Closing the Chapter on the Legal Hackers Trademark

Written By John E. Grant  |  Future of Law  |  1 Comments

I’m pleased to announce that Legal Hackers, LLC has officially abandoned its USPTO application to register the term “Legal Hackers” for federal trademark protection.

As I said before (more than once), I think the term “Legal Hackers” is simply too descriptive to have it controlled by a single person or entity—particularly under the authority of federal trademark law. Aside from the technical trademark argument, however, I think it is misguided strategy to attempt to cultivate a community of legal hackers but then erect a barrier to entry into that community.

I should note that although the LLC has abandoned the application, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has abandoned the mark. Nor, necessarily, should it. I still think that adding something to the end of “Legal Hackers” (Society? Consortium? Guild?) would alleviate the descriptiveness problem and make for a stronger mark (from a trademark law perspective). The LLC could also seek to register the plain old “Legal Hackers” mark on the USPTO’s secondary trademark register and then wait the requisite five years to try to establish the “secondary meaning” necessary to overcome a descriptiveness problem. (For the record, I would still be critical of the latter approach).

But for now the chapter is closed, and I’m happy to say that the debate (mostly) proceeded in a civilized and professional way. We even got props from Techdirt for having “friendly, cordial sides that genuinely have good interests.”

One loose end to wrap up: The two people who actually put skin in the game to oppose the mark, Eric Mill and Josh Tauberer, each put up $300 of their own money to file the formal opposition. I have offered to pitch in to help offset their expense and I encourage others to do the same. You can either connect with Eric and Josh directly or contact me if you want to be put in touch with them.

Thanks to all others who lent their support and encouragement to me in this debate.

And now on to bigger and better things…

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