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Cyclopath
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PostTue Nov 12, 2019 8:39 am 
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You can't use pure math to ask somebody their name.  Software asks your name for example when you buy something online.  Software is not just math.
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MtnGoat
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PostWed Nov 13, 2019 5:47 pm 
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At mixed engineering meetings (ee/me/sw folks) you can usually get a rise out of at least one code head if, during discussion of something which will require changes to software, someone remarks something along the lines of 'meh, it's just software'

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Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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Downhill
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PostWed Nov 13, 2019 6:06 pm 
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Holy Threadcreep Batman!  Looks like there's enough interest to hold a passionate debate about machine-learning, algorithms, software engineering and math.........in a new thread.

Back to the OT.  I find it interesting that the Backcountry.com CEO Jonathan Nielsen is just nnow feeling all remorseful and community-minded once he's been publically caught with a greedy hand in the cookie jar.  Where was his willingness to collaborate with other, less-capitalized partners in the industry before he was exposed?

In his apology, his "A Letter to Our Community" Nielsen used the word "we" 23 times and didn't use the words "I", "me", "my" or "mine" a single time.  As a CEO of a company of this size, he would have had both first-hand knowledge and sign-off approval of each and every one of the legal actions taken against their patent targets.  The accountability for the mistakes Nielson says "we" made, in fact, are his mistakes as CEO.  He should have known better, and if he didn't see this backlash coming, he's not a good CEO.  Now exposed, he's demonstrating his lack of leadership by not taking any personal ownership for this in his public communications. 

The actions they took cost innocent parties many thousands of dollars in legal costs, rebranded and web expenses.  If Backcountry.com sincerely wants to make good on the "win back your trust" promise they will make reparations to all those they have harmed in their actions - reimburse them for legal fees, re-branding costs, etc.   Undo what harm they have done.

Going after a women-based avalanche safety organization, really??  Shame on you Jonathan Nielsen, CEO.
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texasbb
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PostWed Nov 13, 2019 7:12 pm 
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Amen to the points about we/us/our vs I/me/my and the legal and rebranding costs they imposed on so many companies and organizations.

And if I'm reading things right, aren't there lots of companies out there still operating under whatever burdensome settlements they were forced into before the supposed apology?
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Blowdown
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PostWed Nov 13, 2019 7:32 pm 
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Whew! I was afraid WTA would have to rename their "Backcountry Response Teams."
Hmm ... Now that I think of it, I bet somebody could come up with a better name for those trail crews  biggrin.gif
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Cyclopath
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PostFri Nov 15, 2019 10:59 pm 
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Backcountry CEO receives online threat amid trademark backlash
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rossb
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PostSun Nov 17, 2019 1:54 pm 
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Quote:
If you pursue this to far you enter into a realm of existential philosophy. Where you may not want to enter.

Speak for yourself. I enter there all the time. It is coming back out where I hesitate.

Anyhow, patents, trademarks, copyrights are all judgement calls. Did George Harrison steal Ronnie Mack's melody when he wrote My Sweet Lord? Maybe -- tough to say. Did Zeppelin steal from Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon when they wrote Whole Lotta Love? Oh yeah, definitely. They even said as much ("That was it, a nick.").

Just as judgement calls are bound to happen with plagiarism disputes, they are bound to happen elsewhere. But there is a difference in how they all play out. Someone who writes what they consider to be an original song will just add the name to the record (or whatever the equivalent is these days). If you record someone else's song, you put their name on it and pay them royalties. The work required by the artist is minimal. Same with writing a book. If there is a dispute, it is very easy to see when the song or book was written.

Typically, what was written is usually fairly complex. Even the stupidest, simplest song has a lot of notes, and/or plenty of words. In contrast, a trademark often involves a single word, like "apple". That is where the problem begins. If you are Apple Records, then you don't want another company called "Apple Records", or even "Apple Recording Studio" for the obvious confusion it can bring. So even though it is "just a word" that is common in the English language, it is reasonable to trademark it. But only in that context. Apple Records and Apple Computers had a long running feud. But the first settlement essentially said "you do computers and you do music" which made sense. My guess is there is an "Apple Bakery" somewhere that never had a problem with either company.

The problem in this case is that backcountry.com is going way outside of their realm. It is perfectly reasonable for them to trademark their name as an online retailer. Their only feud should be with companies like backcountrygear.com. To go after tiny companies like Marquette-Backcountry, is nothing more than a bully business shaking down a tiny company. Marquette-Backcountry probably grosses a few hundred dollars in sales each year -- there is no way they can fight this (unless the owner has a good friend or relative who is lawyer willing to work pro-bono). Likewise every other dispute listed.

It is a tough situation for a small business. You have to either trademark your own name (which is probably not cheap) or hope that no one cares. This is reasonable for a company, but becomes a lot of work for every product you make. A small brewpub would have to copyright every beer name, or just have boring generic names (IPA, brown, etc.). (Let's hope AB-InBev doesn't try and copyright those names). Anyway, the result is that big businesses have yet another advantage over small ones. I am sure there are legal reforms that can help -- something akin to small claims court -- but I don't know enough about law to work out the details. 

As far as software patents are concerned, the same situation exists. Much of what is patented is fairly simple, and has been done before. So now it becomes a question of whether a company takes the effort -- i. e. spends the legal money -- getting a patent, or just makes the product. Without a patent, the company may see their product (perhaps the only one of its kind because no one else was clever enough to build it) be copied (reverse engineered)  by a larger, more powerful company. If Stac Electronics didn't have any patents, then it is quite possible they would have lost their lawsuit against Microsoft. If they had better patents, it is quite possible they would have made more money.

At the same time, I think the patent office has become too lenient. I think they have erred on the side of too many patents. The result is that companies routinely buy up patents, look around for someone to sue, and then shake them down.

The biggest problem I have with software patents is their length. Right now it is 20 years. This is too long, in my opinion. Seven years seems plenty, then it should be in the public domain.

Oh, then there is pharmaceutical patents. That is the most corrupt of all. I would shake up the entire system, personally. I would make all drugs, in effect, open source. You can't patent a drug. Have the government award grants to companies that develop good drugs. Give money to universities (where most of the real research happens). Drug companies basically become manufacturers and nothing more. If they fail in that task, then the government itself can make the drugs.
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Malachai Constant
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PostSun Nov 17, 2019 4:21 pm 
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Copyrights and Trademarks are very different animals with different origins, purposes, lifetimes, and remedies.

Copyrights apply to work of art books, music, paintings, movies, sculptures, and for some reason software. In order to win an impeachment case you must prove copying. This is hard to do directly so you prove access and substantial similarity as defendants seldom admit copying Zep is an exception. They last for the authors lifetime plus 50 years.

Trademarks are established by use. Infringement is determined by likelihood of confusion. They may be registered after examination which requires proof of of use and a showing they are not merely descriptive, geographic, or misleading. They are presumed valid if registered but the presumption is rebuttable. If there is exclusive use for a number of years the presumption becomes irrefutable. They have a potentially eternal life if renewed every 20 years.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Forum Index > Gear Talk > Backcountry.com sues anyone using the word backcountry in their business
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