September 8, 2003

Obelix./.MobiliX: Highest German Civil Court Dismisses Appeal

wehe writes "The trademark case Obelix versus MobiliX - Linux On Mobile Computers was
finally dismissed by the Bundesgerichtshof - BGH, the highest German civil
court. Werner Heuser, owner of the trademark MobiliX and the domain - UniX On Mobile Computers, has lost the case, because the BGH
rejected his request for an appeal. The BGH did not care to provide a
detailed argumentation for their decision, the chamber merely quoted the
appropriate part of the law.

In his long and detailed argumentation to get a permission for an appeal,
Prof. Dr. Achim Kraemer, lawyer of Werner Heuser, wrote: "The commercial
usage of domain names leads already at the time of their registration to
preventive reactions by holders of older trademarks, which claim their
trademarks as violated. Particular risks exist for so-called
word-trademarks, which contain parts of the common language, when they are
combined with suffixes or prefixes used in certain groups. If trademarks are
protected much too excessively, as the appeal court has done in our opinion,
some very famous but fancy names may occupy a wide range of the language and
it becomes impossible for anyone to create new word-trademarks."

In autumn 2001 Les Edition Albert Rene, the owner of the trademark Obelix
had charged Werner Heuser. He is the owner of the well-known open source
project MobiliX ( now TuxMobil ) . This project
provides plenty of information about UniX operating systems like Linux,
BSD and Solaris on laptops, notebooks, PDAs and other mobile computers.
Therefore he has chosen a name, which expresses this by a combination of
the word "Mobile" and the common suffix "iX" taken from UniX(TM). The
plaintiff asserts that Werner Heuser had chosen this name to take
advantage of their well-known comic book character "Obelix" for which they
own a trademark.

This outcome of the charge is a great pity, not only for the Free Software
movement, because it is one more example showing that the big-players become
more and more capable to monopolize large parts of the language. In this
case almost all trademarks and domains ending with the suffix "ix" are under threat.

Another recent case is the German Telekom (one the biggest companies in Germany) trying to monopolize all
occurences of the letter "T" in logos and company names. They have even
bought domains like (transl. t-sausage), and
(transl. t-bag) to protect their logo and to prevent others from using those
domains. Also they charged some companies, which were using some kind of "T" in
their logos, more at Free-T (in German).

A detailed documentation of the case, containing information
about other projects under siege and the written statements of the
lawyers Jaschinski, Biere and Brexl - JBB , is available online at TuxMobil."


Click Here!