[SciPy-User] SciPy-User Digest, Vol 82, Issue 49

Joe Harrington jh@physics.ucf....
Fri Jun 18 14:56:20 CDT 2010

On Thu, 17 Jun 2010 20:13:58 -0700, David Goldsmith <d.l.goldsmith@gmail.com> wrote

> PS: Re: MATLAB, Joe checked w/ his University's lawyers and IIRC they said
> (TM) everywhere is overkill (that amounts to defending their trademark,
> which we're under no legal obligation to do), but we should (to be
> considerate and "safe") use their capitalization which, glancing over at my
> guidebooks to confirm, is MATLAB (all caps).  So, there it is.

YDRC.  That was my opinion but not the lawyers'.

The issue is still going back and forth between me and the lawyers.
*Any* use of a trademarked word is reserved for the trademark owner
unless it is "fair use" or they permit you to use it.  Fair use is
really nebulous.  Even if you think you are fairly using the term, if
the company thinks your use harms them they can sue, and such cases
have been won against people who have not been producing a competing

For example, given that NumPy and SciPy *do* provide an overlapping
set of functionality, if we peppered our front page with statements
like "SciPy has nothing to do with MATLAB(R)," "MATLAB(R) and SciPy
are completely incompatible," and so forth, the Mathworks could say we
were doing that to get high search-engine placement and to associate
our product with theirs in the eyes of readers, and that we were
therefore using their registered mark to divert customers from them.
That would likely be called infringing, no matter how you decorated
the word with (R), TM, etc.  This is why, for example, the producers
of CentOS do not mention the term "Red Hat" anywhere at all.  Even a
truthful statement using their registered word puts them in danger of
a lawsuit they would have a good chance of losing.

There's a goodwill aspect of things here as well; if they prefer
MATLAB and you say Matlab, it can annoy them and make them more likely
to have their lawyers address the issue.

I've pressed our lawyers to look for established cases and precedents
for use of undecorated trademarks in commentary and review, but for
the docs, which are part of our "product", I think the safe route is
to use MATLAB(R) as the Mathworks recommends.  Quite frankly, I think
doing so also makes us look more competent and serious to our own

None of this is to recommend that we go out of our way to use the term
in the docs, however.  We're documenting SciPy, not MATLAB(R), and
many of us have never even seen a MATLAB(R) prompt or session.  We
handle things like a translation table in web pages, not the docs.
Someone might want to look at those pages and make sure they respect
the trademark.


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