Copyright doesn't protect your brand name. Trademark does.
Trademark doesn't give you blanket protection that stops every other person on earth from using your trademarked term. What you get instead is a highly context-specific protection. A trademark protects the use of your trademarked term in a specific service/goods segment. When you see trademarks like Ford, Apple, or Google, that seem to have unbelievably wide protection for their trademarks, that seems to span across wide spans of the market, that is because their brands are very well known, and because the use of their brand by a third-party could create a confusion in the consumer as to the origin of the goods/services.
If there is no confusion in the minds of consumers as to the origin of a message/good/service, then the use of a trademarked term is not restricted.
In this case, this guy is virtually unknown. Not a single person thinks he is the one running this conference. Its clear the conference is being run by other people.
You cannot claim an absolute property right to a silly sequence of words just because you think you said it first, and because you made a domain.
Yes, the domain and the twitter handle should be yours by right of first occupation. But nothing more.
edit: changed "absolute nobody" to "virtually unknown" to address rudeness concerns.
edit: with regards to the charge of rudeness leveled against the conference organizers: In a world literally flooded by brands and names, name collision is not rudeness, it is almost inevitable.
He's an artist and musician who seems to be actively performing in the chiptune / computer music worlds.
Even if he wasn't, there's no need for name calling.
We are what we are by the actions we take. Reactive actions are still actions, and they stand alone at the end of the day. If you react to negativity with more negativity, that's telling of you, not the negativity that fed that action. It's human to lash out, but it's also human to choose not to do so.
That's not what he said or meant, but it's what you are trying to say he said or meant. Think about it. (Edit: Looks like he did. Exciting!)
The author of the parent comment seems to have said that initially, based on his edit descriptions.
He may have a proprietary claim in the area he practices his arts. He has no other claims.
If he actually understood this, he would not be moaning to us today in this post, which is obviously trying to name and shame the conference.
Well, I'm not cool with this BS name and shame game, that is why I wrote my comment. And I think the comment was pretty level-headed given this guys complete lack of thought into how such accusations might play out in a court of public opinion, where people don't actually think about the consequences of automatic IP rights for "first speaking" names.
In a world literally flooded by brands and names, name collision is not rudeness, it is almost inevitable.
Aside from that - well, it was a pretty rude move, particularly in that they didn't bother to acknowledge him when he talked to them (albeit over twitter) before ranting about it.
I don't think there's a question that the conference can do this legally, but they're still being ass-hats by ignoring it (and getting his twitter account suspended).
I just don't think people have to abandon a cool name just because someone somewhere registered a domain or has a twitter handle with the same name.
Ideally you make up a new word for your new enterprise. But it ends up being harder than you think if you are trying to name something with an identifier that means something in a domain. Anyone that has to name a new product or company can attest to this.
A registered trademark should not prevent somebody from continuing a usage which they were engaged in first, before the trademark was registered. If the business activities overlap then the registration itself should be rejected, if not it is likely to be invalid and can be challenged.
I don't believe that the business activities of is guy and the developer conference are sufficiently similar, I doubt he has any recourse, nor should he have expected any.
You do raise the very relevant point that tlds don't equate to trademark categories and that in a more just world domains should therefore be out of reach until the laws catch up with this.
How hard is it to goggle something before you name a conference after it.
As someone who is involved in naming things for big companies sometimes, it's actually quite hard to find a name that isn't registered as a trademark.
I don't like the idea of someone claiming all uses of a name forever. Very few companies (McDonalds, Disney, Coca-Cola) get that right over all uses of their name, and it should remain very few.
Instead, the artist crossed the line first and cost himself a claim to clean hands. He deliberately caused confusion, which is what brands are supposed to protect against.
Does not seem like he was following them.
If they have a problem with it they shouldn't have named the conference after his identity to begin with.
It's first come first serve in my book and he definitely got the domain to prove it.
Isn't it like branding/marketing 101 get the twitter handle, get the domain, etc?
additionally it was more than enough for someone to mistake that account as the conference account at a glance
http://futurestack.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Scree... from this you can see at the time he was using the FutureStack image itself (the line just below the logo is from the original, not his edit), so presumably at the time he got suspended, he was using the original FS logo
Dropbox was at getdropbox.com for a while before they were able to purchase the dropbox.com domain.
I'd go to NameChallengeConf!
Unless you've trademarked it, which you should probably due to prevent people who are terrible at their marketing job from absconding with something you value. A trademark application is something like $275.
Also, trademark creates a legal right. Whether that creates a moral right likely depends on your take on moral philosophy.
My photo is me, by bio describes me and expressly says I'm not the musician (and gives their actual username) and yet I get mentions all the time.
That's people not understanding, not caring or not bothering but it's not really confusion about our two identities.
As this guy doesn't run a tech conference he has zero chance of defending that TM.
A guy named Joe Blogs similarly has zero chance of stopping "Joe Blogs(14)" the conference
One Rackspace would be in the industry of technology; the other in the industry of hosting conferences. The likelihood for confusion arising from the conference having technology-related subject matter is merely a factor in determining whether the conference would violate Rackspace's trademark. It's very likely that a trademark violation would be found, but it's still possible that a violation wouldn't be found.
Note also that Rackspace only trademarked "Rackspace," so "RackSpace," "Rack Space," and "Rack-Space" are separate marks a tech conference could use those without infringing upon Rackspace's trademark.
(Companies do often allow quasi-independent organizations to run quasi-associated conferences but this is usually a deliberate decision.)
Legally, technology and conferences are entirely separate industries with very different business, legal, and tax considerations. A technology company that makes software for conferences is not in the conference industry; a conference with technology subject matter is not in any of the technology industries. This may be splitting hairs, but the law is always a matter of splitting hairs.
That's pretty uncool.
> My latest strategy was to pretend to be them on twitter to get some of their followers
That's different than "pretend(ing) to be them", which are his words to describe what he did. Until that point, he had the moral high ground.
This conference stole his identity. He isn't claiming he has a right to the name.
What the conference did was legal, but still not right.
All too typical of people trying to build themselves up in status.
They knew about this guy and they then they checked to see if he trademarked it. They knew they were legally okay, so they went ahead with it.
Legal move, but a dick move.
Name collisions are going to happen. There are a limited number of cool names. If it's not causing any real problems, then I don't see the big issue.
That said, if I accidentally caused some guy to get a bunch of tweets not meant for him, I'd probably apologize about it privately (obviously it wasn't intentional). I definitely would try to talk to the guy before trying to get his twitter account suspended.
Would you be annoyed/angry if someone took your twitter handle and primary domain name and started using it as their own? If though you are very active and controlled that name for a number of years?
Almost everyone would be angry (or very annoyed). There are a limitless number of names out there.
Here is why it is a dick move.
1) They almost for sure knew about him and his name.
2) They didn't contact him or offer to buy out his domain/handle.
3) They went ahead with it anyways probably because he hadn't trademarked it.
Look it's not the end of the world, it's just a pretty shitty thing to do to a person.
If someone used the same name that I am using for an internet nickname for myself (a person) for their company, I would essentially not care. At worst I'd be annoyed at an increased number of "@" mentions that comes from there being namespace collision.
And, frankly, this happens all the time. There is a ton of name collision out there happening as names which are sufficiently unique for a local context get moved online, which is a global context. Generally, when people find out there's been some name confusion, they are mildly annoyed by the inconvenience of people "@" messaging the wrong account, but not indignant that someone dared use the same name as them. Mostly when I see this happen I see people getting upset about the people "@" messaging them not checking the name more carefully, not at the company for picking the name. That is a pretty strong indicator, to me, that most people wouldn't consider this a "dick move".
Asshole is probably too harsh a word, but considering that "futurestack" was already taken as a domain and as a twitter account and both were in active use and related to technology, naming your conference "futurestack" seems a bit lame. Perhaps they could have done more to communicate what the official domain / twitter accounts were. (i.e. make them more prominent)
Should the company have considered this? It is a toss up. If a lone person using an internet handle is the bar to avoid any naming conflicts you're pretty much screwed in coming up with a name for anything.
Tl;dr: This is the world's smallest violin, playing "My heart bleeds for thee."
Also brubaker you're hellbanned and I can't figure out why.
I impersonated them with flight of the conchords jokes in 2011:
Immature on my part. Very happy not to have my twitter account suspended :)
Nowadays, that effectively means putting an IP lawyer on retainer and subscribing to a brand monitoring service. Any one of those worth their salt will advise you to register your trademark, simply because it makes their job easier if anyone attempts to infringe.
The net result is that it is only worthwhile to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of a trademark if it is actually making you money. Individuals and smaller entities should instead rely primarily upon their own names, to build up reputations and personal relationships using trade dress that can more easily be enforced by the secretary of state's business records and management staff. Impersonation of someone else's actual identity can prompt criminal prosecution, rather than a more difficult civil suit.
This guy at futurestack does not quite grasp the legal concepts involved. Based on actual usage, he could make a case for a trademark over journals and periodical publications. If he found a newspaper or magazine calling itself futurestack, he could force them to change their name. As we know from frequent patent industry complaining, adding "on the Internet" to a thing does not make it a different thing. Blogs are categorically the same as newspapers.
A trade conference is not a newspaper. It does not matter who attends. A trade conference for plumbers and steamfitters is categorically the same as a conference for web developers, or one for science fiction authors, or one for sasquatch hunters. There is no confusion between the actual things. No one arrives at the conference and says, "Hey, where are all the blog posts?". And no one visits the blog and says, "So where do I pick up my name tag?".
So the instant he decided to impersonate the conference with his own web presence, he was infringing upon their trademark. Bad idea. They have more money and more supporters. He needs to back away immediately, apologize, and attempt to create some measure of cooperation. It couldn't hurt to add a disambiguation header to the blog that redirects accidental conference-related visitors to where they actually wanted to go.
Seriously, the only thing this does is make it clear someone is childishly trying to screw over a company by making them look bad. It really won't work here.
Yeah, I know, "Don't feed the trolls."
Even on HN.
I'll delete my comments, flag the inappropriate stuff, and move on.
"Future Stack" anagrams to "Astute Fucker".
I think the folks at New Relic just have a thing for anagrams.
Sadly, that just pissed him off even more, which is a sign something is wrong somewhere with something.
> a narcissist 
> what could be better than being offered The Best T-Shirt Ever Designed? (I was in the room when we came up with the shirt design, and I can tell you it was a happy time.
I'd guess you were, but the parenthesed mention seems to go against that?
BTW, I do appreciate his pain, I've had people steal my designs (and name to boot) before and it sucks.
If you're that pedantic about a pseudonym, get a trademark.
A mate of mine just 2 days ago had a 12 year old bug him on twitter to sell his twitter handle for $12. The kid has a terrible YouTube channel under the same name with plenty of videos 'tea-bagging' people in computer games and just generally being incredibly obnoxious. You know what my friend did?... laughed.
He doesn't really have any claim to exclusive rights to this particular mix of words.
You can rant about it and get that rant read by people who make branding decisions. And sometime in the future someone may say something like "even though there's nothing legal stopping us from re-using this person's existing reasonably well-established online identity, there may be negative consequences, so maybe we should keep looking"
The charge is rudeness, not IP or Trademark violation. A community addresses rudeness by calling it out.
Not only that, but he can clearly demonstrate both confusion and priority, in the same field. I don't think it's particularly clear-cut which way a judge would go.
It is not as strong as have a federally-registered trademark.
But, as others have pointed out, the problem is in showing the likelihood of confusion.
It's _possible_ that this musician could prove this, but I believe it can be quite expensive, and there's no assurance of winning.
My gut feeling is the the idea of confusion is not so clear cut. If you apply for a trademark you need to specify the specific field of application, and there are quite a few and remarkably segmented. Even having a registered trademark as a musician may not stop another from getting a trademark on a tech conference.
His best bet might have been to try to ride the wave of inadvertent attention, promoting his stuff to people on Twitter who followed him by mistake.
Perhaps some number of them would have become fans/customers.
But I can understand the anger when you think someone is stepping on your identity.
Seems less than official.