German Company Wants To Protect Its Use Of The '@' Sign: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

from the @hats-and-@fish dept

A little while back, Techdirt wrote about a rather brave French company that tried to trademark the Anonymous logo. Now Der Spiegel is reporting that someone wants a German "wordmark" on the "@" sign (original in German). The company involved has the rather unusual name "@ T.E.L.L.", where the initials apparently stand for "Tradinghouse for Exclusive Luxury Labels". Although it's not really clear what the connection is, it is seeking to protect its use of the @-symbol for various classes of luxury goods (application in German), including the following:

shoes, hats, belts, fish, dried fruit, eggs, milk, coffee, tea, tapioca, bread, sugar, honey, syrups, alcoholic beverages (excluding beer), cigarettes, cigars, cigarette lighters and ashtrays
Despite this limitation to certain luxury items, and despite a press release (pdf in German) emphasizing that the company has no intention of sending out warning letters to people using the @-sign in their email addresses, you do have to wonder how wise it is to hand out control, no matter how circumscribed, over something so fundamental to the working of the modern world.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    why not? it's not as if it isn't happening on a daily basis. there are certain industries/people that want to handle almost everything to do with the modern world, mostly so as to be able to profit, none to benefit anyone else

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    What about luxury brands that have twitter accounts?

     

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  3.  
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    Yakko Warner (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    Banning Twitter in Germany now?

    Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

    Expect a C&D letter shortly.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    @ what point will it no longer be legal to communicate because everything has been "wordmarked", trademarked, or copyrighted.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    does that mean that trout @ 3 each
    wold be a trademark violation in Germany?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    @fuck off

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    @

    Someone makes luxury ashtrays?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    mischab1, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:07pm

    Luxury Basics

    What qualifies as luxury eggs and milk?!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Luxury Basics

    @eggs and @milk ?

     

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  10.  
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    Forest_GS (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:10pm

    This is somewhat relevant-

    http://notinventedhe.re/on/2012-6-13

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:12pm

    No, you don't have to wonder. I know not whether it was through corruption or stupidity that we have ended up with this system of giving businesses control over elements of our language, but it is very obviously unwise.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    What kind of asshole do you have to be to use a symbol like @ from the public, and then try and monopolize its use exclusively? Oh I forgot, thats what ALL copyright and patent companies do.

     

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  13.  
    icon
    Sherwin F (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Luxury Basics

    Awesome, haha.

    And fish? Luxury @fish? WTH?



    Today's Menu

    @fish and @chips, @fries, and a side of @unbelievable.

     

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  14.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    That would be a bloody goldmine. Think about the money you would make suing anyone with an email address. Twice. Let's not forget that most people will have personal and work email accounts.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Re:

    Well, I am very concerned that my company,@-H.O.L.E. might lose luxury cockroach business to these copycats due quickly striding morons.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:31pm

    well, I have exclusive use of the '&' symbol so anyone using it owes me money.

     

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  17.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    "...the company has no intention of sending out warning letters to people using the @-sign in their email addresses..."

    And you can trust them implicitly. Because nobody ever abuses IP. Especially not the Germans!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    Re:

    "...the company has no intention of sending out warning letters to people using the @-sign in their email addresses, only to our competitors and those who have money to pay up..."

    FTFT

     

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  19.  
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    DannyB (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Hey, that is infringement!

    First, @-H.O.L.E. is sufficiently close to my trademark on A-Whole Goods & Services.

    Second, that @ symbol you are using has Apple's patented rounded corners.

    Boy are you in trouble!

     

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  20.  
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    Andrew (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Sounds as sensible as allowing a trademark on the colour purple for various types of confectionery. Oh, wait...

     

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  21.  
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    Grover (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 2:12pm

    Words

    This should really be a red flag to anyone with even half a brain. No individual word, letter, or symbol should be ever be allowed to be monopolized, by anyone. I can't believe this is even being considered valid or right by this douche company. @eggs?!

     

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  22.  
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    Not That Chris (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 2:24pm

    Fun (and not really relevant) Fact

    The German word for the symbol @ is "die Klammeraffe", which roughly translates to "spider-monkey" or "bracket-monkey."

     

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  23.  
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    gorehound (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    I want to Trademark the Word "SHITHEAD" .
    What could go wrong if I did that ?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 3:33pm

    Re:

    Better brush up on your Newspeak, comrade.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Words

    Individual words like Nike(TM), Adidas(TM), Microsoft(TM)?
    Taking a single char of a name up for trademark is very extreme and should under no circumstances be granted. However, there is a place for trademarked names. The difference between those two situations is pretty much a grey area. Is it enough with 2 chars to achieve a trademark?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Re: Words

    Those 'words' did not exist before the companies created them. @ is already in use.

     

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  27.  
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    Bergman (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Re:

    My Newspeak is ungood.

     

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  28.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Words

    The Greeks would disagree with you, assuming the Goddess of Victory didn't smite you first.

     

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  29.  
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    Bergman (profile), Nov 2nd, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    Re:

    Yeah, you could collect royalties every time you were insulted.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Josh Taylor, Nov 3rd, 2012 @ 12:43am

    Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL are going to have a very tough legal battle with the German company who use the "@" symbol in their products.

    I might as well trademark all 26 letters of the Alphabet and sue all public schools and parents for teaching them without my permission.

     

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  31.  
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    techflaws (profile), Nov 3rd, 2012 @ 4:37am

    Re: Fun (and not really relevant) Fact

    der Klammeraffe

     

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  32.  
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    btrussell (profile), Nov 3rd, 2012 @ 5:15am

    Re:

    That's okay! I have $ sign.

     

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  33.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Nov 3rd, 2012 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Words

    The Greeks would disagree with you, assuming the Goddess of Victory didn't smite you first.
    Cor, and I'd always assumed she was the greek goddess of training shoes. /sarc

     

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  34.  
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    Ninja (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 2:54am

    Well, Germany is for copyright what Australia is to virtually anything. No offense meant, I love seeing that upside down landscape!

     

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