"MobiliX": 6 Months Imprisonment or 250.000.- EURO Penalty for
Trademark Infringement ?--
German lawyer v. Grafenreuth had trademarked "Obelix" on behalf
of French publisher
After having gotten a request (in June 2001) from German legal
representatives of "Les Editions Albert Rene" (Paris), holders of
the trademarks "Asterix" and "Obelix", to unregister the name
MobiliX, they now took legal action against Werner Heuser, well-known amongst
Linux-laptop users for authoring the "Linux-Mobile-Guide" (formerly
called the Laptop-HOWTO), published by the Linux Documentation Project.
MobiliX, Werners own website,
is dedicated to "Mobile UniX systems" on laptops, PDAs, cell phones
and more. It carries lots of useful hands-on information about
installing and running Linux and BSD on laptops, PDAs and other
mobile computer devices -- and of course it is free to use via the
internet. It exists since five years and besides the famous site
"Linux on Laptops" (http://www.linux-laptop.net) by Kenneth E.
Harker it seems to be biggest resource on this topic.
MobiliX is an acronym of the words "mobile" and "UniX". To avoid
legal trouble, Werner had registered this name at the German
trademark register in 1999. It is a common practice to build new
names for Unix related topics from a word naming the topic and
adding the letters "iX" at the end. Some examples are: AIX, Eurix
(Comfood), Sinix (Siemens-Nixdorf), SkroBelix, Skyrix, Ultrix,
Xenix. The German computer magazine iX is even just named by these
letters. The name Unix itself is a registered trademark of
AT&T, X/Open. The very name Mobilix is already registered for a
German manufacturer of children furniture -- but don't seem
infringed, because of the different industry they are in. Before
the legal action, Werner didn't reference in any way towords comic
characters Asterix or Obelix on his web pages.
The name of his website MobiliX.org is supposed to be mistaken
for Obelix, according to the charges.
The trademark Obelix was registered by German lawyer Guenter
Freiherr v. Gravenreuth. The legal charge is up to 250.000 USD or
six months of imprisonment. The costs of the first instance are
app. 15.000 USD. Werner Heuser has decided not to withdraw the name
"MobiliX". He is supported by the German lawyers Jaschinski, Biere
und Brexl - JBB.
This case is another one in the recent series of trademark
troubles for Free Software projects (SAMBA, Kylix, Kilustrator,
SELFHTML, SuSE, ..). Therefore this case is very important not only
for projects carrying names ending on "iX".
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