Debate over an attempt to trademark the phrase “Legal Hackers”

John Grant has posted Call for Debate Over the Proposed “Legal Hackers” Trademark Registration.

Grant summarizes the controversy in this way:

[…] The term “Legal Hackers” is currently pending trademark registration with the USPTO. It was Published for Opposition on September 16, which means that there is a 30-day window from that date for anyone who believes they will be harmed by the trademark registration to formally oppose the mark. Anyone who is considering opposing the mark can also file a 30-day Extension of Time to Oppose at no charge which would extend the deadline for opposition (for the filer) until November 15.

The registrant of the “Legal Hackers” trademark is Legal Hackers LLC […]

That said, I am opposed to the idea that the term “Legal Hackers” should be granted federal trademark protection. In a nutshell, I believe that the “Legal Hacker” moniker should remain in the public domain and not be subject to the blessing, or withholding, of a single person or entity. To me, the notion of “Legal Hackers” as a proprietary brand runs counter to the whole ethos of the movement and threatens to stall it, or fragment it, or both. […]

By way of background, the term “legal hacker” is often used by participants in the legal hacking movement, in which software developers and legal professionals/academics cooperate to develop new technologies and law reform proposals.

From my perspective as someone who studies this movement, this attempt to trademark one of the key terms used in the movement seems particularly interesting, for two reasons.

First, the movement, which began around 2011 and now has participants in several countries, has both non-market-oriented and market-oriented dimensions, including professional (for-profit), professional (non-profit), governmental, civil-society-oriented, social, and cultural aspects.

Second, the controversy is interesting because one of the themes of the movement has been a call to remove property rights in law-related information in order to foster improved public access to legal information as well as innovation in legal technology and legal services delivery.

To see contributions to this debate so far, please see the comments to John Grant’s post, and the Twitter hashtag #legalhack

HT @JEGrant3

This entry was posted in Hacking, Others' scholarly or sophisticated blogposts, Policy debates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Debate over an attempt to trademark the phrase “Legal Hackers”

  1. Pingback: Attempt to trademark “Legal Hackers” is abandoned | Legal Informatics Blog

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