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Show HN: So Long, and Thanks for All the Veggies (christianfei.com)
14 points by christian_fei 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

Wow! How can a common vegetable (pomodoro) and a common productivity technique (timeboxing) be combined together and sold as a new product? Who really falls for this "Pomodoro Technique" hype? Can't one just start a timer and focus on their work? Does this simple idea need copyright, trademark, and legal hassles?

I am surprised that Francesco Cirillo has been able to create a business out of this. A very disingenuous business in my opinion.

Cirillo may have a reasonable trademark case that this specific name, 'pomodoro', & exact instantiation is something he 1st defined & popularized, as a trade, going back to even before there were websites/web-apps. See, for example, claims in the Wikipedia article:


But that is just a trademark claim to the name. This wouldn't appear to rise to the level of a patentable invention, and many similar incarnations of related ideas should be widely and independently implementable. They just couldn't use the same name as another's trade/business. (And yes, you can trademark a common plant aa your business name: America's most valuable company is "Apple".)

So I do wish the creator of the `pomodoro.cc` service would just slap a new name on it, so that it could continue to provide value.

(I perfectly understand someone deciding it's not worth the aggravation in the presence of veiled legal threats, but performing a name-patch might've been both faster & more effective than authoring a prickly "so long" message and urging people to share their opinions with Cirillo.)

Agree to most things you said. Thank you for the feedback.

This is what made me take the decision to throw away Pomodoro.cc and get out of this BS:

> I don't think it will be enough to change the name to return to the norm

If the main problem is the trademark why changing the name is not the solution?

He couldn't provide more info on that.

If one wants to bully another person with legal action, you are free to do that, but I don't have the time nor energy to follow this absurd BS.

To me he will always remain the creator of "The Trademark Technique"

PS: Apple is a company name and has a registered trademark and copyright for that company. His "invention" wasn't Pomodoro, but rather "Pomodoro Technique"..

OK, so perhaps Cirillo said, cryptically and without willingness to clarify, "I don't think it will be enough to change the name to return to the norm".

So what? From your account, it doesn't even seem he's used a lawyer to communicate with you (which is what the most serious enforcers do), or worded it in the form of a "cease and desist" (a formal demand for changed behavior). He just reached out, one proprietor to another.

The logical and legal grounds of his complaint is a trademark claim. If you stop using the name – including in the domain – then he no longer has any complaint.

You likely could just:

• pick a new domain-name

• do a search and replace on your work, replacing all cases where you've named your work 'pomodoro' with a new name.

• add an explanatory note on your site, to the effect: "this was previously called, and inspired by, Cirillo's 'Pomodoro Technique', but as Cirillo claims a trademark on that name, its been renamed. go to _his site_ if you want his book or training/consulting services"

• for some initial transition period – say 90 days? – have `pomodoro.cc` redirect to a disambiguation page, explaining that your service has moved, and the "official trademarked Pomodoro®" consulting services is somewhere else

And there's still ways to be either more, or less, cooperative in such a change, depending on your tolerance for conflict:

• You could transfer the domain to him at the end, perhaps for some token consideration, or could simply have the website stop functioning entirely.

• You could try a new name that's a play on the original, but without any risk of confusion or implied endorsement, like perhaps "Nightshade Timer", or "Orodomop Timer", or "Marinara Timer".

• You could either include resentful indirect allusions to Cirillo & his services – expressing your disdainful opinion of his trademark strategy – or instead just give warm mentions and links, to recognize that he did popularize this name and specific formula.

Cirillo can cryptically say "not enough" to such things, but as long as you're not labeling your offering "pomodoro" (in text and domain-name), there's no grounds for further complaint or legal threat.

Note that exactly the way that Apple Incorporated of Cupertino, California, USA, has a registered trademark for the wordmark "Apple"...


...Francisco Cirillo of Berlin, Germany also has a registered trademark for the wordmark "Pomodoro", as of a 2012 filing:


The idea is free. The name is not. Seems fair to me. If the name is irrelevant, just call it timeboxing.cc.

Or to put it in another way: if this is just timeboxing, why did Fei call it Pomodoro.cc? And why did the site used to say "Pomodoro.cc is a tool that leverages the concepts of the Pomodoro Technique", rather than just "implements timeboxing"?

Seems to me that Fei got a useful technique for free from Cirillo, and his thanks is to not even have the respect to name his site something else.

How can “Apple” be a trademark?

This reminds me of a book I got as a gift, "Mind Map Mastery". I think the top review on Amazon for that book pretty much summarizes my feelings too :)). Tl;dr mind mapping is a nice technique to organize information but it's just that: a technique, one out of many. And although I agree that a book can be justified to explain and give examples of just one technique, you somehow get a feeling that these things are more about the author boasting about something they "created". I have no idea if there is a similar legal situation concerning "mind mapping", but I guess claiming that the pomodoro technique is something so special falls in the same category. I wonder if the author would just change the words to "the tomato technique", would he be pursued legally for that too?

tomatillotimebox.cc !!! :)

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