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Adobe Responds to KIllustrator 294

j7953 writes: "German news service heise online reports that Adobe wants to settle the KIllustrator case. According to the article (here's Google's translation), they demand that KIllustrator gets a new name, but don't want to stop its distribution or development. They also promise that the author won't have to pay anything."
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Adobe Responds to KIllustrator

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is Adobe going to foot the bill for the zealousness of the IP lawyers who went after the university?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:32AM (#91963)
    Somebody must have dropped you on your head as a child. The arguement you
    Set that Adobe has rights to an English word shows you must have your thumb
    Up your ass. There is absolutely no possible way that
    US Law would ever protect a company who is trying to pillage and abuse
    The english language. You need to realize that you and the US are not the
    Bomb and get over it. You make me sick
  • The fact is, Adobe is applying classic "Good Guy, Bad Guy" techniques to pressure the KIllustrator developers.

    The "Bad Guy" face is the threat of a huge lawsuit, billions in costs, and a Clippy The Paperclip stuffed pillow.

    The "Good Guy" face is the "we really don't want to hurt you, see how nice we are?" line they're using now.

    Sure, this may be a genuine trademark infringement. But since when do two wrongs make a right? Adobe wants the name changed. Fine. The means don't justify the ends. Adobe should feel ashamed of its tactics, which resemble more the methods of the Gestapo, or a protection racket, than civilised society.

    In the end, Adobe and the KIllustrator people can always figure out a solution. If they choose to. Or, one can impose a solution on the other, if they don't. Either way, there will be a solution. The only challange facing those involved is to not create far worse problems along the way.

  • Adobe probably only wanted from the start to get Killustrator to change its name. In order to accomplish this in a way that counts as defending their trademark, they have to make it official (they can't just call the guy up and ask nicely). But the guy was in Germany, and, under German law, the lawyers take their pay out of the hide of the people they harass. Since this in an international project with significant visibility in the US, where that sort of thing is considered blatently unjust, they seem to be trying to get the lawyers in check.

    Problem solved; chalk the whole mess up to cultural differences. It would be interesting to know, however, what Adobe told the lawyers to do in the first place; neither of them seems to have revealed whether Adobe actually asked the lawyers to pursue this particular case.
  • In my experience most people do call it "K-illustrator"
  • I'll sacrifice my familiarity with PhotoShop and just use the GIMP for that price...)

    There are some things that the Gimp can *not* do. It's been a while since I worked in the publishing industry, but the big thing that the Gimp can't do is color separation -- and it probably never will, since the techniques are patent-encumbered. I'm guessing that the patents are still many years from expiration as well.

  • I suggest "sKetcher".

    Bzzzzzt! Nope. Sketcher is a registered trademark of Fractal Design corp. if I recall correctly (or whoever bought them out). It's a raster graphics product, not vector, but it's sufficiently similar to qualify as trademark dilution.

    And people wonder why software names are often very odd, like the Gimp...

  • I disagree.

    Illustrator has been around for, good grief, over a dozen years.

    Illustrator is synonymous with vector-art creation, and KDE project took advantage of that name. I'm not saying in a dubious way, but they did use the Illustrator 'NAME', it's 'IMAGE' if you will.

    Adobe has shown great restraint in this matter, and I for one am proud of them for it.

  • by LafinJack ( 9054 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @08:26AM (#91984) Homepage
    Ah, but the REASON he objected was because the 7100s two sister projects, the 6100 and 8100, were code named Cold Fusion and Piltdown Man, one a bogus technology (for now), the other being a famous hoax. Then, when Carl Sagan found out, he sent his lawyers after Apple to get the code name changed. Apple did, and changed the code name for the 7100 from Carl Sagan to BHA, which he also gave a stink over and again had his lawyers make Apple change. Apple's final code name for the 7100?

    LAW: Lawyers Are Wimps.
  • by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:13AM (#91986) Homepage Journal
    Why don't they just call it the K'ustrator?

  • I think they should just shorten the name to:


    or alternately, rename it:

    butt-head software company

    in the fine Apple tradition.
  • I like the gist of your suggestion, but would contend that a "Lawyer as street thug" (complete with baseball bat) would be a more accurate representation of the grim reality, what with the plethora of stories we see reporting the sorts of litigious thuggary seen here.

    Whether or not the law actually supports the actions, these types of threats and intimidation as a preface to an amicable resolution and in the absence of beligerance on the part of the victim are entirely indefensible on a moral and ethical level. Refusing to do business with entities which engage in this behavior is the only legal recourse we as individual consumers have, and we should not be talking ourselves out of using it simply because those who are without principle or ethics happen to be so numerous. Indeed, continued financial support of such entities, be they corporations or individuals, will only make such occurances more commonplace as it becomes plain that there are no public reactions to such behavior.
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @09:52AM (#91991)
    Neither have I. However, due to the name, and having known the name Adobe Illustrator (though not having used it), I assumed that the two were very similar in function and form. This, to me, seems to be the very purpose behind trademark law, to prevent confusion.

    You make a valid point, but I suspect many will draw an IMHO incorrect conclusion from it, namely that this justifies both the trademark and Adobe's extremely heavy-handed tactics in enforcing it (threatening, or rather demanding, that a free software volunteer pay a $2000+ penalty).

    Trade Mark law is designed to prevent product confusion. This is the very reason that trademarking a single, common english word is an unacceptable perversion and misuse of the law, and should not be permitted, period. If the trademark beaurocracies of the world can't be bothered to use discretion and restraint in granting trademarks, then we need to get an intelligent and reasonably uncorrupt judicial system (yeah, I know, fat chance of that happening within our lifetimes) to overturn these sorts of things.

    "Adobe Illustrator" and "KDE Killustrator" are not easilly confused. Indeed, "Adobe Illustrator" and "Killustrator" would be difficult for anyone to confuse, familiar or not with the KDE GNU/Linux product. "Illustrator" can be confused with many things, killustrator included. It is a common English word, and has no place in an even remotely sane world as someone's private intellectual property.
  • Does that mean the Adobe Jihad is off?

    Not at all. It's only off if Adobe stops trying to own the word "illustrator" which properly belongs to all of us, not Adobe. Until that happens I am all for renaming Killustrator as "Killer", porting it to GTK and releasing it for Windows.

  • I don't think it gets more fair than this. KIllustrator is grossly in violation of Adobe's trademark. Slashdotters all agreed on this on the previous article.

    No we didn't. "Illustrator" is a normal English word, and as such, not trademarkable. When did all we Slashdotters agree that having enough money changes that simple fact?

  • The name "Juan Epstein" is property of James Komack (producer of "Welcome Back Kotter") et al.

    You must stop using the name immediately and, BTW, you owe me $4,000 for pointing this out.
  • If 10 people send a million "fuck you" messages each, this is wrong and childish, but if 10 million people each send 1 "fuck you" email, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Yes, but I was talking about mail bombs (few people sending oodles of mails), not individual protests (oodles of people sending one mail).

    If you want something done, make some noise.

    Yes. Silent protest is inefficient.

    But polite protest is certainly better than "Fuck you Morons! You're all gonna die! I know where you live!" And from what I was told on the phone, that was about the tone of the mails they got.

  • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @12:30PM (#91998) Homepage
    So, I think the site in Germnay is much more than a operator, a PR agent, a few marketters, and a few lawyers...

    Sure, I was only talking about my impression after talking to Adobe Germany on the phone. I could be perfectly wrong.

    You see, whatever you do when you call the official German number (not the toll-free number, but the office location), the receptionist always transferred me to the call center operators.

    The public relations department is outsorced and done by an external company.

    There was noone available for comment at Adobe Germany, no matter what. Not just for me, a customer (I hate it, but I understand it when they treat customers that way), but also for a journalist I asked about this matter and who also tried in vain to get any Adobe Germany official on the phone.

    And -- I must admit that I am reading between the lines -- what the PR woman told me sounded to me like "we cannot do a thing unless Adobe USA allows us to do it"...

  • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @08:02AM (#91999) Homepage

    being in Germany, I called Adobe Germany and told them -- in a polite way -- that I am unhappy with their way of dealing with a free software project. And that I, being the guy who decides what software to buy in my little brandnew software company, have chosen not to buy any Adobe products as a form of protest because I do not want to support this business behaviour.

    After a bit of dialing and transferring, I finally reached an Adobe PR official instead of a clueless call center guy. And speaking to her, it was obvious that Adobe Germany was in a big mess there and that they were very nervous what to do.

    This whole stunt appears to have been originated at Adobe USA and these German lawyers, I was told, were appointed by the US company.

    Adobe Germany is more or less just a little call center for user support and a few marketing and sales people for the local German market. I have the impression that they are not allowed to act without approval from their US mother.

    However, Adobe Germany was not told by Adobe USA that they would go after the Killustrator team. And since you Americans had a National Holiday last week right during the incident, the German officials were unable to ask their US superiors what to do about it until the end of the weekend.

    Meanwhile, Adobe Germany was amid a storm of a roaring protest, beginning with mail bombs of "fuck you" messages and angry phone calls all day. My polite call must have been a very unusual thing that day.

  • It's not Xwindows. It's X Window System, or just X. The X Consortium wasn't trying to piggy back on Windows success.
  • That sounds like a pretty poor German law - what if Adobe didn't even have a problem with KIllustrator? Some law firm has just gone and destroyed a lot of Adobe mindshare in the Linux market, effectively dragging Adobe's name through the mud (a lot more than the clone named KIllustrator ever did, I might point out) and now said law firm wants to charge Adobe for the privilege? If I were in that entirely hypothetical situation, I'd sue the pants off of the lawyers that started the whole ruckus :)

  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:12AM (#92007) Homepage Journal
    Standard disclaimer: IANAL (though I am somewhat anal :).

    Illustrator may be a generic name/word/what-have-you--but Illustrator-the-vector-graphics-computer-program is most emphatically not generic. Adobe isn't trying to claim sole dominion over all uses of the word Illustrator--just the use of the word Illustrator for which it holds a trademark.

    People, it's the same fallacy that the anime fansub traders fall into--the ones who think that because they're not out to make a profit, the copyright law doesn't apply to them. Apparently the people who name these programs--these Killustrators and FreeMWares (yes, I know FreeMWare changed the name back to the name of the project they borrowed code from to begin with, but they still did choose and use that name for a while) and so on--are under the impression that because they're not trying to make a profit, the trademark law does not apply to them. I've got news for them--they're wrong.

    This sort of situation is precisely the reason why we have trademark laws in the first place--to prevent one party from trying to trade on the good name and reputation of another party by creating a similar product with a similar name.

    You may not like it, but there it is. And while the rabid German lawyers may have been over the line in their actions, Adobe is certainly not over the line to ask that the name be changed. Let's just be thankful that's all they're asking.


  • Who would want to use a piece of software that sounds like castrator?

    UNIX, of course
  • by mcc ( 14761 )
    If you will go back to the original article and read the comments, you will notice that it appears that some of those demands were not in there. I.e. the 'stop distribution' meant 'stop distribution in its current form' and the 'destroy the product' was actually 'destroy all *packaging* in stock'. There was some unfortunate mistranslation followed by misinterpretation, and 'destroy all packaging' turned into 'destroy all copies of the package'..

    at least as far as i can tell.

    That being said, you are correct in saying that sending lawyers after killustrator was indefensable.
  • First they try threat and extortion. When that causes a big stink, they appologize, and say "Well, since you admit you're wrong, we won't steal your house and your savings."

    Sure, that's better than if they did. But it sure doesn't cause me to think nice thoughts about them. And how about the people they do this to that don't have the KDE name and fan club?

    Fair? Sorry. Entities who hire lawyers to be extortionists are immoral, unethical, and evil. Not the most evil possible, but still, evil.

    Note that they could have come to this same resolution without issuing any threats (at least other than those implicit in receiving such a letter from a lawyer). They didn't choose to.

    So, no, an appology doesn't "make it all better." It dramatically improves matters. It lances a suppurating boil, but doesn't eliminate the inflamation, and doesn't cure the infection (which is Adobe's internal management culture).

    This is a company that was reported to have come out publically in favor of UCITA.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Sorry. Standard practice doesn't cut much ice with me. They were practicing threat and intimidation. This was clearly their purpose and intent.

    Yes, it is obvious that the artwork that said KIllustrator would need to be destroyed, but this is quite different from a demand that the program be destroyed. If this is standard practice, then it is an evil, unethical, and immoral standard practice. That is not a valid defense for using it.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • In that case, they were intentionally allowing loose cannons to roam around. This doesn't improve their standing in my eyes.

    If Adobe hires thugs, and sets them roving around to attack people, how is this any different then if they hire the thugs to attack specific people?

    The lawyers in this case were acting in a blatently immoral manner. They were the hired representatives of Adobe, acting for Adobe in this manner, and using the name of Adobe with the public support of the company. So the company MUST bear all responsibility for their actions. And must be assumed to have approved of them in principal, if not in detail.
    I don't find it any better when I think that most of the people who were so attacked by these ... individuals ... didn't have a large public support group. How many lives have they ruined? We will never know. The circumstances that caused this to be noticable were unusual. So it becomes necessary to assume that there are a great many similar cases that we just didn't hear of.

    And what do you suppose the resolution of those cases was?

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Well, that would be one way to reclaim their status in this community. However, until they do I will continue to assume that the lawyers acted with at least the implicit approval of Adobe. After all, they did use the company name.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • This is why we have a company named Exxon ... it's quite difficult to come up with an unencumbered name. But decent companies resolve it decently (and yes, I count BHA as a decent resolution. [Actually, a notably good resolution.])

    A polite request should be the first communication on this matter. People who reach for a hired gun (i.e., lawyer) before a secretary are ... they shouldn't be allowed to stay in business, and I, personally, won't support them in any way, either by purchase or by recommendation.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • No, no. (Mac)Paint programs are for editing bit maps. It's (Mac)Draw programs that are vector graphics.

    Or, if the intention is to do both, see if you can clear it with Deneba to use Kanvas (KCanvas?).
    (Sorry, no fancy acronym -- yet.)

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I hope they sue each other over it. That's the only proper outcome. (And both get saddled with court costs!)
    I really don't like companies that act this way. A "sort of" ??apology?? later hardly makes up for how they have acted earlier. And what they used for an apology... well, at least they retracted most of the threats. But that's about it.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • idonotexist typed: What fools are Adobe? "Illustrator" is not a word to receive trademark protection because it not at all descriptive --- it is a generic term. For instance, "Word" could not receive trademark protection though it is utilized by Microsoft. "Hamburger" could not receive protection although it is utilized by McDonald's in its trademark. Moreover, if the mark is registered, registration itself does not grant protection.

    You can trademark generic words that describe a specific type of product. The Ford Illustrator or Illustrator Weekly magazine would not violate Adobe copyrights (as fake examples) but Corel Illustrator software would. Adobe could claim Corel was deliberately producing software that would confuse consumers, which is the same argument companies use when they sue over copyright in domain names. JoshCorp Inc. can sue someone who registers joscorpinc.com or joshcoprinc.com because those domains will supposedly confuse customers.

  • Does it seem to anyone else that the translation makes the article seem as if it were written by an android (ala Bicentennial Man)?

    "One wants not to prevent the spreading of the KIllustrator, but requires only a change of the name of the program"

    "One sees no trademark law injury in the KIllustrator side on the university server, was called it on the part of the university administration"

    "How one will react to the Adobe offer, one must discuss now first with the own lawyers"

    "One wants to achieve an amicable agreement now"
  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:44AM (#92021) Homepage Journal
    This is true, but from what I can tell this whole affair was due to lawyers acting proactivley, instead of waiting to Adobe to ask them to act. I reckon that companies should really set out a set of rules of conduct with the their law firms, ie what sort of things that can do without waitng for the company to call on and what they have to wait to act an before getting an acknowledgement from the company that employed them. This would probably save the company money aswell.

    Maybe we need a lawyer as borg icon?
  • Something not obvious to the casual observer is that, much to everyone's bloodthirsty chagrin, Adobe actually had nothing to do with the initial cease-and-desist letter. Under the German legal system, ANY low-down, scum-sucking sharkey rat bastard with a law office can do this sort of thing without Adobe (or anyone else's) say-so. How do I know? A German posted it to Slashdot. [slashdot.org]

    When Adobe finally got wind of it, they said, "Whoa, Herr Sharkey. Heel!" Not to say that Adobe doesn't deserve pounding on for their near-total abandonment of Linux... but I think the settlement offer (just change the bloody NAME, for Seldon's sake) is quite reasonable.

  • by Rolan ( 20257 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:06AM (#92026) Homepage Journal
    I think that mosts peoples objections weren't about a name change or trademark protection, they were about several other things.

    • Method -- Adobe never attempted to talk to the author about a change, they sent a lawyer after him.
    • Stoping Distribution -- Adobe wanted distribution of the product stoped, not just a name change. Very anti-competitive.
    • Destruction -- Adobe also wanted the product completely destroyed. This is as anti-competitive as microsoft. The product does the same thing, no matter what the name, destruction just tries to crush competition.
    • Money -- Adobe was going after the author for a very large sum of money (atleast to us non-millionares).

    I personally can see adobe's view on things, though I did not agree with their initial methods. I can understand their reasons (for the name change, but not the rest that I listed above). The fact that both sides have wised up is actually fairly refreshing.
  • by Seanasy ( 21730 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:45AM (#92027)

    <rant>While I hate corporatism, the state of open-source application names makes me wish every company would do this. Any chance Adobe could make the stipulation that the new name does not have the letter "K" in it? Could we file a class action suit against the Gnome/GNU/KDE developers to keep them from using such ugly, unintuitive, useless names? Why does everything have to be Gno-this or K-that or GNU-whatever? Where's the application naming howto?</rant>

  • Blue screens are not fatal in windows 95/98/me
  • by alkali ( 28338 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @08:15AM (#92033)
    1. "Illustrator" is a generic term to describe a profession, not a generic term to describe computer graphics software. (Likewise if Adobe sold architects a program to analyze their blueprints to make buildings more fire-resistant and called it "Firefighter.") It is extremely common to find that a trademark is an ordinary word used to designate a product -- which itself is something other than the meaning of the word -- in order to suggest the positive associations of the word. ("Apple" computers, "Sunbeam" bread, etc., etc. ad infinitum.)

    2. Microsoft's designation of its flagship word processing program as "Word" does in fact receive trademark protection. "Word" is a generic term to describe units of speech and text, not a generic term to describe word processing software.

    3. McDonalds, to my knowledge, does not purport to have trademarked "Hamburger" (perhaps they have the phrase "McDonalds Hamburger" trademarked, but that's a different story). Perhaps you are thinking of the Hamburglar, that rascal.

    4. I believe this is the case under the legal regimes of most economically developed nations. It is true that American and German law are different, but they are not so different that in Germany murder is legal and everyone is required by law to eat a pound of bacon a day. (That would be West Virginia.) Basic IP law, like basic contract law, is pretty much the same wherever you go.

  • How is that recursive?

    If you've said "KINI Is Not Illustrator", then I'd agree with you ;-).
  • That's a great idea!

    Maybe I should release a bunch of Win[whatever] programs for GNOME and KDE.

    Of course, anything made will probably already be the name of a Win32 program.

    Winamp... taken
    WinCommander... taken
    WinView... taken (I think)
    WinExplorer... Damn this is hard


    WinRPMBuilder! That's it!
  • Adobe has a trademark on "Illustrator" as it applies to computer software. You are not a computer program, so you cannot be sued if you called yourself an "Illustrator."

    Open up your white pages and look at all the businesses that have names starting with "ABC" (ABC Plumbing, ABC Roof Repair, ABC Beverage Supply) and notice that they're all perfectly legal names. The American Broadcasting Company, American Bowling Congress, or Australian Broadcasting Company can't sue them for trademark dilution despite the fact that all three hold the trademark "ABC" in their respective jurisdictions and functions.
  • KINKI - KINKI Is Not K-Illustrator It's great for all your pr0n editing needs.
    HI Mom!
  • by Pedersen ( 46721 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @09:27AM (#92045) Homepage
    I have to comment on this one.

    KIllustrator, if anything, is closer to CorelDraw than anything else. Evidently, you've never used the program.

    Neither have I. However, due to the name, and having known the name Adobe Illustrator (though not having used it), I assumed that the two were very similar in function and form. This, to me, seems to be the very purpose behind trademark law, to prevent confusion.

    No, I wasn't confused, because I'm also familiar with KDE and Linux. However, would somebody not familiar with those two topics be confused by the names?

  • by JohnnyO ( 50199 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:41AM (#92047)
    KINK Killistrator is now KINK
  • ?

    I thought color separation was just a matter of decomposing the picture to another color space, so that instead of R/G/B or Y/Cr/Cb (erm may be wrong on the Cx) you went to C/M/Y/K. That seems unpatentable.

    Or does the separation process involve some sort of screening as well? That I thought was also somewhat folk-lorish, with error diffusion being commonly taught in schools (I know I experimented with a somewhat ad-hoc monte-carlo technique for one project).

    Could you expand on where the patent encumberance comes in?


  • by RavinDave ( 58826 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @09:41PM (#92050)
    "This was SOO refreshing[tm] to see. Well done[tm], Adobe."

    I'm sorry[tm]. You'll need to rewrite this post[tm] to conform to current copyright laws.

    "Class Act" -- (c) Warner Brothers, Entertainment
    "SOO refreshing" --(c)Doublemint, Inc.; A division of Wrigley
    "Well done" -- (c) Outback Steakhouse
    "I'm Sorry" -- (c) Brenda Lee
    "Post" -- (c) Kraft Foods International

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:56AM (#92051) Homepage Journal
    They should rename it KNotIllustratorAtAll.
  • by BorgDrone ( 64343 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:52AM (#92052) Homepage
    They could always call it KDraw or something
    What about KorelDraw! :)
  • Hear, hear!

    While we're at it, how about projects that start out their names with "GNU", but aren't really part of GNU; they just use the GPL?

  • You could always ldd file | grep kde, y'know.

  • This really isn't so bad .. I can understand why I wouldn't be allowed to sell computers under a name like KApple. This is what trademarks were invented for in the first place .. products in competing spaces should have different names. It does service for the uninformed consumer too, as one new to the *nix/KDE environment may have thought KIllustrator was a KDE version of Illustrator. Now, if KIllustrator were a motorcycle or something, Adobe woulda been outta line. Frankly, I'm surprised alot of the KDE projects havn't had to change their name sooner (and a name change won't stop me or anyone else from using it.)
  • Just a reminder that I'm not arguing here that Adobe is doing the right thing. The following is just to clarify a point I think you're missing:

    So I should be able to open a graphics software company called AsGoodAsAdobe? Spelled differently, pronounced differently .. but the point is, I'm abusing the name of another company in my industry space. It's not whether people will get them confused .. it's whether you are 'piggybacking' on prefabricated consumer associations (good graphics software, with respect to Adobe, imho). The consumer may not be neccessarily concious of the association they make in their head. In this case, while a consumer may not confuse the two products, there may be subconcious association going on. That is, it /could/ be said that the author of Killustrator is using the (arguably, obviously) hard-earned success of another product/company in order to foster it's own success/distribution.

    Anyhow, I agree that the issue becomes hazy when you're dealing with non-commercial products, but theoretically one could use a naming scheme like this to foster the success of freeware, and /then/ go commercial. Even if you change the name at that point, you'd still have used the consumer association to the name Adobe in order to raise product awareness before you went commercial.
  • See my reply to a comment above, here [slashdot.org]. It will explain why you can't just exclude non-commercial products by default, in addition to why just because you can't confuse the names (ie, spelled differently, sounds different) it doesn't mean it's not a trademark infringement.

  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @01:22PM (#92059) Homepage
    I'm sure you can make reference to other products/trademarks in your documentation/advertising, so long as they are not slanderous or make false claims. So, yes, KIllustrator, as renamed to Foobar, could have somewhere in its docs "This feature is very similar to Adobe Illustrator's feature X". Obviously, you'd have to include the trademark notice like the one in your comment. I think the scope of trademarks are only for names and slogans, because they are the 'root' handles of the product. As a consumer, you probably arn't going to refer to the product in your head as 'similar to Adobe Illustrator' or whatever. The name of a product will probably be repeated in speech and in your head thousands of times over your relationship with said company/product/application.

    So there is, im my opinion, more importance that the name doesn't make reference to another trademark, since I think it's the subcouncious brand recognition that companies are worried about having subverted.

    So I think we're in agreement here; it's not that you shouldn't be allowed to use the name or refer to another trademark /period/ - just that the name by which people refer to your product should not subvert brand recognition or consumer associations to competitors' and/or their products.

    There is an interesting article here [cei.org] about Mastercard's attempts to sue Ralph Nader for using their 'Priceless' trademark in his campaign commercials. It's always a tough call, because, you essentially have to ask "Where do you draw the line between infringement (benifitting off of someone else's intellectual property or hard work), and things like parody and imitation-as-flattery?"

    It's a tough call, and, unfortunately, in this winner-take-all capitalist-driven society, the money-makers are usually going to have their answer accepted as the truth. Anything that gets in the way of making a bigger profit is quickly labeled as anti-capitalist. Which is seen as a bad thing, since capitalism is the very social/economic foundation upon which western culture is built. I think, eventually, people will have to wake up and accept that socialist programs and mentalities provide the only real formal 'checks and balances' in grey-area issues like these; where the system would feel comfortable potentially err-ing on the side of less profitability. Mostly. To get back to the original issue, that's why it's nice that Adobe seems to have reacted to the court of public opinion proactively - something that happens all too rarely.
  • I believe this offer should be accepted. It is very important that the open source community not be viewed as trying to fight every battle however hopeless. Adobe's claim has some merit and all the counter arguments for KIllustrator are based on technicalities.

    We don't need to fight this battle, and if we simply accept their settlement then the conflict goes away.

    I suggest "sKetcher".

    Also, all open source projects should think seriously about trademarking their names.
  • I suggest "sKetcher".

    Bzzzzzt! Nope. Sketcher is a registered trademark of Fractal Design corp. if I recall correctly (or whoever bought them out). It's a raster graphics product, not vector, but it's sufficiently similar to qualify as trademark dilution.

    Actually Fractal Designs abandonded it according to this: trademark 74362832 [nameprotect.com]

    There is a CAD program with this name though: trademark 74318782 [nameprotect.com] , but this was registered while the other one was in effect, as it shouldn't be a problem.

    You can check trademarks here [nameprotect.com]
  • And be done with it. Sheesh.

    IMHO, Adobe has LOST the Linux market forever:

    • First, they admit Gimp is 90% of Photoshop.
    • Then they withdraw their beta program for FrameMaker (a natural candidate for Linux porting if I ever saw one)
    • Now, they get in a tiff with KIllustrator

    Shame on you Adobe!

    At least, they have the decency to drop this stupid case...
  • Some people actually use Photoshop at work. He might be familiar with if in that way. I've used a legal version of Photoshop myself, though I don't onw it. My brother owns it, and I've used it on his computer. Just because you have no respect for Copyright Laws, doesn't mean that no one else does.
  • Of course Adobe named Illustrator using a common english word. Do you think people/companies should have to name their products using strange names that don't mean anything? Trademarks allow companies or individuals to have their product name be unique within a specific market. Why does Adobe have rights to Illustrator, and the Killustrator project doesn't? They registered it first. Adobe has spent years developing their product, and it has made a very good name for itself. Killustrator should not be able to use that name to promote their product. They can say in their documentation that they are a software package like Illustrator, but they can't use a nearly identical name.
  • Slashdotters all agreed on this on the previous article.

    I don't think that you can make the general comment that all "slashdotters" agree on anything. There are a lot of people with some very strong and different opinions here, that's part of what makes this forum interesting.
  • I'll bet he would have quietly changed it and this would have never been an issue.

    I bet he would have submitted a story to Slashdot about how The Man(TM) is trying to make him change his name.

  • by szcx ( 81006 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:35AM (#92072)
    Does that mean the Adobe Jihad is off? I just finished making my Adobe-as-Borg icon.
  • Which is the problem they are fixing. From what I recall of the original article and the way German lawyers work, Adobe didn't have any knowledge that this was occurring before the fact. The German lawyers went after KIllustrator on their own (on behalf of Adobe). Adobe is just now officially responding to the incident and they are acting reasonably and in a good PR way.
  • If Adobe gets this the way they want, the name will change. No big deal, right? Wrong. If Adobe can do this, what does that mean about Xwindows? Microsoft could force the same issue with the Windows trademark if KIllustrator gives into this dangerous demand. I say they should go to work and force a ruling, but that's just me...
  • I'm pretty sure 'word' and 'writer' were used fairly commonly for word-processors and text-editors before MS Word came along. In fact, IBM's 'DisplayWriter' preceded the PC by about a year.
  • by DrCode ( 95839 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @09:18AM (#92078)
    How about KINI, which stands for Killustrator Is Not Illustrator?
  • "Sounds like Adobe's PR people pulled the plug on Adobe's legal team."

    My reading of the opriginal article and discussion leads me to conclude that the threats against Killustrator were *never* instigated by Adobe's attorneys. Rather, it was a third party operation by German lawyers taking advantage of a bizarre German law that essentially creates IP bounty hunters. Anyone have actual evidence to the contrary?
  • Illustrator is vector based and not rester based.
  • IANAL, but have had lots of dealings with trademark in my job as a marketing weenie.

    Remember the way trademark law works. If a company becomes aware of a trademark violation, they MUST take action. Why? Because if they do not, then when someone serious, like MS, appropriates the trademark, they can argue in court that you were not policing use of the trademark and so it can't be integral to your business. If a trademark is not integral to the business, then you can't hold that mark. It would be like cybersquatting.

    So if any Tom, Dick or Jurgen in Germany turns up an instance of possible infringement, Adobe MUST act when they become aware of it. They don't have to compensate Tom, Dick or Jergen, but they DO have to issue a cease and desist to the person doing the infringing. As you can see, this legal setup means the only rational course for any business holding trademarks is to shoot first and ask questions later. Thus the obligatory cease and desist as the first gambit.
  • Well, it's important to remember that trademark disputes get murky when dealing with things that are already words. Photoshop and Coke weren't words already, Illustrator was.
  • Woah, let's not jump into bed with them too fast. I agree, this is a pretty reasonable outcome, but I regard it more as a compromise (as in, a situation where both sides are a little unhappy but no one is furious) then as some great benevolent gift.

    First, Adobe would have had to prove TM violation. Similar names or no, Illustrator IS descriptive of the product in question. Not quite open and shut. Second, they'd have to prove damages, and when it only runs on KDE, which has maybe 45% of the Linux market, which in turn has maybe 8% of the overall computer market, it'd be awfully tough to show those damages.

    Finally, even though Adobe did call off the dogs, they DID send the dogs out in the first place. While any opening letter from a legal firm is likely to be strongly worded, most companies would have simply demanded the name change and left it at that.

    All in all, I'm not disappointed or angry at Adobe, but neither am I hearalding them as champions of the little guy.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • by RedneckTek ( 120165 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:39AM (#92099) Homepage
    Slashdotters all agreed on this on the previous article.

    Excuse me? I read the article, the message list, etc. and I felt the overall tone was one of "How can a company be allowed to trademark a single word?" I agree whole-heartedly with this point.

    KIllustrator is a clone product of Illustrator

    KIllustrator, if anything, is closer to CorelDraw than anything else. Evidently, you've never used the program.

    I think we should applaud Adobe on this.

    Applaud a company for using strong arm tactics to protect an obvious travesty of trademark law. I suppose you agree with Microsoft's business tactics as well. What is to say Microsoft won't go after KWord, Kwrite, Abiword, etc. How long before Adobe turns it legal team on XPDF (violating a possible tradmark on the letters P, D, & F)? I'm sick of watching the English laguage being turned into a commodity.

  • And then Apple changed the project name to LAW - Lawyers Are Wimps.
  • This is legal in Germany. "Hey, you guys are breaking the law, and here's our fee for having told you. It's the same fee as if you'd called us up and said 'are we breaking any laws?'"
  • Now, they get in a tiff with KIllustrator
    Don't you mean 'the get in a .tif with Killustrator?' *rimshot*
  • by Grab ( 126025 ) on Thursday July 12, 2001 @06:25AM (#92104) Homepage
    Trouble is, consider the precedent this is going to set, if any single English word with a prefix can be "reserved" by a company who's previously used that word. Consider the words "Word", "Office", "Draw", "Sketch", "Paint", as examples. And then consider trying to create a word processor, an office suite or a drawing program without using any of these words in its name. It just isn't possible - these words describe the function of the program.

    The base fact is that every word which can be used to describe a program's function, has been used at some point as the basis of the title of some program. "Draw" is CorelDraw, "Sketch" is AutoSketch, "Paint" has MS and Corel varieties.

    Another thing - "Illustrator" only means "Adobe" to ppl who do lots of graphic design. Personally, I didn't know about it until this. But think of "KWord" and "KOffice" - I don't think there's a single computer user in the whole world who's not aware of MS's products using those base names. Let's be honest here - if it was viable to try and do this, MS would have done it a long time ago. The very fact that no other software company has tried this does rather tend to suggest that it's not a tenable argument.

    Or maybe it suggests that no other company is as petty and small-minded as Adobe...

  • by sagei ( 131421 ) <`gro.evolr' `ta' `evolr'> on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:57AM (#92105) Homepage
    I don't think it gets more fair than this. KIllustrator is grossly in violation of Adobe's trademark. Slashdotters all agreed on this on the previous article.
    KIllustrator is a clone product of Illustrator, its the same type of product (software), doing the same thing (raster drawing). Of course the name is meant to capitalize on Adobe's product!
    Now, Adobe has some courses of action. The one they are taking is by far the mildest and most polite. They need to protect their trademark. They need KIllustrator to get a new name. They can take this court, they can aim for monetary damages. They aren't.
    I think we should applaud Adobe on this. They have to protect their trademark, after all. If nothing else, they are helping a KApplication get a better name.

  • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:12AM (#92106) Homepage
    I just checked, and www.KSlashdot.org is available.

    troll#1: "Bastards! They're trying to leech off of the name of Slashdot!"
    troll#2: "Bastards! Slashdot is trying to crush innovation! 'Kay'-Slashdot is obviously very different than just 'Slashdot'!"

  • by walter. ( 138617 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @08:54AM (#92113)
    Even if this is repeated again, it is still not true.

    To send an "Abmahnung" for a trademark violation the lawyer can only act if told so by the trademark owner. This means that Adobe either told them to go after then Killustrator people or that they told them to go after anyone they think is in violation of the trademark.

    The confusion arises from because there are other issues where many more people are allowed to send these "Abmahnungen". For example, if you advertise inappropriately then ANY competitioner can ask you to stop. But this is not the case here.

  • by Laplace ( 143876 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:06AM (#92115)
    KINK - Killistrator Is Now KINK

    as well as KINK - KINK Is Not KIllustrator.

  • by EvlPenguin ( 168738 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:43AM (#92135) Homepage
    Well, ok, it may be nothing as compared to stopping development all together, but I think the issue goes deeper than a name. It's about control.

    The distrubing part is that "illustrator" is a somewhat generic name, which does not specificlly indicate a piece of IP owned by Adobe Systems, Inc. Had this been a case of something like Kacrobat or Kphotoshop, then I would agree with their reasoning, maybe even say they're justified. But "illustrator" is just too generic.
  • by JCCyC ( 179760 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @09:35AM (#92142) Journal
    No, no... not because Corel would sue ("draw" is too generic a word, moreso than "illustrator") but because it sounds like an uncreative ripoff.

    In the best GNU fashion they should call it KINI (KINI Is Not Illustrator).

    Or maybe ADWANK (Adobe Doesn't Want ADWANK Named Killustrator).

    Then again, maybe not.

  • by firewort ( 180062 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @08:34AM (#92144)
    They were not Adobe lawyers as I understand it; in Germany, it's accepted practice for law firms to notify random people of laws that they're breaking, and to charge them for that service. In other words, the money wouldn't have gone to Adobe, it would have gone to the lawyers, as billable hours.

    Isn't this the equivalent of the poor squeegee guy who cleans your windshield at the stoplight and then demands you pay for a service you did not want?

    I never thought I'd demean impoverished people by comparing them to lawyers.

    A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close

  • by Bungie ( 192858 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @10:37PM (#92155)

    Meanwhile, Adobe Germany was amid a storm of a roaring protest, beginning with mail bombs of "fuck you" messages and angry phone calls all day.

    That is just lame. So many people on Slashdot are such hypocrites. First, they complain because companies like Microsoft and Adobe are using strong arm tactics...then they use them themselves on these companies.

    I'm so sick of this "its bad to be a big company" or "non-opensource projects are evil" attitude that is so often displayed here. If it wasn't for those big companies and proprietary projects we would all still be loading our "free" programs through BASIC interpreter ROMs.

    If you don't like a company, don't buy their software. Childish email bombings and obscene calls are just as bad if not worse than the actions of these companies. Its not like the people who have to sift through these countless messages are going to change the lawsuit. You are just creating more work for people who have to go earn a living instead of compiling Linux kernels all day.

    Mod this as a troll, whatever... but you know its the truth.

  • by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:22AM (#92157)
    More troubling than the GNU project using the name GNU on everything is the projects that use GNU but have nothing to do with the FSF (at least as far as I can see)-- like Gnutella or Gnucleus.

    For the FSF to put GNU out there is to "brand" the software, which is certainly better than FSF or affixing Free to the front (which is way overdone already and would only lead to confusion).
  • by maddogsparky ( 202296 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:48AM (#92164)


    KDraw (already mentioned)





  • by abe ferlman ( 205607 ) <.bgtrio. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @09:40AM (#92167) Homepage Journal

  • by evocate ( 209951 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:04AM (#92168)
    Does anyone remember this naming conflict [apple.com] between Apple and Dr. Carl Sagan? Apple used "Sagan" as an internal project code name, and the good doctor objected. Apple, being Apple, promptly changed the project name from "Sagan" to "Butthead Astronomer".

  • by Juan Epstein ( 238683 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:47AM (#92185) Journal
    All Adobe was just trying to protect their trademarked brand.
    Your software may be free, but Adobe is a for-profit company.
    Base your opinions upon whatever you like, but Adobe is just protecting whats theirs.
    Are you people really naive enough to believe they have no basis to protect their IP rights? The names
    Belong entirely to the company who trademarks the name "Illustrator". KDE should have known better.
    To claim that Adobe was wrong is ridiculous. Clearly they have a legitimate complaint against KDE.
    US Trademark law was on Adobe's side, and personally, I am glad to see Killustrator accepting responsibility for their acts.

  • 'I live in a.. ummm... ahh... KBrick house? no... GMud? ahh... whatever'

    GMUD is not a substitute for Adobe as a building material. Of course there are people who live in GMUD houses (and worlds for that matter) but these people spend way too much time in front of a computer.... Adobe at least gives you a real house, rather than a text-based simulation where you can interract with other geeks in a virtual world... OTOH, KBricks, interesting concept....\

    Sorry... must be stuck in the MUD

  • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:34AM (#92192) Homepage Journal
    With a name like "Adobe", is it any wonder that they played dirty and engaged in mud-slinging?
  • by rohar ( 253766 ) <bob.rohatensky@sasktel.net> on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:48AM (#92194) Homepage Journal
    This is great and all, but I think all the people living in sun-dried brick structures are gonna be pissed about not being able to call their construction 'Adobe' anymore...

    'I live in a.. ummm... ahh... KBrick house? no... GMud? ahh... whatever'

    It's easy to write songs, you just sit down and write them.

  • by suwain_2 ( 260792 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:40AM (#92197) Journal
    Actually, I've gotta say that Adobe isn't half as bad as most other companies. All they wanted was for the KIllustrator to change the title which, you've gotta admit, is *very* similar. Confusingly similar, maybe not, but enough to make me think that maybe Adobe ported it...?

    Most companies would be suing them and cursing the GPL, and accusing Linux of infringing on their trademarks...

    As far as the other stuff you say, though... I think you're probably right about them losing the Linux market. Although, actually, if they ported PhotoShop to Linux, I'd use it. (Provided it was actually *affordable*; I know it's a "hugely powerful" tool, but ~$600?! I'll sacrifice my familiarity with PhotoShop and just use the GIMP for that price...)

  • by Sarcasmooo! ( 267601 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:50AM (#92202)
    Sounds like Adobe's PR people pulled the plug on Adobe's legal team.
  • by infinite9 ( 319274 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:49AM (#92210)

    Dr. Kai-Uwe upholsterer

    Well, I'm certainly pleased to know that there's now a Free solution for all my upholstery needs.

  • by haruharaharu ( 443975 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @07:17AM (#92218) Homepage
    Done in Photoshop, right?
  • by actiondan ( 445169 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @06:49AM (#92220)

    And by bringing this lawsuit up in the first place, and by forcing them to change their name, isn't that (at least temporarily) halting distrobution and development?

    AFAIK it is still unclear whether Adobe were actually aware of the warning letter which was sent by the lawyers firm. (it never got as far as a lawsuit)

    In Germany, law firms can send warning letters on another companies behalf and charge those they send them to for their time. The company for whom the warning is being sent is not neccessarlity aware that this has been done. There is more information on this in the earlier article [slashdot.org], especially this posting [slashdot.org]

  • by No Tears In The End ( 452319 ) on Thursday July 12, 2001 @01:02AM (#92224)
    Childish email bombings and obscene calls are just as bad if not worse than the actions of these companies. Its not like the people who have to sift through these countless messages are going to change the lawsuit.

    Shit flows uphill in a case like this.

    Point 1. If 10 people send a million "fuck you" messages each, this is wrong and childish, but if 10 million people each send 1 "fuck you" email, there is nothing wrong with that. If you take part in an action that is likely to piss off so many people, you have to deal with the consequences.

    Point 2. Taking part in a silent boycott will do no good. Software sales are cyclic, adobe will sell more products at the beginning and end of fiscal years than they will in the middle. In case you didn't know, most companies' fiscal years are the same as the calendar year. It's July, sagging sales are the norm. By the end of the fiscal year, unless people tell adobe WHY they are not buying their products, this will be a long forgotten incident.

    Point 3. Back to shit flowing uphill. Let's say that low level workers are too busy fielding calls and deleting email messages to do their regular work. The productibity of that unit will go down. Imagine this series of telephone calls.

    Lower manager X "Johnson, why has this unit's productivity dropped bu 40% this week?"

    Johnson "Well, because we have had 10 million telephone calls on the sales line telling us that they are unhappy with the company's KIllustrator pressure."

    Middle manager Y "X, why has the division's productivity fallen by 48% this week?"

    X "Because the sales lines have been filled with people who are expressing disapproval of legal's fight with those KIllustrator people."

    Upper manager Z "Y, why has productivity across the company dropped by 50% this week?"

    Y "Because the sales team has been unable to make money due to a huge volume of customer complaints, regarding legal's fight with a company publishing a product named KIllustrator"

    Commitee A "Z, we have noticed a 50% drop in revenue this week. Can you explain this?"

    Z "Yes, there has been a grassroots effort by some of our customers to express disapproval of the pressure that legal is putting on some free software developers."

    Committe A "Well talk to legal and tell them to stop. Or we'll hire a new firm to represent our interests, one who won't have villagers with torches and pitchforks killing our bottom line."

    As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you want something done, make some noise.

  • by lukesfather ( 465001 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2001 @10:52AM (#92247)
    It's my understanding that Adobe GoLive is written, at least in large part, by programmers in Germany. So, I think the site in Germnay is much more than a operator, a PR agent, a few marketters, and a few lawyers...Perhaps I'm wrong, but being as I work for Adobe, I'm prerry sure I read the org. chart right. I believe there is a staff of at least 20 programmers there.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.