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Australian Women Fight Over "Geekgirl" Trademark 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the geekgirls-geekgirls-you're-both-pretty dept.
bennyboy64 writes "Two prominent women in the Australian IT industry are in a bitter dispute over the ownership of the trademark 'geekgirl.' A woman attempting to use 'geekgirl' on Twitter told ZDNet that women had been advised by the trademark owner to stop doing so since she owned the trademark for the word. 'She noted her trademark and asked me to stop calling myself a "geekgirl" in general conversation and to cease using the hashtag "#geekgirl" on Twitter,' IT consultant Kate Carruthers said."

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Australian Women Fight Over "Geekgirl" Trademark

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  • Ridiculous (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:54AM (#32278398) Journal

    I'm going to start calling myself slashdot now.

  • What's the hash tag thing now? I thought that was an IRC channel thing.
  • by Paranatural (661514) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:57AM (#32278470)

    To trademark the term geek. Everyone else has to stop using it. I mean it! STOP IT YOU GUYS!

  • Or... (Score:3, Funny)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @09:59AM (#32278498)
    Maybe they should just go by a more realistic name: UglyGirlsThatWantAttentionFromAnyGuyThatWillGiveItTothem
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Which when fed back into the translator offers many options: geek girl, gamer girl, chick-who-watches-porn, or any variation of a member of the female species who is either completely fictitious/mythical or so ugly that even their pets fear them.
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by catmistake (814204) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:21AM (#32278890) Journal
      ha ha ha that's so cool you call girls ugly, man, I wish I could have an opinion
      • No, I think he just called Kate Carruthers ugly.

        ...and yes, that was her picture attached to the story.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:00AM (#32278524) Homepage Journal

    Who will win?

    Under UK law, it would be the one who could prove they used it first.

    Under French law, it would be who registered it first.

    In Australian law? The one with the biggest tits.

    • Re:Who will win? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ICLKennyG (899257) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:14AM (#32278772)
      I wonder if either of them will actually have established valid use rights under this dispute. Geekgirl would almost surely be descriptive and as such would need to prove secondary meaning under the American system. Even assuming that the AU system would have issued a trademark registration to the first girl, it's only a priority date for intent to use. She needs to actually produce a good or service and it's going to be interesting if they say some blog posts are a good or service are enough to establish this use. What will likely happen is the second will fold like a cheap suit despite the fact that she would win if she had competent counsel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by russotto (537200)

        I wonder if either of them will actually have established valid use rights under this dispute. Geekgirl would almost surely be descriptive and as such would need to prove secondary meaning under the American system.

        The original registration was "publication of electronic books, magazines and/or multimedia both online on a communications network and on recorded media including optical disks and magnetic media". In that category it might be suggestive rather than merely descriptive.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        I'm sure there was probably a movie in the 1980s which used the term "geek girl".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      In Australian law? The one with the biggest tits.

      But justice is supposed to be blind. Does that mean there will be groping involved? How do I get on a jury in Australia? ;)

    • by S.O.B. (136083) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @11:14AM (#32279786)

      In Japanese law, the one dressed as a schoolgirl.
      In Russian law, the one who can bench press the most..
      In Canadian law, the one with the most donuts.
      In U.S. law, the one with the biggest tits (See Australian law).
      In Italian law, the one with the biggest tits (See Australian and U.S. law).
      In French law, the one with the hairiest armpits.
      In Saudi law, the one with the least amount of skin showing.
      In Dutch law, the one with the most pot.
      In Latvian law...got nothin'.
      In Irish law, the one who can drink the most beer.
      In Scottish law, the one who can drink the most scotch (duh) while playing golf.
      In English law, the one with the straightest teeth.
      In Brazilian law, the one with a Brazilian.

    • by Fross (83754)

      As long as one of them doesn't have extremely small tits, or they'll be deemed illegal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by parliboy (233658)
      Clearly, this is why laptops will now be searched for porn at Australian customs -- to prevent too much intellectual property from ending up in the hands of foreign interests.
    • Re:Who will win? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gravis777 (123605) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @11:31AM (#32280064)

      Is this just someone claiming they own the trademark, or can they like prove it - like they have been using it and writing for ZDNet for 15 years using that name?

      If they really have been using it as a handle for years, and has business tied to it, then that is a legit argument.

      And, seriously, the other girl is actually allowing this to go to court? It takes like a whole 20 seconds to change one's username on Twitter, and all your followers automatically go to your new username. I would have changed it to GeekGirl2, and just have avoided the legal costs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gijoel (628142)
      Nah, this is Australia Mate.

      It goes to the one with the biggest knife!
      • Tit's? Those aren't tits. [whips her norks out] These are tits!

        They should totally make a pr0n Crocodile Dundee spoof with a female lead.

  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:02AM (#32278564) Journal

    Which one hangs out on Slashdot?

    If neither of them do than neither deserves the trademark.

  • Why 'girl'? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:13AM (#32278754)

    Why do women, even the most intelligent ones, tend to use the word girl in their names?

    Is it for attention? It sounds fucking stupid. Just like when I see boy in a name, I tend to think the person behind it is a dimwitted moron with no imagination.

    (Anonymous Coward is so much more impressive.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Infiniti2000 (1720222)
      Would you prefer to see geekbitch?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It is for attention, of course; but it works, so I'm not sure how stupid it is. You might say, "It's not the right sort of attention!" but this is Earth, we are humans, and most people are influenced by sexuality. IOW, if you're going to get a little more of what you want - whether that's money, employment prospects, miscellaneous favours or simply admirers - from pointing out that I'm a girl, then you might do so.

      Meanwhile, if you're a straight male - no matter how "intelligent" - you might be just a littl

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        Meanwhile, if you're a straight male - no matter how "intelligent" - you might be just a little bit nicer to the skirt than the fat greybeard. Doing so (or wanting to do so, even if you try and fail at repressing it) is what defines you as heterosexual rather than homosexual or asexual, after all.

        Are you saying all men are sexist or gay?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Only to the extent that I'm saying all straight men are straight.

          IOW, all straight men will treat particular women in a way that they'd never treat any man, by definition. A man never has the opportunity to be treated that way by a straight man, because he is a man. For example, if you were a straight woman and I were a straight woman, there'd no chance that you'd treat me 'specially nice because you feel romantically/sexually inclined toward me; but if you were a man, you might do such a thing. In this lat

      • If I was talking to her in person, probably. In the Internet (especially a text-only medium like Twitter), I don't think it would affect me.

    • Just like when I see boy in a name.

      What? Like "fanboy"?

    • by mcvos (645701)

      Why do women, even the most intelligent ones, tend to use the word girl in their names?

      Geekwoman just doesn't sound the same.

      Just like when I see boy in a name, I tend to think the person behind it is a dimwitted moron with no imagination.

      Yeah, Geekman is much better.

    • Referencing yourself as "girl" when it can be linked to your real self is not the wisest thing to do from a professional standpoint.

      "geekgirl" just doesn't inspire an image of professional capacity to me. The use of the word "chick" in the username bugs me for the same reason. Why are these women fighting for its use when it's related to their professional context?

      Sometimes identifying oneself as female in a username comes off as begging for attention (or maybe just acknowledging it), but it can also be u

      • Maybe she doesn't care about people who take such conclusions based on a nickname?

        • When you express yourself in a rational manner (i.e. at the level of human discourse rather than a scream of pain, say), it is implied that you care about how people react to your expressions. Why else would you be expressing them?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by icebraining (1313345)

            I didn't say "any conclusion", I said "such conclusions". In this case I was talking about how the GP referred it could affect her professional credibility. Maybe she doesn't care about people who draw conclusions about her professional ability based on a simple nickname.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Why do rodeo contestants, even the most macho and mature ones, always calls themselves "cowboys"?
    • Re:Why 'girl'? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @04:56PM (#32285220)
      I think I prefer being called "girl" rather than "woman" because it implies youth. But if I'm involved in sex, sometimes I prefer being called "woman" because it implies I'm at my sexual peak. So for me, since whatever a "geek" does has nothing to do with sex, "girl" seems more fitting.
  • geek & girl are common terms, anyone can be a geek and there are lots of girls out there so it is only natural some of those girls are going to be geeks (pencilneck not included)
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:17AM (#32278840) Homepage

    Anyone who claims a trademark on such a generic term should hand in their geek card and instead join the Patent Troll Club. :-(

  • trademark law (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:18AM (#32278856) Homepage

    According to trademark law (at least in the US), if you don't defend your trademark you risk losing it. This unfortunately means people with trademarks wind up setting lawyers on everyone who produces anything vaguely familiar to that trademark, even if they don't particularly want to. Don't know whether it's true in this case, but it would be improper to jump to conclusions.

    • Common words shouldn't be trademarked. Yeah, like Apple and Windows.
      And apparently, GeekGirl.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dragonslicer (991472)

        Common words shouldn't be trademarked. Yeah, like Apple and Windows.

        Why not? Sure, you can't have copyright on common words, you can't prevent people from using those words in the context of their normal definition, and you can't prevent people from using those words as names of companies in other industries. If I open "Eastern Computer, Inc.", then I don't see why someone else who wants to open a computer shop across the street shouldn't be required to come up with a different name. It's not like you could prevent someone from opening "Eastern Dry Cleaners" or "Eastern Plu

  • As far as I know most trademark laws have specific restrictions to prevent abuse as a form of censorship.
    Trademarks are meant to be a CONSUMER protection device, not a corporate IP tool.

    What's next, Intel forbidding us to use the word Intel to talk about their company ? Of course not. It's only a trademark violation if we try to call another company (in the SAME sphere of business) by that name.

    So I don't see how using the word, even IF it's trademarked could be a violation.

    With that said, there are other r

    • With that said, there are other restrictions - you cannot trademark a common word (so no you can't trademark 'beer')

      Ever heard of Apple Computer? You can get a trademark for BEER brand computers or shoes, just not for BEER brand beer.
      You are right that she would not have a case under USA law, though, unless the accused infringer is using the mark to sell similar goods or services. Trademark law can get complicated, but as a general rule in order to infringe you must use the mark in a way that might

  • or was it geekgrrl?

    ah yes:

    http://slashdot.org/~geekgrrl [slashdot.org]

    what say you, resident trademark pseudoinfringer?

  • by Chapter80 (926879) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @10:28AM (#32279020)

    There's about an 11 or 12 % difference between geekgirl and #geekgirl. What's she got the trademark on?

    As a side note, who volunteers to "pound-geekgirl", as "#geekgirl" invites? (better than hashing her...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      There's about an 11 or 12 % difference between geekgirl and #geekgirl. What's she got the trademark on?

      Irrelevant, since # is a prefix required by the system. There's about a 38% difference between Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola.com, but just try to claim that there's no likelihood of confusion there.

  • Meow! (Score:2, Funny)

    by scotbuff (656541)
    Meow!
  • Let the hottest one win

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by XAD1975 (1628499)
      How about a mud fight?
      • Light Vegetable Oil is better, if you want to see the sexy bits. And it increases the chance of losing whatever clothing might still be on. Mud just obfuscates things.

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          Neither one of you has any imagination. The optimum media for wrestling in is obviously strawberry Jello!
  • You don't support a broken system by trying to use it yourself. You just ignore it.

    If Carruthers believes that geekgirl should be in common usage, then she should just keep on using it, encouraging others to use it, and laugh off Cross and her silly demands until she gets over herself and realises that her opportunity to assert ownership of that trademark was 1995, not 2010.

  • Registered in 95 and only now contesting its use? Sounds like someone didn't defend his trade mark.

    NEXT CASE!

  • by meerling (1487879) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @11:55AM (#32280518)
    Shortly after geek was being used in a non-negative way to refer to computer enthusiasts, geekgirl started being used for clarification purposes due to the extreme gender bias people have of thinking of geeks as an all male group. Heck, I even went to college with a girl that had a binary square tattoo that was ascii for geekgirl.

    This entire case reeks of horse manure in my opinion.
    • by King_TJ (85913)

      I was just wondering why this wasn't handled with a work-around, vs. dealing with all the hassle?

      A single underscore does wonders: geek_girl

      Or the "even more hip" geekgrrl ?

      Even the more passe minus sign would do: geek-girl

      If she's into copyright infringement, may I suggest: g33kg1rl ?

  • http://www.google.com/search?q=geekgirl [google.com]
    About 70,900 results (0.27 seconds)

    Yeah- I can see it's been *vigorously* defended by the way all these uses reflect that one person. This is even more annoyingly stupid than Lucasarts owning the term Droid.

    Right.

    Pug

  • If a couple thousand people in Australia started calling themselves "geekgirl", this issue would probably go away. It could even get in the dictionary.

    "geekgirl" gets 70,000 hits on Google. The trademark owner must be really really prolific.

  • All I know is legally neither should be able to use the name prettygirl.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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