SparkFun being hassled by SPARC and Sun

I know that, like team 111, a lot of people on here use products from SparkFun Electronics on their robots. They’re a great company and supporters of FIRST. Well, it turns out they’re being harassed over their name (SparkFun) by some lawyers from SPARC International, who claim the name is too similar. According to the SparkFun website, SPARC International is owned by Sun Microsystems. I can’t seem to confirm that, but Sun is obviously either an owner, partner, or customer of SPARC International since they use SPARC technology in almost all of their computer offerings.

I have bought many things from SparkFun and they seem like a great company. I think they reflect a lot of the ideals from FIRST, and I’d like to see them continue to exist. I feel like the only method I have to discourage this kind of behavior from companies like SPARC and Sun is to avoid their products. So I guess I’m bringing this issue to the attention of CD in case there are others who are happy customers of SparkFun who might wish to take this into consideration before using products (including the new Java support in the control system) from Sun and SPARC.

Dave,

Sparc International is actually a non-profit entity that owns the Sparc architecture, trademarks, etc. They have a membership of over 30 companies with a couple of big ones being Sun Microsystems, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Motorola.

http://www.sparc.org/members.html

This looks more like an example of “aggressively” defending their trademark which pushes them right to the edge of absurd. Rather than considering not to use a particular company’s product it may work better to contact some of the member companies and voice your disapproval of the actions of their group’s lawyers. I suspect this may have a more desirable effect.

Ken

I wanted to look at their page of partners, but I can’t browse their website because it has been flagged as containing malware (maybe they should replace their lawyers with some IT people?). But obviously, Sun is the major user of the SPARC architecture. They are most closely tied to SPARC, regardless of the specific arrangement of their relationship.

This looks more like an example of “aggressively” defending their trademark which pushes them right to the edge of absurd. Rather than considering not to use a particular company’s product it may work better to contact some of the member companies and voice your disapproval of the actions of their group’s lawyers. I suspect this may have a more desirable effect.

I don’t dispute their right to attempt to defend their mark, and frankly I’m sure this is just a case of a lawyer overstepping their mandate. Realistically, though, there is historical evidence in many similar cases that shows that the only way companies abandon these stupid tactics is by public outcry and pressure from customers. Since I posted this here, I’ve found the story now on just about every technology-related news site out there. Do you think Sun will take notice of the fact that a company that they’re tied very closely to just ticked off 1000s of people who are in the field (and many who might be involved with purchasing decisions)? I think they will, and I bet they can reign in SPARC International. On the other hand, if I contact SPARC, what difference will that make? I’m not in the market for any microprocessor designs anytime soon, and they would know that. They have no incentive to listen to me, but they have incentive to listen to Sun.

Somehow I am not surprised, companies like to try to limit any companies with similar names… The poster company for this is monster cable.

There is also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_Energy#Notable_events

And check out www.nissan.com, another example.

Somehow I am not surprised.

Check out the response to one of Monster Cable’s frivolous cease-and-desist letters.

I look forward to this claim being similarly resolved.

Yep, I read that when it happened, was pretty good.

Im not sure they are overstepping, they are required to pursue each thing that could be perceived as a violation of their trademark lest it be considered unenforced. Really I doubt this is going anywhere, Im sure that SPARC will “work out a deal” with SFE. Right now they might just be jumping through hoops. Of course, I know next to nothing about this sort of stuff, I just assume that people behave semi logically.

I <3 SparkFun!

SparkFun is an awesome company, with a whole host of awesome products.

I’ve been a satisfied customer of theirs for years for FRC and various personal projects.

If by “work out a deal”, you mean SparkFun telling SPARC to shove it, then yes, it’ll all work out.

This is a classic case of corporate bullying, of the big guy bullying lunch money from the smaller kid on the playground, not unlike the film Flash of Genius.

I was going to post the same thing. The issue here is that if they DON’T aggressive pursue every issue like this one, then they set a precedent. It’s one of the terms of the law involved that they must pursue people who they believe are infringing or they may lose the rights to the name.

You might want to reconsider that assumption…