Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Killustrator Author Required to Pay Two Grand 490

This article on heise-online reveals some more information on the KIllustrator dispute. If my understanding of the German article is correct, the lawyer firm of Reinhard Skuhra Weise & Partner has issued a cease and desist letter to the University of Magdeburg, employer of KIllustrator's author, Dr Kai-Uwe Sattler. The cease-and-desist letter complains that kIllustrator's advertising damages Adobe's brand-name and damages the reputation of Adobe's product. The lawyers required that the University sign the cease and desist letter, destroy the kIllustrator-package, name every KIllustrator user, and disclose the profit they made from it. Finally the lawyers sent a bill for 4686 DM (German Marks, approximately 2000 dollars) not counting value added tax. Should the University not sign, the lawyers will sue for a million DM (approximately 400 thousand dollars) . Kai-Uwe Sattler is happy to change the name, but doesn't want to pay this bill. When he suggested changing the name, the lawyers rejected his proposal saying "Do you know any lawyer who works for nothing?" The lawyers insist on payment. Sattler regrets that Adobe never contacted him before calling upon lawyers to ask him to change the name of his software. Udo Skuhra, who works at the lawyers' firm, refused to talk to heise-online about the cease-and-desist letter, and refused to state whether Adobe asked his law-firm to issue it.
Update: 07/04 03:30 PM by S :Joerg from Germany sent us a small correction: Apparently the lawyers want any packaging of KIllustrator destroyed, not the project itself. Perhaps they think it comes in a box?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Killustrator author required to pay two grand

Comments Filter:
  • After seeing too many of htese sotries, i would suggest that any independant programmer form a LLC (limited liability corporation) to be the legal representation of your work. This way, if you are sued, the LLC will be named in the suite and any dmages they manage to collect will be the comanyies, not your personal assets. REmember, lawyers are in it for the money and will work both sides of the fence.
  • I find it curious that the lawyer would not disclose whether Adobe had asked them to pursue this matter.

    There is a trend in the United States (for twenty years or longer) for lawyers to "create" cases (usually class action) which are generally greatly to their benefit and not much benefit to anyone else. The tobacco cases are not the best example, but along the same line. One example (without specifics) is the suit over (video)monitor sizes. A case went forward complaining that consumers were deceived by the size specs for monitors - a 14" monitor might only be 13.2" (both the spec and the actual size are diagonal measurements).

    The case was won. I and many other consumers were offered something like a $9 coupon toward our next monitor purchase, or $7 cash (IIRC) back if we could prove that we bought a monitor (a variety of brands) within a specific time period. (This was at a time when a 14" color monitor was still a $300 item, IIRC.) (It's possible the offer to the consumer was somewhat higher, my memory is very hazy -- it was just not enough to make me pursue looking for proof of purchase or going out to buy a new monitor.)

    Was anybody really harmed by the deceptive measurements? Was any consumer really not aware of what he was getting -- I mean, most people saw a working monitor before they bought one. I'm not saying the exaggeration of monitor size was proper, but who was hurt and who benefitted from the case? The lawyers manufactured a profit out of thin air. The manufacturers paid the lawyers, but made their money back if they stayed in business (and none of them went out of business because of this issue, AFAIK). And, if you go into Best Buy or Circuit City today and ask for a 19" monitor, guess what size it's going to be!

    Anyway, I saw the fee the law firms collected -- don't really have any recollection of what it was, but it was big.

    Law firms look for cases like this to keep their business' going!

    Is there any chance this lawyer acted independently of Adobe? If I were the "defendant" in this case, I'd try to find out. If Adobe denies their involvement, I wouldn't pay the lawyer's fee, because I don't think they'd have legal standing to bring the action they did. (IANAL) It seems that Adobe should be willing to answer the question -- anybody want to take the time to put the question to them?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Then I would separately ask the law firm for an itemized bill for their labor (that's what the money is for, so one can expect a bill). I'd check the work and rates with another lawyer or a consumer agency and pay only what's fair and reasonable (I suspect no more than 100-200DM).

    No. Tell them to bear their own cost.

    Trade Mark means a mark used in *trade*. As far as Killustrator the free software is concerned, there is no trade involved as no money changes hands. Possibly a case of passing-off, which would be much more difficult on Adobe's part to prove. The case is not as clear-cut to Adobe as previous comments suggest.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Send your complaint to: [mailto]

    He's the PR rep for Adobe and their Illustrator product. Be polite but firm.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:15PM (#109771)
    Quote: []

    Conduct business on the highest ethical basis

    Life is too short to be ashamed of anything we do. Truth, honesty, and integrity in all of our dealings with other people allow us to always be proud of our association with Adobe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:43PM (#109772)
    Would never work. My ex-girlfriend has prior art.
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:25PM (#109773) Homepage Journal
    Fight the power! And stuff! []

    - A.P.


  • Well, if you're an American citizen, you are part-owner of one of Adobe's biggest customers: your government.

    Ever notice how many government documents -- federal, state and local -- are in .pdf format, created with Adobe products?

    You may want to politely tell your employees (AKA government workers and elected representatives) that you would appreciate it if they stopped using *your* money to support Adobe.

    - Robin
  • I've had Ghostscript gag on PDFs in the past. You probably want to use xpdf [].
  • It's a good thing that the makers of the Pinto are all sitting in jail for knowingly producing dangerous vehicles and saying nothing.

    Oh wait! They're not! Ford was just made to pay millions of dollars rather than say, spend time in jail.

    Corporations can literally get away with murder. How is setting up a corporation that distributes a commercial version of the Gimp with an infringing name more illegal than a company that can't pay off all of it's debts and folds?

    In cases where a loan can't be paid off, or a big lawsuit does a company in, the investors can only lose as much as they put in.

    I don't know about the rest of the world..

    I even vaguely remember some radicals abusing corporate protection to protest the fact that corporations have such limited liability.

    NOTE: It's a different case entirely if a company takes out a loan that's co-signed by the owner, which is much more common. In that case, you can fold the company and still owe all of that money. Most lenders will NEVER loan directly to limited liability businesses unless they're 100% sure that they're good for it.

  • Where I used to regard someone like Adobe with complete and utter apathy, I now regard them with hate.

    There's a difference between protecting their brand and being insane. They turned a situation that could be solved effortlessly into a messy legal battle. Does anyone doubt that the developer would have just changed the name if Adobe had come along and said "Hey dude, cool stuff, but we're kind of peeved that it's named 'Illustrator', can ya change it? We spent gazillions of dollars promoting the name 'Illustrator' and we feel kind of taken.'"

    Christ, this is enough to make me want to infringe on one of their brands just out of retaliation.

    Hmm. Could they feel threatened by open source?IIRC, they used to even recommend the Gimp when users asked them to port Photoshop to Linux.

  • If so, I have to tone down my criticism of Adobe in the previous Slashdot about this issue because, well, lawyers are lawyers, and what they don't...

    To my thinking, it changes nothing. Adobe has the ability and responsability to choose it's lawyers and lay ground rules for them. If they believe that this is the wrong behaviour, they also have the right and responsability to call off the dogs and apologize. They haven't done that. From that fact, I conclude that they approve of what is happening. I will change my mind when they take some positive action to remedy the situation.

    If we excuse corperations for what their semi independant lawyers do, we must excuse organized crime bosses for what their semi independant agents do as well.

    Frankly, the whole thing sounds more like a mugging than anything else.

  • If someone tells me there are programs called KIllustrator and the GIMP that work as well as their Adobe equivalents and cost considerably less, then I will no doubt be strongly tempted to quit shelling out hundreds of dollars to Adobe. Sounds to me like KIllustrator constitutes competition, and threatening competition at that.

    The real question in trademark infringement is would you accidentally buy (or even download and use) KIllustrator because you thought it was Adobe's product? Also, the related question: Was KIllustrator named that in the hopes of creating such confusion?

  • every KIllustrator user, and disclose the profit they made from it.

    Meguesses some lawyer not understanding of this concept of "free (as in beer) software"...

  • I look at how Sun has handled anyone releasing a "Java" product (case in point, Java Invaders). Yes, Sun has asked for a change of name, with good explainations why, and I've yet to hear of anyone that doesn't change it. But the initial request is typically just a C no monetary damage, only threat of further legal action if they don't change it. This includes both free and commercial software projects.

    Adobe does have the right to go after Illustrator names, but asking for cash as well as the destruction of the source code, the list of users and the profits that have been made on it is beyond stupidity.

  • No warranty, not even fitness for a particular purpose should have been enough but unfortunately the GPL doesn't protect you from reality.

    Just as the MPAA beat the shit out of the kid in Germany, Adobe will beat the shit out of this next kid in Germany, and after that users will start suing programmers for bugs. It's not about licenses. It's about money.

  • Pulling this kind of stunt makes Adobe look really bad. It may be acceptable by German law, but in most of Adobe's markets, they look anti-education and anti-individual. If US art schools see this and decide they don't want anything to do with Adobe, Adobe stands to lose much more than $1 million from the schools and students who would learn to use their products. So the logical thing for Adobe to do is pressure the lawyers into dropping the case, and maybe pay them for their efforts in getting Killustrator to change its name.
  • The lawyers required that the University sign the cease and desist letter, destroy the kIllustrator-package, name every KIllustrator user, and disclose the profit they made from it.

    I think the commercial software world has hard time understanding this "free software" thing.

    From one parody of a fascistic security adminstrator, during the war between workers and The Management: "Despite of all of our regulations regarding the corporate network, we found one of these strictly forbidden 'Linux' CD-ROMs from behind the painting in the conference room. We will contact the operating system vendor and try to find out who owns the license to this copy."

    I can see it now: A massive operation to find every possible killustrator user, requiring much cooperation from ISPs to find out who downloaded a copy...

  • by danny ( 2658 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @06:53PM (#109797) Homepage
    That email address bounces with a "user unknown" error. Does anyone have a working adobe marketing or PR email address?


  • The lawfirm's playing a nasty trick allowed by German laws- it appears they didn't send the sharks on the developer, they did it upon their own initiative. Adobe looks bad, the law firm looks even worse- and the poor schmuck gets stiffed quite a bit of money.
  • i.e. The dog bites you once vs. mauls you...
  • Right? I've seen the opposite happen in the places I've worked at and elsewhere.
  • by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <> on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @06:31PM (#109803) Homepage

    While I agree in principle, I don't think I can agree that "Illustrator" is generic when it comes to naming software simply because it's a word that existed in the language already--and it seems to me that's ultimately the case you're making.

    I'd submit that Illustrator isn't a "generic" description. Generic description would be "Adobe Vector Drawing Program"--or even "Adobe Draw," which, indeed, has precedents similar to the ones you cite: Mac Draw, Corel Draw, Lisa Draw, Cricket Draw (for those of you with long, long memories). But "Adobe Illustrator" seems to be in the category of names like "Canvas" (Deneba), "Freehand" (Macromedia) and "Expression" (MetaCreations, now reverted back to Creature House). All of those words were, and are, relatively common English words, too--but they don't refer to a class of computer graphics programs. They refer to specific computer graphics programs, all of which have been in production for a decade or longer.

    While I don't condone Adobe's handling of this (or the approach of allowing lawyers to handle it this way for them, if that's what happened), this is not a case of a company just laying claim to a common word and trying to sue anyone who uses it. This is a case of a company, or their agents, seeing another program in the same field as theirs using a name which is deliberately similar to the name that refers specifically and only to their product in that field.

  • WARNING: Also I have studied the German law, trademarks are not my specialty and I give no guarantees about the content of this post. (IANAL yet, too)

    There are some mistakes in the descripition of the German Law system you made.

    Abmahnung is just "cease and desist". Quite okay if you ask me. They can normally only be send out by the holder of the right that was violated (the trademark). But the BGB knows the so-called GoA - Geschäftsführung ohne Auftrag. It allows you to act on behalf of someone if it is clearly in their interest. In this case I can see problems for the lawyers if they did not contact Adobe first, because their actions have cost Adobe a lot of PR, not exactly in the interest of Adobe.

    The 4600,- DM are probably derived from the "Streitwert" the estimated contested sum that would be fought about in court. Proabably the "Adobe Illustrator" trademark was considered to be worth millions so the legal fees are calculated from there after the German "BRAGO" - BundesRechtsanwaltsGebührenOrdnung - (try babel on that one) a state imposed billing statute for lawyers.

    There have been decisions in the past, that sending out multiple form letters to trademark violators does not entitle you to full compensation with BRAGO fees for every case.

    Finally the German legal system does give you the right to claim your own legal fees from the losing party before court. (Therefore the BRAGo, can't get more than that from your opponent). This is nice, because poor people can sue before the courts -- unlike in the US of A.

  • If you don't issue any warning and come down on anybody who "infringes" like a ton of bricks, the number of repeat offenders is likely to be low.

    I don't necessarily AGREE that this is anykind of infringement, but I can see how that might be their strategy.

  • I once got one of these because I ran an ad for computers I was selling. I included "free deivery and setup". I was 'warned' that the delivery and setup was not free, but actually calculated in the price of the computers. So I was misleading customers about it being free. Had to pay about $1000 for that mistake. I know that system sucks.
    Did you charge less if they didn't want delivery and setup? If not, then the delivery and setup were free.

    The net effect of this entire situation is that it casts Germany in a very bad light. People are calling for boycott's of Adobe. Since this seems to be more a problem with German law, why don't we just boycott Germany instead.
  • I'm about the fall into the classic Slashdot trap of offering armchair legal advice, but hey, everyone else is doing it.

    Change the name of KIllustrator. While the name 'KIllustrator' may be defensible, it will be hideously costly to do so. Change it.

    Other than that, I don't see the authors/University as obliged to do anything else. I hope German law isn't too different from US law in this respect. Absent a court judgment to the contrary, the legal fees incurred for drafting the threatening letter are Adobe's responsibility, not the victim's.

    Under no circumstances should the author or University turn over a list of users (assuming such a thing exists). They have absolutely no call to make that demand.


  • The name is not K-Illustrator, it is Kill-ustrator. This is a clear reference to the different sides taken during the US revolutionary war.

    Thus, it is commonly expanded to Kill-us-a-traitor. Clearly Adobe wouldn't want to be associated with anything this appaling, thus it couldn't be an infringment on any trademark they hold. :)
  • But if you read the post I linked to above, you'll see that it is extremely unlikely that Adobe even did hire this firm. In Germany, any law firm can send these letters; regardless of their relationship (or lack thereof) to the real owner of the trademark. And they're then legally entitled to charge a processing fee for the letter. That's what the $2,000 is for. It's a racket.
  • by Art Tatum ( 6890 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @07:14PM (#109814)
    Before you send that letter, read this [] post from a German citizen. It would seem that this is an independent law firm engaging in purely self-interested behavior.
  • For those of you truly boycotting Adobe products, I'd like to suggest some replacements:

    For Illustrator, CorelDraw. It's easier to use and more powerful. Much more powerful.

    For Acrobat Distiller: JAWS PDF (formerly 5D PDF). Produces better-quality PDF, though with slightly larger file sizes.

    For FrameMaker: Ventura Publisher. Ventura has a *much* better UI, more power, and comes with more useful helper applications. Indeed, Ventura is the best long-document layout software available, bar none.

    For Photoshop: Corel PhotoPaint or PaintShop Pro. PhotoPaint does much more than Photoshop, though with a slightly odd interface; PaintShop does 90% of what Photoshop does. Oh - and there's also GIMP.

    For PageMaker, CorelDraw or Ventura Publisher. CorelDraw is better for artsy-fartsy shite; Ventura is better for more traditional layout.

    For InDesign: CorelDraw, again. I'm assuming no one is foolish enough to attempt to use InDesign for long documents: if you are, do yourself a favour and use Ventura. You'll thank me endlessly for that advice.

    That about covers all the major Adobe applications.

    In *every* case, the alternatives are better than the Adobe product.

  • Quark? LOL. You *GOTTA* be kidding.

    Quark has a barely useable interface.

    Quark is so lacking in power that you gotta add *thousands* of dollars worth of add-ins.

    And even then, it doesn't have the features and power of CorelDraw (for very short docs) or Ventura (for long docs).

    Sorry, bud. You're the one smokin' crack.

  • Framemaker is the "damn book publishing program."

    I'd agree with your assessment of it. And Ventura is the better replacement for it: much better UI, and some important features that Framemaker lacks.

    Several textbook publishing companies, several TV guide companies, a lot of catalogue publishers, a few book publishers, and almost every bible publishing company use it.

  • You say it yourself: you aren't familiar enough with CD or Ventura to be able to say anything intelligent about them.

    Important things Quark falls down on:
    * multiple undo
    * customizable menus
    * document zoom
    * snap grid
    * mixing page layouts in a single document
    * straddle paragraphs across columns
    * good text frames management
    * relative frame anchoring
    * multiple-colour gradient, PS, vector fills
    * decimal tab align
    * all caps, intercaps, small caps, etc
    * rotate paragraphs within text flow
    * external file linking
    * conditional text
    * footnote/endnotes/sidenotes
    * text fills
    * hanging punctuation
    * custom underlines
    * fully customizable line styles
    * fancy-ass bitmap graphic filters
    * NO built-in table support
    * No cross-referencing
    * Limited graphic import formats
    * No impositioning
    * No print bureau profiling
    * NO built-in HTML support
    * NO built-in database layout support
    * NO links within PDF output
    * Limited colour systems support
    * NO built-in equation editor
    * NO scripting

    Some of the things it lacks can be made up for by buying extra, expensive software. And many of the things it lacks can not be added. And many of those lacking features are a godsend to doing professional work. df for an even-handed (no, really, it is: it's very factual and thorough: there is no apparent bias) comparison of Quark, PageMaker, FrameMaker and Ventura.

    Face it: you're outlook is severely limited by your familiarity with a *single* product. If you were to free your mind and start doing some research into the features you need and the software that best fulfills those needs, you very likely would never conclude that Quark is the best tool for the job.

  • So you basically agree with me, particularly as v5.0 doesn't yet exist.

    Quark v5.0 will, indeed, be a good improvement. That still doesn't deny that out-of-the-box, there is better software available.

    It would currently take over $10000 in add-on software to bring Quark's capabilities up to par with Ventura... go, price it out: I state the truth here.

  • "If it's so inferior, why is it used like it is?"

    For the same reasons they used Win3.1 instead of OS/2 or MacOS? For the same reason they use MSPublisher instead of FrameMaker or Ventura?

    Because, I suspect, they don't know any better. And many of whom naively believe that their school is teaching them with the best tools, when the reality is they are taught with whatever tools the school can get for free.

    [rather long description of how long-doc publishing is made easier by VP, snipped because Slashdot is being a pain in the ass... maybe it'll like a shorter message]

    Anyway, try this URL: tml
    (it was working earlier today...)

    Also, the Ventura user's group, should you decide to make a go of it:
    news:// 8

    (and if you're doing single-page sort of layout, you'll need to find an enthusiast for Corel Draw, PageMaker, Illustrator or the like. I'm afraid that's just not my gig.)

    [bloody slashdot is making it difficult to post responses these days. over 30 submit-button hits to get this in...]

  • Discreet's Combustion combines the functionality of Photoshop with that of Final Cut Pro. Video and still image editing and compositing, including the ability to use Photoshop filters jut by dropping them into a folder. Pricey, but very kick-ass.
  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @09:43PM (#109825)
    They may not be Illustrator yet, but the concept of "good enough" is not to be underestimated.

    Congratulations, sir! You obviously possess the necessary qualifications to serve as Vice President of Product Development at Corel. Please report to your office at 8am sharp, Thursday morning.


  • Yup. And then you have no profits, so they can just take your product. Thanks for the all the hardwork Fellas!
  • For PageMaker, CorelDraw or Ventura Publisher. CorelDraw is better for artsy-fartsy shite; Ventura is better for more traditional layout.
    You forgot the favourite one, the one graphic artists love to hate because of it's dizzying array of bugs : Quirk Xpress [] !!!!

    Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.

  • oh come on. if you think that CorelDraw holds a candle to Illustrator you must only be drawing stick-figures. though admittedly Macromedia Freehand is a completely acceptable replacement to Illustrator.
    Indeed Freehand is quite potent; it is actually better than Illustrator for one goddammed very simple little feature: it has style-sheets (not the cascading variety, though), which helps **A LOT** whenever you have a complex drawing. It stops just short of this from being a real CAD system, yet can still be used by artists.

    It seems that Adope pigheadedly refuses to put style sheets for some unknown reason; if they had style sheets, Illustrator would really be the goddammed best program around. Without, it's just a nice doodling pad. Granted, with artists, Marketroids can sell them ANYTHING since the artists don't know better - this is why AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY (pre-press) HAS BEEN STUCK WITH SUCKY MACINTRASHES, because it WAS SOLD to them.

    As of Corel Draw, it seems powerful enough and I quite liked it, until the files would start to disintegrate with time as the Windows bitrot would progress on the system...

    However, for web-based work, I'd say that Fireworks is worth looking at; it's a strange cross-breed of Photoshop and Illustrator, with animation frames added (that makes a 4D arrangement of drawings: the normal [X,Y] coordinates, PLUS the [Z] layer, AND the [alpha?] animation frames). But don't use it for print-quality 300 dpi pictures, because, then, it crawls like molasses in liquid nitrogen!!!

    Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.

  • I would be curious in knowing whether the company that supposedly harmed (Adobe) can ask to have the case dropped, especially if they were not the ones who initiated it, if this 'Abmahnung' stuff is true...
  • by einstein ( 10761 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:39PM (#109841) Homepage Journal
    more contact info... remember, be nice.

    Press/Analyst Contact Info.
    Public Relations:
    Kevin Burr
    VP, Corporate Communications
    408 536.3021
  • by einstein ( 10761 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:34PM (#109842) Homepage Journal
    San Jose Corporate Headquarters
    Adobe Systems Incorporated
    Tel: 408-536-6000

    and remember, be courteous, and follow the advocacy howto. be polite when you ask if they know what their lawyers are upto
  • It's Adobe's fault for choosing a generic word as the name of their product. You can trademark "Adobe Illustrator" but not "Illustrator", that's just a fact. OK, well that doesn't stop these assholes from trying to turn the oversight of some incompetent clerk at the PTO into a piece of ill-gotten intellectual property for themselves by leaning on some defenceless open source programmer who's just trying to make the world better for everybody. Personally, this makes me sick and I for one have lost every bit of respect for Adobe. Can I translate that feeling into action? You bet I can, and by the usual means: coding them out of existence.
  • But if you read the post I linked to above, you'll see that it is extremely unlikely that Adobe even did hire this firm.

    Keeping their silence about it amounts to the same thing.

  • So, you're oing to write the app that will topple Photoshop and Illustrator from their respective thrones? The usual means? Come on!

    Fortunately, it's already written, it's called Killustrator. What we do is: rename it to "Killer", port it to native Win32 and release it on Windows. Not only will that cost Adobe millions of dollrs, it will be fun, save a lot of money for luckless Windows users, introduce a lot of new Windows programmers to the way of open source, and teach the PHB's who did this a lesson.

    How many individual /. readers have coded an Adobe product out of the marketplace?

    Who say anything about individual? I'm not one, I'm hundreds or thousands.

    Oh how I love /. arrogance!

    Oh, how I love astroturfers

  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @07:52PM (#109848) Homepage

    Obviously, the lawyers haven't got the faintest clue what their doing (other than the usual protection racket sort of thing).

    Offer, instead of the flat $2000, to settle for license to keep the KIllustrator name for 30% of the profits from it. :-)

  • in Germany, you're not allowed to use unfair adverts; 'unfair' is considered anything comparative

    You are (now) allowed to use comparative advertising. However, you must be able to back up your statements about the other product you compare your own product to.

    So you cannot make a generic comment such as the American Coke/Pepsi ads, you have to be very specific when you use comparative claims.

  • about destroying the package

    The German article speaks about "packaging" as in "box", and the author points out: Yes, these lawyers think that Killustrator is a packaged product in a cardboard box. They want these boxes to be destroyed.

    Funny, isn't it?

  • Sorry you missed the largest applications. you only counted the low paying fodder they throw out to the public...

    Premiere - The Video editing suite used today. Solution? Buy an Avid.
    After Effects - The Special effects for video production.. Solution? The AVID again...

    And that damned book publishing program... Version 6.5 is current.. Arrgh I cant remember it... Although I do have 50 floppies for installing it on one machine (real ones from adobe)..

    Those 3 apps plus Photoshop are what makes adobe money. The other apps are just their bubblegum apps for the kiddies at home/people who think they know what they are doing.. The Graphics dept at work laughed at us when we offered them illistrator.. they asked if we wanted them to start working with crayons too...

    Luckily, the AVid blows away anything adobe dishes out for video editing. (Except I have to give up my cult effects plugins... WAHH!) Time to ask skywalker studios how much for their AvID effect plugins...
  • First off there is a major difference between a trademark of a unique name and a generic term. Things like Windex and Klenex are obviously pretty unique while things like Windows and Illustrator are pretty generic. If they had been named Windex Cleaner or Kleenex Tissues and someone made a product called KCleaner or KTissue would they be stealing their name? What next, going to let Microsoft sue over the XWindow name? Or maybe Microsoft and Microprose should have sued each other over daring to steal the term 'micro' from each other just because they both wrote software for micro computers.

    Also FreeMWare changed their name to Plex86 some time ago and the VMWare code was 'borrowed' in part from previous code written by those leading the Plex86 project so they'd be quite stretching things to try to challenge over the name simularities.
  • I guess I think 'Adobe Illustrator' is just fine as a name for a program and a program named 'k adobe illustrator' would obviously be in the wrong. However the term 'illustrator' is very generic and is a term that is very obvious in that it describes the purpose of the program. This seems to me to be more along the lines that both Corel and Microsoft have an Office Suite. One isn't an Office Box of Programs.. because that would be confussing. Both are office suites and each is made by it's prospective owner and it's rather difficult to confuse the two unless your a complete idiot. In similar manner you can have Pacific Light & Power and Atlantic Light & Power and despite the name simularities it's easy to tell the difference and because of the simularites you know what each is supposed to be. Generic terms should not be allowed to be trademarked because they make it easier for people to understand a product.
  • Freehand 10 is native on OS X and Illustrator is not. Now I have a Reason to switch instead of wait. Bad move.

  • I just checked through their website and can find no mention of this lawsuit. Also on the main page of their corporate page it mentions that they have annual revenues of over 12Billion USD. And it's main headquarters are in San Jose, California. So why would these german lawyers be going after this guy. Also their Company profile completely clashes with this act. Read their company info page. About Adobe []
  • It's been quite a long while since my Marketing class, a part of which focussed on trademarks specifically, and again, IANAL (though I am somewhat anal :) but trademarks cover a spectrum of types of words, from completely made-up words like Exxon or Kleenex, to everyday usage words, like Illustrator. The made-up ones are distinctive enough that they stand as trademarks by themselves--you can't make an Exxon brand of clothing, because Exxon is a unique word that has never been used to refer to anything but the petroleum company.

    The everyday usage ones are harder to defend, and are usually limited to a specific context. For instance, the software trademark under discussion isn't just on the word "Illustrator," but specifically "Illustrator the vector graphics software." This is how we can have both an Apple Computer ("Think different") and an Apple Records ("Imagine all the people..."), both unrelated to each other. If you wanted to make an Illustrator, or Killustrator, line of clothing, or brand of beer, or perhaps even a computer role-playing game about a starving artist who goes postal ("Kill-ustrator"), Adobe would have less of a legal leg to stand on. (Though it's possibly still a bit "iffy" in the case of the computer game.) Making a vector graphics program for Linux named "Illustrator" with a "K" tacked onto the front...nuh-uh. That dog won't hunt.

    As for FreeMWare--yes, they did change their name. But they started out with a name only one phonic different from VMWare, and worked under that name for several months. They only chose the name, resurrecting and renaming a previous project, after they realized how well VMWare worked, and that there was nothing similar in the "free" software community. As for where they got their code from...think that would matter in a court of law? Think where Killustrator's code came from matters to Adobe? The name and the intended functionality are very similar. You cannot claim that the choice of name was coincidence. Almost any reasonable person, seeing the similarities in these names, would come to the same conclusion--the name is copied in a blatant attempt to demonstrate that the "open source" program is intended to do the same thing as the commercial program whose name it is copying. Thus, it has a potential for consumer confusion (what was that the fellow said in the SSH thing a while back? That he kept getting support requests for an SSH client he didn't even write?), and for dilution of the trademark. Otherwise, why choose a name so similar in the first place?

    I've watched this trend of copycat naming with no small amount of distaste and trepidation. I do not fault people for trying to create similar programs--otherwise there would be only one OS in the world, and one word processor, and so on. It just burns me that they intentionally choose these similar names just so they show how clever they can be. "Heh...'Kill'-ustrator. That's sooo kewl!" "It's like VMWare, but it's free--so we'll call it 'FreeMWare'. What's a Freem? Who cares, it sounds neat!" And as sad as it is that the fellow has to pony up $2000 to greedy lawyers, I can't help but feel a bit vindicated that these cutesy names are finally becoming apparent as the liabilities (both aesthetic and legal) they really are. I hope people get the hint.


  • IANAL, but since "Pioneer" is a common usage word, it can only be trademarked in the context of its particular company or product. As long as the two Pioneers do not compete directly in the same field (so that there is a potential for confusion), there is no problem. (As for the Pioneers that sell the same things--perhaps they're just differently-named branches of the same company?) This is how we can have Jobs's Apple Computer, and the Beatles' Apple Records, both unrelated to each other; they don't compete in the same field, so there is less possibility of confusion.

    Again, like I said in another post to this discussion, the problem is not someone naming an unrelated item something similar to Illustrator; it's someone naming a very similar item something similar to Illustrator. This could cause consumer confusion, and thus weaken Adobe's brand equity.


  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:40PM (#109862) Homepage Journal
    What's more, though IANAL, a trademark owner has to defend his trademark if an infringement is brought to his attention--or else someone in a court case down the road can say "You knew about infringers XYZ and you didn't do anything about them; you don't have the right to do anything about me, either."

    It's definitely too bad about the lawyers demanding $2K, as well as all those other insane concessions, but that's something they're going to have to work out between themselves. The fellow simply should have known better to begin with.

    This should come as a major wake-up call to all the people who make packages with functions and names similar to trademarked programs--the KIllustrators and FreeMWares [] of the world: Don't mess with companies who have more money and more lawyers than you. You can complain all you want about how incredibly unfair it is, and deeply wrong, and boycott and send nasty letters all you want to, but at the end of the day, they'll win. And don't look to the Electronic Frontier Foundation or the ACLU to help defend you, either--your freedom of speech does not include the freedom to transgress others' property. DeCSS is somewhat defensible due to the ambiguous nature of the DCMA versus the public's right of fair use, but this is quite a different matter--there is no DeCSS-like legal ambiguity about trading on someone else's name to try to popularize your own product.


  • Hmm, in my simple pocket dictionary, "illustrator" is listed as a noun under 'illustrate'. Which I guess would mean 'somebody who illustrates' or 'something that illustrates'.

    Sounds pretty generic to me.
  • Sorry, but that's no reason to tone down the criticism of Adobe. I'd, in fact, consider it a reason to step it up. That practice is even more evil than using idle staff lawyers in the same way.

    It will be quite awhile before I have anything good to say about Adobe in any context, unless I discover some clear and convincing GOOD reasons for this. And they're pretty hard to even imagine, much less believe in.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I've seen convincing evidence, though I wouldn't call it proof, that the term Illustrator was used in the names of programs before Adobe started using the name.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Adobe owns the name illustrator like a bandit owns a pass. He's got enough muscle to keep everyone else out, and can charge any toll he feels like. That's the only right they have.

    I am reasonably convinced that if the parties had equal weight and were in front of an honest court the accusation would quickly be thrown out. But large companies buy their own definition of what a law means, so I don't expect that to happen.

    Note the extortion: Submit immediately, and fork over only a lot of cash, or fight it and we'll strip you bare. That lays clear the morality behind this action to anyone who is willing to see it.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • I doubt that even in law, presuming that both sides had equal representation, Adobe would win. I think that they doubt this too, otherwise they the bludgeon approach?

    When they open with "Drop the name and pay me cash, if you fight me, I take all you've got." I can't help be believe that their motives are amoung the lowest available.

    These aren't people who are trying to negotiate to protect their rights. The closest analogy is to bandits or highway men saying "Your money or your life!".

    Any person, group, company, or corporation that uses such an approach can only be called evil. ... well, one can also call them vile, I suppose.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Well, since you're a person, and Adobe sells a software program, they'd have a harder time nailing you for infringing on their mark.

    Yes, Illustrator is a common english word. But it also a widely recognized mark. When somone says "send me the illustrator files with the log art", everyone infers that they're talking about files created in Adobe Illustrator.

    And if my spotty memory serves me well, adobe was the first to use the word Illustrator to describe a vector-based drawing program.

  • Two things strike me here. First, if the lawyers sending the letter are working for Adobe, it's Adobe's bill. The lawyers weren't hired by the person they're billing, that person isn't responsible for paying them. Second, only Adobe can take action about one of their trademarks. If the lawyers are representing Adobe, then aren't they required to indicate this on the legal paperwork? And if they haven't been retained by Adobe and aren't acting for it, then they've no legal basis for their cease-and-desist, right?

    The whole thing smells somewhat of an extortion attempt.

  • Actually despite using KDE, if this is a trademark violation complaint bought by Adobe I am on the side of Adobe. Unless it can be shown that Illustrator is too generic then there is little excuse for the author not to change the name. When they do change the name, PLEASE, PLEASE choose something without a K on the front -I'd just like my programs to have sensible names. Something like VectorDraw would be fine and is so generic that a trademark case would fall at the first hurdle.

    However, in the UK you are able to bring unreasonable charges to the attention of professional bodies. A couple of grand for a single cease and desist letter sounds fairly unreasonable to me.

    German law also sounds rather different from UK law in the sense that in the UK you cannot bring about a civil action unless you have 'standing' i.e. you are directly involved in the complaint. What this means is that unless the firm has authorisation to act on Adobe's behalf it wouldn't be allowed to persue this action.

  • So the lawyers want $2,000?

    If Dr. Sattler even remotely attempts a boycott of Adobe, in particular Illustrator, I'm sure it won't take very much to deny Adobe of $2,000 worth of revenue.

    Two grand is nothing to Adobe. I can't imagine, if they really look at the situation in terms of PR, that it will be worth it to them, especially if Mr. Sattler takes this angle on it. I recognize this is coming from Adobe's law firm, but if Adobe central gets wind of what's going on, I'm sure the next cease and desist letter will come from Adobe to the law firm. :)

    (This is all assuming he changes the name of KIllustrator.)

  • If they have not been retained by Adobe, then what they are doing is the equivalent of ambulance chasing. In the USA that is illegal. I don't know about Germany, but if it is not illegal there, then there is something seriously wrong with the German legal system.

    If they were not retained by Adobe, then this law firm needs to be put down now. Writing a letter does NOT cost 4686 DM, and any more than that was not necessary in the first round.

    If they were retained by Adobe, then the focus shifts to Adobe. If Adobe refuses to deny being a part of it, then it's full boycott time.

    While I don't agree that "Killustrator" is an infringement, it is close enough that I do believe it would be appropriate for the author to change the name and just avoid the issue ... had he been properly contacted about the matter. Writing a letter does NOT cost 4686 DM, and any more than that was not necessary in the first round. So whoever is responsible, it is all wrong. And if neither is willing to deny it is their decision, then they are both culprits in blowing a very simple matter way way out of proportion (and our response needs to be equally out of proportion against them).

  • If Adobe sues this law firm, then my respect for Adobe would end up being higher than it was before all this started. If they simply pay the legal firm for the claimed costs, my respect will be slightly less than it was before. Not even Adobe should pay $2000 for a damned letter!

  • 200,000? Damn! That would be a LOT of page hits even if they spaced each download down to once an hour.

  • Teaching people to do things only with a particular product is, IMHO, bad teaching and a bad education. To the extent that what is taught cannot be applied to any other package for all student skill levels, this is reinforcing corporate monopolies. Publicly funded educational institutions should never do such things. And this would go for all uses of computers, their look and feel, and the productivity tools found on them. Private schools can do what they want but public schools have no business sanctioning particular products.

  • Questions:

    How does the German legal system handle it if multiple lawyers send similar letters for the same issue, each demanding money? How far can that go? Can every law firm in the country simultaneously do it?

    Does the German legal system allow the law firms, when acting independently like this, to carry out the lawsuit (e.g. the 1.000.000 DM threat) as well? Or do they have to arrange with the owner of the allegedly infringed property to do that? And if they are allowed to, can multiple firms do that?

    I guess we (outside of .DE) could accuse the lawfirm of "Nazi practices" (how would I say that in German?). I don't know if you're allowed to make references to that past there (apparently it's taboo in France). But at least we can here in the USA (even for our own evil history of slavery).

  • In light of this I'm surprised that they never went after GhostScript for sounding too like PostScript. Heck, GhostScript even does a better job of duplicating the functionality of its Adobe counter-part, than does KIllistrator.

    As someone above said, this may be the act of over-zealous lawyers. Maybe we need to bring a law into this country (USA) that the developer must be given a warning and n days to comply before legal action may begin. Then since the country is run by lawyers I say fat chance.
  • Boycotts by small numbers of people (ie Free Software geeks) against large corporations are rarely successful (those who disagree are encouraged to send me press releases from Disney where they said they won't give health insurance to gays). However, in this case, we might be able to help this guy out. I think we can take away at least $2000 in sales away from Adobe.

    Here's what I suggest. If you were considering purchasing Adobe products for yourself or the organization you work for, delay the purchase. If you work for understanding bosses, explain the situation to them. If you work directly with Adobe representatives (sales, support, whatever), let them know about your decision. Write an email (NO FLAMES - NO UNPROFESSIONAL LANGUAGE - NO THREATS - NO LIES) to Adobe's PR flacks, CEO, head of sales, legal team, etc*. Let them know that you are disappointed in the behavior of their attorneys and you have elected to show your disapproval by delaying purchases of their software indefinitely. Let them know what actions on their part will be necessary before you will resume consideration of their software for purchase. Note that you are not threatening them; you are explaining what has already occurred and what you would like to see occur.

    Some possible happy outcomes might include:
    - The lawyers representing Adobe to Dr. Kai-Uwe Sattler withdraw their demands for payment from him.
    - The lawyers representing Adobe to Dr. Kai-Uwe Sattler apologize for their own actions (not necessarily on behalf of Adobe).
    - An executive of Adobe apologizes to Dr. Kai-Uwe Sattler for harassing him (If you give someone a letter of marque and reprisal, you are responsible for their actions.)
    - A representative of Adobe meets with Dr. Kai-Uwe Sattler to discuss their grievances.
    - Adobe sends a nice letter to Dr. Kai-Uwe Sattler permitting him to use the name KIllustrator.
    - Adobe ports all or any (your choice) of their products to Linux.

    I think it's important to note (especially since most of us are not lawyers) that Adobe's claim may have merit. The name KIllustrator may infringe on Adobe's trademark. I don't think Adobe should necessarily have to give up the rights it has and is guaranteed by law. Feel free to disagree. Threatening and harassing an honest man, however, is simply wrong.

    *Figure out the email addresses yourself; if you aren't willing to put forth some effort, you're useless.
  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:52PM (#109887) Homepage Journal
    You don't see people cleaning the window with "Kwindex" or wiping their noses with "Gnokleenex" do you?

    That's because Windex and Kleenex are artificial words created specifically to be used as trademarks. "Illustrator" is an ordinary English word. There's a big difference.

    If "illustrator", the word, is indeed trademarked by Adobe for vector drawing software, then Killustrator will have to go. But "illustrator" is a stupid trademark nonetheless. That's like trademarking "window cleaner" or "tissue paper" instead of Windex and Kleenex.
  • Yes. Lawyers should get paid, and not work for free. Nobody should work for free.

    What does that have to do with Killustrator having to pay damages? Offering to change the name immediately, which should resolve the trademark issue, means that Adobe's problem is solved.

    I don't know anything about German courts... but I am fairly sure that, were this a Canadian court, the first thing the judge would ask would be 'had you been notified prior to this that there was an infringement?' 'Oh, no? Then why is Adobe wasting this court's time'
  • by at-b ( 31918 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:46PM (#109898) Homepage

    In Germany, we have what is called an 'Abmahnung'. This is basically a 'Warning', and can be issued by pretty much anyone who operates a law office of any kind. This 'Abmahnung' is part of the German law system; if you spot any kind of infringement on copyright / trademark or even trade law, you can issue a warning to the infringing party, and send them a bill for your costs. This is extremely common, and a whole law industry subsides on it. Usually, the infringement warnings can be quite justified, but sometimes people get overzealous in their quest for cash.

    An example is if you use what's called 'improper' advertisements - in Germany, you're not allowed to use unfair adverts; 'unfair' is considered anything comparative, e.g. you're not allowed to say 'Our car has a higher top speed, better acceleration, and a lower price than the BMW 325i, the Volvo S60, and the Mercedes 230.' If you did, you'd get an 'Abmahnung', even if BMW, Volvo, and DaimlerChrysler didn't sue immediately.

    So yeah, it's a sucky system. German society is very free and open in most respects (what'd be considered porn (tits, penises, etc) can be seen on normal network TV and nude beaches are very common, but the BUSINESS system and laws are stuck in the middle ages, biased heavily towards big business. (a bit like Japan, to be honest)

    Sorry if this veered off towards explaining German business practices and society too much, but it's important to understand what's going on. Somebody's spotted a trademark infringement and pounced on it. And make no mistake about it: if the guy sues, he'll lose. Hell, so would I if I made a spreadsheet app called KExcel and distributed it, often as part of for-pay packages. (like Linux distros) To 'excel' is a simple word, and can't be trademarked, but in respect to spreadsheets, it can be protected. Brand dilution. It sucks, but that's how it works.

    Alex T-B
    St Andrews
  • by gorilla ( 36491 ) on Wednesday July 04, 2001 @04:29AM (#109905) ts.html [] gives Cara Broglia [mailto], (408) 536-6000, as the PR Manager for Adobe Illustrator. (Note, they don't say just Illustrator).
  • by Tofuhead ( 40727 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:29PM (#109911)

    Adobe is in the right here! It's called KIllustrator, for God's sake! Any impressionable kid could take that to be a contraction of Kill-You Castrator.

    Bravo bravissimo [], Adobe. Thanks for Thinking About The Children (TM).

    < tofuhead >

  • by cyberdonny ( 46462 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @10:04PM (#109918)
    It is a very common ploy: independant "lawyer's firms" scouts small businesses, non-profit organisations, etc., and try to find petty violations, then send threatening letters to said businesses, requesting payment of fines. Usually, the violations they look for are accidentally mislabeled prices on product, or other inane stuff like that.

    The catch is, those firms do have no authority to do this, and the "fines" are entirely for their own pockets. Moreover, often if it is not even sure whether the "violation" took place at all: those threatening letters are often sent months after the alleged facts, when the shopkeeper has already re-arranged his display window since long, and can no longer determine/remember whether this or that article was correctly labeled or not.

    Scams like this are regularly featured on police information TV programs such as "Vorsicht Falle, Nepper, Schlepper, Bauernfänger". If I were kIllustrator's author, I'd contact Adobe, and ask them whether this "laywer's firm" is actually operating in Adobe's authority. Chances are good they aren't.

  • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Wednesday July 04, 2001 @12:35AM (#109945) Homepage
    Under US law, trademark protection against dilution is defined by 15 USC 1225 []. Germany's law is probably somewhat similar. I suspect that Adobe's trademark is registered in the US.

    After reading the law (something I'd recommend for most Slashdotters), it seems to me that the claim of trademark dilution is somewhat iffy.

    The key shortcoming is that 15 USC 1225(c)(1) only authorizes an injuction against "another person's commercial use in commerce of a mark or trade name" (emphasis added). Moreover, per 1225(c)(4)(B) "noncommercial use of a mark" is not actionable.

    I believe that a strong case can be made that KIllustrator is not a commercial use by the good Dr. Sattler.

    Even if it is somehow commercial use, then by 1225(c)(2), injunctive relief is the FULL extent of relief unless the person "willfully intended to trade on the owner's reputation or to cause dilution of the famous mark". The idea that Dr. Sattler did this seems rather absurd to me.

    Thus under US law, I would doubt this case would go anywhere at all.
  • by eAndroid ( 71215 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @10:16PM (#109948) Homepage
    Early on I emailed the KIllustrator author and told him that the name was a liability. His response was roughly, "What are they going to do, sue me?". I am in no way surprised by this and think it was moronic to name KIllustrator as such.

    Stupid people get what they deserve.
  • by EyesOfNostradamus ( 75825 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @11:27PM (#109953) Homepage
    Or maybe, just "Nazi practices", in the sense of "encouraging denunciation". Actually, this even goes one step further than just denunciation: the "denunciator" gets to perform the execution part of the punishment as well, and can help himself to the reward...

    In which mentality is it considered ehtical that a lawyer who has no mandate from the injured party, goes out, and randomly demands cash from third parties? In other places, this is called extortion. Looks like this law needs some serious Vergangenheitsbewältigung.

  • by martin-k ( 99343 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @11:35PM (#109994) Homepage
    Sure-fire way to lose your shirt: Ask for legal advice on Slashdot ...

    The above is partly correct, mostly not, however:

    1. Any interested party (competitors, "fair-competition societies", lawyers acting on their behalf, lawyers on their own) can send out cease-and-desist letters against companies engaging in UNFAIR COMPETITION. This would be: claiming to have a product in stock when you do not; reneging on advertised prices, stuff like that.

    2. Only the TRADEMARK OWNER or COPYRIGHT HOLDER (or lawyers acting as their APPOINTED agents) may send out cease-and-desist letters against trademark or copyright infringers.

    So, thinking that some lawyer with no connection to the trademark holder sends out a cease-and-desist letter is ridiculous. Yes, technically that would be possible, but then this lawyer would have to answer to the bar association for that.

    3. My most important advice, and IANAL: GET A LAWYER! Killustrator is close enough to Adobe Illustrator to possibly be infringing.

    4. The money they are demanding is not damages but reimbursement of their legal fees. That's SOP, but nobody says you HAVE to pay it. Heck, I could send you a letter demanding 5 grand. Would you pay?

    Least expensive solution: Sign a cease-and-desist letter WRITTEN BY _YOUR_ LAWYER but don't reimburse them for their fictional legal fees. After that, they cannot sue you for DM 400.000 but only for the legal fees. And this is a risk you can take: even if you lose in court, the legal fees for a lost $2000 case are neglegible. A lawyer can simply look up the risk you are taking in BRAGO, the German "price table" for legal fees ...


  • by MrGrendel ( 119863 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:19PM (#110015)
    The lawyers required that the University sign the cease and desist letter, destroy the kIllustrator-package, name every KIllustrator user, and disclose the profit they made from it.

    These guys didn't do their homework, did they?

  • by talonyx ( 125221 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:22PM (#110017)
    Everybody's going to jump on board with the Linux side of things here, but let's look at the facts.

    Adobe owns the Illustrator name. It's not "Adobe Illustrator", it's "Illustrator". It's been around for ages and while not the best product in my eyes it certainly is better at this point that the K-version.

    Regardless of platforms or competing or profits, Adobe owns the name. It's not a matter of "huzzah huzzah intellectual property" or anything. Names have been trademarked and defended for years. You don't see people cleaning the window with "Kwindex" or wiping their noses with "Gnokleenex" do you? NO!, because the base name is owned by a company.

    As for the lawyers demanding to be paid, they should go fuck themselves. If the author's willing to change the name, he has already made the correct choice. Now, the lawyers have to do the right thing in turn and just leave it be.

    Obviously they won't. Somebody go set up a Paypal account or something, maybe the author could do that, and we could contribute a buck each if neccessary.
  • by legLess ( 127550 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @06:38PM (#110019) Journal
    Quoth the poster:
    ...a program that cannot run on the same platform as another is clearly not a rival...
    I was going to go on a rant and list several reasons why you're wrong here, but there are only two that really matter.
    1. Reality. MacOS X will run both Illustrator and KIllustrator. So even by your logic, yes they are direct competitors.*
    2. Philosophy. Even if they didn't run at all on the same platform, your attitude is precisely what Free software is trying to dethrone - that your choice of operating system or platform is limiting rather than empowering. If App Q isn't available for your platform, bug the developers, learn another OS, look for a substitute, etc. The bottom line is that if learning a new skill is all that stands between you and a task, you've got no reason to whine.
    What Adobe did was right and proper. It sucks that this poor schmuck is getting nailed, but if he'd had half a brain he would have expected it. The best post [] from the last article said, in part,
    "Whether or not you "believe" in Intellectual property has no bearing on whether it exists, and if it is legally binding.

    Fighting the system through simple noncompliance is not the answer, talk to your govt reps, and demand action. If nobody complains, then nothing changes. The whole point of democracy is that you stand up and be heard, not just bitch and moan cuz you're not in charge."


    *Granted, there are some technical troubles between Apple and Adobe, but you can bet those will be ironed out - Apple users are very important for Adobe. You could also say that the people using Illustrator are unlikely to have the technical chops to get KIllustrator running under X. First, that's only an education problem, and doesn't help your argument. Second, you can bet that better installers are coming for all of user-land Free software).

    "We all say so, so it must be true!"

  • by Salsaman ( 141471 ) on Wednesday July 04, 2001 @02:14AM (#110033) Homepage
    I believe the fine was actually 2500 euros. OK, the author should create his own currency on bits of paper, called 'keuros' and send 2500 keuros to the lawyers.

    When the lawyers complain, he can say, 'keuros', euros, aren't they the same thing ?

  • by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @07:14PM (#110038) Homepage
    "The lawyers required that the University sign the cease and desist letter"

    OK, this makes perfect sense. Adobe has a right to defend their trademark. To this point, I have no problem understanding them, or agreeing with them.

    "destroy the kIllustrator-package"

    This almost certainly comes from a background of commercial software, where one person controls the source. What do they mean by destroy? Here are three possibilities I can think of off the top of my head:

    1) KIllustrator is not distributed by the University or author under that name. This is reasonable, if this is what they mean, but I don't think it is the most probable interpertation.

    2) All copies of the software in the hands of the challenged parties are destroyed. Harsh, but also possible. In fact, likely.

    3) Wipe the software from the face of the earth. Absolutely impossible. Under the GPL license, people can create derivative works from versions already existing, unless I have misunderstood the GPL. Even the authors themselves do not have the power to retract that freedom, once the code is licensed under GPL. Even if Adobe were to acquire copyright to the codebase, it wouldn't stop the versions already existing from forking into new projects. Which they almost certainly will, under a name Adobe can do nothing about.

    (Incidently, those of you who worry about the fact that forking is allowe to occur in open source software, this is an ideal case illustrating why the risks are worth it.)

    "name every KIllustrator user"

    Again, absolutely impossible. Every developer who as used the code, and every end user? I'm quite sure no one has the faintest idea who all those people are. Someone needs to explain the concept of anonymous downloads. Also, the software is given away free, under GPL. No one has any right to tell people to stop using it. DISTRIBUTING it under that name, yes, but how can using it be an act of trademark violation? Why do they even care? Can someone who knows more about law please tell me why they are interested? (Not rhetorical - I'd really like to know.)

    "and disclose the profit they made from it."

    Uh - if you count development time and computer equipment, that's probably a fairly large negative number. Anyway, I doubt it can be calculated except on the presumption that there was revenue from somewhere. What else would lawyers mean? (Again not a rhetorical question.) If that is what they mean these guys have absolutely no clue what or who they are dealing with.

    "Finally the lawyers sent a bill for 4686 DM (German Marks, approximately 2000 dollars) not counting value added tax."

    I don't understand why this isn't Adobe's bill. If the legal system is set up such that lawyers only make money from stuff like this, it's no wonder we have frivilous lawsuits all over the place. This should be a routine part of their paid job for Adobe, if it's Adobe who wants this action taken. If it's ment to be a warning to others, they need to calm down and consider the possible consequences of this "warning" - namely a buch of open source coders determined to write software which will free them from having to pay money to a company who uses tatics like this as SOP. KIllustrator, even if they kill it, is not the only fish in this ocean. Sodipodi and Sketch come readily to mind. They may not be Illustrator yet, but the concept of "good enough" is not to be underestimated.

    "Should the University not sign, the lawyers will sue for a million DM (approximately 400 thousand dollars)."

    Please tell me that they would have to show this amount of damage has been done. Considering the attitude the courts displayed when Microsoft held up KOffice as competition, I would think 400,000 in damage is going to be just a bit tough to justify. Of course, I may be overestimating the legal system.

    "Kai-Uwe Sattler is happy to change the name, but doesn't want to pay this bill. When he suggested changing the name, the lawyers rejected his proposal saying "Do you know any lawyer who works for nothing?" The lawyers insist on payment."

    To nit-pick, I believe sometimes lawyers actually will take a case without pay. (It's rare, but I know someone who was helped in a difficult time in her life buy just such a kind soul.) Of couse that's beside the point, but I thought it worthwhile to call them on it - if they can nitpick, why can't we? Anyway the important part is that their only source of income is implied to be from this kind of thing, and not Adobe directly. Also, the attitude of the developer was not sounded out and apparently makes absolutely no difference. Brrrr.

    "Sattler regrets that Adobe never contacted him before calling upon lawyers to ask him to change the name of his software."

    I would very much like to know if this was Adobe's intention, or if this is some lawyers who just aren't on a leash. Right or not (and in the trademark matter I believe they have some justifible grounds) they are going to get a huge amount of bad press. They may be indifferent to the free software community at large, but this is a good way to inspire the competition of open source people. They may not be so indifferent if an open source Illustrator clone starts to eat away at market share.

    What really worries me, however, is that this sets a precident for other action. Whatever Adobe's intent was, we need to be EXTREMELY careful from now on when naming open source products. If this action is effective, open source opponents *cough*Microsoft*cough* will adopt this as a standard technique. Time to get creative.
  • by TheFrood ( 163934 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @06:55PM (#110058) Homepage Journal
    Actually, send DM4684 in the smallest denomination of German coin. Personally, I think it would be worth the extra cost of shipping that much metal.


  • by revelation0 ( 164235 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @08:16PM (#110059)
    First of all, I'd like to look over what they are asking them to do:

    destroy the kIllustrator-package

    Well, we all know that with respect to the GPL and the people who already possesses the code to KIllustrator, this is like asking the seas not to break.

    name every KIllustrator user

    And because of the distribution medium, we also know that there is probably no chance of fulfilling this requirement.

    disclose the profit they made from it

    And we all obviously know that no profit was made from this software. How much money did you pay for KIllustrator on your desktop? That's what I thought.

    The *BOTTOM LINE* is that this man, no matter his position, was working for the good of every user that exists. He was creating and maintaining software for free, to be GIVEN AWAY. He wasn't looking for fame, or for fortune. And yet, I see so many people turn a cheek and say 'Oh, but Adobe's product is called Illustrator, so he should pay anyway.' JESUS H. CHRIST. If there weren't people out there like this good man working to produce great software for people who BELIEVE in what I hope all of the people reading this post do, then the open source movement wouldn't be. OK. Granted, he named his FREE software package similar to a commercial counterpart. Like it is the first time. NO, that isn't an excuse. However, I believe that:

    a) Adobe could have handled this in a much nicer fashion. The profits off of the platforms that KIllustrator runs on that adobe COULD be making are exactly *ZERO*. I wish to embed this into people's minds, because it is important. Yes, they have a good reason to keep their options open with their trademark, but at this time, what KIllustrator could take from them is absolutely NOTHING. So why not keep it simple????

    b) It's been discusses time and time again, but if you, yourself, use any free software, whether at home or at work, and you agree with adobe and it's lawyers on this, you need to start questioning yourself. All I'm trying to say is that good people and good hackers are the ones that work on projects such as these. Dr. Kai-Uwe Sattler is just the front man for these lawyers, but yet so many people that thrive on so much of the work that people like Dr. Kai-Uwe Sattler do, want to turn a cheek on his temporary misfortune in his case. I'm not even saying that this is the first time, because it's not. It happens all too often. He is one of the many GOOD PEOPLE, working in THEIR OWN TIME, for YOUR BENEFIT. For the BENEFIT OF ALL PEOPLE who wish to have the choice. So tell me, when did he become the enemy? I apologize for the rant, but I believe what was said must be said.

    Revelations 0:0 - The beginning of the end.
  • by _ganja_ ( 179968 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:29PM (#110077) Homepage
    Why Dr. Kai-Uwe and not one of the other authors? There are many people involved with this project and although he is a leading light in the project he is not solely responcible. Put it this way: it takes a lot of people to built a Ford car, if its not built correctly and it drives its self in to a tree, killing your cat in the process, who do you sue? It certainly ain't the guy in the factory who made a mistake when he put the wheels on.

    Of course I'm sure there is a counter example that carries the same amount of common sense as too why Dr. Kai-Uwe should be the target?

    Something else more worrying, the article states they sued his employeer and not Dr. Kai-Uwe directly could this possible prompt employers to start having new emloyees sign agreements that they are not to work on Open source projects etc? Another bit of common sense, if I go and steal a car it's not my employeer that gets arrested, it's me, where does this logic come from in trademark law? I though law for the most part was meant to follow common sense.

    Ah, bugger this thing smell a little anyway and I seriously wonder if the law firm hasn't just seen a chance to make an easy buck (unlikely I know but it's lawyers we're talking about), if so I don't think it's going to be so easy.

    As for new name sugestions I quite like Kartist.

  • If she had known you could get money for name infringement, she would've gone after the developers of BitchX a long time ago.
  • Sattler regrets that Adobe never contacted him before calling upon lawyers to ask him to change the name of his software. Udo Skuhra, who works at the lawyers' firm, refused to talk to heise-online about the cease-and-desist letter, and refused to state whether Adobe asked his law-firm to issue it.
    Many large companies employ lawyers to work independently to protect what they believe to be their intellectual property, with the lawyers basically being self-funding.

    I wonder if this is what's happened here? If so, I have to tone down my criticism of Adobe in the previous Slashdot about this issue because, well, lawyers are lawyers, and what they don't know about technology issues (like enough to know that a program that cannot run on the same platform as another is clearly not a rival, and moreso, that a client might just have chosen a generic name for their product that could reasonably be said to apply to all the products aimed at the same application) they make up in determination and legal maneuvering.

    That's not to say it's good that it's happened: Absolutely it is not. Nor is it to say that Adobe are blameless - in my view, they need to keep a leash on groups that operate in their name. But it does at least explain why Adobe have engaged in an activity so likely to alienate potential customers as apparent high-handed corporate bullying of a clear underdog.

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:46PM (#110153) Homepage Journal
    They don't "own" the name, they've trademarked it, and that trademark, in the view of many of us (myself included) is not legitimate, because it is a generic word that can legitimately describe any application that performs the same function as the Adobe product.

    We're treading on dangerous ground when we let trademark law obliterate the English language. In general, when the generic has been used to name a product, trademarks have been kept out of the picture because nobody wants to go down that road. That's why Lisa Paint, MacPaint, PC Paintbrush, Deluxe Paint, Windows Paint, and Paintshop Pro can all share the same moniker. That's why General Motors and the Ford Motor Company aren't sueing one another.

    Comparing Illustrator to Kleenex or Windex seems to be missing the point. Kleenex is not a generic description of tissue paper. If Kleenex had to call their product "Tissues", and trademarked it, there'd have been a storm of protest if they'd tried to enforce those trademarked. Likewise Windex isn't called "Glass Cleaner", and if it had been, Windex would never have been able to defend it without substantial opposition.

    IANAL, I can't comment on whether generic descriptions being trademarked is a special legal case or not, but I know that morally the position is indefensable. You cannot, and should never, take a generic description for something, something that someone would slip into a conversation to refer to something generically which would mean anyone clued up would understand what they're refering to without necessarily associating it with a particular brand, and say "This word is mine now, because I've registered it, so anyone who uses it is going to be sued if they're not refering to what I want them to be refering to." That's absolutely outrageous. And if the law allows it, and I hope it doesn't, it should be changed.

  • by EABinGA ( 253382 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @09:36PM (#110168)
    at-b's post about the 'abmahnung' system in germany is correct.

    I would bet dolllars to pesos that Adobe knows nothing about this.

    Also, I would like to add, that unlike in the US, lawyer's fees in Germany are not a negotiated percentage of the loot^H^H^H^H award, but are fixed in fee schedule. []

    That is how they come up with the odd $2000 fee. I believe they could have legally charged closer to $3000.

    Also, there probably is no talk about changing the name, this seems to be a 'abmahnung' for the advertisement on the university web page, thus the university gets the bill.

    I once got one of these because I ran an ad for computers I was selling. I included "free deivery and setup". I was 'warned' that the delivery and setup was not free, but actually calculated in the price of the computers. So I was misleading customers about it being free. Had to pay about $1000 for that mistake. I know that system sucks.

  • Well, common sense is the most misnamed term in the language, as it's not very common...

    IF KIllustrator infringes Adobe Illustrator (Adobe's trademark registration is not just "illustrator", it's the whole word "Adobe Illustrator) Then this software package is also im violation:

    Microsoft Word (infringes Word Perfect)

    I'd assume that Word is sold in Germany under that name.

    So, some advice to would-be IP lecherous lawfirms: Go after Microsoft! You can't get rich by stealing money from those who have none (which is why your predecessors, the highwaymen didn't rob the poor, but the rich)

    Recent success Corporations have had in claiming trademark ownership of plain language nouns and verbs is downright scary. Clear Channel communications, for example, is suing and threatening smaller competitors across the country for calling radio stations "KISS", which is a common, plain English VERB, just like illustrator.

    And even worse, the Federal courts are letting them do it. In fact, one Federal court in CA even put a cease and desist order on Clear Channel (ordering them not to put a station called KISS in Bakersfield, where American General Media already had a station with that name), and they promply went out and defied that order the NEXT DAY... The same judge not only didnt hold CC in contempt, he reversed his own order!

    Why is Clear Channel so vociferously fighting to own the name KISS? Simple, it's much easier and cheaper to automate hundreds of Top 40 pop (IE, the stations that play Britney Spears and the boy bands), to hundreds of different markets, if they all have the same name!

    This should give you an idea how far our courts and government seem to be willing to sacrafice Constitutional liberty and freedom for the mere CONVIENIENCE of a massive corporation!

    Trademarks, copyright, and patent law is in the Constitution, which places STRICT limits on their duration and applicibility. Which has been completely ignored by Congress and past Presidents who passed and signed into law the "DMCA" and the "Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act".
  • by janpod66 ( 323734 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @05:38PM (#110197)
    If I recall correctly, German law differs substantially from US law in this regard. Someone should check.

    As I recall, in Germany, law firms can independently police certain laws and write "cease and desist letters"; Adobe need not have been involved in this. I believe they can also charge the recipient of those letters for their work.

    However, it seems that 4684DM far exceeds their expenses. The law firm seems to use the threat of sueing to achieve compliance in order to recover excessive legal fees for themselves. If I were Sattler, I would write a letter stating that I disagree with their interpretation of trademark law and admit no wrongdoing, but that I am changing the name immediately to avoid further legal harrassment by their lawyers. Then I would separately ask the law firm for an itemized bill for their labor (that's what the money is for, so one can expect a bill). I'd check the work and rates with another lawyer or a consumer agency and pay only what's fair and reasonable (I suspect no more than 100-200DM).

    I think if this went to court, the law firm would have a hard time recovering more than reasonable costs for writing the letter. I think any case about the trademark would also be hard to make: "killustrator" is a non-trivial variation on a generic term, it doesn't seem "confusingly similar" to "Adobe Illustrator", and furthermore "killustrator" is not a product that is for sale and therefore may not even infringe. Again, talking to a lawyer should help here, since trademarks like "Adobe Illustrator" may be protected differently in Germany.

  • by No Tears In The End ( 452319 ) on Tuesday July 03, 2001 @07:57PM (#110221)
    You don't see people cleaning the window with "Kwindex" or wiping their noses with "Gnokleenex" do you? NO!, because the base name is owned by a company

    Kleenex and Windex are not words that exist outside of their trademarks. Illustrator is an english language word. If this is to be allowed what is to stop a company from bring an operating system to market and trademarking the names "OS" and "Operating System"?

    What about any and every other OS that is released, rival or not? The owner of the "OS" trademark could be used as a weapon to crush compeitors or alternatives.

    I don't think that it's unreasonable for Adobe to ask them to not call their product something so similar to "Illustrator", but being that this is about lawyers making money and not about protecting the Adobe trademark, I have to say that this is bullshit.

  • This is inaccurate insofar as "Abmahnungen" regarding trademark violations are the sole right of the trademark owner (section 14 MarkenG), as opposed to other unfair competitive practices, which can be handled by a wider range of organizations (section 13 (2) UWG). See also the recent message by von Gravenreuth on de.soc.recht.misc, Message ID <9hsqrg$evq$06$> (in German).

    In this case specifically it appears to be safe to assume that unless the lawyers are totally clueless they are acting on behalf of Adobe.

    -- Reimer Behrends

Keep up the good work! But please don't ask me to help.