will be the front-runner for the “worst PR-idea of the year”-contest, the internet has a good memory and I guess a lot of geeks, nerds, hobbyists and other electronic-interested people won’t forget that soon what SI/Sun are doing here.
    Its a real shame that Sun needs to earn its money with sueing a smaller business.
    Until today I never heard about SI … and btw your stuff is much cooler than their stuff.
    Spread the word and fight for your name!
    Good luck, have a nice weekend and greetings from germany.
    Michael
    p.s.: An old german joke: What are 1000 lawyers on the sea bottom?
    answer: A good start. ;)

  • When searching for electronics and such for my projects, I was led to many sites including the esteemed SparkFun site. It has been a source of imagination, humor, and darn good stuff. Not once, in my searches did I ever come across a link to someplace that sounds vaguely the same.
    With the transparency demonstrated in your disclosure, SparkFun certainly operates with competent integrity. Keep up the great work!

  • We all should know who ends up paying for these lawsuits….it is “US” the customers. If this is part of the “Open Source” community, I think we need to support SPARKFUN in defending this lawsuit.

  • Dare them to give you a court date and a case number. You can’t buy the kind of publicity you’ll get free from either one. In any case, a drunk and bribed judge will be far more reasonable than these a-holes, so don’t even begin to try to placate them. Send them your lawyers bill and demand payment for frivolous abuse.
    Promise not to type in all caps like the morons they must be.

  • Can we get some T-Shirts made. Something along the lines of:
    SparkFun Logo != SPARC Logo,
    with some verbage on the back with links to some online petitions and details of this retarded C&D?

    • I agree! Please SparkFun, create a free online petition at www.PetitionOnline.com:
      Dear Sun Microsystems,
      This is a petition from/for all loyal SparkFun customers and students to you.
      Please fire you patent lawyers and retract the cease and desist letter to SparkFun as this is a valuable source of electronics and electronic engineering.
      Students of SparkFun might someday work for you to design new better and faster SPARC chips. Taking SparkFun away might just kill off you future engineering staff.
      Thanks
      The undersigned

  • I don’t know, those servers and that accelerometer/ gyro board look awfully similar… NOT!
    Why don’t you pick on someone your own size Sparc?!
    SPARKFUN RULES!!!!!!!!!!

  • I am fully on your side. Part of copywrite and trademark law is that if a company has a trademark or copywrite, they must show they are agressively defending the propriety of that trademark; if they don’t, the law considers the name or trademark to be public domain, and everybody can use it. Likely, this letter was generated by a computer program. Usually, what a company does when they receive this kind of thing, is counter-sue, for a frivolous lawsuit and anti-trust violation. Unless there is a clear trademark violation, the originating company usually backs off, because they don’t want to pay for a long drawn out legal fight either. Consider it cheap scare tactics, but one that you MUST respond to, in a legal sense, if for no other reason to show that YOU are defending YOUR trademark. How you respond can affect the future outcome of whether your trademark is granted or not. Ok, I’ll shut up now. :)

    • Lawyers making their “services” mandatory: You can’t keep your brand unless you hire us to defend it. What businesses other than law and insurance companies can do that? What a bunch of sh!tbags!
      One would hope the letter was SPARC’s intent to show that they were attempting to protect their trademark and then they’ll back off after SparkFun’s response. But in the legal system, there are no rules, so who the f knows.

  • I find the name “Sun” a bit confusing. I think NASA and all those space science textbook authors from several decades ago should sue “Sun” so that school children, scientists, and science enthusiasts no longer have to struggle with the confusion caused by this. Google’s filter does pretty well to keep them separated with additional keywords, but if you just search “Sun” you get a jumbled mix of results. Sol has been around longer, so it’s clearly an infringement of identity.
    This sarcastic message is brought to you by an IT guy who has worked many long nights supporting hardware from Sun Microsystems. I pray I never have to touch one again.
    ** And definitely stay away from the sparc.org site, as it IS INFECTED with a malware script, and has been since at least July 31, 2009. These are clearly ridiculous business practices from an outdated/unused/unmaintained site and I am appalled that they should even be attempting to exert this kind of abuse. If they can’t even keep their own website clean, how do they expect to provide secure services and systems for their customers? Bah!
    -Zen

  • Never give up, never surrender!

  • The C&D-letter might seem rediculous and is quite idiotic.
    But:
    As pointed out in the SparkFun-comment other trademark holders are allowed to protest during the trademark registering process. It is their right
    SPARC International is a IP-license in the field of microprocessors and computer-architecture. If you open sparckfun.com and click components, are there not 5 microcontroller-categorys there. Are these not microprocessors as well?
    *Many comments mention Sun Microsystems, one even contains the contact information for certian people employed by Sun Microsystems. SPARC International is not Sun Microsystems, SM is a member of SPARC International.
    I in no way condone any lawsuit filed against sparkfun by Sparc International, it would just be a dumb move. But SI must be allowed to exercise the rights they have under current Trademark-law without being harrased by an angry internet-mob.
    (The sparkfun post reads SPARC Industries - Should say Sparc International)

    • Just because its legal doesn’t make it right. Nazis can protest MLK day, but they are bat spark crazy, so are are SPARC and their lawyers.

  • I just created a new widget that seeks out and killz lawyers. What a great time to test it out!

  • You should remove the link to sparc’s website in your post. The site is infested with malware.
    http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=www.sparc.org/
    ?Malicious software includes 12 trojan(s), 8 exploit(s), 6 scripting exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 2 new process(es) on the target machine.?
    Anybody reading this should be very aware.

  • I’ll be more than happy to join the SparkFun army against SPARC if needed, just say the word!

  • Those guys need to get out of their cubicles more often.
    My local electrician was a ‘sparky’ for years before SPARC existed, and has possibly owned a computer of ome sort in his lifetime.
    My kids play with ‘sparklers’ - but perhaps the wire used in the core is protected by SPARC’s IP.
    Hell if I play with AC and DC circuits I can make my own ‘sparks’ at home - in different colors !
    OOps - I’ve been off track - all my sparks are spelled wrongly and have nothing to do with SPARC. My mistake.

  • Confused? Do these lawyers think the people who buy SparkFun products and the people who buy SPARC International products are drooling idiots? Typically both classes of customer are well known for the not stumbling around the world in a confused state.
    I would suggest you reply to these lawyers referring them to the reply given in the Arkell vs Pressdram case. They are lawyers. They are bound to look it up and see the succinct, two word, seven letter response which sums up what I’d be inclined to say…

  • Im going to bulid RISC processor based server!
    Processor: 4x PIC16F84A

  • I’ve got a great idea… how about if we all boycott Sparc and refuse to buy their equipment… oh, wait… what exactly do they make again?
    Now that I think of it… I don’t ever remember using one of their computers in any of my little projects. Will there systems fit in an Altoids tin?
    I guess further research is necessary.
    Bill

  • I called/left voicemail for Karen Kahn for an interview “regarding sun’s insight into issues of trademark infringement”. If this had happened a year or so ago I wouldn’t of cared. In light of today’s economy and the resources need for litigation of this level makes me cringe. I’ve been following SparkFun for over a year now in the shadows. The information that they have provided has allowed me to explore the field of electronics with out taking upper-division classes. I’m basically innumerate. So any hopes of me becoming a electrical engineer (nor do I aspire to be one) are slim-to-none, but I’ve always been a electrically curious (and fairly competent) geek. SparkFun is one of the few resources out there that takes out the engineering jargon and puts it into ‘normal’ people talk.
    David, get out the sling shot and we’ll find you some stones.

  • I called Karen Kahn for an interview “reguarding sun’s insight into issues of trademark infringement” for my school paper. This should be fun.

  • Sun Worldwide Global Communications Karen Kahn
    VP, Global Communications
    415-294-5362
    Director
    Noel Hartzell
    650-786-4775
    E-mail addresses and more here!
    http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/media/contacts/index.jsp
    Oh, crud I thought I was in gMail. Bad copy paste! Bad!

  • As an electronics enthusiast and a Solaris Admin I must say this seems a little ridiculous. The SPARC cpu is targeted at an educated market - not one that is likely to mistake SparkFun for SPARC. Or maybe I am in error there - maybe the SPARC platform is now targeting the average ‘Joe Gamer’.

  • What a load of tosh. I have tipped Engadget on this, maybe you’ll get a story… ;)

  • “Amongst other things they demand that we immediately take steps to transfer the sparkfun.com domain name to [SPARC International]."
    What’s that all about? The lawyers at K&L act as if this is a done deal! Reminds me of "give me your lunch money or get beat up” or “We are the SPARC, resistance is futile… prepare for assimilation”

  • There is NO WAY anyone in either purchasing group would be misled by either trademark. This is typical big company BULLYING tactics, aided and abetted by lawyers who have NO IDEA what customers of either company understand.
    I have sent an email to the address you suggested, as well as directly to the lawyer concerned - [Information removed by administrator]
    We’re behind you SparkFun - don’t let them beat you.

  • This is why they are angry. I win. I support SparkFun and see nothing the same. I registered and posted this for others to see.
    Go figure…
    http://img260.imageshack.us/i/ironicspark.png/

  • It is certainly not confusing to me! I have been a system administrator for systems using SPARC processors for ages and I am also a satisfied customer of SparkFun. These are clearly two distinct businesses with disjoint markets.
    BTW, if the bastards win their ridiculous suit, be sure to let me know what your new name is.

  • The story has been /.‘ed. Hope your server is wearing its Superman underwear today…

  • Sounds alot like the Volkswagen flap from a few years ago, anyone with the VW logo, the word “beetle” or “bug” were sent a letter, until the backlash against Volkswagen forced them to drop the legal firm doing it. BTW, aren’t the letters “SI” used in reference to Sports Illustrated? And I know for fact that magazine has been around longer than 1989.

  • I have been a customer/follower of SparkFun for many years and had never heard of SPARC International until this post.
    I support you guys 100% and I wish you well.
    SparkFun rocks!

  • No, wait!, I know that Nate would not engage in frivolous lawsuit counter lawsuits, but it looks to me that this is a good one, just sue them back for wasting your time and bandwidth

  • “I have the utmost respect for Sun Microsystems (owner of SPARC Industries)."
    I don’t think any of us do anymore…

  • While the knee-jerk reaction is to cry foul (as I myself did), I think a more level headed evaluation of the situation is that they’re compelled to attempt to uphold their claim to their intellectual property… if you don’t, your trademark might be considered undefended and abandoned. So they’re going through the motions so that someone can’t explicitly try to usurp the “SPARC” brand to confuse the market.
    Overall, I think you’re in the clear. I’m sure your legal advisers are hard at work to explain the nuances of how your businesses are different. They’re not as clear cut as a non-profit arts organization and an enterprise server hardware company, but… they are different.

  • Earlier someone mentioned Stark Industries, which phonically sounds very similar to Sparc.
    According to my good friend Mr. Google, Stark Industries was first mentioned in Tales of Suspense Vol 1 #40 (circa 1963) which predates Sun’s use of the term by more than 2 and a half decades.
    So according to their “we had it first and people are too stupid to tell companies apart” logic…the Sparc trademark should be revoked because it can cause confusion for comic book readers.
    Personally, i have a problem with ANY company taking a word/letter from the English language and saying… this is ours, you can’t use it for your product Windows, Spark, Monster, etc…

  • Easy now, they haven’t actually taken anything to court yet. IANAL but I suspect there’s a good chance they will read the reply and go away.
    But… if you really want to be pessimistic…
    Imagine the day when the sparkfun.com domain leads to the site of Oracle MySQL!
    Fight on SparkFun!

  • These joyless lawyers must have no respect for the spirit of open-source hardware/software and the building of open communities…OMG K&L Gates is the law firm founded by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates Sr.!!!!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K&L_Gates

  • Well, For one thing, I think SF deserves it?s name, on the other hand, distance from Sparc could be a good thing, among the differences, SF is a happy company for both employees and customers, and is on it?s way up…

  • Interesting; the sparc.org site doesn’t work with Mozilla (use IE if you want to view it).
    I think the Sparkfun business model of truly open technology is fantastic and I hope it continues to be a success. Maybe the girls at sparc could learn something from Sparkfun instead of fighting it.
    So tell the sparc lawyers to go pound sand.

  • Maybe SPARC was about to release the SPARCfun server? Complete with big blue, yellow and red buttons (don’t push the red button!).
    Fight the fight! We must have SparkFun!

  • No worry guys, we had similar problem with some trademark here in Spain and let me just say about domain names “First come, first win”. Also SPARK has nothing to do with any resemblance to your name or products, any jury would show, is just pure jealousy. Is common in large companies want to cover all similar names all times on the net.
    Trust me, you can’t lose on this. Do not let you step on your behalf and defend your name to the death.
    Nate, feel free to send me and email or call about this.
    Best regards!
    Oscar Gonzalez

  • Really?
    It just amazes me that non-technical people think that everything technical is equivalent. SPARC architecture is used on computer chips… SparkFun sells things with computer chips… THEY MUST BE EQUAL!!!! Damn lawyers are the scum of the earth. My respect for Sun just dropped significantly…
    Sorta reminds me of Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_vs._MikeRoweSoft )

    • I was going to go have some park fun this weekend if the sun comes out, maybe a picnic with some chips and dip, but I guess I should get permission from Sun’s lawyers first, huh?

  • I’m a JAVA programmer, and I’ve never even heard of SPARC. I was looking for a place to buy a good server, and now I know where to NOT buy one.
    Looks like SPARC’s angry because no one buys their products anymore…

  • I hope you are taking this seriously and have a trademark lawyer representing you and responding to this.
    Sun may be on the ropes, but they, or whoever ends up with the Sparc trademark, will have the resources to make things very hard for you trying to defend your right to use Sparkfun.
    Despite your and most of your fans' opinions (I’m a fan too btw), Sparc and Sparkfun are indeed similar, and you are both in fields that could easily be considered related. You both sell electronics and “processing units”, and the number of MIPS isn’t relevant. You have open source in common as well.
    Some random judge without much of a clue just might be convinced by their army of lawyers to see it Sun’s way.

    • Don’t worry. We’re lawyered up. We’re aware that judges are less impressed by blinking things than our customer base.

  • SparkFun,

    I would guess if you hired a lawyer (which you should probably have anyway as the American culture is increasingly litigious), they would back down after sending a letter in response. This is just not a case of possible confusion. I would also guess that a grass roots response will be patently ignored by most lawyers who generally act quite independently of the organization that retains them and are mostly looking for another hour of billable time. Anyway, I am rooting for you SparkFun, and hope the outcome is generally positive.  
    


    John P. Mitchell

  • Has anyone let BoingBoing know about this? I can’t speak for them, but I’m pretty sure Mark Frauenfelder is a fan of SparkFun. Enough negative publicity would put a stop to this pretty quick, I’m bettin'. I’d let them know myself, but I’m at work and BoingBoing is verboten. (Marked as NSFW by some nanny-bot list I think.)

  • Gaggle of UAV’s Attack!
    But seriously…. What good does this do for anyone? God Bless America. Who knows they might try to trade mark that phrase soon!

  • I’ve used SPARC products. Considering the relative value and ease-of-use of their technology, you should be suing them. I hope you can get this resolved without too much hassle.
    Am I the only one who thinks the flip side of SparkFun is BlueSmokeDisappointment?

  • I once got hit with a C&D by a dude claiming ownership of trademarks on essentially all uses of the work Stealth. Some known trademark troll by the name of Leo Stoller. I thought it was kind of improper to be including letters from other people he’d threatened that were marked “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL”…
    I ignored it basically because I wasn’t using the domain anymore, and wasn’t selling anything from it anyways.
    Not that you need any more opinion on this, but there’s no way any sane person would confuse you with SPARC. Your prices are at least an order of magnitude lower :) Also, isn’t “sparky” a traditional nickname for electrical engineers?
    I hope you guys have retained a lawyer anyways, just in case. Something like “OpenProjectsWebStoreInColorado” just doesn’t have the same… pop.

  • Grasping at straws now as SPARC slowly dies like Betamax, despite having a possibly better architecture. All the Sun machines I’ve seen at my enterprise clients are Intel-based. SPARC is far too expensive for the performance it delivers…
    http://communities.intel.com/community/openportit/server/blog/2009/05/08/sparc-better-than-intel–no-it-is-not-and-i-have-data-to-prove-it

  • We don’t sell any product related to SPARC architecture.
    Some cypress uCs are on a sparc architecture. :(

  • ROFL thats pretty funny. How do they assume that people would confuse the two companies?

  • I heard about you and decided to pursue a question through you without ever confusing you with Sparc or whoever they are. I have been given a very specific picture of what you do and I feel it is very unique. You have always been referred to me as SparkFun. What a joke. These attorneys must be needing to make some $$ and are searching for work! They probably figure you are so small that you won’t afford the fight and have to give in. I say you tell the legal system that small companies should be protected from such bullying.

  • There is no evidence of a closely confusing SFE mark on any of SI’s products, or vice versa. The domain name is unlikely to confuse. The word “spark”, which SI argues is phonetically similar, has long been a generic word in the electronic arts. “SPARC” is unique in its composition, as is “SPARKFUN”; both do not occur in the standard English dictionary. Generic portions of a mark cannot be used as evidence of likelihood of confusion. Again, marks must be observed in their organic whole.
    All in all, they’re wasting your time.

  • I didn’t do a search yet, but I’m curious as to what eventually happened,. granted this is over a year old now. IMO,
    Sparkfun (SFE) has a straightforward position against SPARC International (SI). Off the top of my head, it’s threefold.
    SFE’s TM contains no visually identical syntax to SI’s TM. For starters, SPARC and SPARKFUN are dissimilar. You absolutely are NOT allowed to dissect marks the way SI’s counsel has attempted to do. By extension, SPARC and SPARKFUN do not sound or look the same. Phonetic similarity will only get you so far, that is, if SI can prove that there is actual confusion (not possibility of confusion) expressed by their market.
    Second, SFE does not cater to the market that SI dominates in. It is far too unlikely for a customer seeking multi-thousand dollar data systems will be misled into thinking SFE is related; SFE sells kits and odds and ends for hobbyists and the DIY community. The sheer pricing difference between SFE and SI’s products are grounds to dismiss likelihood of purchaser confusion.

  • Sik Dof: …We’re aware that judges are less impressed by blinking things than our customer base.
    hahahahahaha… win

  • Now that Oracle finally owns Sun, has this problem ceased and desisted?

  • Old news, I know. But I had the thought today that perhaps those poor lawyers have you confused with the Spark IM platform: http://www.igniterealtime.org/projects/spark/index.jsp
    Which would also be amazingly regrettable on their part.
    I wonder if this is the same organization which felt spamming the entire world, including the nation of Java, over the use of Sun’s trademark “Java” was a good idea.

  • Letter in 2 parts to sparcinfo@sparc.org:
    Part Two:
    Site users from such sites as digg.com have spread the word across the whole of the web 2.0 internet spamming sites with complaints about what they have perceived as injustice. Do a search of the AACS key to see how one C&D letter turned into posts on over 200,000 pages, youtube videos with tens of thousands of views to t-shirts and even tattoos!
    This is only a small sampling of the unintended consequences that has inflicted other companies in the past. Imagine the sheer volume of national news-worthy shenanigans that an utterly devoted legion of loyal followers of sparkfun could create.
    Google “Monster Cable” and read on the first page how stupid and evil the company is.
    I hope that your efforts to silence sparkfun, is simply the overenthusiastic actions of your legal staff.
    The legal system is already choked with frivolous lawsuits. please do not add this one to the growing pile.
    Respectfully, D. Snider

  • Letter in two parts to sparcinfo@sparc.org:
    Part One:
    To whom it may concern:
    Leave Sparkfun ALONE!
    Do you think that your customers whose budgets for systems run into the millions of dollars are stupid enough to confuse a reseller of $19.00 soldering kits with your products?!
    This is a company that has earned the unequaled devotion of a legion of teachers, students, and horror of horrors, software and hardware hackers!
    Can you imagine the “Streisand Effect” of you attacking a small company that caters to a devoted following of tech heads?
    In the past, hundreds of “shame sites” have sprouted up overnight to shame companies in the public spotlight such as sparcsex.com, sparcsucks.com, sparcisevil.com, etc …

  • It has been shown many times that failing to be competitive in the technology marketplace often
    leads to flurries of meritless lawsuits that suck away valuable resources better spent on development, leading to the eventual dissolution of the company or brand altogether.
    It is my sincere hope that SPARC International would withdraw this cease and desist order, and would urge the K&L Gates law firm to at least perform due dilligence in researching trademark claims before making uninformed court filings. The legal system in the US is already full of frivolous lawsuits, and needs no more.
    Respectfully,
    Chris D.

  • This suit reeks of the type of patent and trademark trolling that has afflicted the technology markets in recent years, and is especially dissapointing coming from an organization I have long respected.
    Finally, I would like to state that I have always favored the SPARC architecture computers from Sun Microsystems in the past, including the SparcStation 10, Ultra 60 and others. In light of this dissapointing, frivolous lawsuit I will no longer be reccomending SPARC-based computer systems for use by the organizations I work with.
    I know that the loss of my endorsement means little to SPARC International, however, in today’s market where Intel and AMD processors are collecting marketshare
    that has traditionally belonged to SPARC machines, one would think that the interests of SPARC International would best be served by advertising SPARC systems
    and developing new markets to enter rather than alienating customers.

  • None of the products that SparkFun sells is even related to enterprise computing, indeed the most powerful CPUs they sell are only suited for embedded electronics, and are very specialized for that purpose.
    I have never confused SparkFun for anything SPARC-related, and indeed never even made a connection until reading about this lawsuit. SPARC International, as far as I know, just sublicenses CPU cores and IP to other companies such as Sun Mircosystems and Fujitsu who do the actual manufacturing. Of course I understand SPARC International’s obligation to defend it’s marks, but this suit can respectfully be described as frivolous, but put in more plain language it borders on utter stupidity.
    It is fairly obvious to anyone in either IT or hobbyist electronics that SparkFun and SPARC International have nothing in common, and cursory research involving said persons would have made it quite obvious that there is not now, nor has there ever been any brand confusion between these two organizations.

  • The word “spark” is in common usage in standard English. Electricians and electrical engineers have in fact been called “sparkys” in common slang for many years, a practice I assume has never elicited a lawsuit from SPARC International. The logos and typography of SparkFun and SPARC International are completely distinct and really have no commonality other than using the colors black and red. I have never referred to SparkFun as “Spark,” and find it doubtful that
    others do so either. Can I assume that SPARC International is also filing lawsuits against the company produces “Spark Charts,” or perhaps Edward Tufte for the use of the term “Sparklines” to describe his charting methods?
    SparkFun does not sell servers, NAS systems or indeed any complete computer systems at all. Perhaps K&L Gates has failed to perform enough research to determine what exactly SparkFun does sell. SparkFun sells electronics kits and components for use by hobbyists/enthusiasts in the electronics and radio community. They do not design, manufacture or market any CPU or server designs of their own that I have ever found.

  • Utterly foolish of SPARC International. I just fired off an email to sparcinfo@sparc.org, attached below.
    Sorry in advance for the formatting and length. I was quite incensed when I wrote it. :)
    To Whom it May Concern,
    It has recently come to my attention that a legal firm apparently attached to SPARC International (one K&L Gates Law Firm of Palo Alto California) has filed a cease and desist
    order to SparkFun Electronics for trademark infringement upon the “SPARC” mark.
    As not only a programmer who has written software for SPARC-based systems in the past but also an electronics hobbyist who has used the services of SparkFun, I wish to make it known from a direct purchasor of technology that I find this filing insulting and without merit. To assume that the layman could not tell the difference between a server system and embedded systems/componentry for hobby electronics is an affront to the intelligence of hobbyists everywhere.

  • I agree with Single T. Go Sparkfun!

  • Keep in mind, Sun is now an Oracle owned company. Oracle is not quite the nicest gang in town.

  • I sure hope your lawyers sent an official reply … politely, I guess. =/

  • Didn’t see this before, what a stupid claim.
    As somebody else mentioned SPARC is actually an acronym or abreviation so the roots for construing the trademark name are quite different.
    I’ve seen stupid claims from trademark lawyers before and particularly what they are trying to do with regard of internet domain names (aka ICANN circus).
    Hang in there, SPARC sooner or later will go down the toilet while SparkFun will continue to grow and succeed.
    Somebody should call Bill Gates and let him know that some legal services company in CA may be using his last name without authorization.
    This is really ridiculous

  • SparkFun vs. Sparc,
    Sparc = Misspelled, not fun, wishes they had copyrighted a real world like spark instead of acronym like sparc. “Scalable Processor Architecture”. Which doesn’t mean that Sparc is phonetically pronounced the same as spark. I work with sparc systems, and we don’t pronounce it that way. In fact we pronounce it “Spareak”, as in you better have a spare ready because this one it going to break. On second thought that’s a great name for a new website that sells…

  • Poor SPARC, they really didn’t know what they were getting into. ha ha ha.
    Wrath of the blogosphere and such loyal customers.
    They must have thought, oh lets attack this company down the street that sublets a space nobody will notice.

  • I think we would all agree that we would do whatever it takes to have our sparkfun, even if it includes pooling donations to buy out that trademark and everything irrelevant to it, as SPARC felt they had to do. Lame-o’s

  • I didn’t say SPARCsparkards? I said SPARCf*ckards. (sort of.) I was wondering what would happen. Nice edit, and I think it was automated. Wow, the wonder of it all!

  • here are some of their trademarks:
    SPARCbook? SPARCengine? SPARClite? SPARClet? SPARCluster? SPARCluster1? SPARCompiler? SPARCphone? SPARCplug? SPARCprinter? SPARCcenter? SPARCserver? SPARCstation? SPARCstorage? SPARCsummit? SPARCtop? SPARCworks? SPARK?
    …and those are only some of the ones in that form. notice the last one too. It might get complicated. BUT you are very popular with me and I’d buy from you under any name that didn’t cause problems for me if my relatives found it on a bill. SPARC should stop being SPARCsparkards?

  • I wonder if “Dear Sirs,” implies an all-male workplace and if it could be considered offensive? ;)

  • PS. Be aware that in the latter case, the company actually sued another (commercial) malware research site under similar grounds; not only did they lose, but the company was ordered to pay all of the defendant’s legal fees.
    PPS. 1,250 characters is not enough! :-)
    HTH
    Tim / Drmn4ea

  • Absolutely ridiculous, and I support you 100%. Keep in mind that in the US, TM law requires a mark owner to prove that they are actively protecting their mark, or else face its loss, so occasionally (as in often), specious form-letters such as this are sent. Even if the trademark claim completely fails the laugh test, TM attorneys will blast out such letters in order to document that they are working to actively protect the mark, even if they have no desire/intention to follow up on it. As the (distant past life ;-) administrator of a well-known spyware research website of back in the day, we would receive trademark infringement/dilution C&D letters at a rate of a couple per month. While I am not a lawyer (just electronics engineer!), the claim that “Sparkfun” infringes “SPARC” is extremely weak, and I doubt very much that they would pursue it beyond the initial to-prove-we-sent-a-letter letter. Telling them why they can p*ss off (in your choice of short form or long form), as you have done, works pretty well.

    • The World’s Gone Made ™
      dreamn4ea thanks for that insight: I didn’t know keeping a trademark required you to show you were actively protecting it. Sounds like what they might be doing ahead of an inevitable sell off of remaining assets as they go under.
      I love sparkfun ™ and just bought some stuff off the site. I saw this posting, and fell in love all over again. Sparkfun deserves respect, not lawyers.
      PS. Sparkfun guys: keep us up to date with what happens with this

  • Absurd, I’ve now lost all respect for Sun/SPARC! Their letter even states ?they are the proprietors of numerous SPARC-based trademarks?. How does Sparkfun even resemble SPARC anything? Maybe If your name was SPARCfun, I?d see a problem!?!?!
    Just keep doing what you do, you guys are great!!!

  • Sounds like a stimulus project for lawyers.
    FN

  • hey,
    so does anyone know if SPARC is going to be suing Microsoft for their embeddedSPARK challenge (http://www.embeddedspark.com/default.aspx)?
    I mean they even capitalized SPARK the same way that SPARC does…
    maybe we should tip K&L off, make sure that they don’t appear selective in their actions.

  • Dear SPARC FUN Webmaster,
    I am busy man trying to locate your server product range page but all I can find are gizmos, gadgets and doohickeys!
    I did find a picture of some of your servers on this page, together with a lot of text which I haven’t got time to read, so I know I am in the right place.
    I think that you need to reorganize your website to make things much less confusing. If not, then I will be compelled to take my business elsewhere and build my own servers from the components of your competitors at SPARK.
    Be warned,
    Marco

  • If the automotive company Nissan cant even bully their way to rights of Nissan.com, then I think you are pretty set.
    they may own a trademark on SPARK but they were smart enough to trademark it in Caps which means nothing if all your legal docs have the Spark in Sparkfun with S as the only uppercase.
    Unfortunately, how much money does it take for common sense to prevail?

  • And Lawyers wonder why they get crap from Engineers…
    Taking this sort of frivilous action just makes SPARC look stupid.
    Hopefully sense will prevail and SPARC legal will withdraw and maybe even apologise to redeem some dignty.
    Give us SparkFun - or give us death

  • Any judge with half a brain would throw this one out in a usec.
    Keep you backbone SparkFun!

  • While I’ve been aware of SUN Microsystems and the SPARC trademark since the early ‘90s, I never made any mental association with SPARC and Sparkfun from the moment I first saw the Sparkfun web-site, until this letter was drawn to my attention.
    The two companies are so obviously different in their scope of operation that it seems ridiculous to try to manufacture this level of similarity just to satisfy an uninformed opinion held by a small minority of SUN’s corporate staff.
    In my opinion, this sort of exercise only serves to expose the initiator in a bad light and, far from strengthening their image, results in people considering them as aggressive and small-minded.
    Anyone having dealings with Sparkfun, or even simply visiting their web-site will be able to detect the innate openness and enthusiasm on which it’s based. This is in stark contrast to the corporate feel of SUN’s organisation, regardless of the quality of their products.

  • I have to agree that unfortunately, Sun Microsystems is in its death throws, and their legal department are probably trying desperately to find some reason to keep their jobs in the environment of layoffs.
    I have worked on SunFire systems, in the Solaris OS and have a great deal of respect for the advances Sun has made in the computing industry, for Unix, and recently (more or less) to open source.
    However, until I saw the cease and desist posting, I never once thought of Sun or Sparc when I was browsing or purchasing parts from your site.
    Such a claim is beyond absurd, and only a mind that has wasted its years contemplating law could think otherwise.
    I usually connect sparks with either 1. entertainment, or 2. something bad happening (also entertainment, to an extent).
    I usually associate Sparc with a formerly great processor architecture which has essentially been Intel’d to death.
    I suspect that some mysterious substance (mold, fungus?) must be growing in the coffee machine that serves the nitwits at the legal firm.
    I recommend you report it to the Center for Disease Control before it spreads.
    -DogNo7

  • Sun Microsystems just posted (nov 6 after closing) their financial quarter losses. Their revenue dropped 25% and the delays in the Oracle thing is the equivalent of throwing a man overboard an iron life buoy.
    SPARC server sales are down by about 40%. IBM’s mainframe heavy iron sales didn’t even drop this much.
    SPARC International’s little intellectual property licensing universe is probably rocking on its foundations at the moment, thus the lashing out at anything that might bring them in additional revenue.

  • This is the reason large corporations should be broken up. Once they reach a certain size, they want to march through Belgium. There is nothing more sociopathic than a large international corporation. In this case, the best solution is widespread ridicule. I’d get Steven Colbert involved.

  • If you ask someone at NASA what SPARC means, they might say it is an acronym they coined for their Spectral Analysis and Recognition Computer. There are a couple of dozen other organizations that use the same acronym for different phrases, some of them pre-dating Sun’s use of the term. Sun had to stretch to turn their Scalable Processor Architcture into an acronym. I always thought they did it to feed off the good name of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, who also got royally ripped off for their mouse and windows technology from their pioneering Star computer. I wonder if Sun paid Xerox for those technologies? When you say Xerox PARC it sounds exactly like SPARC. As cynical as I am it never crossed my mind that your company name could be confused with SPARC.
    Keep up the great work.

  • I share your frustration. It is unfortunate that some “people” make a living pursuing these frivolous but predatory lawsuits.
    The cynic in me might suspect they were just waiting for your company to gain some success, ripe for attack.
    When I think of SI, I think Sports Illustrated.
    SunFun will get over 300,000 Google hits, Sun Fun even more. Would they try to stop people from using the word Sun or Spark to refer to anything but their company?
    The cynic in me also suspects “they” have analyzed your nature and decided the risk is low that you would go after them with a punative damages countersuit, not because your case is weak, but because it would run counter to the spirit of your business.
    Anyway, enough negativity. I love your business model and all the cool products and sincerely hope your success continues to grow.

  • “SPARC International is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to overseeing and guiding the evolution of SPARC and its open standards technology."
    => TROLLERS + EXTORSION ! They will vanish in the nature once everybody will know what they really are, and what they really do.

  • This is such an unfortunate story. I stumbled upon SparkFun probably a year ago and check back almost daily just to see what’s going on or see the latest projects. I found the site looking for what SparkFun has to offer, not Sparc. I’m a chemistry grad student that finds electronics fascinating (I also try and think of ways I can work in your building). It’s ridiculous that you have to justify how dissimilar your trademarks are. I do know that no matter what your name is, I will still follow your escapades.
    Anthony

  • Ah - The color red. You realize they called the color red before you did .. so you can’t use red for anything. My god - there is so much red on this site - what copy cats you are.
    If they change the name to sparcfun .. I’d sue em.
    Thanks for all your great products Spark.

  • I think it is the way America is headed not the way most Americans want So as a REAL AMERICAN I will give a donation to you if you need it just call. I also have several good friends that are lawyers that hate this same thing. I will also ask everyone I know to email this company with questions. They may give up.
    Good luck
    Hugh Coleman

  • Insanity. I purchased my first SPARCstation in 1993-4, several more over the years, and have been familiar with the processor architecture branding ever since.
    I stumbled upon SparkFun earlier this year and never made any connection between it and SPARC. I don’t think anyone “compos mentis” and familiar with either or both would be confused.
    Even if these brands were soap, and we were dealing with janitors, I doubt there would be confusion.
    Net effect of hearing this news is that I assume SPARC is doomed, scraping the coin jar for funds, and should be avoided.

  • I’m going to go out on a limb here and posit that this is a publicity stunt on SPARC’s part.
    I mean… the alternative is that they’re just idiots. Surely a company that’s been around this long isn’t run by idiots.
    Right?
    RIGHT?!

  • The lawyers even got it wrong! They said SparkFun was trying to use the term “SPARKFUN” as a trademark, to make it look closer to “SPARC” than it is. They’re grasping at straws! Typical of lawyers. Everyone should be more like engineers. :)
    Maybe SPARC should relinquish their domain and cause it to route to sparkfun.com? If they get your domain, I’ll tell all my friends, and all the professors that I know in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments of Cal Poly, SLO.

  • Don’t give in, this is obvious BS. Lawyers playing lawyer games to make themselves richer and seem more important.

  • This is totally absurd!
    I guess this is another effect of the recession. I think the law firm is just making money from SPARC and the law firm is dragging down SI (SPARC Int.) with KL’s totally crazy and absolutely outrageous BS thing and ultimate bad publicity.
    I don’t even know what SPARC is until I googled it (define: SPARC). “SPARC is a registered trademark of SPARC International, Inc.,…"
    I believe a kindergarten student can spell the word "Spark” because it’s where everyone’s imagination starts, at SparkFun that is.
    Don’t let them win guys!
    Now I know what NOT TO BUY.

  • Worry not guys - before this is whole matter is settled Sun, Inc. will go under. If not purchased by the end of 2010 they will be de-listed from NASDAQ and believe you me - then this expensive Palo Also law firm will be much more focused on bleeding someone who actually has the dineros and will drop the account like a bride’s dress….

  • What utter rubbish! Sounds like a scam…
    Lee

  • Just another example of corporate attorneys with nothing better to do. I guess they have to prove somehow that they are worth keeping on the payroll. There is no similarity what-so-ever. I use both companies products and have for years. I have never once made the “similar” connection, so I wonder how they did. Again….Too much time on their lawyers hands. Just make sure that after you finally do win this case that you sue the hell back out of them to get your lost time and money back for defending yourselves. Tell them to take it out of their lawyers salaries. This makes me sad.

    • You appear to be in a position to actually help, being a customer of SPARC. Have you considered emailing them, saying that you look disfavorably on their bullying, and would consider this issue sufficient reason to research their competators?
      I want to see them squirm. :)

  • this is what lawyers do when they have too much free time

  • detour: If their name was SPARC!fun, as apparently it should be, then they might have a case. Ask a C programmer to explain if you’re confused.
    This is just another reason to boycott everything from SUN.

    +agree or to have a repeat of the EToy war (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etoy)

  • This brings back memories of lawyer jokes :)
    Ques? What’s 100 lawyers on the bottom of the ocean called?
    Ans) A start :)
    I think its rediculous, the idiots obvously don’t know that “SPARC” != “SparkFun” (Translation for lawyers: “SPARC” DOES NOT EQUAL “SparkFun”)
    I acronym and cutshort heaps of words (e.g. Winfield™ becomes Winny) and I have ALWAYS refered to SparkFun as SparkFun, never “Spark”.
    And I don’t see no flames in their logo, as for the red text.. Is the color red now copyrighted? if so I guess I am gonna get my ass sued off everytime I correct something with red pen…
    People wonder where all the creativity has gone, its hidding in the cubboards because people are too scared of getting their balls sued off by overzellous sucking lawyers who are trying to trademark a fricken common word!
    I hope the courts over there in the US have atleast one shard of common sense and this bull
    *** that them lawyers have conjured is thrown out at the bottom of the legal system.
    Best of luck from Australia.
    P/s sorry for the colourful language, SparkFun is my only supplier that actually has the speciality stuff and I am pretty pissed about the whole saga.

  • Another example of…
    Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity
    Ironically available at Amazon.com

  • As much of a nuisance and pain this type of occurrence is, it shows that you are now worthy of great attention. this is because you now have been deemed to have enough worth to be threatened and sued.
    However, it is my feeling that the actual company SPARC, itnl. has no idea that this action has been taken against you, but rather, it is a law firm that does nothing else other than look to harass companies in the so called benefit of other companies who probably pay the law firm far more than the lawyers are worth.
    This is more than obvious in this case since the law firm has no clue about the context in which they used the terms in there letter other than Sparkfun has circuits and circuit boards and that SPARC, intl. has goods that contain circuits and circuit boards.
    Well, long statement to short, you are doing a great job and are now receiving both appropriate and in-appropriate attention. Keep up the great work and don’t let anyone try to beat you down.

  • You have got to be kidding me!
    We use Sparc Products at work all the time so I’m exposed to them every day and I never made that connection until I saw this. Furthermore, I am a ‘PC Support Analyst’ (nice title I know), but I just fix PCs, Macs, Linux, UNIX, Sun Solaris and AIX hardware and software) and still - never made the connection. I have 35+ years of exposure to electronics (and a 2 year degree in Electronics Technology) <– I can even spell it! I recently bought a LeCroy WaveAce 232 so this hobby is very serious; I’ve spent plenty having fun with electronics. And STILL I never made the connection between Sparc and SparkFun. I just don’t understand the reason for this.
    I guess the Sparc laywers are bored or something. I couldn’t be a lawyer, um, wouldn’t want to be a lawyer.
    Don’t give up the fight! We’re all behind you!

  • Not even close. I have been in the IT industry for over 25 years and used Sun SPARC systems for many years. I never made the association in my mind. It never crossed my mind that SparkFun could ever be confused or associated with the SPARC line of computers. Big company, big resources, big bully.

  • Ridiculous - when I first found your site I googled it many many times(I was a little to lazy to bookmark it, but it’s committed to memory now), and I have never ran across Sparc Inc’s Site. But that’s just me…..I agree with Single T - Give us Sparkfun or give us death!

  • Only a brain-dead drool monkey with myopia could conjure any similarities between your trademark and that of SPARC.
    This is a classic example of lawyers drumming up work for themselves with frivolous lawsuits. The lawyers don’t believe what they are saying, and neither would anyone with morals or common sense…but then again both of those are rare commodities.
    I say let them whine, suck up SPARC’s money and in the end this stupidity will probably just die.
    As for the phonetics, here is a real example of what those weenies are trying to claim ( http://www.ecademy.com/node.php?id=83540 )
    “Sparkfun” is as similar to “SPARC” as Star Trek is to Star Wars…well, “Star” anyway.
    This is stupid, blow them off as much as possible.
    For what it’s worth, I am a main purchaser of equipment for my firm, and I now know of one company (SPARC) whose products I will always avoid if an alternative exists.
    Good one SPARC.
    scidog

  • Hey guys, Show your support and Sign an open letter for SparkFun so we can give them an organized list if needed!

  • It’s just the lawyers looking for a way to justify their absurd salaries.
    I’m not confused.
    At least I wasn’t until SUN began to create confusion.
    NO! … I’m sure, I’m not confused!!

  • Lame. Sounds like some lawyer ran out of important things to do and needed to start some trouble in order to keep his job.

  • Distressing, but unfortunately not all that surprising. Here is an analogy (totally made up) that might make the point clearer to those who don’t inhale solder fumes on a regular basis.
    An enterprising fellow starts a web-based company called ToyFun, specializing in creating toys for the enjoyment of young and old alike. His best selling items are a series of toy cars that, with a few clever twists, morph into superheros and monsters. After a few years in business he gets a cease-and-desist letter from the Toyota Motor Corporation demanding that he stop using the name ToyFun. The name is both phonetically and visually similar to the Toyota brand, and is used in conjunction with identical goods (wheeled vehicles), thus raising the possibility of confusion among the relevant purchasing group.

  • I just canceled my order for a server due to the absurdity of this whole thing.

  • Must be a slow day at the office, and these guys still drinking Jolt Cola! I think the principals in K&L Gates, as well as the drafter and signer of this letter, should collectively stick their heads in a toilet and flush. I am sure they would all fit at once, since you have to have a very tiny head to think this is gonna fly. I smell fear and desperation coming from Sun– to say nothing of some very geeky body odor. If it were me, I would counter-sue for malicious litigation.

  • This is like saying that any company with the word “intelligent” in their name infringes on Intel’s trademark.
    This is just another case of legal extortion.

  • I registered the domain “sparcsucks.com”. I’m going to use it as another World Wide Window onto what Sparc is doing to SparkFun and possibly other “little guys”.
    Things like this pi$$ me off. It happened to me. A long-established local competitor worked hard to shut my new business down, apparently calling in my state’s Dpt. of Revenue, the local zoning board, and the FCC to investigate my business. The fight to shut me down raised such attention that it made the newspaper’s front page. Within a year or two, the local competitor was literally bulldozed into the ground.
    I don’t expect or even want Sparc International to see the same fate. I do want them to feel a pinch, even if just bad public opinion. There is absolutely no need for them to be doing what they are doing. As was said before, only idiots (like their lawyers, apparently) would confuse the two trademarks with each other.

  • SPARC obviously have a very low view of their own customers' intelligence. I find it inconceivable that anyone could confuse the two companies. And if it’s not possible to tell the difference between spark and sparc, why did SPARC intentionally misspell their name?

  • As a foreign customer, well used to deal with american aerospace, I have to say, regrettably, that this action from SPARC (a name I always respected) is “America at its worst”. In an age of greed and paranoia like the one we are in, this is another confirmation that there is something wrong in the system.
    SparkFun has all the rights to keep using its domain name, o better, to not answer the request to transfer the domain (there are the initial extremes of something illegal in a request like this).
    In addition, in all these years I never made a mental association with SPARC, and I am well acquainted with that name.
    Everybody knows that domain names are a big thing these days, but apparently SPARC woke up a little late to the game. Or perhaps some smart guy there (one from marketing, of course) is ready to start a new campaign playing with the words Spark and SPARC. How smart! I wonder why nobody thought that before …

  • -Looks like another David and goliath battle. Its unfortunate but maybe sparkfun should get the media involved, the media love these kind of stories?
    -However this must be heart breaking for the director of sparkfun, these legal battles are costly , while the victim organization will most likely win, the cost alone will heavily burden the company.
    -But the cheapest alternative to win this battle is to use public pressure through the media to ward off the giant. They’ll back off once they realize negative publicity has sufficiently damaged their image.
    -Similarly down here in Australia apple has targeted a supermarket chain for using what appears to be an apple in their logo

  • No way could anyone who has half a brain cell confuse the two!
    I suppose a techsupport guy from India who doesent really speak english in the first place might confuse the two, but that because he doesent speak english!!
    Keep up the good fight SparkFun, i dont think you have anything to worry About.

  • Q) What’s black and tan and looks good on a lawyer?
    A) A Doberman Pinscher.

  • I have had respect for Sparc for a while, but to do something like this just throws them in the same boat as Microsoft.
    What is it with companies doing this these days? What next? is Linksys going to sue Crisco because someone might confuse cooking oil with a router?
    I turned to Linux because of Microsoft pulling these stunts, I am quite prepared to turn my back on Sun microsystems as well if they are going to do the same.
    The first 4 letter match, so what, so do a lot of words in the dictionary, maybe they should sue the oxford dictionary company for mentioning the word “Sun”.

  • Well, my letter went off to K&L Gates today with a copy to the president of SparkFun. I offered to be an unpaid expert if the nonsense continues……

  • I have always had the understanding that the name SparkFun was derived from two ideas:
    One: Through the “open” nature of the company, ideas can be shared. The creativity of individual contributors can “Spark” the imagination. Examples can spark creativity or spark new ideas based on existing ideas.
    Two: The whole process of looking at what others have done is exciting. All these little sensors and communication modules and let’s face it, nerd toys, are really cool. So the process of creating new projects based on what we find here at SparkFun is FUN!
    Enter Spark -> Fun —> SparkFun!

  • This is completely ridiculous. The names are completely different. The markets are completely different. I swear that SPARC’s legal team must be suffering from some sort of mental deficiency. I would imagine that a sensible judge would just throw this case out.

  • Typical lawyer BS. Sheesh, ridiculous.

  • Best of luck in this fight! Let us know if we can do anything to help you (defense fund?).
    It’s been mentioned a few times in the comments, but maybe try the EFF…

  • Phonetic trademark infringement…please! That’s lawyerese for hey we got nothing to lose, why not call their bluff? Why not change the name to sabarchfun…wait that won’t work!

  • I believe Sparc legal “sparked up” one too many.
    Deal with your munchies and leave honest normal folks be.
    My Initials are MCD is Mc Donald’s going to give me a cease and desist too?
    Remember the one about “what are 10 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?"
    A good start!

  • I just emailed my letter to SPARC. It ended up being 800 words long.
    Are there any Colorado Congresspersons who might help SparkFun ?

  • Ai ai ai, Do these guys have a new one on marketing ?
    Is it their new strategy to destroy their market goodwill as quick as possible ?
    If you would like to go in that direction, why not change your name in ‘Limbo Logic’. Empty heads !

  • I would hate to give up SparkFun brand to a corpobully but I would hate more to see SparkFun loose a lot of money and energy on this. Better put it into R&D.
    The saving grace is the (lack of) evidence of confusion (unless SPARCs will come with tons of people trying to buy Arduino from them).
    Is SPARC’s aim to get SparcFun registered? Guess what, SparcFun.com domain’s taken already.
    Propose a solution in a gradual matter as a show of good will, then fight as a last resort:
    1) “disambiguation” on the SparkFun.com (a link with explanation to SPARC on home page), if they will reject (which they most likely will) then
    2) you have no obligation to give up the domain name (except if they are willing to drop a few millions for it) you may have to cease using it though, rename sparkfun.com to something else like SparkFunIsNotSPARC.com (SFINS?)
    But IANAL…
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tmcases/amf.htm

  • Yep, the lawyers are probably driving this whole show and railroading SPARC against their better judgment. They probably made a compelling case that this was some kind of emergency, that a “theft” was in progress. You can bet SPARC will pay $100k for the prosecution of this idiocy over the next 6 months. SPARC needs to recognize these lawyers for what they are: LIFE-SUCKING PARASITES. I’m frankly surprised there’s still any left in the “IP” business to cause any trouble. I thought they were all laid off and on to other things, like figuring out how to grab some of those Obama bucks. Apparently, there’s still some cleaving to the sheer rock face of what was American tech leadership.

  • I’m still waiting for an Office Space style beat down of a SPARC station. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfCYzJAgwrw

  • Super lame.

  • Any Updates from the SparkFun gang?!

  • Here is another example of Corporate Monsters trying to get another piece of the pie:
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iTH-tsAmOUKatfUKo_9dxLJtD5qQD9BGAG480
    This one is about beer and not electronics…

  • This is ridiculous. Sparkfun or no fun!

  • Wow, are all copyright lawyers total parasites? You guys should have an open and shut case here. I hope the judge makes them pay the legal fees…

  • I don’t know what the odds are that an ignored C&D letter results in no consequences. I think a letter repudiating their claims line by line would be the first step. Maybe also a letter to SI addressing 1) intent and 2) effect. There’s no malicious intent, not even sly intent to parasitically benefit from the Sparc trademark. There’s no negative effect from the two trademarks co-existing, because a) nobody in reality confuses the two, b) there’s no lost business because the product lines are different. (There could be lost business because of negative publicity, but not due to any trademark confusion.)

  • Oh god. That is BS. However, now that you have posted that letter, DMCA takedown notice in 3, 2, 1…

  • Oh yeah I was totally confused when I ordered an accelerometer and did not receive a 32U server rack mount in the mail. Seriously, frivolous lawsuits are getting out of hand. I guess its time to start flaming SPARC on their own website…

  • Long life to SparkFun Electronics, you are internationally known and appreciated (I speak for the Swedish side :) )
    Do not give up! We need you so much!
    Mat.

  • Lawyer = Parasite
    This is like comparing RISC and Riskybusiness. If RISC was a registered trademark, would a company called Riskybusiness be prevented from selling microprocessor based products; because RISC sounds like Risk? One is clearly an acronym. So anytime someone trademarks an acronym, no one can ever use a word that “sounds the same”? One thing I’m confused by, is this SUN or some spin-off of SUN? Do they really need the public embarrassment of picking on a small company like Sparkfun? Have they become that irrelevant in their industry that they fell the need to do this?

  • SparkFun customers aren’t stupid. SPARC customers aren’t stupid, either.
    The only ones confused here are SPARC management and specifically, their Marketing group. If they think that having the use of “SparkFun” for selling their wares will improve their bottom line, I suggest they pause for a bit and think what their customers will do upon hearing the word “fun” used to name high-end servers.
    Give up? They’ll shake their heads at the lame excuse for a Marketing group that SPARC has and then buy their products anyway. So they should save themselves some embarrassment and give up this silly waste-of-time.

  • I’ve given PJ at www.groklaw.net a heads up on this one, she may want to add it to her list of follies.

  • Why would any large corportation want to harm the productivity of any business that supplies many instruments to our learning college students! I know that myself and most of my classmates, when I was a student at Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia, have used sparkfun to assist them in learning and enhancing their college experience. This ploy to force SparkFun to spend tons of money on lawyer fees will simply retract those funds from creating new helpful products that our current college students desperately need and use on almost a daily basis! Not to mention the many tutorials that are offered here that assist any novice in advancing in their knowledge basis. This is simply ridiculous and sad to see that any large corporation would want to harm this smaller company who doesn’t even take any of their market share. Sparkfun and SPARC, I certainly have never gotten them confused!

    • I do have a question for SparkFun…..
      If this goes sour and you are forced to change your website/name, will we all recieve an e-mail explaining where to go to find you?

  • Corporate and political BS. It amazes me how much the industry attitude has changed over the last few years. Bottom line; GREED! If someone has a great idea and it becomes in the least bit popular, the Corporate Monsters always want a peice of the pie. Look at whats happened in the past year. Bank bailouts, morgage crisis, credit crunch, blah, blah blah. All of it is based on taking advantage of us, the tinkerers, the prototypers, the teslas, the edisons in our garage building things out of pure inspiration. SparkFun is a extremely valuable source of these tools that help us create our maddness….. This just makes me Furious… Here is another “Tucker” or “DeLorean” about to be swept up into the crazy legal system. I’m so sick of the Corporate Monster, who has no face or personality. You can’t hold that one person accountable…… If we join together we can beat them… but it will be hard and a difficult task….. If we put all of our “Sparkfun” mad scientist thinking together and a bit of luck, we can kill this order.. its ridiculous. Dan Phillips dphillips@lycos.com

  • Corporate and political BS. It amazes me how much the industry attitude has changed over the last few years. Bottom line; GREED! If someone has a great idea and it becomes in the least bit popular, the Corporate Monsters always want a peice of the pie. Look at whats happened in the past year. Bank bailouts, morgage crisis, credit crunch, blah, blah blah. All of it is based on taking advantage of us, the tinkerers, the prototypers, the teslas, the edisons in our garage building things out of pure inspiration. SparkFun is a extremely valuable source of these tools that help us create our maddness….. This just makes me Furious… Here is another “Tucker” or “DeLorean” about to be swept up into the crazy legal system. I’m so sick of the Corporate Monster, who has no face or personality. You can’t hold that one person accountable…… If we join together we can beat them… but it will be hard and a difficult task….. If we put all of our “Sparkfun” mad scientist thinking together and a bit of luck, we can kill this order.. its ridiculous. Dan Phillips dphillips@lycos.com

  • Hang in there SparkFun! While the next few months will not be so “fun” with the SPARC people and their legal team, please keep your chin up and do not give in. Hopefully, you have great legal representation and enough pro-bono work to see this through to the end and you win your case.
    Did you mention they’re down the road from you? Maybe they got tired of seeing all the fun you guys are having. It’s got to be a little depressing down there at SPARC with the layoffs, the collapsing market share, and that fewer and fewer highend computer applications need their over-priced equipment. Certainly, they need to keep their legal department engaged so I guess you became the target for now.
    Here’s one fan cheering for David!

  • This is incredible, but most of all, very sad. In any case you have my full support on this.
    Ivo

  • Who is SPARC? Does it sound well SPARC-RATS for those sparked-lot-of-spark?
    Nate, I will place an order to your company in the next days. Just keep on doing things like as today. Me and many people out there hit your site every day in a sort of browsing a modern electronic magazine searching for cool news on amazing electronic pieces. Again, who is SPARC?
    Best regards.

  • I think this request is something incredible…SUN should remember that ‘the SUN rises for all’ everyday…
    People who likes or knows about technology,computers,electronics,…are not stupid…i mean, we know exactly where we are and what we are looking for…
    I work with servers that use SPARC’s proccessors and i like to make embedded projects too…and i have never been confused about one or another…they are totally diferent things…
    1. phonetically identical:If you use two words probably it will be the case…but nobody use it that way…
    2. visually similar:Maybe you can change the color of the flame…:) because i don’t see they are similar…
    3. used in connection with identical goods…again we are no stupid:We know where we are…sparkfun sells integrated circuits and developments boards for the hobbie enthuasiast and other professionals…:) and SUN sells servers(complete solutions for the IT bussiness).
    4. confusion is likely to occur among the relevant purchasing group:If both sell the same products it would be the case…but that’s false.
    Good look.

  • Absolutely ridiculous. I presume they’ll sue sparkplug.net and sparkplug.com as well? Are manufacturers of sparkplugs still allowed to use the name of their products?

  • As mentioned, the chances of anyone getting confused between the two are ridiculous. For arguments sake, even if they do, there is no loss to SPARC as SparkFun doesn’t represent any alternative to the products sold under the SPARC trademark.
    It’s clear from the letter that the lawyers have the wrong perspective. From the lay-man point-of-view it may appear to be similar, but anyone with the slightest bit of electronics knowledge (such as those on SparkFun) or those looking for a SPARC system know well and truly the difference…
    Although I think it is not necessary: Be strong, SparkFun!
    -YL

  • The best way to donate to SparkFun is to buy their products. I fully support sparkfun and in my opinion is the best retailer I have ever seen.
    Long Live SparkFun! (not SPARC)

  • Here is a copy of a letter that I just sent to SPARC
    “I just read Mr. Nate’s letter posted on the SPARKFUN ELECTRONICS site and am amazed at the frank BULLYING that the law firm with whom you have contracted is enacting towards the SPARKFUN ELECTRONICS Company. The term SPARKFUN infringes on SPARC International’s intellectual property rights????
    DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE IDIOTS? If so, then perhaps SPARKFUN ELECTRONICS SHOULD BE SUEING YOU!!!!!!!!!
    Your threat of a lawsuite against SPARKFUN ELECTRONICS could be used in schools of law as a perfect example of A FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITE!!!!.
    NOW GO AND PACK UP YOUR K&L GATES HENCHMEN (and HENCHWOMAN) and do something beneficial for society instead of attempting to intimidate a company that is providing a useful service to customers instead of wasting its money on supporting its own paranoia.
    In utter disbelief,
    Joseph G Papeika, BSW, ASRRT”

  • Not sure how many of you might remember, but the auto parts retailer, AutoZone used to be known as Auto Shack. But Radio Shack did not like the similarity and threatened to sue, so they changed their name. As ridiculous as this action seems, Many companies have had success with this tactic.

  • This is utterly ridiculous. Don’t let them get away with it. They have no case here, and if they have to, I’m certain they will find out the hard way.

  • i’m sure anyone with enough expertise to shop directly from either sparc OR sparkfun would be well aware of the distinction between the two.
    to the general public, any theoretical confusion is irrelevant, since they wouldn’t be in the position to make such a distinction in the first place.
    all in all, it seems like a bad case of lawyers following their flow charts

  • This is reminiscent of when Walmart opened a store in Ottawa. A small business, Woolmart, in a nearby mall had been operation for some years and received a similar letter from Walmart’s lawyers. IIRC, Woolmart prevailed but went out of business a couple of years later.
    Don’t give in to these jerks.

  • I feel that frivolous bullying attempts from big corporations to small business do more damage to themselves.
    SparkFun has a niche following, who after reading things like these, will probably dislike the bully company. As we all know very well, word of mouth is the best way to spread the bad news and experiences.
    Will it cost SPARC International key business? Probably not.
    Is it good PR for SPARC International? Definitely not.
    I wish you a speedy and pain-free resolution to this fiasco.

  • I think the legal dept deserve a care package from the below.
    http://www.mailpoop.com/

  • I see this ending very poorly for Sun, which is unfortunate considering that I’ve heard great things about their servers.
    All say “aye” in favor of issuing a Cease and Desist to the “legal” folks in this country. Hoy vey….

  • Hi Nate,
    this ridicolous story is almost the same happen to me about 15 years ago. We were 3 friends which developed a software application. Our names were Marco, Maurizio and again Marco. I admit we had not much fantasy when choose and registered our web domain name 3MSystem.com, but that was the true explanation of those three “M” as header of the domain name…
    Two years later we received almost the same letter from the lawyers of the big 3M company (!)
    They sent more warnings, but we answered practically the same you have done. Initally we were scared by this attack, but then we understood they have no chance to defeat us in a court. In fact their target is to push you leave them your domain name by fear. For this reason THEY are real domain name robbers !
    Marco

  • Really, I’ve never confused the two, and I’d heard of both before. I do hope SPARC just stops that silliness.

  • As a trademark and patent holder I absolutely understand the desire to protect one’s hard-fought intellectual property assets. But good grief, this just seems abusive. Bosch makes sparkplugs, they’re electronic in nature - sounds very similar to SPARC - perhaps SI should go after them as well. SI, if you’re reading, get back to designing sweet hardware and stop piddling about with mindless legal bs.

  • I am sorry to say I placed an order with you guys for 10K SPARC systems. I have been waiting for 2 years for delivery. Now I know what is up. I was confused and ordered from the wrong company. Rather than change your name, you should fold up and get a real job…. like at McDucks.
    If you won’t be noble and do as I suggest, at least change your name to avoid confusion.
    I suggest “Company formerly known as Sparkfun , but the SPARC boys were messing with our head and we are in Boulder so now we will be known as CFKASBTSBWMWOHAWAIBSNWWBKA.recursion”

  • It is 100% completely all about money. Times are hard and so they are looking for lawsuits to get money or destroy competition. pathetic indeed.

  • This morning, I was looking at the most recent edition of the Economist and on the very back I saw this ad:
    http://www.oracle.com/features/sunoraclefaster.html
    Looks like Oracle is paying for some expensive marketing real estate to promote SPARC.

  • It’s just a scare letter. My advice is to ignore it. They have to get some court interested in it before you have to do anything.

  • Terribly pathetic. I wouldn’t worry about it too much tho. I’m sure they’ll give up soon enough - they can’t possibly think this will actually make a case in court.

  • This is ridiculous…
    Just to be on the safe side, you guys should make sure that nobody has trademarked (or reserved in any way) the word “fun”, because if they have, then we can have any.
    On a more serious note, I hope this whole thing just goes away (when the lawyers figure out that an arduino+internet shield is not quite the same as a sparc web server) and ends up being just great publicity for you!

  • FYI, Sun Microsystems is only a MEMBER of SPARC International; they’re not the owner.
    “SPARC International was created in 1989 as an independent, non-profit organization to oversee and guide the SPARC evolution. Our IP consists of the SPARC Instruction Set Architecture, SPARC trademarks, and, SPARC derivative TM’s. The organization is funded entirely by our members in support of SPARC architecture and its Open Standards technology. ”
    Anyone can become a member of SPARC International (for enough money). This is just an overactive trademark attorney that needs to be pimpslapped.

  • A typical greedy corporate move. Wait until the SparkFun name is established then steal the brand recognition under the pretense of “protecting” their rights. To many small businesses have already been buried this way. It does not matter if they have a legitimate legal case. If they can keep it in litigation then they can bankrupt the company and get what they want that way.

  • Oh, I freaking love you guys. Epic post is epic. Anyway, they don’t have any case, even with fancy expensive laywers, so no problems.

  • In Malaysia, McDonald lost it’s lawsuit against a small restaurant using the name McCurry selling noodles. I guess SPARC’s attempt is going nowhere.

  • Simple – rename SparkFun to “Intel'sWhippingBoyFun”.

  • +1 to this is ridiculous.

  • Long live SparkFun!

  • Alright, i sent them an email

  • Gave them my $0.02 via email. This is ludicrous…

  • Reminds me of the famous case where Budweiser went after a flower shop whose name was: “This Bud’s for You”.
    Supposedly a company that has a trademark must defend it or their claim to it will eventually be watered down. We’re in a recession and lawyers have mortgages to pay.
    This claim sure looks like a stretch - doesn’t it.
    Good luck - Nathan!

  • Wow, that’s ridiculous! I’ve used Sun products for a while and have NEVER drawn that similarity. I would suppose that anyone in the tech industry should be able to tell the difference between SparkFun and SPARC Ind. - if not, well he/she should not be in the technology industry! I really hope SPARC removes their cranium from their rectum. Bullying a small company around is idiotic for a company of their size.

  • I got a sparkfun hoodie for my wife, that makes it too late to change the name

  • Wow. Bad PR for SPARC. Sure doesn’t make me want to buy servers from them. Not that I was planning on it. ;-)
    I’ll be cheering for you SparkFun, and spreading the word on line and in the real world as much as I can.
    Really bad move SPARC. Bad move.

  • According to the SPARC website, a trademark is…
    (it lists the various forms a trademark may take, and then continues)
    “… that has been adopted by a manufacturer or retailer for use in connection with its products to identify their origin and to differentiate them from the products of competitors."
    Section A. Go figure. ID Ten T error at its finest!!!
    http://www.sparc.org/trade8.html
    ”… for use in connection with its products to identify their origin and to differentiate them from …“ here’s the real idiot-confirming part: ”… the products of competitors.“ As it has been stated, you’re not competing with them, so the C&D is invalid, according to them.
    Hopefully this will help prove they’re wrong (contradictory at a minimum).

  • If they cause SparkFun to tank, then I will campaign to make sure that not another Sparc system is sold. That’s ridiculous, they have no right doing this.

  • Mexico esta a favor de Sparkfun!!!
    Diganle a los abogados que se pongan a trabajar y a investigar antes de empezar cada caso.
    Translate:
    Mexico is at the side of Sparkfun!!!
    Tell lawyers that they should work and investigate before beginning each case.
    Saludos.

  • A trademark search would have uncovered this potential conflict, and they are actually quite inexpensive. You should probably fire your lawyer for not suggesting it a long time ago. You do have one right? This is America after all. Good luck…

  • I encourage everyone to do what I am doing: writing a letter to Ms. Redfield of K&L Gates. The technical community must clearly articulated that we are not idiots when it comes to distinguishing products from SPARC and SparkFun. Obviously, the lawyers must thing we are morons, and I will not sit still for the insult.

  • Hey Guys
    Initially I thought this was an elaborately constructed joke by Sparkfun. Then, after reading the comments, I realised that the law firm really does suffer the delusion that Sparc and Sparkfun have anything more than four characters in common. So, in response I constructed my own special tongue-in-cheek revenge letter. Here is a link to it…
    http://www.megaupload.com/?d=P5AH7OU9
    Enjoy!
    Simmers

  • I’m definitely behind you guys as well. It’s a weird coincidence that I was just reading about a case of cease and desist story this morning that seemed to be be easily resolved with a lawsuit for a declaratory judgement.
    Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_Entertainment
    While the story isn’t really close in circumstances it does have the “big versus small” feel to it.

  • K&L Gates are trying to show their worth… They must get a good retainer every year or they are in need of billable hours..
    Hey… K&L… go do something worthwhile, will you? This is just ridiculous.
    Arggggg!

  • I wonder if they’ll let me still call this:
    http://inga.blogg.se/images/2009/2-ut-spark_25442975.jpg
    a “spark”? That’s what it’s been called since the 1800’s.
    On a more serious note. Fight them, don’t let them push you around just because they are bigger. I’m sure it has been mentioned before and I’d like to say that I’m more than willing to give a few bucks to help with legal fees. Don’t underestimate the power of a million scorned nerds.

  • I have used Sun Microsystems SPARC based machines and have always had a great deal of respect for Sun Microsystems and their product. Recently, for a year or so, I have used and are using Sparkfun products in my personal projects. Sparkfun has also gained my respect for a well designed and supported product. At no time was I ever confused as to which company had the product I needed for a particular project. I am however an engineer… as are many in the Sun/SPARC “relevant purchasing group”. So to get an unbiased view I asked my wife to look at both companies and tell me if they could be confused for one another or offered similar products. It only took about three minutes for her to tell me, “You’re waisting my time with this. They’re not even close. Are you trying to stir up trouble or something?”. So it’s unanamous, you don’t have to be an engineer to tell the difference in SPARC and Sparkfun, but if you’re an Attorney you may be confused.
    Stand Your Ground, No one is confused, but K&L Gates are definatly stirring up trouble.

  • I’m thinking that SPARC might be trying to use SPARCfun as a new SPARC-derived mark. In the process they discovered your name/domain name.
    Or maybe someone that works there drove by and saw your new SparkFun sign, and subsequently had the idea for SPARCfun.
    Good luck with this issue, we’re all pulling for you.

  • I love SparkFun because it is Spark + Fun ,
    but Sparc just seems, feels, sounds, smells totally different?
    SparkFun FTW :)
    Greetings from UAE :)

  • I dont know if you could actually do this, But I would have my lawyer reply with a nice letter, and inform them that further action toward this would result in them being billed for any and all legal services that are incurred as a result. I am quite sure one could place a counter suit if they were to continue with their action. I kinda wish i were a judge… I may not last long, but i would set some precedents that’s for sure.
    In any case, keep doing what your doing guys!!! sparkfun != sparc

  • As a signoff, in case SPARC International can prevail since they claim that they’ve registered SPARK in their list of trademarks, I suggest we rename for something kind of poetic and encompassing two beautiful times of day:
    Sunset Electronics, Preparing for the New Dawn.
    Kind of an Out with the Old, In with the New kind of statement ;^)

  • This is tough. They are big and it can cost you a lot to defend what I consider your legal rights. To pharaphrase a movie, “I am big, you are small, I am right, you are wrong.” Clearly they can kill you with money and legal fees even though I think they would lose.
    This type of legal bullying goes on all too often in our society. I think it apalling. What to do. I would like to see you fight it but can you win against their money. I think you would win but am not a lawyer and they can bleed you for a long time.
    I would like to see you fight. I would be willing to contribute. Perhaps a large number of small contributions could overcome. I would also suggest you contact the Electronic Freedom Foundation (www.eff.org.) This is a great organization dedicated to fighting abuses of our rights in the electronic age. This is a little off their direction but they might be interested. They would I think certainly give advice.
    This makes me ?mad as hell?
    If EFF does not help, I would suggest a contribution link on your web site. Its a risk for you, I hope you are willing to fight.
    Charlie Bisbee
    .

  • Kind of hilarious side note. When I Google search “sparc international”, the second result is:
    Sun’s Venerable SPARC? Trademark Site Infected!
    (snip)
    www.sparcproductdirectory.com/si-1.html - Cached - Similar -
    It happened back in July and made sparcproductdirectory.com feel that they had to remove all links to protect their users…

  • I LOVE YOU GUYSSSS,
    Keep up the good work.
    Greetings from Holland

  • Dear Sparkfun
    the lawer of sparc will have a lot of work in germany, switzerland and austria
    Good luck from switzerland
    Gianni
    www.sparkasse.de/
    www.sparkasse-wiesendangen.ch/
    www.sparkasse-trogen.ch
    www.sparkasse-engelberg.ch/
    www.sparkasse-dielsdorf.ch/
    www.sparkasse-hochrhein.de/
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparkasse

  • Where this prurient pile originates from. See their blog where they give notice:
    http://sparcinternational.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/sparc-international-trademarks/

  • As noticed on www.sparco.com, who’ve probably had to deal with this, or are soon to deal with this, is the following disclaimer.
    Copyright ?1999-2009 Unistar-Sparco Computers, Inc. All rights reserved. Unistar-Sparco Computers, Inc. is not affiliated with SPARC International, Inc.

  • SPARC International seems to be awake on Saturday. They got their website infection cleaned up. Mine some contact information for this person.
    Morgan Slain
    CEO
    SPARC International
    Per their brochure http://www.sparc.org/download/brochure.pdf

  • Quite amazing, and ridiculous. It would seem to me that the company “SPARC International” chose a word that is phonetically similar to the common English word “spark” – a word closely associated with electronics. I have ordered products from SparkFun and I am aware of “SPARC”. The products, and cost of those products, are wildly different - no confusion to me.
    I would much rather that SparkFun puts its money into new product development rather than legal fees so I view this action by SPARC International as rather sad.

  • Numerical speaking, isn’t electronics the dominant portion of your logo?
    For that mater Spa is the dominant portion of Sparc, it seem there should be more than a number of companies that could sue Saparc over this.

  • As an IT Professional with over 25 years experience in the field of computing and electronics and as a frequent customer of both Sun Microsystems AND SparkFun, I can assure all parties that I definitely know the difference between an Arduino microcontroller such as what SparkFun sells and the SPARC family of enterprise CPUs that SPARC sells.
    This member(and I’m sure many others) of the “relevant purchasing group” is not in the least confused about the products that either company sells nor the spelling of their respective names.

  • Googling sparc here in the UK :
    http://www.sparc.ac.uk/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPARC
    http://www.arl.org/sparc/
    http://www.sparc.org.nz/
    http://www.sparc.org/ <——-
    http://www.sparc-project.org/
    http://www.sparcmiltonkeynes.com/
    Sparc Industries are not even in the top three.
    I used to use sun computers but they are getting left behind now, maybe they want to be like SCO.
    If they want to defend a phonetic trademark then what it is being used for is immiterial, they are going to be busy.
    Sparc industries - get a life.

  • This is pretty dumb. You have my support, FWIW.
    Pat

  • Sun is currently in its death throes, and this desperate attempt to shore up what is left of its intellectual property is further evidence of its imminent demise. I wrote about it a few weeks ago here:
    http://k0lee.com/2009/10/sun-also-sets/

  • I made my first purchase from SparkFun recently. I found it by accident on a web search,unrelated to SPARC. In browsing the site I never once thought that it might be in any way associated with the computer behemoth. The assertion of identical goods is absurd.
    One might as well say that the estate of Nikola Tesla owns the word “spark” due to prior use, because he made enormous artificial sparks and that therefore SPARC is not a legitimate use.

  • Time to inform them of just how silly they look. Here is the contact info.
    (tel) 408-250-9337
    sparcinfo@sparc.org

  • I agree that this is absurd. The problem I see is convincing the legal types. They can barely spell SPARC vs SPARK. What’s legal doesn’t always match whats logical. I can’t see the overlap other than a phonetic one. I’m certainly not confused as to the difference between a processor architecture family and a place that makes / sells electronic widgets and components.

  • I don’t see SUN Microsystems or SPARC International stepping up to the plate in my lifetime to equiual DigiKey or Mouser (SparkFun’s actual type of business). I don’t see putting an array of ARM, ATMega, PIC and other microcontrollers together using flash cards for memory with GPS input, two axis gyro, servo and gear motor outputs to create a SPARC architecture based server system.
    Your feeling an economic pinch, deciding to set a bunch of lawyers after a components supplier and technology educator instead of a true competitor screams of desperation on a massive scale. If you win, your name is basically synonymous with all that’s going wrong in the US tech sector. just by having the letter sent out, SUN Microsystems and SPARK International have done themselves damage.
    SPARC is an acronym denoting a computer architecture.

    SparkFun is a company that provides components that will not be used in a SPARC architecture computer system and your attack will through their educational channels, send the message to young electronics enthusiasts that US technology employers like SUN Microsystems don’t want them.

  • SUN Microsystems customers tend to be pretty well educated, it takes a little higher level of knowledge to implement your equipment. We know that SPARC is an architecture used in a big, really expensive box that truthfully can be replaced today by a few high end Intel products with more readily available replacement parts and an operating system that tends to have more people familiar with its setup and operation and are dealing with management who wants to cut costs.
    We probably also are people who waste our off hours tinkering with electronics projects, building autonomous robots, goofing around with microprocessors and interesting ways of monitoring our house pets over the internet while we are maintaining your SUN Microsystems computers which don’t do a very good job of implementing all these Rube Goldberg like inventions. For parts to create these products, we depend on SparkFun Electronics.
    Cont…

  • Trademark Trolling means we’re circling the drain
    Just like urban areas have to deal with a problem called urban blight, we are seeing that Silicon Valley is dealing, or rather in this case creating a problem called Silicon Blight.
    SPARC International and by association, SUN Microsystems are attacking their future by embroiling a source (SparkFun Electronics) for electronics components and educational information for our future electronics technicians, engineers, firmware programmers and robotics specialists.
    The spurious attempt by SPARC International to fraudulently steal SparkFun Electronics domain name sends the message to these future workers that we are living in the United States of America, the land of NO OPPORTUNITY, NO FUTURE, and NO JUSTICE. You are sending the message that the best route to getting tech jobs would be to find an H1B Visa holder, get very friendly and attempt to emigrate for a tech internship overseas.
    Cont…

  • What planet are they on!!! The two are nothing like! You have full support over the pond in the UK

  • This new post is now the third search result on Google for “SPARC international”. Good job protecting their “highly valuable trademarks”.
    It seems unfair to blame Sun for this however, SPARC International is an independent organization created by Sun to hold the IP of SPARC products, but they do not directly control it anymore. It looks like they don’t manufacture anything and live similarly to ARM Holdings, through licensing and lawsuits.
    Interestingly the K&L Gates law firm is a member of SPARC International.

  • Just reported this as a violation of ethics/conduct and also did a small EECB. Looks like the president/CEO email is valid…

    RCPT TO:
    =250 recipient OK

  • I reported this as a conduct/ethics violation and did a small EECB. Looks like the JonathanSchwartz@sun.com might be none other than Chief Executive Officer and President himself.
    Log:
    MX record about sun.com exists.
    Connection succeeded to btmx6.sun.com SMTP.
    220 relay1i.sun.com (IntraStore TurboSendmail) ESMTP Service ready

    HELO
    RCPT TO:
    =250 recipient OK

  • Hi I am not a lawyer but this may help you to prepare your defence, in the Nuts & Volts magazine of February 2008 (WAY BEFORE THIS LETTER)the editor say: “My favorite source for miniature, feather-weight modules is SparkFun Electronics(www.sparkfun.com). the company offer an amazing assortment of modules - GPS receivers, Bluetooth modens …… and a variety of sensors……"
    I have the printed magazine if you need it…

  • Never ever in my mind, have I associated Sparkfun with SPAC international or vice versa. Both companies are however well known to me. This claim of theirs is a disgrase, a cowardly act which they should be ashamed of.

  • If it’s any consolation at all, SPARC spelled backward is CRAPS.
    Like so many others that have posted here, I, too, would be willing to donate to a “Keep SparkFun Alive” fund.

  • I would be more than happy to donate to a legal defense fund if you guys have to go that far…
    Its not uncommon nowadays for companies that have lackluster sales to look for their legal dept. to contribute to the bottom line.

  • What an absolute piece of crap.
    It is an insult to brain injury victims to say that they would be the only ones who would confuse SparkFun with pretty much anything.
    I have been a proud customer for… well, before I had so much grey hair. That didn’t come out right.
    Please know that whatever goes on with these morons, us folks are going to buy your awesome stuff no matter what. And we will make sure no one in our sphere of influence ever buys anything from these clowns. And, yes, this should be publicised and these guys should be massively embarassed by it.
    I want that t-shirt that says “SparkFun != SPARC”.
    Man that just makes me mad. 100% behind you guys. Your name is cool, but it is NOT the reason why we like you. It is a little beyond skin deep :-)

  • Is not “SI” used for the International System of Units (or le Syst?me international d'unit?s for why it is SI). Thus aren’t Sun, SPARC or whoever actually now using SOMEONE ELSES trademark? ;)
    At the end of the day the is the fact at how close does something have to be before it infringes? Microsoft use green in their logo which is the same colour as an apple, maybe Apple should sue them?! (OK over the top but puts the point across).
    Anyway you are using SparkFun which is totally different to SPARC both in pronunciation and writing. Not only that but I would say the context is different as well, your name suggest to me “the spark of fun” which is what you do, we then build on that spark. In the UK I certainly don’t think there would be much of a case; probably get thrown out before it hit the courts. I hope yours seen sense.

  • I wish there was something I could to to help you guys out. It much really suck to be a small business being hassled by an organization like SI, that doesn’t seem to actually do anything productive. It’s a long-shot (they usually take on big, internet-related issues), but perhaps the EFF’s (Electronic Freedom Foundation) lawyers can offer some assistance. Anyhow, it looks like you have a pretty good case to defend yourself with. I hope SparkFun’s lawyers really socks it to them, while resisting the temptation to actually go to court (big bucks, long time, no fun!). …heck, sue them for filing a frivilous lawsuit… Good luck!

  • Looks like those aren’t having much trouble:
    http://sparcsys.com/

  • The lawyers should totally go after www.klwines.com instead. After all, K&L Gates, K&L Wines, it’s an easier target, and I bet they have more income than SparkFun.
    Seriously, law suit abuse is just sad. If SPARC can bother SparkFun for their name, can Microsoft bother Microchip about theirs?

  • I like what SparkFun does as I often teach younger members of staff relevant aspects of electronics.
    So here’s to SparkFun!

  • Absolutely ridiculous… Sparkfun supports a rather large but separate community to be confused…
    I can only thing that SI is in need of quick money nothing else, cause AMD is hitting hard their market…
    First of all, they products are utterly different
    Hobby electronics compared with end products…
    Funny thing is that this is the first time I hear about Sparc term….
    I dunno guys, these companies play heavy but, their demands and their sayings are for laughters….
    Keep up the good work, you make electronics happen….
    You can make this happen too!!!
    Give us Sparkfun, or give us death
    Best Regards, Lefteris
    Greece

  • Another example of the corporate/trademark/patenting world gone MAD - your trademark is in lower case, these is in upper case …. fight it. I suppose the lawyers for SPARC need to do something to justify their MASSIVE salaries

  • So by the same logic surely this is a sparc server
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_de_Graaff_generator
    ???

  • that’s a bloody joke, they should just f*off. A law firm trying to make money.
    SI is the owner of several trademarks, e.g. SPARC, ULTRASPARC, SPARC64, SPARCengine etc.. IF they had a trademark on SPARCFUN, it might be confusing, but unfortunately, that would contradict their “serious” (read: “less fun”) business image… but they don’t, so that’s bollocks.
    Secondly, SPARC as Scalable Processor Architecture doesn’t have anything to do with Sparkfun as in sparking fun ideas.. thanks.
    Finally, if they seriously want to tell the press (and the world) that they produce server products that have similar properties as 20MIPS microprocessors… well, sure… go ahead then.

  • I draw your attention to the 2nd paragraph. There a number of magazines over here in the UK (Computing, Computer Weekly, PC Plus, etc.) who like nothing more than publishing stories about when major players within the IT sector get things wrong in spectacular fashion. I imagine the US publications have a similar (slightly vindictive) sense of humour. I think a few emails may be in order here!
    “Sir/ madam
    As a user of Sun Microsystems products for a number of years (I’m a professional Java Programmer and the firm where I work use a number of SPARC Servers), I was appalled to read about the cease and desist letter that you’ve sent to SparkFun Electronics for alleged infringement of trademark….
    I should like to point out that the negative publicity within the IT sector of you pursuing this claim against a company who are not a direct rival to Sun Microsystems will be catastrophic when compared with any alleged negative impact on your brand caused by allowing SparkFun Electronics to continue trading under their existing name.
    …”

  • I think they’ve got things backwards, You’re the ones who should be suing them for negative publicity.
    seriously though, this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve come across all day. I’m supporting you 100%.

  • IANAL but from memory, generic terms cannot be trademarked. In this case, I’d be curious to see how the lawyers would consider the “phonetically similar” argument when placed next to “phonetically the same as a generic term”.
    Or put another way, a claim that ‘SparkFun’ is too similar to ‘SPARC’ would seem to have about the same weight as the word “Spark” [or phonetic equivalents O:-)] being a generic term and hence (i) unlikely trademarkable by itself since it is insufficiently distinguishing; and (ii) unenforceable as a trademark on the grounds of being a generic word. I suspect a good lawyer could argue that the plaintiff can’t have it both ways, without the term becoming generic.
    This obviously isn’t legal advice; one of the sad things I’ve learnt when it comes to legal matters is you absolutely need advice from your lawyer. I will add one more thing though. I’ve been a sysadmin working with Sun equipment since 1991. And until I read the entry on the SparkFun homepage a short while ago, it had never occurred to me that there was any similarity between the marks cited in the C&D letter.

  • It sounds like the preliminary step to filing a UDRP dispute, particularly the bit about transferring the domain name to them.
    My guess is they were sending out a C&D to every domain with the word ‘SPARC’ in it, including the domain squatted “sparcfun.com”, which lead them to the “sparkfun.com” site, and they happily added that to the list.
    Fortunately, you have a registered trademark for SparkFun, which should hopefully protect against domain name seizure by arbitration. (Note that the UDRP arbitrators are effectively paid via the filing fees. Perhaps not coincidentally, there seems to be a historical bias towards the party filing the dispute.)
    Good luck, and may sanity prevail!

  • I’ve this behavior before. Companies who are falling by the technological wayside often try to bolster their relevance by filing lawsuits. It just means Sparc is on the way out and is desparate.
    I just had the Spark Plugs in my truck replaced. Does Champion need to worry?

  • Wow, what a hilarious story. I guess some legal department was getting too restless and figured the people they’d be affecting most had even less idea about what’s up than they do.
    I appreciate Sun and the SPARC architecture, but I don’t think they have a leg to stand on here and I’m saddened that they’d even suggest that they do.
    That said, some of these ARM and AVR CPUS SparkFun offers are pretty powerful, who knows, maybe enough of them could be strapped together on a nice little PCB to, with the help of some alien software, compute digits of pi at a rate comparable to one of the entry level SPARC CPUs. Har har har.

  • Hello,
    I would like to purchase a spark based server but have yet to locate one on your site. Please remedy this.

  • Since 1995, the typical “SPARC” based systems selling for $25,000+ have been been out-classed by competing Intel based systems selling for less than $2,000. I’ve always been amazed that Sun has lasted so long. Well, no more! Larry and Oracle are buying up the Sun scraps - along with the Sun lawyers. The only sad thing is Java may die along with it.
    Here’s the plan - sell Sun the SparkFun.com web domain name for $12.2 Billion, rename SparkFun to ArcFun, and then you can be remorseful (and wealthy) for the inconvenience you caused them.

  • Well, even if you have to change your name to nerdvirgin.com, I’ll still spend my hard earned money here… although I would prefer not to see that on my credit card statement.

  • I understand the outrage people feel about this letter but it stems from a lack of knowledge about these matters…..
    there is a very simple fact at work here. If you have a trademark/patent and someone infringes on it you have to actively protect it. If you don’t, after some time it could be rendered invalid.
    So, maybe sparkfun only barely resembles Sparc. But what about the next company that comes along named Sparck, and they do sell Sparc-like servers? In that dispute Sparck could argue that Sparkfun was allowed to operate and therefore sparc didn’t adequately defend its mark.
    What happens in these cases, ideally, is an agreement where between the two parties wherein sparkfun agrees never to sell complete computers. that way sparc protected its mark and sparkfun can continue unmolested.

    • While I understand what you’re saying, it doesn’t mean that it requires SI to create frivolous, baseless threats. They need to protect their trademark from actual incidents where there might be confusion - not act like a bully because some whackjob interpretation of that law makes it possible.
      To frame the argument in a different way, just because it’s the end of the month, it does not mean that there must be more people than usual breaking the speed limit. It is certainly possible (statistically) that every driver on the road can obey the speed limit and no tickets should be issued.

  • This will not be tollerated! When are they going to start selling pichforks and angry mob supplies on Amazon?
    Wait they do :) Angry mob playset

  • So does this mean I don’t get a SPARC64 VII processor with then Atmel Dev board I just ordered? :-)

  • also, if this weren’t a law office sending you a threatening letter like this it would be considered extortion (do what we say or else)

  • Honestly how long do lawyers go to school for? 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? I don’t claim to know or care… What is happening to our society? We are sending our kids to university right after school for several years. They live in that “reality”. Funny thing is that “reality” is not where near the real world. They get pumped full of BS for 4 years and come out with ideals that are so out of whack it’s comical. I see this in management in large companies all the time, they hire these students right out of school and they’re so full of BS that I find it hard to get through a meeting with them without barfing. Lawyers are the same, they just have no clue what reality is like or common sense. They havent been given an opportunity to learn it. And they come out thinking they know better than everyone else. Hence the unbelievably stupid lawsuits we see all around the world today. They come out of school knowing everything about the subjects they took and nothing else.

  • I guess the number one question on my mind is “what is the intersection between google results for ‘sparkfun’ and ‘sparc international’?
    Probably not much.
    I have worked on Sun equipment for years and I’ve had experience with just about every class of hardware they’ve produced except for the starfire architecture. I’ve never ever thought about buying an arduino accessory card that I could plug into a Sun Sparc architecture computer (not even via USB!!). Lest my point be overlooked, the two are so dissimilar in ease of use that I would NEVER connect the two components and expect it to work! And that, imho, is giving them the benefit of the doubt.
    If you ask me, take them to court. You have nothing to worry about.

  • Another lawyer-troll. Right in there with the worthless patent portfolio trolls.
    Don’t spend any money on this.
    Better yet, go down to Sun and show them what you wrote and tell them to verify that this attorney is in fact authorized to take this SFE-specific action. That attorney is probably working on speculation without remuneration so there’s no real contract law to enforce.

  • Until I read about this, I had never heard of Sparc. Now that I have, I will never buy, nor support any of their products, but I will continue to support SparkFun!

  • Funny thing is… I remember an unfortunate event where Sun Microsystems sued the Republic of Java for infringement. Needless to say, the lawyers got reeled back in and smacked on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.
    Don’t be a pushover. Call in and make an executive complaint. They will drop it, and maybe it get’s the newspaper again. LA Times, Sunday edition.
    Good luck

  • Remember that thousands of people support you and know you are innocent. There is no way you can lose SparkFun, as you already have a great case. Good luck!

  • This is exactly why it is so hard for smaller companies to grow. These large predators keep swooping down to tear at their flesh.
    Give em hell Sparkfun!

  • It is too bad that larger companies can intimidate smaller companies with threats like this and can follow through with litigation because they have deep(er) pockets. This letter is ridiculous and they know it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the legal entity issuing the infringement notice is trying to generate revenue by pursuing such trivial pursuits - after all, we are still in a recession!
    I hope that SparkFun will not cave into the demands of these clowns.
    BTW, my dog’s name is Sparky. Will I be the next one to receive an infringement letter like this? ;-)

  • dtcooper: Well, that’s it for you guys. Pack it up. If it’s any consolation, it was a good run.
    Na, if push comes to shove, close up tonight, re-open tomorrow with a new name.

  • SparkFun and Sun’s eternal confusion of the spotless mind…
    When did I get so stupid that I cannot discern between the SPARC server in the server room and a hand full of electronics parts, a breakout board, some connectors and a microprocessor bought from SparkFun?
    Sun and SPARC International are embarrassing themselves in the electronics industry and making themselves a laughingstock within the IT Profession.

  • Dear SparkFun,
    This is an order to cease and desist as SPARKFUN can cause confusion with PLAYGROUND FUN. We understand that you produce equipment that instills enjoyment and excitement in young minds.
    It’s all about one thing, M-O-N-E-Y, win or loose, the layers get paid either way. Your name could be NUFKRAPS and the Vamps would find something for that too.
    Although NufKraps is kinda catchy LOL, tell them you had a NUF of their KRAPS!!

  • I live in Menlo Park, home to Sun’s headquarters. It never occurred to me that there could be any confusion between Sun’s SPARC products and Sparkfun.
    I often browse the Sparkfun site; I have never encountered a referral to ‘Spark’, it is always ‘Sparkfun’.
    The world has too many lawyers, and they like to be well paid. When this is over, blood will be sucked from a wonderful company. The kind of company that is an asset to our society. No wonder the USA isn’t doing so hot.

  • The people interested in either companies products could never confuse the two. Is it possible to believe a trademark, based on an acronym, that if one were to sound out could sound like “spark”, should preclude any other company in this nation, that sells any form of electronics from having any phonetic resemblance of said acronym in ANY part of their name? This reckless abandonment of all common sense and contemptible waste of human productivity is a mar on the United States legal system, economic structure, political philosophy, and a slap in the face to the men and women of this country that get up and do real work every day. The racketeering perpetrated under the guise of law to extort protection fees from smaller companies is abhorrent to a free nation. Stand strong. Continue in the spirit of ingenuity, education, and freedom; that which this Country seems to be in dire need of!

  • What the hell is wrong with these lawyers? Do they think the average person is too stupid to understand? This is what happens when imagination and ethics are in short supply. If this is the face of Sun Microsystems then I’m happy to see them fail. Get out of the sewer!

  • As A result of this I am throwing out all my Sun equipment and Sparc servers.
    I was going to set them up as a web server backup but i see their company is now nothing but incompetent.
    How can i trust them now with my data?
    FYI FireFox thinks Sparc Is a typo :-D

  • Think of me as several hundred or even several thousand people all sharing with the world what badly designed products and hardware you offer. You are messing with my hobby store punks and its going to cost you in more ways than any possible confusion between your brand and the branding of Sparkfun.
    On another note, I do find it very humorous that your website is listed by Google as dangerous; I guess the paybacks have already started.
    Sincerely
    Mr. Boyd

    • The funny part is that I’ve been phasing out Sun hardware at my workplace for the past 2 years. It’s just too expensive compared to other IT solutions and I sometimes wonder if Sun thinks they’re manufacturing their servers in a crystal castle. They don’t compete with other companies at all and they seem to have a much better impression of themselves than actually exists in the marketplace.
      It’s no wonder they’re on the way out.

  • I just emailed them this letter. All true and I plan to follow up each month to let them know how many people I have turned away from their hardware.
    SPARC Bankruptcy: A result of the loss of millions in hardware sales as a result of poor corporate ethics and social responsibility by SPARC Int.
    10/23/2009
    Dear SPARC International, Inc.
    I work for a very very large manufacturing company with billions of dollars in yearly revenue. I work primarily as a server administrator and infrastructure architect for network and server hardware including storage area networks and virtual systems hardware. I have considerable influence on the decisions about what type of hardware the company will purchase for servers and core infrastructure devices.
    Let me assure you that continued badgering of www.sparkfun.com by www.sparc.org will result in lost sales to my company and I will from this point on be a champion of advising friends and other companies to stay away from your products at all costs. I will make it a personal mission to bad mouth your company and products at every trade show, training venture, or meet and greet that I attend for years to come.

  • I was compelled to submit a story to http://www.techdirt.com on this. Maybe a few more submissions wouldn’t hurt, and one of them will get posted.
    Either way, I have every confidence that Sparc International, Inc., and the professionals at K&L Gates LLP will recognize that the broad term “computer components” doesn’t apply to the great interactive and prototyping electronics that SparkFun Electronics makes.
    Even if it takes a little pressure from a deluge of emails and letters pointing out the obvious absurdity.

  • This is the cheesiest, most lawyer-with-too-much-time-on-his-hands thing they could have done. You have my full support.

  • I’ve chosen to be a smart ass and respond to them. Here’s hoping I don’t hurt you in the process. I made sure to distance myself from you as much as possible.
    Log posted: http://adrian.thomas-prestemon.com/wp
    I’m pulling for you, too. If it comes to blows, I’ve got two good fists. With no money in them. But I’ll still do my best to donate to legal costs if it comes to that.

  • I wish you the best of luck and hope the increase in publicity more than covers the incredibly high legal bills which come with even a simply reply to a letter like this.

  • This seems like a totally boneheaded move on their part. There is no confusion here … even if they were to be successful in this, I don’t see that they gain anything except bad press. Don’t give in!! Long live SparkFun!

  • OMG, Greed and Arrogance has hit an all time low. For freakin Cryin out loud. This makes me so pissed I can’t even see straight.
    All I can say is I am with you sparkfun. Start a fund for your lawyer fees I will contribute. This is coming from a guy who almost for the 5th F**in time almost got laid off by a major computer/printer comapany so my job could be done by a cheap engineer in a 3rd world company. And my wife is a real estate agent and I have a fancy house and well you do the math as to how much money I have to spread around, but I will help you fight this stink!!!
    Where do they get off. Man I am mad about this.

  • I dont feel the need to be civil to these monsters, and this captures my carefully considered reaction perfectly:
    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1416293&cid=29853629
    SparkFun on the other hand, you’re a classy outfit and valuable resourcfe.

  • Sparkfun, you have my complete support in this silly case against you. I hope you do not give in and change name but rest assured your customers will remain even if you are bullied into giving in: you’re the best there is. Keep up the good work.

  • Lawyers are killing this country. Shouldn’t they at least wait until they get complaints before troubling you, your lawyers, the trademark office, and now me (with this reply in your defense) before doing what lawyers do? I suppose when you have a few suits on retainer at $500 an hour, they have to look busy so they won’t get let go.
    Shame on Sun for letting their lawyers do this crap.

  • We hear so often how the small businesses of America need support, yet our society still lets this nonsense occur. I support SparkFun in this battle 100%. I think Sun made a big mistake pissing off all the hackers and programmers that frequent SparkFun, and this will only hurt Sun in the end.

  • I’m going to back the underdog in this battle, go SparkFun. Stick it to the man.

  • As an employee of a very large IT company, this could negatively influence buying decisions…
    Don’t they understand that it’s a dumb idea to anger the Geeks? SparkFun customers are not generally managers, lawyers, or business majors.

  • Funny how lawyers can turn an otherwise good company into a douchebag company. Like new upper management.
    Sun, you lose 2-out-of-5 points in my book until you get your vultures off this ridiculous, only-bad venture.

  • What a bunch of absolute morons! Good luck guys, I hope you win this fight.

  • I didn’t find a single product on the site with the word sparc in it
    http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=sparc&x=0&y=0&search_section=products
    AFAIK the work spark was first used with computers in a game called life in 1970
    http://www.ibiblio.org/lifepatterns/october1970.html

  • Damn this pisses me off. It’s a boiler plate move too. If anything serious comes of this i’m sure you will have back up. I’m ready to make a donation to spin this around 180degrees. Damn scum suckers.
    I think sparkfun should sue for SPARC’s name! Go for it guys, put a link up. We will help.

  • This is BS that only a lawyer could love. If you have good representation, I’m sure it will be thrown out. If ridiculousness somehow prevails, though, make sure you let us know how to find you guys – consider me opted-in for any such email notices!

  • I really love to have a new post from sparkfun in my rss feed. For real it’s like a joy for me to see a news because it’s a good way to purchase goods I really love, waiting each month for my pay, just to bought something from my favorite company one the web.
    But today it’s a really bad news. I’m launching a company and whe have registred our name, we are afraid to receive such letter. I think you can win. But I think you should'nt communicate about that it can deserve you. For me it’s NOT a good operation for the SUN market image…

  • That’s funny I thought you pronounced Sparc as “SPAR-SEE”. Now I am confused. Maybe it’s Sparc as in “SPARSE”.
    Either way, I’ve never confused Sparc with SparkFun. I think we need to pass the hat and start a collection for the SparkFun defense fund. Nate, can you set up a donation button? An attack on SparkFun is an attack on us all.

  • There is absolutely no way the two will ever be confused. No judge could possible rule in their favor. This is crazy.

  • Just want to add to the “COUNTER SUE” chorus– this is an egregious misuse of the law. K&L Gates knows better. Maybe they’re just being too thorough for the sake of billing their client, or maybe their client really wants them to go after you in spite of the fact that this is clearly not an infringement on their trademark.

  • Wow, that’s just absurd. It’s totally, utterly, absurd. Your products are completely different, and no customers of either would mistake them. Simply because both involve circuit boards somewhere is not nearly sufficient.
    Phonetically identical? To have their trademark phonetically identical to a portion of yours? I’d argue that that would be relevant only if there were striking other similarities (Having a fast food chain selling cheap cheeseburgers named MacDoneldTown, or example) but on it’s own it’s meaningless.
    Your actual tradmarks have no visual similarity at all, your products are entirely different. I wouldn’t even bother responding to that trash.
    Sun ought to be ashamed of that. Seriously.

  • Well…..Welcome to America!
    Any accomplished and successful business endeavor - esp. one that is ethical and plays by the rules, they are the most vunerable - will attract the sharks of the legal establishment(society’s bottom feeders).
    It’s ALL about the lawyers making big bucks….as the lawyer always say “Nothing personal."
    Why business in America is uncompetitive?
    Lawyers, Lawyer’s run Workers'Comp, Lawyer’s Insurance Companies (their personal Collection Agencies), Lawyer’s law suit games, Lawyer’s obscene profiteering, Lawyer’s unsane lawmaking—OK get the pic)
    Wishing you luck…You will need it…just don’t bend over!

  • Wow, who from Sparc would be stupid enough to make that correlation between sparkfun and Sparc? Must have been one of the lawyers or business personnel driving by your facility and noticed the name.
    Anyone who knows what sparkfun is, doesn’t call it Spark, i’ve never heard anyone at school or any of the engineers call it Spark. That’s just stupid. They must have just pulled that nickname out of their butts to give them a case. I haven’t seen sparkfun spoken or written as SPARK in any forum or verbally in engineering discussion.
    Sparkfun is where hobbyists, proffessionals, and students order prototyping and one off project parts. Everyone ordering from this site actually has working knowledge of what it is, and knows that in no way do SUN products compete or relate to anything on this site.

  • Hey BTW - If they do manage some sort of clamp that limits your use of the SPARK expression, I have a domain for sale BIGCRAZY.NET - that pretty much sums it up!
    Cheers - and good luck

  • …and when I say guns, I mean my angry email guns.
    To be taken metaphorically of course, not literally.
    (Have to be careful what I say in this litigation crazy society ;-)

  • After calming down because this entire situation has enraged me, I decided to do some more investigation.
    From what I’ve found, it looks like SPARC International is not owned by Sun Microsystems, but is in fact a Non-Profit Organization: (http://www.sparc.org/aboutFAQ.html)
    Is this true? Or is Sun Microsystems still behind all this.
    Just want to make sure I have my guns aimed the right direction.

    • You found yet another SPARC. There are many…probably all getting caught in some kind of ‘spray-n-pray’ legal assault. The SPARC we’re up against is owned by Sun, but their website is identified as suspicious or malware-propagating by most browsers.

      • I’m still confused. I clicked the link at the bottom of this blog post.
        “If you’re having problems… Try http://www.sparc.org/index.html"
        I go to that page. Hover over the About menu and click on the FAQ.
        Where I read:
        "In 1989, Sun Microsystems transferred ownership of the SPARC specifications to an independent, non-profit organization, SPARC International, which administers and licenses the technology."
        I’m I still missing something? Maybe I’m getting pointed somewhere else because of the malware stuff.
        So, I’ll trust what your saying Sik Dof.
        Down with SUN!! ;-)

        • No, you’re reading it right. SPARC Industries was founded by Sun Microsystems as the owner of their SPARC processor intellectual property. They then license that IP back to Sun and others (I believe Fujitsu is another licensee). They are legally a non-profit organization.

  • You can always tell when a ship is sinking, they threaten lawsuits everywhere they can. Pathetic… Sun has been falling horribly for years.
    I know many people like sun anyways BUT I am not one of them…
    Slow-aris sucks. And their legal department must be full of drunken monkeys, how does one(non-neanderthal) mistake sparkfun for sparc.
    I wonder when they will sue the entire scientific community so they stop “infringing on their trademark” whenever they talk about electricity or lightning…
    I bet you one of those buffoons has thought of it. =)
    Sorry… I HATE stupid people and the businesses ran by those idiots.

  • I for one have never confused the two. When I heard of SparkFun, Sparc never entered my mind as a possible connection.
    I pretty sure phonetics has nothing to do with trademark law. I wonder if these guys have sent a cease and desist letter to FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)?!
    I have an idea, change the IRC channel ad at the top of the site to something like: SparkFun, never been confused with ‘Sparc fun’ because there is none.

  • Ridiculous. Only an idiot would draw any form of comparison between the two. This is the stunt of some moronic lawyer who think’s he’s doing good work. Stay tough.

  • Someone (ideally a Sun/Sparc shareholder) needs to ask the CEO why they are employing lawyers who are either so STUPID that they think the products are identical, or are FRAUDULENTLY trying to steal a trademark by FALSELY claiming that products are identical.
    Surely it must be an offence of some sort to deliberately misrepresent in a trademark suit?
    Maybe change your name to Sparf Projects And Related Components. No phonetic similarity there…

  • Not that I need to proclaim my support in this legal battle, I’m obviously on your (SparkFun Electronics) side.
    I’ve taken the liberty of mailing several people on/from site:sun.com about the SPARC Org’s lawsuit prompting them to comment on the matter internally and/or to respective groups.
    Maybe someone else wants to do so aswell.. cheers.

  • http://www.efga.org/happenin/sunjava.htm
    They have been doing this for years.

  • I get a google malicious site page when I try to go to sparc.org
    http://safebrowsing.clients.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?client=Firefox&hl=en-US&site=http://www.sparc.org/index.html

  • I don’t understand when a company is struggling financially and laying off staff, it is always the lawyers that are the last to go. Is management too scared to lay-off a lawyer?
    Or do you think they are doing pro bono work?

  • What a Self-Serving “Increase My Billable Hours” pile of Pooooo.
    For those of you in the legal profession, the aforementioned terms are widely used Computer Industry Specific terms.
    Obviously, K&L Gates must be preparing for the Oracle Buy-out by billing as many attorney hours as possible, before they get terminated.

  • Look at what I found:
    http://research.sun.com/techrep/2009/smli_tr-2009-178.pdf
    Looks like Sun is a SparkFun customer.

  • Thanks for all the support that keeps pouring in. We made the front page of Slashdot.

  • I used to be big fan of SUN and SPARC. SUN I still like. SPARC just became like Sony. Clueless evil company which makes me sick.

  • This is BS come on people WTF !! This really pisses me off Let’s go Sparkfun do not let these bullies win you got full support of a huge community behind you

  • Sounds like a lawyer is trying to keep his billing hours up.
    I wonder if he sent the same letter to
    http://www.sparknotes.com/
    or
    http://www.sparkelectronics.net/en
    or anyone else with “Spark” in their name.
    Simply ridiculous. Get a good enough lawyer and you may be able to counter-sue.

  • Lawyers, what a racket - they create a poison and then you’re forced to buy their antidote. Off with their heads!
    Good luck guys!

  • This is Ridiculous! SI has nothing better to do I guess. Sent email to Lifehacker in hopes that they will post and have more people join us in supporting SparkFun!

  • This is only a bunch of lawyer crap. This is a threatening letter just trying to pick a fight. I hate to say it but it is all going to come down to who argues the best and who bribes the judge, ;-). I have read quite a few of these letters from lawyers for one reason or another. And they all say basically the same BS. Keep you head HIGH, study the law yourself, hire a lawyer and NEVER back down.
    Also seems that the law firm just want to pad their pockets a little bit with bogus suites(picking on the little guy for a buck). Been there and seen that too. I always come here first. Whatever we can do to help, let us know. We’re with you!!

  • Please let us know what we can do if anything. Sad that the way the laws are written companies have to “vigorously” defend their copyrights and trademarks - often to ridiculous and pointless lengths.
    Oh, and Mr McFarland - I am the owner of ComeOnNoOneOwnsATrademarkOnThisDoThey? You should expect a letter from my lawyer soon. ;-)

  • Sad. Just ignore them. Worked for me years ago in a similar situation.

  • Good luck guys! I hope this is just a small glitch in the business that can be taken care of quickly.

  • They are just being stupid. Anyway, more advertising for sparkfun :D
    Just lawyer their ass for trying to infect all our computers:
    http://www.sparc.org/index.html
    Reported Attack Site!
    This web site at www.sparc.org has been reported as an attack site and has been blocked based on your security preferences.
    Attack sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.
    Some attack sites intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.

  • This is why I hate lawyers. As someone who has purchased products by both companes, I can attest that SoarkFun and Sparc are clearly different, and are in no way ever confused with one another.

  • http://www.justblair.co.uk/SparkFun-Electronics-Hits-Legal-Problems-with-Bully-Sun-Microsystems-Over-Trademarks.html
    You have my support over at Justblair’s Electronics Pages.
    I suspect that SPARC would be wise to back down on this one. Monster Cable have become much despised worldwide due to similar frivolous litigation. I wouldn’t buy their product if my life depended on it. If SPARC contnue with this route then a SUN boycott should be order of the day!

  • This is the unfortunate reality of living in a Society where trademarks have such a strong presence. If SPARC (or Sun, or the lawyers) ignored this, then it can be construed as permission to use the trademark. By virtue of coming across it, and even considering similarity, they have to pursue some legal recourse.
    Yes, it’s silly, and yes, they come off as complete jerks, but it could (in a lot of ways) come back and bite them if they don’t do anything about it right now.
    That aside, this is really obnoxious. SparkFun clearly has nothing to do with SPARC… it’s pretty remote. I don’t think anyone with any interest in either company or their respective products would confuse the two.

  • This is absolutely absurd, I think that anyone that needs to buy any SPARC product will know the difference between SPARKFUN products and theres, this guys don?t know what they are talking about, I think that this lawyers were bored and decided to send this letter to you guys so they can justify there salary, support to you guys from Venezuela ;)

  • Don’t know much about this kinda stuff. But you should try to bring it to the attention of some of the folks over at Sun. Show them that it is bogus and only going to get them bad PR.

  • Good gravy that’s some crazy lawyering going on at K&L.
    I don’t know why my servers don’t work, I loaded them up with official Sun Chips.

  • I didn’t even know that SPARC was around anymore, wonder if they’re just surviving on support contracts from servers sold 10 years ago.

  • There is obviously no rational for SPARC’s C&D. It is also obvious SPARC and their lawyer’s motives are predatory and this has nothing to do with legitimate trademark infringement and has all to do with money; painfully obvious.
    So how or why could this fly in a court of “law”? Because lawyers and judges are, for the most part, the filthiest scum on this earth, everyone knows this. No good can come out of this. The only ones who win are the lawyers.

  • Sun is probably preparing to sell SPARC. In any sale of a brand it’s important to show that the company has protected it.
    Be careful. If they are trying to sell it, they will throw millions of dollars at any lawsuits that might make the trademark stronger.
    -Adam

  • different topic
    NATE what is going on with your post clocks
    i understand your on mountain time but the clock went from 10 am to 12 am instead of 10am to 12pm

  • Hey guys. I can completely sympathize. My brother and I own/operate a business that has been online for 3 years and this last july we got a nearly identical letter. It was incredibly frustrating. We were told by lawyers on our board that it was a 50/50 chance of winning in court but that it would cost thousands of dollars in fees just to fight the battle - something we can’t afford to do. As a result, we’ve spent the last 4 months changing our name. It’s almost like losing a loved one.
    I truly wish you guys the best of luck. I love what you are doing. You provide unique parts to hobbyists and create a fun learning atmosphere that I believe is needed to fuel a new generation of inventors.
    Keep your chins up!

  • Just sent email.
    I used the word recockulous :)

  • I can already tell that this is going to be expensive for you guys… If I were you I would be preparing my counter suit right now. Get them back for every penny spent and even more for business lost, feelings hurt, etc… Just don’t expect this thing to end anytime soon.

  • If SparkFun was ever shortened to Spark (which I’ve never seen) the case would be a stretch. I guess Sun is doing that bad that they have to supplement their revenue by bullying the little guy. I really don’t see how anyone besides a lawyer could not tell the difference.

  • Advisory provided by GOOGLE
    Safe Browsing
    Diagnostic page for sparc.org
    What is the current listing status for sparc.org?
    Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.
    Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 9 time(s) over the past 90 days.
    They have bigger problems lol
    DC REdD

  • sent mail to ben rockwood to post it on his blog and he immediately ablidged - http://www.cuddletech.com/blog/
    if anyone knows of any other sun blogs to put this on i’m sure with enough exposure they will back down

  • It would be hilarious if it wasn’t though your letterbox!
    No one who confuses SPARC with SparkFun could ever be a customer of either.
    Seriously I wonder what the world is coming to.. This petty action will cost far in excess of what SPARC may lose due to you using the trademark SparkFun which must be in the region of about $0.00
    DC REdD

  • Yes. One of our customer service reps posted the link on BoingBoing a little bit ago.

    • It has not been posted by BoingBoing as of yet, but I have high hopes that they will post it. After reading their site for years, it’s right up their alley.

  • I saw Stark industries in IRON MAN more similar to SPARC industries………..they are wrong, they must send the letter “Cease and desist” to Hollywood….
    ..FROM OUTSIDE U.S…. Be Strong Sparkfun Team.

  • google “spark” :
    Results 1 - 10 of about 40,200,000 for spark.
    K&L should look at the 40 million other sources that use spark.

    • With the idiocy displayed here, I wouldn’t doubt they’d be stupid enough to have a flurry of activity trying to prep 40m C&Ds. Seriously, as someone else said above, if you confuse the two, you’ve got bigger problems, like brain damage.

  • Its too bad that in this economy a fellow Colorado company wants to waste their time and money as well as ours to fight this silly battle. Couldn’t Sun’s resources be used in a better way?

    • Everyone, please understand that this trademark action was not initiated by Sun. SPARC International is an independent trade association that makes its own decisions about trademark enforcement.
      Certainly, we in the Sun SPOT team are big fans of SparkFun.
      In times like this SparkFun needs friends. Lets not waste energy upsetting the wrong people.
      Roger Meike
      Research Director, Sun Labs & member of the Sun SPOT team

  • I still don’t see SPARC’s angle in this. Are they just confused lawyers, or are they trying to acquire our domain to sell it back to us at an exorbitant price, like the guys in Heat did with the stolen bearer bonds? Regardless, the whole of Sparkfun is united behind our fearless leader. They’re may only be 60 of us, but we’re not to be trifled with (peep my profile). We appreciate the support of our worldwide community of geeks and hackers out there. Blaze the SFE flame, y'all!

  • Ridiculous. Absolutely absurd! Give us SparkFun, Or give us death!


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