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April 22, 2009
News - SparkFun Gets a Cease and…
about 10 years ago
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.
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 email@example.com, 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.
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