Nothing's wrong as far as I can see
We make it harder than it has to be
and I can't tell you why
~Eagles, I Can’t Tell You Why.
Apple and Adobe have both gotten some press lately for going to the trademark police after a couple of small business people had the audacity to publicize their products by including corporate trademarks in their business name. First there was the case of Apple going after The iPod Mechanic as reported by my colleague Davey Winder (aka Happy Geek) in his Inside Edge blog. Now comes news from ReadWriteWeb that Adobe is going after a guy for setting up a web site called FreshAIRapps, which apparently violates the sanctity of the Adobe AIR (all caps) trademark. Enough is enough.
These companies fail to understand there is a bright line between a trademark violation and using the trademark in a legitimate fashion to promote a business that’s a natural off-shoot of the brand. Perhaps if the two site owners had actually pretended to be representing the companies in question, Adobe and Apple might have a genuine beef here, but all indications are they didn’t. They simply honored the products involved by including the names of the products they were working with. The iPod Mechanic fixes iPods. Imagine that. FreshAIRapps provides a site for AIR developers to show case their AIR Apps. Nothing wrong with that as far as I can see, but apparently Adobe doesn’t see it that way, perhaps because it competes with its own AIR Apps site as Corvida speculates on the ReadWriteWeb blog. If that’s the case, it’s called competition. Deal with it.
Or maybe it’s just another case of an overactive legal department with nothing better to do than go after little guys who have few resources and clearly can’t fight back. Sure, these examples are both technically violations of the rules, but is it really necessary for the legal team of a multi-million dollar company to go after these guys in this fashion? Do they not have anything better to do than harass a small business trying to make an honest buck? In fact, the AIR case clearly seems to be a case of the lawyers run amok as the site owner reports on this Home page that the Adobe AIR evangelists are actually on his side.
Steve Jobs might be all that now, but back in the day, he was just another pimple-faced geek with a dream working in a garage trying to design a new desktop computer. These companies should really be ashamed of themselves. This is petty and it needs to stop. If you get a real trademark violation, deal with it. Until then, call off the dogs.