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Community: 6 months imprisonment or 250.000.- EURO penalty -- for infringing comic character

Jan 09, 2002, 16:09 (29 Talkback[s])

Kurt Pfeifle writes:

"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".

Current news about the case are at mobilix.org

Please support Werner to fight this attack.

[submitted by Kurt Pfeifle, <<A HREF="mailto:pfeifle@kde.org">pfeifle@kde.org>]