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LucasFilm Sues Jedi Mind Over 'Jedi'

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-it's-my-religion-man dept.

Star Wars Prequels 212

An anonymous reader writes "Apparently the force is strong with LucasFilm's legal department, as they've sued the company Jedi Mind for trademark infringement and breach of contract, among other things. While LucasFilm doesn't actually own a trademark on 'Jedi,' it claims that its related marks are close enough, and that Jedi Mind had agreed last year to phase out the use of 'Jedi' in its name and product names."

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212 comments

No brainer (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366590)

He's using Lucas' neologism to specifically call attention to the similarities between his products and the abilities of the characters that the neologism belongs to. Is there any way in which this is not a textbook correct application of trademarks?

Re:No brainer (3, Insightful)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366612)

Is there any way in which this is not a textbook correct application of trademarks?

Don't trademarks needed to be registered to be enforced?

Re:No brainer (5, Informative)

magnus.ahlberg (1211924) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366694)

Don't trademarks needed to be registered to be enforced?

Actually no they do not. There are (at least) two ways to gain a trademark:

  • Registration, which is the safest one, since you know whether you have a trademark or not. This is usually marked with the (R)-symbol
  • Usage/Establishment (the legal term in Sweden is "inarbetad", I actually don't know the english equivalent), by consequently using a brand name in a certain way to market a product, service etc. you may gain trademark rights if the brand becomes part of the public awareness. Usually the TM-symbol is used to show that a company intends to use this as a trademark but it is not registered.

Trademark law varies a little from country to country and please consider this a simplified explanation. IANALBIHADIL (I Am Not a Lawyer But I Hold a Degree in Law, there must be a shorter one for this - any suggestions?)

Re:No brainer (4, Informative)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366718)

Yes, you're absolutely right. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], the non-registered one's are called "common law marks" in the US.

IANAL either, AFAIK.

Re:No brainer (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366936)

Trademark law varies a little from country to country and please consider this a simplified explanation. IANALBIHADIL (I Am Not a Lawyer But I Hold a Degree in Law, there must be a shorter one for this - any suggestions?)

IHALD - I Have A Law Degree

Not to mention it makes you sound like an evil Apple product that constantly taunts a guy named Dave.

That's terrible (4, Funny)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367144)

An idea thousands of years old, of wisdom and courage, co-opted and copyrighted by some 70's film as theirs.

Re:That's terrible (3, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367376)

Jedi as a term is only as old as Starwars. Anyone can use the idea you describe - they just can't call it Jedi. Call it Age Old Wisdom Courage Mind or whatever (I like KoolaidLouDobbsBirdLegsNinjaMonkeyTail myself ) just not Jedi.

Re:No brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367268)

I prefer IANALFAPP (I Am Not A Lawyer For All Practical Purposes)

Re:No brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367480)

IANALBIHADIL (I Am Not a Lawyer But I Hold a Degree in Law, there must be a shorter one for this - any suggestions?)

IANLE - I am no longer evil? :-P

Re:No brainer (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367986)

IANALBIHADIL (I Am Not a Lawyer But I Hold a Degree in Law, there must be a shorter one for this - any suggestions?)

ICPTB (I can't pass the bar) also works for alcoholics

Re:No brainer (1)

OtakuPersona (1306113) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367148)

As others have said they don't need to register a trademark to enforce it. In any case Lucas owns multiple 'JEDI' trademarks (in addition to trademarks which contain the word 'JEDI'). LucasFilm trademarks for 'JEDI' include trademark 78488803 (registered 25 May 2010), 2595365 (registered 16 July 2002), 2823661 (registered 16 March 2004) and 2858244 (registered 29 June 2004).

Re:No brainer (5, Funny)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366646)

Yeah, the part where LucasFilm's 800-lb gorilla run legal department says "I have altered the situation, pray that I do not alter it further."

How did they alter anything? (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366778)

How did they alter anything? I'm pretty sure the same basic trademark law was in effect all the way back to Episode 4.

And it's no different from any other trademark. Just as you don't just use Apple's trademarks to sell, say, "iPod tyres" (pun on the iPod wheel, see?), or Nintendo's to sell a "Wii exercise machine" (that actually doesn't connect to a Wii), or Kraft Foods' trademark to sell something like "Cadbury chocolate flavoured condoms", or IBM's to sell something like "PowerPC dildo deluxe", you don't get to use Lucas's trademark to sell your gimmick input controller either. It's that simple.

And Lucas even invented the word. It's not as if I trademarked Pencil and started suing pencil makers. There is pretty much no way to accidentally name your product Jedi, you know, totally without trying to piggyback on Lucas's mindshare.

Honestly, it looks to me like textbook application of trademark law, as it was intended to work all along. You know, since the Trade Mark Registration Act of 1875 in the UK. Unless you want to tell me that Lucas invented a time machine to alter _that_ one, I seriously don't see how they altered any situation.

Re:How did they alter anything? (0)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366848)

My point was that when juggernaut legal departments drag you into court it's often the case that what the law actually says isn't going to matter one iota, but that everything will depend on what it will take to stop them from grinding you down into submission.

Re:How did they alter anything? (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366882)

They'd already negotiated a deal (stop using the mark over the next year, and we'll say no more), which this guy has flaunted. It's hard to see much bad faith on Lucasfilm's side here.

And it matters... why? (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367158)

My point was that when juggernaut legal departments drag you into court it's often the case that what the law actually says isn't going to matter one iota, but that everything will depend on what it will take to stop them from grinding you down into submission.

And that matters... why? I'd see a point in that if there was indeed a frivolous exercise in who has the most money. But when that juggernaut legal department is actually in the right, and applying the law as it was intended all along, and the little guy opposing them is in the wrong and had acted in bad faith, then why does it matter that they're a juggernaut legal department? If you're right, you're right, and that's that. Being right and rich doesn't make one less right.

Exactly what is the fear factor here? That, god forbid, someone might do that "grinding into submission" to defend a legal right as they had it, and were using as intended?

Re:How did they alter anything? (4, Insightful)

mike2R (721965) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367246)

While that may be true, it just so happens that in this case both the law and common sense agrees with the 800lb gorilla.

This is not the abuse of power controversy you are looking for.

Re:How did they alter anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367086)

And Lucas even invented the word.

I agree with your post but FYI - he did not invent 'jedi'. He transliterated the Japanese 'jidaigeki' - a genre of films like Hidden fortress on which Star Wars is based.

Re:How did they alter anything? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367130)

I agree with your post but FYI - he did not invent 'jedi'. He transliterated the Japanese 'jidaigeki' - a genre of films like Hidden fortress on which Star Wars is based.

Nevertheless, my point stands that the word as it is spelled by Lucas is not a common word that you can just use without intending to piggyback on Lucas's mind-share. If he sued a company called "Jidaigeki Mind", I'd concede the point, but "Jedi Mind" is another thing.

Re:How did they alter anything? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368012)

Actually the AC is closer to the mark than indicated.

Jidai means Period in Japanese, like we have period dramas over here. Any sort of period drama in Japan is Jidai, the 400 years of war before the Tokugawa Era are known as the Sengoku Jidai.

Guys in bathrobes slashing swords at anything that moves, Jidai.

Kurosawa movies that Lucas ripped off, Jidai.

Silly headbands connected to funky toys, something else.

Re:How did they alter anything? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367924)

And Lucas even invented the word.

I agree with your post but FYI - he did not invent 'jedi'. He transliterated the Japanese 'jidaigeki' - a genre of films like Hidden fortress on which Star Wars is based.

In other words, he took a Japanese word and reformed it into his own word, thus inventing the word 'Jedi'.

Re:How did they alter anything? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367182)

Just as you don't just use Apple's trademarks to sell, say, "iPod tyres" (pun on the iPod wheel, see?),

uh huh, got it...

or Nintendo's to sell a "Wii exercise machine" (that actually doesn't connect to a Wii)

hm yeah...

or Kraft Foods' trademark to sell something like "Cadbury chocolate flavoured condoms"

yeah, we got it...

or IBM's to sell something like "PowerPC dildo deluxe"

WE FUCKING GOT IT!

you don't get to use Lucas's trademark to sell your gimmick input controller either

Thanks!

Re:How did they alter anything? (2, Interesting)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367320)

Just as you don't just use Apple's trademarks to sell, say, "iPod tyres" (pun on the iPod wheel, see?)

Fun fact: A German designer tried to sell an eggcup under the name of eiPott (German pronouncation is almost equal to iPod, but literally translates to egg cup) and got sued by Apple. While the judge found the name to be slightly funny, he ruled it was a trademark infringement. At first the decision was met with surprise, because trademarks in Germany are bound to the field of trade they are registered for, but then it was revealed that Apple did indeed register the mark iPod for electronical entertainment devices and for kitchen supplies.

Re:How did they alter anything? (3, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367968)

Technically, trademarks apply to specific product types only, ie: there are many companies that use the same trademarked name for completely different products. I know because I work for one of them. There are several different companies that use the same trademarked names for different products, and there isn't anything the others can do. Oh, they can SUE but technically, as long as you aren't trying to confuse the public on the ownership it is acceptable. In this instance, they ARE trying to confuse the public (in the legal sense), so it is likely infringing.

Nissan Computers and Nissan Motors is one example. Go to www.nissan.com and read about the most fucked up court battle you can imagine on this.

Other examples would be Chunky Soup® vs. Chunky® candy bars, SunMaster® grow lamps vs. SunMaster® tomato seeds vs. SunMaster® tanning beds. All are legally registered trademarks for their particular industries. Technically, you could have IBM® brand breakfast cereal as long as it wasn't marketed to confuse the customer to think that International Business Machines, Inc. wasn't the parent company. Obviously, this wouldn't stop them from trying to sue you, but the way that trademark law is setup, it is considered perfectly legitimate.

Re:How did they alter anything? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368004)

should say "as it wasn't marketed to confuse the customer to think that International Business Machines, Inc. was the parent company." Early in the AM.

Re:How did they alter anything? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33368000)

Honestly, it looks to me like textbook application of trademark law

And what exactly is this "Jedi" product that Lucasfilm sells? Uh huh. Oh that's right, it isn't a product at all it's the name of these warrior/monk types in a story. Hmmmm I'd say that it is in fact quite different from a "textbook application of trademark law."

Re:No brainer (2, Insightful)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366688)

Not the classical view of trademarks, where the purpose is product identification. Maybe in the new view, where every idea is to be milked to death, no matter if the company has a product to confuse with or not.

Re:No brainer (2, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366786)

Given Lucas' rampant brand-whoring, I would've thought it was a reasonable argument that anyone seeing a product marked "Jedi X" would assume it came out of the Lucas stable.

Re:No brainer (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366844)

A moron in a hurry [wikimedia.org] might indeed believe that "Jedi X" is somehow about Star Wars, but given the lack of any and all Star Wars imagery, not to mention actually registered or specifically used Star Wars related trademarks (like Star Wars, that starts just about every game title, the most likely candidates, for confusion, LucasFilms or similar) and the rather straightforward description of what it does (let's you control computers in conjunction with a special input device, no implications of anything Star Wars related), no one else should.

Yes, it uses a word coined in context of Star Wars but unlike, say, "Star Wars" it isn't generally used on it's own to identify related products, and certainly nothing that would amount to a glorified input driver. On the other hand it is commonly used by the general public to identify various things with Jedi-like attributes, that are not otherwise related to Star Wars, this is what the company is aiming at, not trying to confuse the general public that they getting genuine Star Wars software.

Re:No brainer (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366858)

A brand of devices that let you control objects with the power of your mind, called Jedi, has "no implications of anything Star Wars related"? It's pretty obvious what allusions to the movies he's trying to make.

Re:No brainer (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366906)

A brand of devices that let you control objects with the power of your mind, called Jedi, has "no implications of anything Star Wars related"?

Can you show me something besides the word Jedi that implies a connection?

It's pretty obvious what allusions to the movies he's trying to make.

Yes, as discussed in my post, to the general application of the word Jedi, to things that are perceived as having Jedi-like attributes without being otherwise related to Star Wars, if you have a beef with that conclusion, then let's hear it. But a hanging implication of what allusions you consider being made are not leading to a good discussion.

If you see specific allusions to the Star Wars franchise, besides the word Jedi, then I'm interested to see them. If all it is, is a (rather far fetched) reference to Jedi powers, then I don't see ground to confuse, not just vaguely associate, it with anything that LucasFilms or their partners are selling.

Re:No brainer (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366934)

If you want something more substantiative, there's Mattel's licenced Star Wars mind-controlled "Force Trainer" toy [cnet.com]. Clearly Lucasfilm thinks there's enough of a connection between moving objects with thoughts and Jedis' use of the Force to manipulate objects with thoughts, for them to put out an official licenced product on that premise.

Re:No brainer (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367000)

Ok, you have a product that doesn't even have the word Jedi on it! Clearly LucasFilm doesn't consider Jedi to be a trademark even in this particular case. What it does have is the Star Wars logo, and a lot of related imagery. Things that are notably absent from anything that I've seen in Jedi Mind promotional materials.

I still don't see any evidence of LucasFilm using Jedi as a trademark in the classical sense. And even under modern interpretation it would probably take a bit to spin it in their favor.

Re:No brainer (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367016)

"I still don't see any evidence of LucasFilm using Jedi as a trademark in the classical sense"

Their repeated use of the word "Jedi" in naming products is the use of a trademark in the classical (by which I assume you mean common law) sense. I think what you mean is "I still don't see any evidence of LucasFilm using Jedi as a trademark in the sense that I have defined to allow me to win this argument".

Re:No brainer (0)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367044)

Their repeated use of the word "Jedi" in naming products is the use of a trademark in the classical (by which I assume you mean common law) sense.

By classical sense I mean, likely to cause confusion, instead of just charging an economic rent on a word. There are no products named Jedi, Jedi is used in movie/book/game that are prominently marked with the Star Wars trademark as the main identifier. Where are the Star Wars products labeled Jedi without a prominent Star Wars logo/identifier?

I think what you mean is "I still don't see any evidence of LucasFilm using Jedi as a trademark in the sense that I have defined to allow me to win this argument".

Show the confusion. Not some toy that doesn't have the word Jedi on it.

Re:No brainer (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367080)

"Passing off" doesn't require a strict demonstration of confusion where the mark is distinctive enough, and sufficiently strongly associated with a particular maker that there's no good-faith reason for anyone else to be using it. And your requirement that the products bear no other trademark has no legal basis either.

Re:No brainer (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367118)

"Passing off" doesn't require a strict demonstration of confusion where the mark is distinctive enough, and sufficiently strongly associated with a particular maker that there's no good-faith reason for anyone else to be using it.

You are talking about dilution, which is distinct from traditional trademark laws. Furthermore I repeatedly gave a good-faith reason of a cultural reference whose scope has outgrown the source. Lastly, common law trademarks are indicated by the superscript TM, indicating intent to use the word, or phrase, as a trademark. Any examples of even such a simple thing?

And your requirement that the products bear no other trademark has no legal basis either.

I never postulated such requirement. I merely argued that the prominent and consistent use of the Star Wars drastically reduces the likelihood of actual confusion.

Re:No brainer (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367204)

The use of "TM" is not required, it's a courtesy. If you actually knew anything about the law on this issue you'd be aware of that. Reducing the likelihood of confusion is nice, but it's not going to make much of a different in a case as clear-cut as this, any more than releasing a Buzz Lightyear grill set without "Toy Story" on it would be.

Re:No brainer (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367116)

Wait.. if I want to buy the official Star Wars "mind control" toy, I have to buy the one without the word Jedi in it?

Yeah, that's not confusing at all.

Re:No brainer (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367136)

Wait.. if I want to buy the official Star Wars "mind control" toy, I have to buy the one without the word Jedi in it?

Strangely enough you have to buy the one that has a huge Star Wars logo, Yoda and a kid with Jedi effects on it. Clearly, that only suggests that it might be an official Star Wars product... As you said yourself, official Star Wars toy, not official Jedi toy.

Yeah, that's not confusing at all.

The only confusing thing is that LucasFilm doesn't consider Jedi to be an effective trademark. If you can't get Jedi® toys, that is their failure.

Re:No brainer (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367180)

LucasFilm has fifty registered trademarks containing the word "Jedi", many of which are just the word "Jedi", most of which are still live.

Re:No brainer (5, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367518)

So it would be perfectly okay for me to write a suite of novels entitled :-

Angus Pigsnot and the Philosopher's Stone
Angus Pigsnot and the Chamber of Secrets
Angus Pigsnot and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Angus Pigsnot and the Goblet of Fire
Angus Pigsnot and the Order of the Phoenix
Angus Pigsnot and the Half-Blood Prince
Angus Pigsnot and the Deathly Hallows

And J.K.Rowling cannot get even the slightest bit upset ? After all, the "main" trademark is not being abused.

Now perhaps, you see how silly your argument sounds ?

Re:No brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367358)

Can you show me something besides the word Jedi that implies a connection?

Way to be obtuse. Something that lets you use your mind to control objects called Jedi Mind doesn't show you the connection? If so you're retarded, sorry.

Re:No brainer (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367548)

Lucas invented the word 'Jedi' to be used within his Star Wars venture. To use it for anything else borrows from good faith of the Star Wars franchise and is unfairly piggy-backing upon that good faith. Just because Lucas is making money hand over fist, it doesn't mean that it is unfair. The last I saw, capitalism was still considered fair, and even desirable, in most cultures.

Discuss..

Re:No brainer (1)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366886)

He's using Lucas' neologism to specifically call attention to the similarities between his products and the abilities of the characters that the neologism belongs to. Is there any way in which this is not a textbook correct application of trademarks?

Where can I buy a "Jedi"? Does "Jedi Mind" make the same category of product? If not, there should be no trademark infringement.

The sole purpose of trademarks is to protect buyers; it is not to give companies additional revenue sources.

Re:No brainer (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366984)

"Passing off" can occur without there needing to be a strict overlap of product type. All that's required is the implication that the product comes from a particular source. This is especially the case where the trademark is unique and only appears in language in connection to, as is the case with "Jedi", or would be the case with "Optimus Prime". Neither Lucas nor Hasbro needs to put out a branded range of snow shovels with that name for me to infringe on their trademark with my own line of spades, and it'd be pretty difficult for me to argue that I have a good faith reason to be using those names.

Re:No brainer (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33368032)

Yes, there is a way that this is not a textbook application of trademarks. Does LucasFilms sell a product similar to the defendant in this case using the "Jedi" trademark? If they do not, then there is no trademark infringement.
In this case, I think that LucasFilms does actually sell products in a close enough market segment that there is a possibility of confusion. However, I have recently noticed a tendency of entertainment companies (and some others) to try and prevent people in unrelated industries from using words that they coined (or popularized in a particular context). For example, I think there is a good chance that either if I sold treehouse plans called "Ewok Shelters" I would be sued by LucasFilms for trademark infringement even though LucasFilms does not sell treehouse plans (or any other plans for building a structure).

They (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366592)

Shouldve used the force and seen that one coming.

Americans (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366620)

When you want free money, you sue people over trifles.

This does not make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366626)

Lucasfilm is wasting their time. They are not owner of the trademark, neither they have product or company with that name.

Next what? Another film company, having character Sonia in their film, is suing Sony for trademark infringement.

Who does own the 'Jedi' trademark? (1)

DABANSHEE (154661) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366884)

I assume the only reason why Lucas doesn't own the trademark to 'Jedi' is because someone else beat Lucas to the post & managed to trademark the word already. In which case shouldn't they be suing Lucas? Maybe Lucas had to buy a license to 'Jedi' in the 1st place

Re:Who does own the 'Jedi' trademark? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33367140)

He 'borrowed' it from the Barsoom Books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (warriors named the Jed). And it's a simple name of course, in Christian circles often the short for Jediah etc

the force (1)

bakamorgan (1854434) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366636)

the Jedi Mind company must have been weak minded or just no match for LucasFilm's sith lords of their legal department

Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366652)

Jedi is a word that they made up, and which they clearly use and continue to use as a trademark (irrespective of whether it's registered as such).

Further, trademarks are use-them-or-lose-them: if they don't defend it from "Jedi Mind", then they'll lose the ability to stop OfficialJediJailbailSlutsInYourZipCode.com from appropriating it too.

I'm sure "Jedi Mind's" products are really neat, but if so, they can survive on their own merits, with their own original name, rather than piggybacking on Lucas' creation. Trademarks are not patents, and you don't break Wheaton's Law [wikipedia.org] by having and defending them.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (1, Insightful)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366704)

Where is LucasFilm's mind control software, that is named, or includes the word, Jedi to be confused with this?

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367026)

Good point, and if LucalFilm don't intent to pimp underage Star Wars themed hookers, then OfficialJediJailbailSlutsInYourZipCode.com doesn't infringe either.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (5, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366720)

Welcome®to® the® 21st® century,® where® using® words® as® a® trademark® is® just® like® owning® a® trademark,® only® cheaper®!

Thanks®, Rogerborg®!

P.S. Please pick a new /. login, it looks like someone registered yours.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366794)

Honestly common-law trademarks are a lot less draconian than registered ones, because you have to prove your own use and likelihood of confusion.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (1)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366754)

I'm sure "Jedi Mind's" products are really neat, but if so, they can survive on their own merits, with their own original name, rather than piggybacking on Lucas' creation. Trademarks are not patents, and you don't break Wheaton's Law [wikipedia.org] by having and defending them.

I'm sure "RogerBorg's" comments are really neat, but if so, they can survive on their own merits, with their own original name, rather than piggybacking on Star Trek's creation.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367042)

Bitch, "Rogerborg" is a handle that I started using when I wrote a (cy)borg client for the Netrek game back when the intartubes was just Bianca Troll's Smut Shack, that one picture of Cindy Crawford in a bikini, and alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die. It's got nothing at all to do with Star Trek, except in as much as Netrek is a direct ripoff of Star Trek and... oh... fair point. I'll get my coat.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366842)

No the word Jedi is not made up, it was borrowed from Japanese.

Lucas said in an interview that he was inspired by a Jidai Geki (samurai-era soap opera) on TV during a visit to Japan.

You have failed me for the last time!

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367456)

Well unless this company is called Jidai Mind, they're certainly using the word that he modified for his own purposes. In fact, if they used the alternate spelling that seems like it would be a perfectly valid defence, the only reason to use Lucas' spelling is to associate their product with his fictional universe - even if Lucas isn't in a competing market, it's still more than likely going to fall foul of trademark dillution.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (1)

yyxx (1812612) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366892)

If there is no reasonable possibility of confusion of a "Jedi" product from Lucas Film and the "Jedi Mind" product, there should be no trademark protection, nor a need to defend the trademark.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366926)

Well, there's the licenced Star Wars brand mind-controlled toy [cnet.com], for a start.

Re:Gotta give this one to LucasFilm (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367504)

There's also dillution to consider. Just because Disney don't currently sell Mickey Mouse smartphones, it doesn't mean they'd never intend to or that they'd be happy for a phone vendor to use the name in such a way. And it's still suggesting an endorsement of the product by Lucas which simply doesn't exist, so even though there's no product to be confused about, there is nevertheless plenty of opportunity for consumers to be confused.

It looks good,I have learn a recruit! (-1, Troll)

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Re:It looks good,I have learn a recruit! (0)

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I feel a great disturbance in the force (2, Insightful)

Tootech (1865028) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366732)

I am guessing this what George felt when he typed Jedi and into Google and Star Wars or George Lucas we're not the first results to come up! Then he summoned all the power of the force ( herein known as George's legal team ) ( He tried to rally the Sand People as they are always willing to fight , but they said they couldn't help due to being written out of the last 5 of George's movies ) to help battle back against those that would rebel against the good of the force ( also known as George's profit margin ) But you can't blame the guy...it has been a great cash cow and one hell of a legacy he left behind from that first movie in the sci fi genre

Re:I feel a great disturbance in the force (1)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367590)

Uhh.... The sand people were in Episode 1, during the pod race. Although it is boring enough that you could have just skipped past it. So, they were only ignored in episodes 5,6,2,3...

More copyright trademark patent bullshit .... (1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366742)

wasnt it just yesterday that we had some crap come out of riaa ? today this. tomorrow something else. these do NOT work.

Re:More copyright trademark patent bullshit .... (1, Troll)

tsj5j (1159013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366820)

Before trolling, it helps to read the context first. Imagine if you spent years building a brand name, only to have some other company calling their products by the same name. That's what trademark law is here to protect, and it protects both indie firms and big-name firms alike. Copyright and patent systems are broken, yes, but trademarks have been comparatively clear. And the answer to the broken systems above isn't removal, it's reform.

Re:More copyright trademark patent bullshit .... (2, Insightful)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366852)

I can understand Lucas wanting the name changed and enforcing it through the courts. But why the 5 million in damages (I suspect little damage) , is it really necessary to potentially put a small business that makes products targeted at the disabled out of business?

Re:More copyright trademark patent bullshit .... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367006)

I'd say that the trademark system needs turning around in some respects too. There's a disproportionately large burden of proof placed on supposed infringers, in comparison to the burden of proof placed on trademark holders at trademark registration, for example.

irrelevant (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367660)

EVERYtime some bullshit comes up like this, someone comes up with 'context'. everytime, context context context. its time to realize that its not the 'context' but, it is the system, if it happens THAT much and that often.

Jidai Matsuri an japanese festival (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366798)

I think this is japanese. Roughly translated Jidai means a period in time. So, jidai matsuri is a festival where people dress up in historic costumes and parade in the streets.

Hey george lucas... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366840)

Fuck You ®

Lucas is easy to deal with (5, Informative)

Roblimo (357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33366888)

George Lucas reputedly loves all those fan films and Lego Star Wars characters. At the same time, the Lucas companies must sue trademark infringers now and then if they want to retain their trademarks.

But, as I learned some years ago while defusing a DMCA complaint against a SourceForge project that had some Lucas IP in it, if you *ask Lucasfilm politely* for permission to use their trademarks, they'll probably give it to you -- and probably won't want any money if you're a small-timer.

Let me guess what you had to ask (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367234)

Your so-called 'small timer' Sourceforge project is called Death Star?

Exactly how *long* before 1-point-oh, huh buddy? Or should I call you Darth Vader now?

After Ep 1, the gvmt should have revoked all TMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33366988)

After the crap that was Episode 1 was released, the government should have revoked all trademarks owned by Lucas as a penalty for pain caused to billions of fans worldwide.

Jedi Mind trick might invoke genericized trademark (1)

MadRat (774297) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367002)

The word 'Jedi' has become a part of the American culture and LucasFilms Ltd is in danger of it becoming generic. Jedi Mind has to convince the judge that this is true and it would alter the course of battle...

Re:Jedi Mind trick might invoke genericized tradem (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367794)

The word 'Jedi' has become a part of the American culture and LucasFilms Ltd is in danger of it becoming generic. Jedi Mind has to convince the judge that this is true and it would alter the course of battle...

It would be tough to find anyone to whom the word "Jedi" evokes a generic "monk-like guy", rather than Luke Skywalker, Yoda, or that pissant who hates sand.

from the looks of it... (0, Flamebait)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367104)

from the looks of it, the company is trying to make a reality the things lucas fantasized about. "Jedi Mind, Inc. develops software for thought-controlled technologies, allowing the user to interact with the computer and other machines through the power of the mind. The technology involves the use of a wireless headset, developed by our strategic partner, which detects brainwaves on both the conscious and non-conscious level. This revolutionary neural processing technology makes it possible for computers to interact directly with the human brain." Was there ever a more clear cut case of someone trying to use trademarks to stifle creative output and innovation?

Re:from the looks of it... (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367112)

They were perfectly happy to let him carry on his business under another name. Only one of his products ("Jedi Mouse") even has the mark on it. The burden to his business would've been negligible. How is that stifling?

I can't believe Lucas didn't bury Foutch (2, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367108)

It takes something of an imbecile to not realize that Lucas would go after him after using the word Jedi. Anyone who would use the word in that context knows exactly that they are referencing the Jedi depicted in Star Wars movies, books, comic books, video games, cartoons, TV series and probably breakfast cereals. (* Silly Sith! Mind tricks are for Jedis! *) There are plenty of other words he could have used that would have been just as good or even better. And when I went to the company's site, I saw a video that depicted a computer input system that, while seemingly impressive, cannot possibly do exactly what it says it does. Tracking head movement? Yeah, I'm down with that. Tracking eye movement and blinking? Pretty damned cool. "Think left, Think right?" I'm more than a little skeptical on that notion. Sounds like the early days of voice recognition 20 years ago and we STILL don't have that right.

I usually side with the other guy on various issues when it comes to Darth Lucas, but in this case, no... not at all. The only thing that protected Foutch from the full wrath of Darth Lucas was the fact that this is a product for the disabled. Imagine the stink over claims like "hey, George Lucas hates disabled people!"

Foutch is a huckster and a scam artist in my opinion. Everything about what I have seen so far just spells it out to me.

Re:I can't believe Lucas didn't bury Foutch (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367896)

Actually since Jedi represents a religion [wikipedia.org] with at least half a million followers according to census data, there may be an exception.

Pick a new name... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367210)

Just change the name to "Strong Force"... which should in one simple stroke protect them from litigation by picking a name generic enough to pass any reasonable muster, and at the same time tell Lucas films (and their legal dept.) to kiss their pink fuzzy butts.

Apple went through a similar problem. After adding a new synthesizer to the machine, they placed a bunch of new sounds, and one, a chime sound ran afoul to the legal dept. because they had just resolved a standing lawsuit regarding the use of musical sound (named chime) on the computer (a use Apple Records deemed was in conflict with their business trademark) and the sound and it's name were deemed too musical. So a senior VP suggest changing the name to "Let it Beep" a clear Beetles parody that would certainly provoke Apple Records to litigate. So finally the VP said name it "Sosumi", it's Japanese and has nothing to do with music (the new name is pronounced "So Sue Me") and people tell the tale of the bad pun to this day.

Well doggies! (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367294)

Next, the Lucas Rebel Attorney Alliance turns their attention to Uncle Jed and sues the estate of Paul Henning.

Registered trademarks vs. common law trademarks (3, Informative)

fair use (948368) | more than 3 years ago | (#33367766)

The original post confuses trademark law.

Under common law, all you have to do get trademark rights is to use a particular mark, although whether you can actually prevent any one else from using the mark depends on a lot of factors, e.g., your mark should be distinctive and you should be the first to use it for a particular type of product.

In addition to any common law rights, you can also get a federal trademark registration, which gives you the right to use the circle R symbol (note that it is against the law to use the circle R symbol unless you have a federal registration). Having a federal registration gives you some advantages over a common law trademark: (1) you get a presumption that you use the mark nationwide (as opposed to a particular geographic region), and (2) you can sue in federal court if someone infringes your trademark.

Even if you have a federal registration, you only have rights to a mark if you actually use it. If you get a federal registration on a mark, but stop using it, then that mark becomes available for someone else to use.

Trademark law is very different from patent/copyright law and serves a much clearer purpose -- people need to know the real source of the products they buy.

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