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A Conference Stole My Identity (futurestack.com)
237 points by jballanc on July 24, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments

This guy completely misunderstands how intellectual property around brands and names works.

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.

"In this case, this guy is an absolute nobody."

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.

I don't think 'nobody' is name-calling. It's accurately, if not tactfully, describing a status of fame and recognition. He is not famous at all, and regardless of what we may or may not like about chiptunes and electronica, it is a niche market for people. His response to the confusion (which admittedly is frustrating and annoying) is simply confirmation of this lack in status. How much frustrating interaction on social platforms does your average minor celebrity (internet or otherwise) deal with? How do they respond, or do they even respond at all?

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.

I think that's a fair point. In this context "absolute nobody" reads more like "worthless" to me, rather than just saying something like "unknown" and it seemed unnecessarily harsh.

I think in any other context, that would be insulting, but since the poster was specifically talking about how popularity affects trademarks with respect to extremely popular brands like Google, Apple, etc, it is fine. I had to re-read his message after seeing yours because my first thought was, "What insult is this person talking about?"

Agreed. I think it's a bit of a stretch to claim "pre-eminence"!

Pretty sure that was said sardonically

Indeed it was.

> "In this case, this guy is an absolute nobody."

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!)

> edit: changed "absolute nobody" to "virtually unknown" to address rudeness concerns.

The author of the parent comment seems to have said that initially, based on his edit descriptions.

You're putting words in his mouth with this comment. I think he understands the legal situation just fine. He's accusing them of being "pretty fucking rude", not taking them to court.

I don't think I am. He mentioned Copyright, and he seems to think he has some sort of claim over a sequence of words, outside of his domain rights.

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.

Maybe the post has been edited but I don't see anything about Copyright at the page.

Seems a bit tenuous, to say that must mean he thinks of this as a copyright issue. It's a joke about a hypothetical presentation on 2 related but distinct topics. Maybe he's only saying "branding ethics" have been violated, not a supposed "copyright" to the name infringed.

What is he misunderstanding? There's nothing in the post mentioning copyright or suggesting the author thinks he has a legal case. He just thinks New Relic are being jerks.

There is an implied ownership claim, otherwise there would be no basis for the charge of rudeness.

In a world literally flooded by brands and names, name collision is not rudeness, it is almost inevitable.

Implied ownership claim is not a legal claim to copyright, and I don't see how the author alludes to it being so.

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).

Do you believe the marketing efforts that went into naming the Future Stack conference chose that name accidentally unaware of this person's domain and other online presence? If not, then I'm not sure collision is the correct word to use here.

No. I'm sure they were aware of it.

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.

perhaps name collision is not rudeness but getting the person's twitter account suspended because he's frustrated with them certainly is.

Actually they can try to trademark the term and then make a play for the domain and twitter account. If he gets to keep the domain in the case that they have a trademark he can still be prohibited from actually using the name on the site or for email addresses (not a lawyer but I've seen this play out in court). To best thing for him to do is probably to trademark it himself which might work out a bit cheaper than contesting their trademark application. His first and ongoing use might trump their investment in the brand.

No. The same wordmark, e.g. "ACME" may have hundreds of registered owners, each for a specific business activity: perhaps a company in Florida sells ACME burgers and a company in California runs an ACME carwash. These companies do not have any claim on the domain name unless somebody is misusing their trademark by pretending to be them or trading off their name while performing the same business activity.

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.

He doesn't need to be actively passing off. They just need to demonstrate confusion in the mind of the consumer, which he has already conveniently done for them here.

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.

They would fail. He's clearly used it has his personal trademark as a professional for years before they came along.

A personal trademark has only limited protections if it is not registered. It is also not clear that he wanted trademark protections to apply, since he did not seem to use the (TM) symbol that is allowed prior to registration. He could challenge an attempt at a trademark application, but the other FutureStack might have a good case given how many people confused his account for the conference.

Or maybe, you know, nobody knew about this guy's sense of the string "futurestack" and New Relic's marketing people brainstormed for a good conference name (increasingly difficult) and just went with it. You do not have exclusive, global, all-contextual moral rights to the string you happened to choose as your usual internet handle.

No but suspending someones twitter handle because you accidentally named a conference after their online identity is still a dick move.

How hard is it to goggle something before you name a conference after it.

He said he began to impersonate them to try to gain some of their followers... That got him suspended.

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.

Impersonating the other FS also confused his story. I saw the logo on his tweets was the logo at futurestack.io, I thought that he made the logo first, and then futurestack.io copied it. And that would have crossed a serious line.

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.

Even McDonald's doesn't "get that right over all uses of their name" - there are plenty of shops in Scotland called McDonalds. (In particular, there is a Hallmark-like shop in Glasgow that has the same name as, and is on the same street as, a McDonalds hamburgers).

In Scotland, I can see that being a difficult case for McDonald's to win. But then in the U.S., they win a case against a guy trying to market "MacDimSum", as they claim consumers would be confused that its a McDonald's product. They won that case, so food products cannot have the prefix Mc or Mac. Trademark can sometimes grant vast powers to famous brands.

Macsween and McVities are both major food brands.

He admitted he was trying to impersonate them on Twitter. Thats the type of move that will get anyone suspended.

Doesn't seem to have gotten this popular account suspended:


There are plenty of parody accounts out there. Impersonating someone is different.

Twitter actually has specific rules for parody accounts: https://support.twitter.com/articles/106373-parody-commentar...

Does not seem like he was following them.

He started changing his account to look like theirs. So as far as the Twitter rep knew, he was infringing.

Parody is not really impersonation and Future Snack =/= Future Stack =/= Future Shack etc.

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?

I used the name "Unreal" as an internet handle before the game Unreal came out. First come, first serve - I guess I should have gone after them.

fair use (parody relevance) only comes into play if it starts getting treated as a legal thing

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

I think that's definitely his mock logo, not the original. The original logo is anti-aliased and thin, not in that blocky 8-bit style. You can also see the squared-off "NeoFossil" logo above, not the rounded New Relic logo. I think he probably cut it out of a different mock splash page he made that had a line starting with "changing..."

> Isn't it like branding/marketing 101 get the twitter handle, get the domain, etc?

Dropbox was at getdropbox.com for a while before they were able to purchase the dropbox.com domain.

Maybe they skipped Google. After all, there is already a better search engine[0] when looking for existing names of brands.

[0] http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/

I just tried to goggle something. Didn't work. So, makes sense.

but surely checking if the name is taken on twitter and whether someone owns name.com is a decent point to consider in the brainstorming?

Given that they registered futurestack.io it seems almost certain they did check this. .io is nice and quirky and all but if .com was available you can be fairly sure they'd have gone for that either instead of or as well as the .io domain.

It's ideal to get those, but for a good name it's not always required.

I challenge you to come up with a plausible name for a conference series that has an available twitter handle and dot-com domain.

Damn. OK, you win.

> You do not have exclusive, global, all-contextual moral rights to the string you happened to choose as your usual internet handle.

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.

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm fairly certain that trademarks are not all-contextual, as trademark infringement requires likelihood of confusion. It's certainly possible that there's enough likelihood of confusion here, because it's a web dev conference and the guy is some kind of web dev, but it's certainly not all-contextual.

Also, trademark creates a legal right. Whether that creates a moral right likely depends on your take on moral philosophy.

There is more than a likelihood of confusion. He showed several examples of _actual_ confusion in the marketplace in his blog post.

As someone who shares a name with a famous person where I have the obvious Twitter username, I'd suggest that this isn't confusion, it's people not understanding Twitter.

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.

Confusion on what twitter handle to use is not marketplace confusion. You can have one twitter in the paper bag industry and another in deep-space fishing and you'll find people tweeting to the wrong ones. People make a guess as to a likely address and don't check.

The confusion is in the opposite direction to that protected by trademark law. He's not losing customers/whoever because they're going to the FutureStack conference by accident, when they were intending to go to his house.

A trademark is exactly what it sounds like, a mark that is used in trade. It has to be in specific markets, and you use it or you lose it.

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

Ahh, good. I'll register Rackspace as my tech conference, because that's a totally separate industry than Rackspace the infrastructure provider.

It is a totally separate industry.

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.

Yes, but tech companies (among others) also run conferences specifically for their users. I suspect Rackspace would take action if you wanted to run the "Rackspace Summit" or something along those lines because people would reasonably assume that such an event was associated with the company in some way.

(Companies do often allow quasi-independent organizations to run quasi-associated conferences but this is usually a deliberate decision.)

I was primarily responding to the comment that they were not separate industries, and supplying an example of similar marks that were not actually trademarked by Rackspace and thus open to potential use even by those in the technology industry.

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.

Trademarks are heavily contextual, so still nope.

Are you kidding me? It's in the same damn market/space! Its not like someone is promoting Futurestack bouncy houses or lawn furniture.

The same damn market/space as conferences? That's quite a stretch, no matter what the conference is about.

A "tech" conference is still in the tech/development sector. Because its a conference doesn't suddenly thrust it into another market.

A developer claiming trademark over a developer conference. It's funny how things can be interpreted to fit one's will.

Especially when they're made up of two common English words.

I hope this kid learns from his mistakes. Clearly he has zero clue how things work. He also claims FutureStack.io stole his identity. I don't see it. A name isn't an identity. He doesn't own rights to the name. If he had a trademark or a copyright to the name then he could do something only if he was in the same space as FutureStack.io is in. Twitter doesn't play around when it comes to this type of stuff. Typically what happens when thinking of a name. You check to see if the .com is available. Then you run a trademark check. If the trademark comes back clean you then have to decide if you need the .com. and if it's needed you would reach out to the .com owner and attempt to purchase the domain. If not you can use .org, .net, .co, .io. That is why if you want full rights to a name you're using you need to purchase all domains and trademark and copyright your shit. If not, don't cry when someone uses it. He should also talk to a lawyer and stop posting negative things about New Relic. He will dig himself deeper in shit.

Having his twitter account suspended is way out of bounds. Shame on them if they were involved.

He literally tried to fake being this conference to steal some of their followers and redirect them to his blog post.

That's pretty uncool.

Where is faking being the conference? Starting your own conference with blackjack and hookers is not the same thing. Every quoted tweet makes it clear that he's not the conference. Are there other tweets you're looking at?

Read the post:

> My latest strategy was to pretend to be them on twitter to get some of their followers

I read that a bit more tongue in cheek. 'pretend' in a parody way rather than convincing, considering the picture adjacent to that sentence.

He started to impersonate the conference. Having his account suspended is fair game.

Never new free speech was optional. Since times of the middle ages were hectoring kinds with various success.

This has absolutely nothing to do with free speech. Notice how he is free to complain about the conference using his handle on his own blog without consequences?

I can scream "Futurestack.io sucks balls" all day with no legal consequence. (HN would kick me off, rightly, for doing so in every thread.)

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.

Free speech protects you from the government, not from Twitter. Twitter can suspend any account they want, just like Hacker News can delete any comment on this site if they want.

Checking for existing trademarks is basic due diligence if you are buying a domain. It is pretty much unusable if someone else has trademarked it.

Did this guy actually register FutureStack as a trademark? His post doesn't even mention the word "trademark", so I'm guessing no.

Surely doing a lookup for <potential name>.com would be a good first step?

Bullshit. These dipshits looked up the .com and the twitter handle, they knew exactly who he was and decided to screw him.

A lot of people are talking about how this guys doesn't understand Trademark law. Well, no shit.

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.

I don't really see it as a dick move. They're not appropriating this guy's brand or pretending to be him. The worst that's happened so far is he got a few tweets not meant for him. He's not going to lose any business or reputation because a conference has the same name as him. He already owns the .com domain and has the twitter account for the name. I could see if they tried to make some move to steal his domain by trying to vulture a lapsed renewal, or sent him a C&D for use of the name, but basically their big crime was to have chosen the same name for their developer conference as he uses as his internet handle, and maybe they knew there was some guy who uses the same name.

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.

Let me ask you this.

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 tried to take over my twitter handle and domain name, I would be upset.

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".

Agreed. In the word of "the dude" - "You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole".

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)

First smile I've had all day.

Agreed. Not sure why the top post ITT is a rant about copyright law vs trademark laws. @futurestack never claimed legal rights to the name, he's just saying that what New Relic did was a total dick move.

This is a weird case. I can see why he is pissed but you don't have global rights to your name let alone your internet handle. Ask anyone who suddenly finds themselves with the same name as a famous person. Google-slapped!

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.

So, you're saying this guy's the new Michael Bolton?

My name is Tommy McGuire. I am unaffiliated with Maj. Thomas B. McGuire[1] or McGuire Air Force Base[2] or any of the other people on the internet who may or may not use the name "mcguire" or "T. McGuire" or anything similar.

Tl;dr: This is the world's smallest violin, playing "My heart bleeds for thee."

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_McGuire

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGuire_Air_Force_Base

To me the most bizarre (and possible only) thing is that twitter suspended your twitter account instead of second coming of FS

Once he used the logo he was in the wrong.

He didn't use their logo, he made a satire on the logo to comment on the situation. You can't be passing off if you are doing commentary.

He specifically said he did it in order to gain twitter followers from those confused by the relationship between him and the conference.

{FU isn't really a logo, though. It's not even in the same font.

Also brubaker you're hellbanned and I can't figure out why.

Parody is allowed under US law.

Sure, parody is allowed under US law. But is it allowed under Twitter's terms of service? And to what extent? Because when you play in their sandbox, you play by their rules.

Right, but you can't use their logo, you need to specify it's a parody, etc. See: https://support.twitter.com/articles/106373-parody-commentar...

I also use the same handle as a conference. Me: @morgo Conference: @morgo_nz

I impersonated them with flight of the conchords jokes in 2011: https://twitter.com/morgo/status/128488872165384195

Immature on my part. Very happy not to have my twitter account suspended :)

You don't actually have to register your trademark with anyone. You just have to use it and defend it like a badger sow in front of a litter of pups.

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.

If I were in this situation, I'd probably try to sell them the domain for a fair price (>$10k), go on vacation with part of the money, and use the rest for a rebrand when I got home.

He needs to apply for trademark and let them come to his lawyer with precisely that kind of offer

It's not easy to stop an identity campaign once it's been started but it really seems like the conference people at least tried a little bit with their fs14 and "{future}stack" branding.


> Classy move.

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.

I was under no illusions that this new user was connected with "the real" New Relic. There is no evidence for that. My comments were directed at the person. I should've remembered that there are people who post this kind of thing just to screw around, and that no amount of engagement will turn them into someone of value.

Yeah, I know, "Don't feed the trolls."

Even on HN.

I'll delete my comments, flag the inappropriate stuff, and move on.

the account was registered 16 minutes ago something tells me its not official...

Don't feed the trolls...


Clearly not affiliated with NewRelic, and trying to start shit on the Internet.

Doesn't that just make you a target when The Revolution(tm) comes?

"Lew Cirne" anagrams to "New Relic".

"Future Stack" anagrams to "Astute Fucker".

I think the folks at New Relic just have a thing for anagrams.

I really hope his account gets unsuspended... That is rather ridiculous. No one checked his account age before dropping the ban hammer?

It's hysterical that the Pirate Hoover Shirtâ„¢ is at the top of the post and then at the bottom he was angry because someone offered him the shirt to try to make him feel better. I mean, 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.)

Sadly, that just pissed him off even more, which is a sign something is wrong somewhere with something.

> a narcissist [1]

[1] http://futurestack.com/static/about/

Really hard to tell whether you're being sarcastic in:

> 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?

No sarcasm. The Loggly Hoover shirts are loved by their owners. I'm biased because I invented Hoover (did not draw him however) but still, people love beavers and the funny shirts we did. I find it ironic that the guy was offended by being offered a shirt that basically takes nothing seriously and pretty much brings a smile to people's faces, and then puts it a the top of a rant post.

BTW, I do appreciate his pain, I've had people steal my designs (and name to boot) before and it sucks.

Good unique handles are only getting scarcer as the internet grows older. I wonder what people will do 20 years from now.

Use different websites.

What sucks is that eventually lots of people will assume he stole the name he uses from the conference...

So it turns out there are a lot of people in the world. Name clashes happen... all.. the... time!

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.

I wonder if @mentions on twitter meet the "substantial likelihood of confusion" test for trademark infringement?

Your hasty "this is a rant" cover does nothing to compensate for the fact that nobody cares.

Unless you have a relevant trademark, there isn't really much you can do here.

He doesn't really have any claim to exclusive rights to this particular mix of words.

Unless you have a relevant trademark, there isn't really much you can do here

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.

You don't need to formally lodge a trademark application to gain protection. At least, not under UK law. I imagine it's similar in the US.

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.

In the US there is common-law trademark protection


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.

He calls himself "an independent artist and programmer." If he's been paid for the latter under the futurestack name...

Ah, OK. Fair point.

You have to use the trademark "in interstate commerce"[1]. Simply registering a domain or a twitter account is not commerce and you get no protection until its used in commerce.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_trademark_law

Why was this removed from the front page?

If I had to guess, the same reason New Relic was able to get him quickly and easily suspended from Twitter without any contact from Twitter to him (which is standard) -- Bay Area tech friends.

Have we considered that the reason for the account suspension is likely because the logo is FU?

and that's... why you always register a trademark

Even if you register a trademark, it doesn't give a claim to the name that blankets the entire world, and every industry out there.

You don't own the name unless you file for a trademark, feel free to sue if you think otherwise.

Assuming this is a joke account, but that's not how trademarks work. In fact, it's so far from how trademarks work that whoever made this account should be ashamed at how ignorant they are.

I wonder if this is the official stance of new relic.

Why would you wonder this?

Think you need to read up on commonlaw trademarks. You don't need to register a trademark for it to be "owned".

user: newrelic created: 53 minutes ago

Seems less than official.

Account suspended – lol.


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