Trademark issue?

Discuss Spyderco's products and history.
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sal
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby sal » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:05 am

Hi Sharp Guy,

We vigorously defend our trademarks in the US, China and anywhere else we have trademarks.

sal

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tvenuto
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby tvenuto » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:26 am

Because doing so is phenomenally inexpensive for what it gets you, which is an incentive on other makers not to use it. Essentially they have to decide to risk fighting over it which, even if they are correct (which is for courts to decide) might still not be worth the hassle.

To be clear, I love Spyderco and would still be a fan of theirs if other companies used a round hole opener. I feel their designs stand on their own merits. However I also feel that by trademarking a functional feature they put other makers in an awkward spot. As a maker of things, I’m interested in these laws and how they’re applied. I’m not blaming them for doing it, it was smart. However it does sit in a gray area and I want to offer a counterpoint to all of the outrage that another company would be so brazen as to recklessly try to steal from Spyderco. Remember, there is a reason that patents expire and that trademarks are different than patents. More info:

https://academic.oup.com/jla/article/7/1/183/891222

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby MacLaren » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:39 am

Point well taken tvenuto :cool:

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby Sharp Guy » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:51 am

MacLaren wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:39 am
Point well taken tvenuto :cool:
Yep, interesting
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby bearfacedkiller » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:16 am

tvenuto wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:26 am
However I also feel that by trademarking a functional feature they put other makers in an awkward spot.
But they haven't trademarked using a hole as a functional feature. They have only trademarked using a round hole. It just seems like if you want to use the concept and not step on toes you can just make the hole out of round. No problemo.

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sal wrote:Knife afi's are pretty far out, steel junky's more so, but "edge junky's" are just nuts. :p
SpyderEdgeForever wrote: Also, do you think a kangaroo would eat a bowl of spagetti with sauce if someone offered it to them?

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby MacLaren » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:28 am

bearfacedkiller wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:16 am
tvenuto wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:26 am
However I also feel that by trademarking a functional feature they put other makers in an awkward spot.
But they haven't trademarked using a hole as a functional feature. They have only trademarked using a round hole. It just seems like if you want to use the concept and not step on toes you can just make the hole out of round. No problemo.

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby bearfacedkiller » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:52 am

I don't think so. I don't know the answer and there may not be an easy one. I was just sharing my stance on it. I started to read TV's link. I will have to read more later, as it is quite long. What I gleamed from it is that the functional aspect of trademark law is a little grey.

I guess the question comes down the the balance between two questions. Does using the hole steal an identifying feature away from Spyderco? Does the trademarking of the hole prevent someone else from using the functionality of the feature? Not an easy answer and probably why being a lawyer can be such a profitable occupation.
-Darby
sal wrote:Knife afi's are pretty far out, steel junky's more so, but "edge junky's" are just nuts. :p
SpyderEdgeForever wrote: Also, do you think a kangaroo would eat a bowl of spagetti with sauce if someone offered it to them?

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby The Deacon » Mon Aug 27, 2018 10:39 am

tvenuto wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:41 am
Their hole is a functional feature and thus can’t violate trademarks, which are by definition not functional.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functionality_doctrine

AFAIK, functionality doctrine only applies if the feature being trademarked is either the only way to accomplish something, or can be proven to be the best way to do it. A couple simple examples of this would be the trademarked shape of a Coca-Cola bottle, and the arrow shaped pocket clip on a Parker pen. Other shapes of bottles and pocket clips work equally well, so they are not considered violations of that doctrine. Since several other knife companies use holes of other shapes and claim them to be "the best", trademarking the round Spyderco hole or comma shaped Byrd hole would not violate it either.
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby Daveho » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:14 pm

It’s interesting that some spyderco fans seem more razzed up about it than Sal does.
When you get these little rubbish companies that really are not likely to be causing any significant damage to spydercos bottom line it would cost spyderco more than the hypothetical lost revenue to litigate this sort of thing.

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby ChrisinHove » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:39 pm

They’re definitely oval holes. The knives are pretty reasonable by all accounts, but I save my own money for Spyderco (and the occasional Victorinox).

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby SpyderEdgeForever » Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:00 pm

It is wrong, and it is unethical, and it is an attack against Sal Glesser and his family and the Spyderco name.

For that matter, no company should use any opening hole in the blade of a knife other than Spyderco. It is wrong for anyone to do it.

If they don't want to work with Spyderco, they need to use a NON-Hole based opening mechanism, like a thumb or finger stud, depressions, nail nick, etc.

Sal: If I were ever to make a folding knife, I for one would intentionally NEVER use any form of opening-hole in the blade, out of respect to you and your work, my friend.

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sal
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby sal » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:08 pm

Hi SEF,

We can handle other than round holes. It is the shape of the hole that identifies the brand. Like the grill of an auto.

sal

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby BornIn1500 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:26 pm

SpyderEdgeForever wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:00 pm
For that matter, no company should use any opening hole in the blade of a knife other than Spyderco. It is wrong for anyone to do it.
Well that would seem pretty ridiculous. Should all thumb studs be the property of one company? Should nobody be able to create a knife with a flipper except for the first company that pioneered it? It seems like that's the path you're trying to go down. Making all variations of an idea illegal sounds a little crazy.
Last edited by BornIn1500 on Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby Daveho » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:31 pm

SpyderEdgeForever wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:00 pm
It is wrong, and it is unethical, and it is an attack against Sal Glesser and his family and the Spyderco name.

For that matter, no company should use any opening hole in the blade of a knife other than Spyderco. It is wrong for anyone to do it.

If they don't want to work with Spyderco, they need to use a NON-Hole based opening mechanism, like a thumb or finger stud, depressions, nail nick, etc.

Sal: If I were ever to make a folding knife, I for one would intentionally NEVER use any form of opening-hole in the blade, out of respect to you and your work, my friend.
Or they could just pay to use them...
Really not a big deal.
With these little oddball makers you arnt going to stop them so just take an “immitation is the sincererst form of flattery” stance and move on-if you get triggered by the actions of others you’re gonna have an angry life

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby NickShabazz » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:00 am

I'm not sure where I land on this one, honestly.

I respect Spyderco's branding and the ability to differentiate their work and designs, and certainly agree that they're legally entitled to this protection under current laws. And I get why it's defended, and that it's a good tool against homage and clone knives.

But it's also sad for the community that the best solution for opening a knife, a round hole (where rotational symmetry makes for smooth opens), is locked away behind these artificial boundaries, slightly worsening the pool of hole-opened knives elsewhere. Especially when perfect circles are a design primitive, it's just frustrating to see the best option pulled off the table, somewhat artificially, and I can't help but feel like the knife world would be a bit nicer if this wasn't enforced.

But it's a business, and I'm an idealist, and those don't match. I get it. And if that's the only way Spyderco can survive, that's life.
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby RamZar » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:59 am

Knife makers can easily make some blade opening that doesn't infringe on the Spyderco trademark (circular hole used to open the folder) just like they can make a Benchmade Axis lock as long as they don't call it Axis lock or an Emerson Wave opener as long as they don't call it Wave. In all three cases the patent has expired and now only a trademark is enforced.

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Last edited by RamZar on Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby dogrunner » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:33 pm

NickShabazz wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:00 am
I'm not sure where I land on this one, honestly.

I respect Spyderco's branding and the ability to differentiate their work and designs, and certainly agree that they're legally entitled to this protection under current laws. And I get why it's defended, and that it's a good tool against homage and clone knives.

But it's also sad for the community that the best solution for opening a knife, a round hole (where rotational symmetry makes for smooth opens), is locked away behind these artificial boundaries, slightly worsening the pool of hole-opened knives elsewhere. Especially when perfect circles are a design primitive, it's just frustrating to see the best option pulled off the table, somewhat artificially, and I can't help but feel like the knife world would be a bit nicer if this wasn't enforced.

But it's a business, and I'm an idealist, and those don't match. I get it. And if that's the only way Spyderco can survive, that's life.
One counterpoint to that is that a round opening hole, which I strongly agree is a superior opening method, is NOT unavailable to the knife maker community. It can be licensed. Obviously that increases the cost, but that is just one design consideration that plays into cost anyway.

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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby curlyhairedboy » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:55 pm

If I were a maker, I'd license the round hole in a heartbeat. It's that good!
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby The Deacon » Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:00 pm

NickShabazz wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:00 am
I'm not sure where I land on this one, honestly.

I respect Spyderco's branding and the ability to differentiate their work and designs, and certainly agree that they're legally entitled to this protection under current laws. And I get why it's defended, and that it's a good tool against homage and clone knives.

But it's also sad for the community that the best solution for opening a knife, a round hole (where rotational symmetry makes for smooth opens), is locked away behind these artificial boundaries, slightly worsening the pool of hole-opened knives elsewhere. Especially when perfect circles are a design primitive, it's just frustrating to see the best option pulled off the table, somewhat artificially, and I can't help but feel like the knife world would be a bit nicer if this wasn't enforced.

But it's a business, and I'm an idealist, and those don't match. I get it. And if that's the only way Spyderco can survive, that's life.

And yet,over the years, several manufacturers who use opening holes of other shapes have claimed their shape is the best. It could be argued that the additional traction offered by, say, a 10 or 12 sided polygon might be of more value than the "rotational symmetry" of a round one.
Paul
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Re: Trademark issue?

Postby carrot » Tue Aug 28, 2018 2:43 pm

NickShabazz wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:00 am
I'm not sure where I land on this one, honestly.

I respect Spyderco's branding and the ability to differentiate their work and designs, and certainly agree that they're legally entitled to this protection under current laws. And I get why it's defended, and that it's a good tool against homage and clone knives.

But it's also sad for the community that the best solution for opening a knife, a round hole (where rotational symmetry makes for smooth opens), is locked away behind these artificial boundaries, slightly worsening the pool of hole-opened knives elsewhere. Especially when perfect circles are a design primitive, it's just frustrating to see the best option pulled off the table, somewhat artificially, and I can't help but feel like the knife world would be a bit nicer if this wasn't enforced.

But it's a business, and I'm an idealist, and those don't match. I get it. And if that's the only way Spyderco can survive, that's life.
Wow, I read that one in your voice, Nick. Kudos to being a tremendous internet presence.

I don't really agree that the round hole is necessarily the best version of a hole-based opening system. For instance, before Chris Reeve went and wrecked the chamfer on the Mnandi "nail nick" it was just as easy and smooth to open as nearly any Spyderco one-handed with your thumb.

Similarly, the Byrd hole may actually be faster to open than the Spyderco round hole, simply by offering a larger surface area and more purchase for your thumb (although to the unpracticed, you may end up grabbing your thumb good in the teardrop). You can snatch the larger hole with your thumb

Finally, many people outside of our community view the Spyderco round hole as weird or ugly, but despite this can recognize a Spyderco immediately when they see it due to the same hole. That is a kind of brand awareness that most companies would kill for, and savvy makers do well to steer away from such a trademark look so that they can develop their own unique look-and-feel and appeal to their own niche audiences. Those who are less savvy... aim to rely on this look due to Spyderco's high performance reputation.


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