Well, that escalated quickly...

Thanks for all the support and a really cool project!

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First off, we want to give a hearty "thank you" to all of you for your impressive display of support in the previous news post. Just as we are continually amazed by all the cool projects you guys/gals put together, we are also impressed by the amazing number of comments and the large amount of email support regarding the "cease and desist" letter we received.

We really do appreciate the support you have all offered - it's amazing to have such a committed community base and we are honored to have you on our side. If you'd like to help us, please email sparcinfo@sparc.org explaining the reasons why you believe SparkFun and SPARC International would not be confused. Please keep in mind there are people involved on both sides, and threatening emails will not help our cause.

To give you an update: we are at the beginning of what we assume will be a long legal battle. It is unfortunate, but this is why we have experienced legal counsel on staff. We are optimistic, but we are preparing for multiple outcomes. Our 'people' have talked to their 'people' and we just keeping doing what we do best - building, tinkering, and having fun. Nothing will change overnight and we will keep our customers and fans up-to-date as we hear it.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...


Check this project out. What looks to be an innocuous wooden box is really much more. This project comes from SparkFun customer Mikal Hart and is called the reverse geocache puzzle. This box is designed to be given as a wedding gift and is GPS-enable so that it won't open unless it is brought to the right location! Pretty cool and tricky stuff! The box features an Arduino Duemilanove and an USGlobalSat EM-406A GPS module. Great project Mikal!

Comments 39 comments

  • magic smoke / about 15 years ago / 5

    Roger Meike: While Sun is a member of of SPARC International, so are many other companies. SPARC International is NOT Sun, nor is it owned by Sun, nor is it controlled by Sun.
    - Sun founded SPARC International.
    - Only SI executive members have a say in the direction of SI and have a board seat. Other members don't.
    - Sun is such an executive members.
    - How many executive members are there in total? Well, while there are many SI members, there are only two executive members in total.
    - Fujitsu, Sun's old SPARC ally, is the other executive member.
    Do you think this looks like "nor is it controlled by Sun"?
    Roger Meike: I would think SparkFun would prefer to have Sun as a friend through all this...
    Friends don't write such statements. Friends don't question the friendship in times of crisis.

  • Tuliof / about 15 years ago / 2

    potkurip??: The lawyers aren't looking for a settlement. Their only real objective is to bill for all the hours and paperwork they'll generate. They just have to convince some fools within SPARC Int'l that it is in the company's interest to pay them to "pursue" this. There will be no outcome other than lawyer bills for SPARC Int'l and the same, plus stress, for Sparkfun.
    You said it all. Its just an excuse to bill SPARC and to keep their jobs. Absolutely no point in it all, they are just "showing some work".
    I already sent my e-mail to sparcinfo AT sparc.org, and I really think the community should speak out in an educated manner.

    • potkurip / about 15 years ago / 1

      Yeah! They know SPARC is the only one they're going to be getting any money from.
      They know very well that Sparkfun, on the other hand, is NOT willing to give them any.
      SPARC, you are bullied wimps! Get some cajones and rid yourselves of those parasites.
      Lawyering 101: Leach onto your clients and steal their money under the guise of "helping" them. Same as Government 101.

  • CUtech / about 15 years ago / 2

    Might as well TM SparkPlug, it's a piece of electronic hardware. Might get it confused with a mainframe, and dilute the brand.

  • vegasbornwolf / about 15 years ago / 2

    I find it amazing that someone from SUN would post here, claiming that Sun and SPARC have a "limited" relationship, but if you got to sun.com, SPARC is front and center. I'm just sayin'

  • vegasbornwolf / about 15 years ago / 2

    Roger Meike: I would think SparkFun would prefer to have Sun as a friend through all this... Please don't feed this misguided fire. Roger Meike Research Director, Sun Labs & member of the Sun SPOT team
    Hmmmm...my .02 is that some of the folks here could build the equivalent of the SPOT for a fraction of the cost. Open source the PCB and BOM and a whole bunch of DIY folks don't need to buy Sun's overpriced hardware. I'm just sayin'

  • BioengineeringBruin / about 15 years ago / 1

    Does SPARC not realize how many systems engineers and system admins use SparkFun?
    They chose the wrong company to bully.
    My deepest sympathy goes out to you guys running SparkFun and I'll make sure to send an email to SPARC.

  • Bauman / about 15 years ago / 1

    I am actually glad to see that SparkFun is now big/bad enough to be considered a sales threat to SI.
    Where is the SparkFun legal fund item?

  • wja / about 15 years ago / 1

    I just happened upon the SPARC controversy. I'd write" "Are you serious?" but given the countless postings, you are. I haven't read all of the postings, so I might not be the first to point out that Nike has SPARQ training. Are the going after Nike, too? After all, I think the similarity is greater there. I am curious how many companies have some derivative of "spark" in their name? Perhaps, we have truly reached the saturation point for lawyers in this country.

  • madbadger / about 15 years ago / 1

    A company/org called SPARC? I'm really confused because I've used SHARC DSPs from Analog Devices...
    I'm going to send an email to Analog right now and tell them to SUE those SPARC clowns because their name is so close to the SHARC name, its confusing my poor little brain and I might be temped to buy some of this SPARC crap. And I'm sure by suing, it will make everything right, and make the world a better place to live in.

  • Adam10 / about 15 years ago / 1

    Just sent an email to sparc, sun and glassfish user list (so someone can pass it on). (Too long to post here, but it was polite and respectful and mentions my history with Sun -- I'm a sun partner and certified enterprise architect among other things)

  • Sam9 / about 15 years ago / 1

    E-mail sent to SPARC. Anyone who does DIY electronics here will know the difference between SparkFun products and SPARC products. Come on, we're geeks!

  • raygungothic / about 15 years ago / 1

    It's clear that the best thing I can do for Sparkfun to help them fight their legal battle is to help fund it by giving them lots of custom. This is not going to please my better half, but it's the Right Thing to Do :-)

  • bsilva / about 15 years ago / 1

    I'm a long time Solaris Admin and systems engineer. I've been using Sparc processor based systems since Sun switched to them from the Motorola processors. I've also worked with embedded systems using the Sparc processor.
    . (arguments deleted because I can only put 1150 characters in a comment)
    . (full letter at: http://www.sonic.net/~bsilva/)
    I highly recommend you cease this campaign. The only way you could possibly win would be by using the courts to overwhelm the much smaller company and I doubt highly that you have the sales in this economy to justify such an effort. Without such an overwhelming legal effort, the only possible net result of your efforts will be to further damage the Sparc name and to cost a small company funds that they would rather use for growth.
    Furthermore, if you somehow succeed in this effort, I will make sure to dump every Sparc processor I own and will do my best to make sure my fellow SysAdmins do the same.
    Very Sincerely,
    Brad Silva
    cc: every message board that seems halfway reasonable.

    • bsilva / about 15 years ago / 1

      Whoops, in trimming it down to 1150 characters, I dropped the part that says this is an open letter to Sparc International. I emailed it to them earlier today.

  • scorched_675 / about 15 years ago / 1

    I also found it interesting that if you google sparc, how SI is only 5th on the list behind places like The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
    And as for the word spark, how is it possible that a word that has been around since the 12th century is trademarkable?
    As someone who influences decisions for my customers to buy "SPARC" based systems, this one thing has totally changed my taste for support them, I will recommend Power based or X86 based systems, never a sparc system again!

  • EricWertz / about 15 years ago / 1

    Clearly then what any non-janitorial staff at Sun should do is, as a founding member of Sparc International, tell them in no uncertain terms to can this bullspark.
    It's as easy and simple as that.

  • JamesHagerman / about 15 years ago / 1

    Interesting to note is that somehow SPARC International has a trademark on "SPARK".
    Wiki comes up with some interesting things when you search for spark...

  • BiOzZ / about 15 years ago / 1

    i sent an email complaint and i need to say ... sparkfun electronics is the only electronics company that truly understands us hardware developers and offers cheap and easy to use open source products to make our lives easier and does not limit a hacker to someone with expensive equipment like a smd rework station and etching supply's ... buy i have yet to see a PCI development platform ;D

    hacker and long time customer,
    alex nikolai mccown

  • Wayne T / about 15 years ago / 1

    The SPARC vs Sparcfun controversy is just another example of high powered law firms trying to screw the little guys. They can outspend the little guys & they know it so they use that as leveredge to wrangle a settlement in their favor. Fluke did the same thing with DMM's that are grey in color & have a yellow boot. Never mind that DMM's have been grey or black forever & Yellow is an OSHA safety color. The resellers all had to "give in" & start selling DMM's that were colored differently. How can a color be patented? How many people were confused by a $29.00 DMM that was grey with a yellow holster thinking that it was a FLUKE ? This one is even more ridiculous...

    • potkurip / about 15 years ago / 1

      The lawyers aren't looking for a settlement. Their only real objective is to bill for all the hours and paperwork they'll generate. They just have to convince some fools within SPARC Int'l that it is in the company's interest to pay them to "pursue" this. There will be no outcome other than lawyer bills for SPARC Int'l and the same, plus stress, for Sparkfun.

  • jbookout / about 15 years ago / 1

    First: Sparkfun community you're awesome! That news post about the "cease and desist" has 35 times as many concerned comments as regular posts...nice.
    Second: Awesome project I finally know what to build for my best friends wedding. Though I'm thinking take the box to multiple locations to open his/her sections...

  • Glad to see SparkFun is keeping on keeping on despite this situation. Looking forward to all the amazing products you guys make available to us.

  • Keith / about 15 years ago / 1

    I feel for you guys. Years ago an attorney sued me (no legit reason - he was just ticked at me and used the legal system to get me) and it cost me a couple of grand in legal fees to successfully defend myself. Unfortunately, I suspect you'll incur an order of magnitude more than that or more in fees in this one. Wishing you guys the best - been a customer for years.

  • potkurip / about 15 years ago / 1

    I was just starting to think that the lawyers had all but chased tech out of the United States and left themselves unemployed, as a result. It seems there are a few hanger-ons still trying to make trouble in order to justify their existence. All things SUN have been dying a slow death for over a decade now. To suppose that they must bother Sparkfun for some strategic reason is a joke. I would write letters of appeal to their leadership and shareholders directly. The lawyers are NOT going to be interested in any kind of conclusion. This might be their last gig and they know it!

    • Roger Meike / about 15 years ago / 6

      Guys - you should know that Sun did NOT initiate this action. While Sun is a member of of SPARC International, so are many other companies. SPARC International is NOT Sun, nor is it owned by Sun, nor is it controlled by Sun. SPARC International is an independent trade association that makes its own decisions about trademark enforcement.
      As I said in my other post, certainly the Sun SPOT project at Sun has been a friend to SparkFun for quite some time, and I certainly hope that can continue.
      I would think SparkFun would prefer to have Sun as a friend through all this... Please don't feed this misguided fire.
      Roger Meike
      Research Director, Sun Labs & member of the Sun SPOT team

      • _vv_ / about 15 years ago / 3

        Really? Then why is there a huge ad on the back page of the Economist advertising for "SUN'S SPARC Server"? Sun has to have their hands is this at some level.

        • Roger Meike / about 15 years ago / 3

          Sun does sell SPARC servers, we even make SPARC chips. So does Fujitsu - http://www.shopfujitsu.com/www/products_sparc.shtml?products/servers/sparc/index
          The fact remains that SPARC International is NOT Sun.

          • Adam10 / about 15 years ago / 1

            Hi Roger,
            I appreciate that Sun is not Sparc. However you are a major licensee of the technology and so I'm guessing have a little bit of pull with SI if you wanted to use it. The bottom line is that, since Sun so heavily promotes Sparc architecture, you're going to be hit with the mud as it starts to fly...friendly fire unfortunately. It's not fair, however SI bringing in the corporate lawyers in this way is hardly fair either.
            I suggest you get on the phone to whoever you know at Sparc International and make them aware of the damage that their litigation is doing to your good brand name. Remember, the only thing required for evil to triumph is for good companies to do nothing :)

          • potkurip / about 15 years ago / 1

            We all note that you are impotent to fight evil.
            "SPARC is not Sun"
            ..."War is Peace"
            ......"Freedom is Slavery"
            ........."Ignorance is Strength"

        • potkurip / about 15 years ago / 1

          I don't know this, but I suspect Sun's revenue is increasingly coming from the government, and it's probably for Oracle servers that will be keeping track of all the new, important information that the feds are collecting on everyone and everything. Why else put an ad on the back cover of The Economist, a globalist CFR-favored publication.

      • potkurip / about 15 years ago / 2

        Technicality. It's never anything personal, is it?
        As a member of the corporate web that makes up SUN and its allies, you seem to have no compunction to condemn SPARC International for allowing this pointless and destructive lawyering against tiny, irrelevant, Sparkfun.
        YOU are part of the problem. You even say that Sparkfun should be careful to not offend SUN. Why? Is SUN going to harm them next? Are they going to go bankrupt without SUN's favor? They'd do fine if SUN disappeared tomorrow.
        Maybe you will be laid off within the next two years as the economy worsens. Perhaps after having been ejected from the corporate cocoon and starting your own business, you'll gain some appreciation of how the world really works and understand how wrong this all was.
        Maybe Sun's lawyers will even accuse you of some ridiculous "infringement" and you will be dumbfounded as all your old workmates turn their backs on you in unison, showing what slaves they are, just like you were.

      • Thanks for your comments Roger. I enjoyed your video on YouTube explaining the Sun SPOTs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tv5ZaN9tSck
        I was also happy to see all the other fun videos and projects that you guys are working on like the leaf blower bike, the Midi/servo controlled Calliope project and of course the TeleRobotic arm.
        Personally I feel that a lot of what Sun and specifically the Sun SPOTs team does is very much in tune with the SparkFun culture of open source, here are the tools, now go make something great with them attitude. We create things, hack apart toys, love the smell of solder in the morning and sometimes our projects don't have much purpose other than to have fun experimenting with technology.
        I'm sorry that you and possibly your team have been sucked into this mess, however, it would mean a lot to have someone from the Sun team write a letter or email to the people over at SI asking them to stop this non-sense.
        Hopefully this will all soon pass and we can all get back to doing what we love, making electronic projects.
        Thanks again for commenting and keep up the good work with the SPOTs.

  • project240dotnet / about 15 years ago / 1

    Good luck working through this legal issue. Hopefully it is resolved quickly and with little financial toll, although the current post makes this seem unlikely.
    It is hard not to be emotional about this issue, but it feels as though they have taken away something extraordinarily valuable from our community.

  • engineer77 / about 15 years ago / 1

    Firstly, that's an awesome project!
    Secondly, I'm really sorry that you guys have to go through this whole legal thing. There's nothing more painful then having a bunch of overpaid idiots accuse you of doing something wrong. If SPARC invested 1/2 of the energy they put into their legal accusations their stock might actually stop falling.

  • I really have to make one of those...

  • drex / about 15 years ago / 1

    ok maybe not like the hellraiser cube... i guess it would suck if knives came out of it when u tried to cheat and open it.

  • drex / about 15 years ago / 1

    hey thats a really cool idea!!
    kind of like the hellraiser cube.

  • eewestcoaster / about 15 years ago / 1

    What a great idea!

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