Danish Court Orders Spanish Site Blocked Because It Uses Trademarked English Word 'Home' As Part Of Its Name

from the global-village dept

Daft trademarking stories are common enough, but it's always fun to come across new variations on the theme. Netzpolitik points us to this story from Denmark, where a Spanish-owned property site called HomelifeSpain.com ran into trouble because the word "home" was trademarked in Denmark by the Danish property site home.dk. This resulted in the rather incredible remedy of the website itself being banned entirely. As Netzpolitik notes, this is classic function creep: such web blocks were introduced to fight -- you guessed it -- child pornography, and yet here they are being applied in the rather less serious matter of trademark infringement.

Moreover, it's hard to see why such a common word as "home" was allowed as a trademark in the first place. It's true it's in English, rather than Danish, but even so, trademark examiners would surely have known that granting one company an exclusive monopoly of the common English word "home" in Denmark for certain domains was bound to cause problems somewhere down the line, given the globalized nature of business today. The fact that a Spanish company is now being blocked there because of a Danish trademark granted on an English word proves the point nicely.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Binary Adder (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 3:57am

    So, does it mean no one can use home page now in Denmark?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:06am

    i suppose now then that instead of saying i'm going home, i have to say i'm going to my place of residence, otherwise i could be fined severely or locked up? is there gonna be no end to this ridiculousness? how can any trademark entity, court or whatever be so thick, so stupid, so utterly unthinking as to go down this road? unbelievable!!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:09am

    Way to weaken the block, guys

    Now people have a unquestionably legitimate reason to bypass these blocks. And once they learn how to bypass the blocks, they will not forget that knowledge. And they will spread such knowledge to their friends, who will spread to their friends, who will spread to their friends.

    Not to mention that it adds pressure for removing the ability to block itself. Opponents can now point to this example (and unfortunately many more to come) as one more reason the ability to block should not exist at all.

     

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  4.  
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    tebee (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:18am

    Re:

    I would suggest blocking everyone's home page in Denmark just to show how stupid this ruling is, and it has the double advantage it would also avoid having to see horrible flash animations some companies still put there.

    Seriously though why should one company have a monopoly on such a common word as home ? They could probably block a good number of other websites on this basis. What next - Trademark a letter, say "i" - oh wait someone already tried that.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:29am

    Saved the children

    Please look at the government's side. Children are completely safe due to their magic filtering software. I applaud you Denmark. Bravo. And now to shake up the kool aide. I shall protect the word Residence with Trademark.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:29am

    DHS will now be blocked - lol

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:31am

    By the same logic, if the trade mark is part of another word, the would have to block all references to homer (the Greek writer) and Homer Simpson (the cartoon character).

     

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  8.  
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    Anonynous, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:34am

    I guess its a case of mi casa no es tu casa

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:42am

    Dear Techdirt

    Please check if it was the Eu and not the Danish goverment

     

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  10.  
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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re:

    The same reason other companies have a trademark on such common words as Windows, Apple, Eat, Olympic, Amazon, Gap, Virgin etc...

    Because the majority of the world believes abstract concepts and ideas can be owned and protected, that's why.

    It's getting worse because courts are losing sight of the fact that trademarks exist (unlike copyright and patents) to protect consumers, not corporate brands.

     

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  11.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 4:58am

    such web blocks were introduced to fight -- you guessed it -- child pornography

    Usual critics at the time "naw, it won't be abused, it'll be used exactly for that, to prevent (!!!) child molesting"

    Right. Meanwhile child pornography runs unfettered and well under the rug.

     

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  12.  
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    Call me Al, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Re:

    I've not checked but I would hope that this isn't the case since English is the de-facto language of the EU and also since the UK is a member state.

     

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  13.  
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    Mr RJC, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    The UK has....

    'The Home Office' are they going to go after the UK gov't now for using 'Home'?

     

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  14.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:19am

    We need more tech-aware justice systems in the world

    I mean, didn't anyone of the Danish court stop to read the case file and go "hmmm"? Or even grab a fucking dictionary?

     

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  15.  
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    gorehound (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:30am

    Re: Way to weaken the block, guys

    Time to Patent "Shit" or "Fuck" !
    Down with the Copyright Assholes !

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:44am

    I guess I no longer live at 'home', because someone trademarked my 'home'. Looks like I'll have to move into a cardboard box until someone trademarks that to.

     

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  17.  
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    IronM@sk, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:06am

    Playstation Home™

    Must suck to be a Playstation 3 owner in Denmark...

     

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  18.  
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    Bergman (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I wonder whether those wacky EU courts would self-censor if someone accused them of trademark violation because they use the trademarked word in court?

    Would statutory damages be awarded for the misuse?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:37am

    I few sorry for the children because nothing governments do is actually to help protect them, but to screw the public.

     

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  20.  
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    The Real Michael, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    Corporate protectionism of the 21st century, when even words are monopolized.

    What's next, oxygen?

     

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  21.  
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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You've just given me an idea to trademark the word "Guilty"!

     

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  22.  
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    Michael, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 6:54am

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Titania Bonham-Smythe (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 7:06am

    Re: The UK has....

    If home.dk think that The Home Office are a commercial competitor, then yes, they can be expected to misuse this misguided web blocking system. It's just corporate protectionism.

     

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  24.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 7:32am

    All your home are belong to us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    Re: We need more tech-aware justice systems in the world

    They don't speak English, obviously =D

     

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  26.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 8:56am

    Re: Playstation Home™

    So how do they call that button that takes you back to the main screen on android devices? Residence?

     

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  27.  
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    Thomas (profile), Jan 7th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    What about

    Home Depot?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    I guess there is no place like home

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    It's a word in finnish too..

    "home" means "mold", which you can probably find in apartments bought from "home.dk".

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 3:38pm

    Site is not blocked.

    Greetings.
    I am from Denmark and this site has not been blocked with the filter. If it had, I do believe that all ISP's would have blocked it. My ISP is the biggest in the country so either this story is made up or the site has been unblocked again.

    I would like to say though, that the filter is complete BS. Lots of so called dangerous sites has been added to, what previously was a child pornography filter, but there are many sites caught in it that really don't belong.
    Like other places in the world, this filter has been turned into a travesty that disguises itself as "protection".
    When that mask is peeled off, it just shows itself as a government financed weapon for businesses to use.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    Re:

    Well now, let's be fair. Sometimes the things they do solely to further their own political careers don't have dramatically negative repercussions.

    (You know the world's in a bad way when that's the nicest thing you can say about the people running it...)

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Doesn't matter really. 99% of the population in Denmark are decently comfortable in conversations in english. Home is trademarked to a property broker and not just on the internet.

    I am a bit baffled that it is happening with a .com site. It is standard procedure that .dk domains are getting stolen because of a misguided corrupt favouritism for large companies compared to private people and small companies.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2013 @ 5:59pm

    Re:

    As far as I can see this is a case of HomeinSpain having been found guilty of trademark infringement in 2011. Home is a big property chain in Denmark and HomeinSpain is a property dealer trying to sell spanish houses specifically to danish people.

    I think the chain fell off already at that point. Home is far too short, too common and too relevant a term for the sector to hold uses of it as part of other names as infringement. The less gifted judge granting that judgement should be crucified by legal scholars on that ground alone.

    Now HomeinSpain did not follow the injunction from that case and the block is therefore grounded in the continued trademark infringement. If the block is fair or not is up for discussion given the "crime" being committed by continuing the business.

    It is also worth mentioning that it is only Telenor having gotten the injunction. Telenor is a mobile provider first and an ISP second. Why they were chosen as target in the case is pretty suspicious. No DNS in Denmark will allow a block without an injunction.

    DNS-blocking is in a downward spiral in Denmark politically. Only child porn is a sanctioned use from the political majoritys point of view. The child porn blocking is created in cooperation with "Red Barnet" - "Save the child". That it is extremely ineffective has been shown before by a group of it-professionals calling the siteowners and ISPs of the DNS-blocked sites. Most of them didn't even know that a block was in effect and most of the situations were resolved withing a fourth night (Some sites were closed, others removed the problematic pictures).

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Site is not blocked.

    From Denmark too. Just making things clear:
    TDC was not on the recieving end of the injunction. Telenor was. Therefore the homeinspain site can still be accessed by you untill TDC decides to join the block, which is likely to happen within half a year given their history! Heck, my ISP still doesn't block grooveshark.com!

    As for the blocking: Most of the uses against pharmacies and poker-sites are government enacted.
    When it comes to IPR-infringement we are more or less talking civil purposes. In case of IPR-infringement it is a civil court injunction and a "temporary" at that.

    Remember that it is "only" a DNS-block. The ISPs can be ordered to use DPI if it is deemed necessary. Already today the company 3 has issued a DPI-block of Grooveshark and that is the way the civil court injunctions are likely to be interpreted in the future. So far the lack of DPI has been because of a "reasonable cost for ISP" decission. As DPI gets cheaper and more automated, that reasoning is dying and we are in for a world of private censorship unless we move to encrypted traffic, like they do in France.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 1:42am

    None of the listed blockees have anything with child pornogrphy the listed domains and subdomains are
    allofmp3.com,mp3sparks.com,thepiratebay.org,grooveshark.com,thepiratebay.se,homelifespain.com. Yeah welcome to Denmark.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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