back to article Firm moves to trademark 'Python' name out from under the language

A trademark battle has erupted following a company’s bid to stake a Europe-wide claim to the name "Python" - that of many devs’ favourite scripting language. The Python Software Foundation has said it’s wrestling UK-based web host Veber for its own name after the company informed the software people it was applying for …


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  1. Ian Yates

    François Marie Daudin called from 1803* where he came up with the genus name.

    How can anyone take a trademark on such a common word? *cough*Windows*cough*Apple*cough*

    * (a) Yes, I did have to look his name up; (b) and I know the telephone wasn't invented

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft's trademark on Windows is a fantasy. They pay people off so they never need to take it to court.

      1. Tyrion

        And rightly so, for any graphical interface, and even non-graphical interfaces make use of the concept of Windows to represent objects. Ncurses for instance uses it, and it can run on a raw tty.

        I remember no so long ago, Microsoft had to pay off Lindows, who at the time was contesting the name, for fear it might lose the trademark. Not only is it extremely generic, but it also applies to pretty much any desktop/GUI.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Seanie Ryan

        Re: Of course there is always

        Bloody Apple !!!

        Happy Friday !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Of course there is always

          Erm your hatred for which Apple?

          The first "Apple" was the record label and they actually sued Apple computer who agreed not to go into the music business. Obviously that case was reopened when iTunes appeared.

          So you are barking up the wrong tree there.

          There are so many names which weren't invented for the company, even McDonalds which is a surname with s on the end of it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course there is always

        Apple (the litigious iThingy company) had a fight with Apple (the Beatles music company founded in 1968) to use the Apple name for computer hardware. Part of the settlement was that iApple stayed out of the music business. We all know how that one worked out.

        It is possible for two companies in different business realms to have the same trademark but since veber and PSF are both in the computing industry there will be a clash.

        Now if you start using colt pythons to kill bugs there might be problems ....

        1. Colin Wilson 2

          Re: Of course there is always

          Funnily enough, Apple - the Beatles one were in the electronics business way before Apple the computer company.

          Google 'Magic Alex' sometime...

    3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      To answer your question...

      Before Apple, or Windows, there was no hardware company using the name Apple. Same for Windows, or how about Acorn? (What every happened to them?) Common words.

      IMHO the guy fighting to trademark Python is going to have a hard time on his hands.

      Python is a computer language and has been in the public eye for quite some time.

      Python is also slang for biceps.

      And Python is a snake.

      Could Verber be looking to brand a computer, service or class of service as Python?

      I really don't know.

      To your point, you can trademark a common word like Python, however in the US, it would only stop competitors in using the term. A company in a completely different line of business who didn't trademark the name could still use it... (Apple Records vs Apple Computer)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To answer your question...

        There was a company using the term Apple before Apple computers appeared.

      2. SteveM74

        Re: To answer your question...

        Didn't Acorn eventually mutate into ARM?

        Not exactly Apple, but certainly a better result than most of the home computer start-ups from the late 70's/early 80's... Really must dig out that Atom and try to repair it some day!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Ian Yates

      Windows trademark was going to be reexamined in the US when Microsoft sued Lindows; but out of fear that they might lose that trademark, Microsoft bought the Lindows name for US$ 20mil!

      Anyway, trademark is only protected in a certain market and/or industry; once you leave that market the trademark can be used by others. So Apple trademark in the computer world is not the same as Apple trademark in the music world. The trademark is there to protect the name that you worked hard to establish from being used by others.

      Although, Microsoft's Windows trademark could easily be challenged because before they introduced Windows and trademarked it; the term 'windows' was already in use in the computer world and there were products that used that term in their names (ie. 'X Windows'). But unless someone is willing to sue Microsoft over the name, they will continue to hold the trademark.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      The telephone was invented. Just... after 1803.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumb ways to die?

    It seems to me that companies that pull this should really be featured in the "Dumb ways to die" video. This is right up there with

    * poking a polar bear with a short stick

    * looking down the barrel to see what caused a hang-fire

    * getting oral sex from a cobra (I had to work a snake thing in there somewhere!)

    Exactly how did the company think this was going to work out well?

    "Hello. My name is Guido, and I wants ta' has a word with youse about dis trademark thing. It is very disrespectful of our organization - but we are willing to allow youse to make 'amends'...."

    1. Number6

      Re: Dumb ways to die?

      You missed:

      * getting crushed and suffocated by an angry mob of Python developers.

      1. proto-robbie

        Re: Dumb ways to die?

        ... not to mention the Spanish Inquisition...

        1. Mike Tubby

          Re: Dumb ways to die?

          Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dumb ways to die?

        Chances are, you won't need that many Python developers either (who, it has to be said, tend to be on the heavy side).

  3. GBL Initialiser

    Of all the sheer bloody minded arrogance...

    "after the company informed the software people it was applying for Community Trademark on the name “Python”."

    Is there some legal reason they needed to do that before the trademark was approved? If not then it smells like a (bizarre) publicity stunt to me.

    1. GBL Initialiser

      Ah wait, all these sites all over the world are now linking to both Veber and their site.

      Could this possibly be some convoluted SEO manipulation?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        yes assuming they want to be ranked #1 for phrases such as "moronic c***s" :) You are right though, this smells like the kind of stupidity that can only be created when the marketing team responds to an SEO spam email. Hey we can get you ranked #1 on google, it will only cost you your reputation and a lawsuit.

  4. Darryl

    OK, you know that if this trademark is granted to Veber, none of you Europeans will ever be able to joke about the USPTO again, right?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. GBL Initialiser

      Damn, you are right! There is even more at stake here than I realised!

      Europe, rally, rally, rally!

      (Oh for an edit button for all users)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nah, this is trademark law and trademarks are pretty retarded the world over, the US's Patent system will still be the most retarded Patent system in the universe, and way more dangerous then "well guess will change the name of our Language to FuckVeber"

  5. Swarthy Silver badge

    Could be worse

    At first I was afraid that some snot-nose was trying to capture Montgomery Python's works, although I believe that would have all of England up in arms.

  6. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Time to....

    Syphon the python over these clowns...

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  8. James 51 Silver badge

    Games Workshop just tried to pull a similar stunt with the words Space Marine. This is as bad if not worse than patient trolling.

    1. GBL Initialiser

      Yep, seems that it's going to cost the PSF tens of thousands even if they win. There should be a way to recoup the costs of objection when a trademark application is filed that's as obviously flawed as this.

    2. Bert 1

      What have hospitals to do with it?

      1. Jordan Davenport

        "I'm sorry, you've got cancer. You've got five years to live."

        "Oh god..."

        "Nah, just screwing with you! It's really just three months!"

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Happens every day. Many good small business are put out of business by these trolls.

  9. Philip Lewis

    How Pythonesque


    1. Captain TickTock

      Re: How Pythonesque

      Asking all and sundry to.....

      Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam...

      Loverly spam, wonderful spam!


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to lawyer up

    Although its true that anyone can file a request to trademark a name there is a big difference between filing the request and the bureau actually granting the request.

    As you can see here (link to; detailing the trademark process) it will still take a while and there are several options for appeal. At first the trademark bureau themselves will investigate so it seems and if they accept the application and publish it then its time to file an appeal.

    And as you can read on that same page even a 'final decision' can be opposed by an appeal. So right now I don't think there's too much reason to panic.

    I only hope that the Python guys were smart enough to get a lawyer to look into this instead of consulting some "self proclaimed experts" who can handle all of this (for a nominal fee of course).

    What I do consider odd is that if you use the search function on that page you'll notice that nothing comes up when looking for "Python".

    1. Radbruch1929

      Re: Time to lawyer up


      You may want to look for European Trademark 010848208. Applicant is POBox Hosting.

      That said: It seems to be a composite mark, i.e. it has a word component "PYTHON" and a pictorial component (circle, colour, all caps typeface). It seems to be more targeted to web hosting but contains a claim to computer software.

      @El Reg:

      "A community trademark lasts 10 years and would grant Veber exclusive ownership of the name Python in all European Union member counties.

      It would prevent anybody else from using the word “Python” in goods, packaging, services, or in business papers and advertising without Veber’s express consent. Doing so would breach the trademark and entitle Veber to prosecute."

      That is not certain yet. First of all, a trademark is only going to give rise to claims for the goods and services it is registered for or for which there is a likelihood of confusion. If the trademark is famous for the applicant (a quite high proportion of the public associates the trademark with the goods and services of the applicant), then it can monopolize a word also for other goods and services.

      But does this trademark really go so far as to monopolize "PYTHON" for software? Or does it only protect the specific registered form? We are yet to find out.

      Interestingly, there is also EM003098101, which is a word mark.

  11. ganymede io device

    "This not a Python Community Trademark, this is a dog license with the word dog crossed out and 'Python' written in in crayon"

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      And next we have "Being Hit On The Head lessons".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    History repeating itself

    yet again, a company acts to prove that Dick the Butcher had a point.

  13. Timmay

    I hope the trademark investigation process into this goes something like this:

    1. Type the trademark being applied for (Python) into any good search engine.

    2. See 187,000,000 results.

    3. "Hmm, that's a popular word, looks like it's some programming language thing..."

    4. Search on "Python programming language"

    5. "Hmm, 15,000,000 results"

    6. Reach for the "REJECTED" stamp.......

    1. CmdrX3

      I did that on Google

      The snake doesn't come up until the fifth suggestion... the first four are for the programming language, followed by a Monty Python link, then f*ck knows how many more programming language links.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I did that on Google

        But if the EU did that with google, they'd just assume the results had somehow been corrupted by google because they make use of the language. Then use that to accuse them of anti-competitive behavior

        "We searched for Python, and found lots of links to the programming language. The same language you guys use for some of your software... We demand that when you search for Python, other similar languages appear or it's anti-competitive!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is assuming that Intellectual Property administrators know enough about computers to use a search engine - prior experience says otherwise. Or that they care enough to do other than that which they were slipped a nice additional bribe to ignore...

  14. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Kind of reminds me of ...

    the previous Python-related copyright snafu involving Twisted and (val)grind. Guido and friends seem to be on similarly strong grounds here.

  15. Idocrase

    Isnt EvE Online built on Python?

    1. Caltharian

      yes, stackless python to be precise

      Although things could get a bit iffy that way, CCP (the company that made and maintains eve) is based in Iceland, however the do have an office in Newcastle and the servers(not including the servers for the special version just for china) being in a datacenter somewhere around London

    2. Grimster
      Thumb Up

      Isnt EvE Online built on Python?

      I do believe the UI is (was) Python based.

  16. Herby Silver badge

    This is vaguely familiar

    Wasn't "Linux" trademarked in the USA by some goon, and then an army of nice lawyers (a rarity, I know) came in and got it awarded to Linus (where it is now).

    Deja Vu all over again.

    1. Kwac

      Re: This is vaguely familiar

      There were several attempts to trademark the Linux name by those who had no claim to the it. Eventually Linux Torvalds was granted it and passed it onto the Linux Mark Institute who continue to administer the trademark.

      Full story at

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: This is vaguely familiar

        Linus, his name is Linus. It is not Linux, that is his creation.

  17. ElNumbre

    Target Acquired?

    Seems like a good way to become a target for a Low Orbit Ion Cannon attack and bring your main business to its needs.

    Not that I would condone such activity. I will just avoid doing business with them.

    1. Timmay

      Re: Target Acquired?

      Bringing your business to it's needs doesn't sound too bad, in fact, it sounds quite a good thing. However, if it was brought to it's knees, that's a whole different story.................

      1. handle

        Re: Target Acquired?

        Why, what does "bringing a business to it is knees" mean?

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Target Acquired?

          Severly damaging the business.

        2. Don Jefe

          Re: Target Acquired?

          Depends I guess. If you are a john looking for a hooker it could mean something totally different than causing financial distress to a company.

        3. Ian K

          Re: Target Acquired?

          Shurely Timmay meant "bringing a business to its knee's". :)

          1. Anonymous C0ward

            Re: Target Acquired?

            By pelting it with tomatoe's and potatoe's.

  18. Bob 18

    What a bunch of jerks.

    Yes, what a bunch of jerks.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Clearly our arseholes are just as bad as America's assholes.

    1. LaeMing Silver badge


      Arseholes are fairly evenly distributed across the entire human population.

    2. Spanners Silver badge

      Clearly our arseholes are just as bad as America's assholes.

      But ours do not have the East Texas legal system to back them up.. So there is hope here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but we spell "arsehole" correctly.

  20. ratfox Silver badge

    Yeah, good luck

    I honestly can't think this is anything else than a publicity stunt. W\ithout even talking about the common sense point of view, there are a few large companies with a legal budget two orders of magnitudes bigger than Veber who are going to get involved pretty fast.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    A snake in the grass?

    Someone should patent patenting

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Alas there is mammoth amounts of prior art. That said, there is a fairly good chance patent office staff wouldn't notice.

  22. Christoph Silver badge

    Bad idea

    They seem to be in the business of selling servers and hosting. They have just badly annoyed a large proportion of the kind of people who specify servers and hosting. They may not have thought this through.

    1. keithpeter

      Re: Bad idea


      I made exactly that point in a calmly worded email to yesterday. No flames, just a gentle comment that this could be a Ratner moment for their company and 'brand'. No reply as yet.

      1. Captain TickTock
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bad idea

        No reply as yet.

        Looks like they're having technical difficulties...

    2. LaeMing Silver badge

      Re: Bad idea

      I imagine the people actually making the decisions here are barely aware what a programming language is, let alone that their company relies on such things, and the people associated with them. Their technical people are probably cringing in the background as much as the rest of us.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Bad idea

      You forgot to add that Python is also used to write a lot of penetration testing software.

  23. bjr

    In a world where Apple can patent the rectangle anything is possible

    This sounds insane, only the BBC could claim precedence for the name Python. However we live in a world where Apple managed to patent a rectangular tablet with rounded edges ignoring the prior art for the patent issued in 1500BCE to Moses, God, et. al, so anything is possible.

  24. Geoff Stevens

    These guys are clearly humourists

    A quick scan of their "100% Service Level Agreement" reveals they've got the company's registered office address wrong, plus a few other mysteries like:

    7.3 The Company shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with this Paragraph 7 where the client has been attached by a third party or has not correctly configured the equipment to

    And there it ends, after the "to"...

    "We recommend that you download copies of our Policy Documents for your records." In case you need a good laugh sometime?

    1. vagabondo

      Re: These guys are clearly humourists

      Quick look at and whois:

      Veber Ltd was the name of POBox hosting Ltd prior to 2003. is registered to Our Host Ltd which claims to be a dormant holding company with a PO Box address in Devon.

      Their apparent caginess in disclosing who they are etc. does not inspire confidence. However registering the name solely for use with a hosting business need not necessarily impact on the use of "Python" with regard to the language. "Python" is Guido's trademark by use, it's just not registered everywhere. Registration is to provide goodish documentary evidence if required in any future lawsuit.

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  26. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Jesus H. Christ riding into town in the driver seat of an Sd.Kfz 250 'Greif'

    1) Go to Stack Overflow

    2) Find out whether anyone uses "Python" for some retarded company's product as opposed to "The Python Programming Language"

    3) ???


  27. heyrick Silver badge

    Easy solution

    One is a host provider, one is a language. So round up hundred geeks from around Europe and ask them what "python" as a name refers to.

  28. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge


    As a rather well-deserved strike back, it seems that a few Python developpers took to themselves to take out

    Rather efficiently, it seems. More efficiently than what Veber is able to cope with, at least. They must not be very familiar with Python.

    I can't seem to find a hint of sympathy for Veber.

    I am not part of the attack of course, but I may ping from time to time just for the sake of reporting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's more

      Additionally, is presently a CNAME for

      I note that, the domain of DNS servers for, is registered to this veber shower too. So either they've caved or their DNS server security is crap.

    2. Captain TickTock
      Thumb Up

      Re: ddosed?

      nothing wrong with being curious about how long it takes them to get their site running again?

      Are they nearly there yet.....? no

      Are they nearly there yet.....? no

      Are they nearly there yet.....? no

      Are they nearly there yet.....? no

      Are they nearly there yet.....? no

      Are they nearly there yet.....? no

  29. James 47

    Surely they can copy job adverts where companies look for people with Python skills as proof of usage?

  30. Wombling_Free

    Great publicity!

    Veber? Aren't you the firm that tried to trademark "Python"?

    Yeah, we won't be doing business with you; you're too much of a risk.

  31. Terry Cloth

    The ultimate evidence of prior usage

    Guido should just drop a note to Tim O'Reilly, asking for an O'Reilly catalog from about 1995. Wouldn't having a book published about it strongly suggest Python's for real and antedates Veber?

  32. Dick Pountain

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Google have a sizable interest in Python development? They could afford to sic a *lot* of lawyers on Veber's ass.

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  34. zebthecat

    What I want to know is...

    ...Is this the right room for an argument?

    1. billse10

      Re: What I want to know is...

      I've told you once.

      On the other hand, given what veber seem to be trying to do, maybe this is the room for abuse

  35. zebthecat

    Tee Hee is currently down.

    Oh the irony!

  36. Benedict went down yesterday, and now it is forwarding to, so it has either been hacked for they've had a change of mind.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Alternatively they might just be poisonous enough to try to deflect any bricks thrown at them on to the good guys.

      P.S. Happy python language dabbler here.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This seems like the stupidest thing to do. Why would Veber want to antagonize their potential customer base? They're just asking for a DDOSing (which I do not agree with) or worse, by all the assortments of self-righteous "hacker" clubs.

    Even if this is a publicity stunt it seems to be very poorly thought out.

  38. Chris 129

    Has someone pulled the plug very inaccessible for me, good job their not a hosting company... ohh wait....

  39. Infernoz Bronze badge

    This just shows how FUBAR the whole idea of IP is, it is state supported corporatist farce.

    IP legislation makes trolling like this possible, and probable, with net cost to everyone but the trolls.

    If you want to get paid; innovate, and keep producing new stuff; don't expect to stagnate and keep getting paid multiple times for stale old ideas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Paraphrasing Bakunin: What is Intellectual Property? Intellectual Property is Theft!

      1. Kobus Botes

        Re: Indeed

        Erm... wrong anarchist; it was actually Pierre-Joseph Proudhon who coined the term.

        See! amongst many others.

        They certainly knew each other, but Proudhon is cited as being an influence on Bakunin, not the other way round.

        <---- Can't we have a "This is just a gentle correction" icon?

  40. Nuno trancoso

    Just another fine example of why (single) common words should never be allowed as trademarks/names.

    It's 2013, one would have thought that by now it would be common sense that "blanket type" trademarks/patents was the root of all issues and that it's applicants should be thrown out the door (and fined) far faster than they managed to sneak in...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, python isn't a word relevant to computing, and without reading the application I don't know how many classes they have filed under. Further, there is no reason for anyone to be fined. They apply, someone objects. Personally I think the people who did a DOS attack were stupid -way to go, antagonising people in the PTO before proper process is exhausted, thus suggesting you doubt their ability to do their jobs. It makes me think Python people may be a bit juvenile.

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  43. Anonymous Coward

    what's next? the guy who invented the alphabet sues everyone?

    1. TonyWilk

      " ... the alphabet sues everyone?"

      - entirely possible:

  44. This post has been deleted by its author

  45. mickey mouse the fith

    this is a joke right?

    I suspect this is a (really, really ill advised) publicity stunt to get the name of their shitty hosting service up the Google rankings. If it isn't, then these people are insane if they think they can succeed with so much prior use.

    And even if they do, what's the point when everyone in the I.t. field (their potential customers) assosiates it with the language, not a third rate host?

    Striesand effect will probably cost them dearly once word of their seo deception gets round.

  46. Sammy Smalls

    I wonder how much Python is used within the Commission itself.

    I was going to say if they are loon enough to grant it, I hope someone sends them a large bill for re-write/install with de-branded software that they use internally. Except of course, we still end up paying for it and logic like that never stopped that lot doing anything.

  47. Trev 2

    Low Orbit Ion Cannon initiated by looks

    Since the website linked is currently down, it seems the Low Orbit Ion Cannon has been initialised, all fancy flashing lights are flashing, the big red glowie thing is glowing....and oops.

    From Viper point of view - "what you mean the data centre lines are all engaged" as the data centre team, sitting round at a weekend read this news on El Reg and decide to send all calls to /dev/null

    Do feel for the Viper tech support bods who'll be fielding calls on Monday.

    Oddly Python . co . uk doesn't even seem to be used.

  48. Tequila Joe

    Headline missed? - Veber putting the $queeze on Python?

    The "European trademark officials" could just do a quick search for Python in the Amazon books section, or is that too much like hard work?

    It's just an intellectual land-grab - are there no laws* against this? [/Rhetorical - don't waste your time.]

    Will not be surprised if Veber hurriedly trademark the increasingly popular and likely very productive :


    'Flaming Torch'

    'Piano-wire and Lamp-post'.

    *[Use of 'law' is possibly a trademarked word or idea within the EU so fees may be liable - lawyers will decide. The phrase 'law' does not imply 'justice' which probably has tm pending by some ethically worthless bunch of conniving shysters.]

  49. Alan Bourke

    Veber rhymes with Bieber.

    Coincidence? YOU DECIDE.

  50. Frankee Llonnygog


    If Verber wins, I'd suggest any right thinking OT pro will want to boycott them. The Python founddation can then pick up the trademark for cheap from the Official Receivers

  51. Rich 2

    But trademark law doesn't work like that!

    "It would prevent anybody else from using the word “Python” in goods, packaging, services, or in business papers and advertising without Veber’s express consent."

    This is simply not true. A trademark only applies to specified good and services that must be stated at the time the trademark is applied for. There is nothing to stop you applying for a trademark of (say) Apple as long as your goods/services don't involve computer products or music (remember - Apple records), and probably a few other things. Similarly, a trademark of Python for a computer language is completely separate to a trademark of Python for (say) motorbikes or a chain of estate agents.

    It all depends on what the intended use of the trademark is.

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