back to article HBO slaps takedown demand on 13-year-old girl's painting because it used 'Winter is coming'

It turns out King Joffrey isn't the biggest scumbag at HBO after all. A father says lawyers at the cable TV network demanded his 13-year-old daughter's artwork be taken off the internet after she drew a lovely picture titled "winter is coming" and posted the image to arts'n'craft website RedBubble. "My daughter, who happens …

  1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    overhaul?

    Start by overhauling DMCA, continue by keelhauling HBO.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: overhaul?

      Start by overhauling DMCA, continue by keelhauling HBO.

      Repealing DMCA.

      Hey there's something useful Trump could do.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: overhaul?

      This has nothing to do with DMCA, it is plain old good trademark law and the idiotic "use it or lose" clause in it. That clause is long overdue for clarification and relaxation.

      Aso, how could one have trademark or copyright on "Winter is Coming" beggars belief.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: overhaul?

        Didn't the New England Patriots trademark the 'Do your job' phrase? It looks to be a problem of companies with too much money, lawyers, and morons at the helm.

        1. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: overhaul?

          "Didn't the New England Patriots trademark the 'Do your job' phrase?"

          So you can't say "Hey, gritters; do your job, winter is coming"?

          1. Natalie Gritpants

            Re: overhaul?

            No, you can't because I own the trademark on 'Hey, gritters'

            Sincerely

            Gritters

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: overhaul?

        "HBO owns US trademarks on a line repeatedly used "

        What????

        especially if that line is well known phrase

        1. RDW

          Re: overhaul?

          The Night is Dark and Full of Lawyers.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Well known phrase?

          I don't think that "winter is coming" is a "well known phrase". It is a trite observation. Winter is always coming, or it's here, or it's going. But it's not a famous proverb and I don't think it's a quotation and I don't think it's said unless someone sees you planting primroses in November. Which is what you're supposed to do for all that I know.

          Nike trademarked "Just Do It", which is trite plus, but people are still allowed to say it.

          I'm not a lawyer, but trademarks exist only in a context. So, your trademark can be a cock (Le Coq Sportif) while someone else's is (Kellogg corn flakes). The duplication doesn't lead to confusion.

          In this young artist's case, I will suggest "When I am a cold woman I shall wear purple".

          I am not sure about the hair but this comes to mind from the late Gerry & Sylvia Anderson.

          http://www.thelivingmoon.com/49ufo_files/03files2/Sci_Fi_Girls_UFO.html

          "never explained, never alluded to"

          1. Robert Baker
            Pint

            Re: Well known phrase?

            In this young artist's case, I will suggest "When I am a cold woman I shall wear purple".

            Obligatory Terry Pratchett reference — I like it! :-)

      3. Lotaresco

        Re: overhaul?

        "Aso, how could one have trademark or copyright on "Winter is Coming" beggars belief."

        It's not a problem unique to the USA. The UK Olympic(TM) Committee trademarked lots of words related to The Olympics(TM) and did a heavy handed clamp down on any use of "their" trademarks. Hence poets were stopped from using the words "Olympic(TM)" or "gold(TM)" in their works and the poor owner of the Olympic café was told to take down his sign.

        It seems insanity that the trade mark process permits organisations to trademark words and phrases in common usage.

        Presumably this Wikipedia page infringes copyright as does this movie. Those naughty, naughty Americans infringed copyright when they launched a cyber attack on Iran and should be subject to their own DMCA slapdown.

        1. Andy J

          Re: overhaul?

          That issue is more complicated than your posting suggests. Various words and symbols relating to the Olympics are subject to wide protection in addition to any registered trade marks because of the 1995 Olympic Symols Protection Act (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1995/32/enacted). The specific Regulations (the version for England can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/2898/contents/made) brought in for the 2012 London Games merely added extra details to the existing measures. The UK legislation is a reflection of obligations the country faces as a consequence of various international treaties.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: overhaul?

            Agree. I distinctly remember the IOC hounding a long-standing local business out of its "Olympic Pizza" name, when Vancouver hosted the 2010 games.

            Corporate bullying in these matters isn't very productive. There is enough tension already between "valid"* and "invalid" (above) defense of trademarks that pointlessly reminding people of the overreach of DMCA et al is liable to result in a well-deserved backlash at some point. How else do you explain single-issue parties like the Pirate Party scoring more than a few freetards' votes?

            * On the other hand, some nitwit real estate promoter set up a brand-spanking-new "Olympic Realty" in Whistler just in time for the games and was all surprised when she got nailed.

      4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Boffin

        @Voland Re: overhaul?

        Absolutely correct.

        Think of Kleenex.

        I wonder how you could overhaul the law though.

        Commercial vs Non Commercial use?

        Not allow phrases to be trade marked?

        e.g. "Where's the beef?" Should Wendy's be allowed to trade mark the phrase that they made popular from one of their commercials back in the 80's? (I think that they did)

        Or Ohio State University changing their name to The Ohio State University so that they could trademark the name to protect their brand from T-Shirt makers back in the late 80's.

        I am showing my age... ;-) The point is that I don't know how they can fix the TM laws. I mean its easier to fix the patent laws... e.g. invalidate software patents or 'business process patents' (e.g. shopping carts) is actually easier. Especially now that Sen. Reid is out of Congress.

      5. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: overhaul?

        "This has nothing to do with DMCA, it is plain old good trademark law and the idiotic "use it or lose" clause in it. That clause is long overdue for clarification and relaxation.

        Aso, how could one have trademark or copyright on "Winter is Coming" beggars belief."

        It's not even a problem with trademark law or the "use it or lose it" clause, and there's really nothing wrong with trademarking a phrase such as "winter is coming" (copyrighting it would be an entirely different matter). Trademarks apply only to specific commercial uses. Things like Cadbury's trademark on the colour purple are often brought up as examples of ridiculous trademarks, but in reality that trademark is only for the specific shade of purple when used on a chocolate bar. If you make a chocolate bar that looks too much like a Cadbury's one, you'll be in trouble. If you make any other product that colour - a car, hat, book, whatever - there's nothing Cadbury's can do about it, nor would there be any reason for them to want to (although there can be some grey areas if, for example, some other food is involved that isn't explicitly a chocolate bar but could be seen as in competition with them).

        As the article notes:

        "HBO's trademark covers clothing, mugs, drinking glasses, hats, bags, mouse pads and similar tat."

        That means that not only is random non-commercial artwork not covered at all, but neither are many commercial products. Someone could advertise a car using the phrase, and there would be absolutely nothing HBO could do about it.

        Basically, the problem here is no the DMCA, it's not trademark law, it's not any specific clause within trademark law, and it's nothing to do with the generally problematic state of intellectual property law. The problem is entirely that HBO are being arseholes.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: overhaul?

          If you make a chocolate bar that looks too much like a Cadbury's one, you'll be in trouble.

          I think this shows where the problem lies. The Cadbury's trademark applies to a fairly narrow set of products, whereas the HBO one covers "clothing, mugs, drinking glasses, hats, bags, mouse pads and similar tat" *. The HBO trademark applies to a commonly-used sentence on a wide group of products that often carry messages.

          If I sell a chocolate bar in purple foil, then it's reasonable to claim that it's counterfeit Cadbury's. If I sell a hat with "Winter is coming" on it, but no knights in armour and women with their tits out **, then it's absurd to suggest I'm passing it off as an HBO hat.

          * I suppose it's too much to hope that the registration actually uses the phrase "similar tat".

          ** I'm afraid my knowledge of Game of Thrones is entirely second-hand.

          1. I am the liquor

            Re: ** I'm afraid my knowledge of Game of Thrones is entirely second-hand.

            A bit like Jaime Lannister then.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: overhaul?

          "HBO's trademark covers clothing, mugs, drinking glasses, hats, bags, mouse pads and similar tat."

          That actually sees to be the sticking point in this particular instance though, because, as the article also states in the very next sentence "Redbubble is an online community of artists and a bazaar of t-shirts and bags printed on demand from artwork submitted by its users."

          The question is, did HBO manage to successfully trademark the phrase for those uses in Australia where the website is based?

        3. streaky Silver badge

          Re: overhaul?

          This has nothing to do with DMCA, it is plain old good trademark law and the idiotic "use it or lose" clause in it. That clause is long overdue for clarification and relaxation

          Only somebody who's never discovered the joys of safe harbour in the DMCA would say something so silly.

          Actually take away the safe harbour stuff and the DMCA would be a reasonably functional piece of copyright legislation. It'd still excessively favour copyright holders but at the same time at least people could make it work.

          Making bullshit copyright claims should implicitly be viewed by the legal system as perjury and result in people being disbarred when they do it and then they might actually look at the shit they're sending out. Yes I am suggesting lawyers should lose their livelihoods for a first offence, then maybe it'd restore faith in the system and practitioners.

      6. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: overhaul?

        "This has nothing to do with DMCA, it is plain old good trademark law and the idiotic "use it or lose" clause in it. "

        May have nothing to do with the DMCA, but everything to do with shitty behaviour being allowed because it's digital.

        Imagine the outcry if schools were harassed by companies with removal notices over the students paintings merely 'cause one had a title they thought they owned....

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: overhaul?

        "how could one have trademark or copyright on "Winter is Coming" "

        Exactly.

        Who is the obvious moron who approved the copyrighting of and everyday phrase?

        1. Just Enough
          Headmaster

          Trademark <> Copyright

          I'm going to start handing out punishment exercises now. Everyone here talking about copyright write out;

          A trademark is not a copyright, they are two entirely different things.

          100 times and return it me Monday morning.

          If you don't know why they are entirely different things, then you do not understand trademarks or copyrights. Stop commenting on them until you do.

      8. elfaegis
        Linux

        Re: overhaul?

        Actually ... there is a really strong legal precedent against trademarking "Winter is Coming." There was a Linux company named "Lindows" at one point, and Microsoft challenged the company, saying the name was too close to "Windows." Lindows argued that you can't trademark a common name like "Windows." Microsoft finally settled with them out of court, and gave them something like $100 million to change their name to "Linspire."

        So that painting may be worth $100 million. It's very nice!

        1. keithpeter
          Windows

          Re: overhaul?

          "So that painting may be worth $100 million. It's very nice!"

          @elfaegis and all

          Printing a few copies now to pin round College next week, and it will be featured on all my whiteboard screens. Small donation being made to Asperger's charity.

          Sort of reverse Streisand effect anyone?

          PS: trips round the circle (of fifths) are common in Music; Bach Well tempered clavier, Schubert Winterreise. Perhaps an Enso practice might be of interest to the youngster involved?

      9. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: overhaul?

        "the idiotic "use it or lose" clause in it. "

        That requirement is in virtually every country's trademark laws. The idea being that you can't submarine in a trademark claim after something becomes popular.

        I've seen cases where the company and lawyers who were involved were actually apologetic, but explained that if they don't enforce in every case, it has the potential to remove protection for the ones they are enforcing - and with HBO asserting trademark in all the paraphenalia associated with a show that pretty much means anything and everything.

        But yes, they're tossers. They could have sent a much nicer letter in the first instance.

        1. Truckle The Uncivil

          Re: overhaul?

          @Alan Brown

          In this case there is no product, no commercialisation at all. There is no need or right to protect any ‘mark’. In this case there is no right to protect.

          In fact the dumb shit lawyers have hurt the mark. You can now safely use it as satire on this case.

          Ie. “Just look at this case what a clear sign winter is coming”.

          I would love to get Ariel Winter involved with this. “Are you trademarking my sexual escapades?”

      10. Truckle The Uncivil

        Re: overhaul?

        Windows ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: overhaul?

      I recall vaguely there were penalties promised for abuse of the DMCA - how about enforcing that harshly? As far as I know "Winter is coming" has prior use probably as long as we've been naming the seasons. For a start. there will be a godawful amount of peasants to sue who must have interrupted their relentless ploughing of the muddy earth by looking up at the sky and utter that very phrase.

      (which somehow reminds me of the "bring out yer dead" scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail :) ).

      This deserves very harsh and exceptionally costly consequences. And I'm going to keep a record of the name of the legal idiot who saw fit to undersign this lunacy.

      F*ckwits.

    4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: overhaul?

      When i read the headline I thought "Winter is Coming" must be the title of a new film, and that would still be a stupid phrase to try and copyright.

      But its just a line in that stupid Thrones thing????

    5. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: overhaul?

      "Start by overhauling DMCA" - not necessary for this case at all. This website

      http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=13f9814f-b56e-4314-8e1b-95215ce60a6d

      explains why HBO would be in legal trouble if they tried to use the US DMCA to stop a trademark infringement. Because DMCA is for _copyright infringement_ only. (Headline: Using a DMCA takedown notice to assert a trademark claim may lead to section 512(f) liability).

      Don't blame the DMCA for idiots trying to use it without understanding it. Similar to Lexmark which tried to stop competitors creating ink cartridges using the DMCA who were told that the better read the and understand bloody thing before they try to use it to sue someone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: overhaul?

        This website

        http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=13f9814f-b56e-4314-8e1b-95215ce60a6d

        explains why HBO would be in legal trouble if they tried to use the US DMCA to stop a trademark infringement. Because DMCA is for _copyright infringement_ only. (Headline: Using a DMCA takedown notice to assert a trademark claim may lead to section 512(f) liability).

        Well fine, but they did anyway and were successful. This is the problem with the DMCA and far too complex legal crud: it's enough to scare people, which is all they need. A legal system which can be abused by those with the largest wallets without any noticeable consequences does not provide justice, and that's exactly what is happening.

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: overhaul?

          "Well fine, but they did anyway and were successful. "

          For a DMCA takedown notice, you must state _under penalty of perjury_ that you are the copyright holder, or an agent of the copyright holder. The trademark owner is not the copyright holder. They just need to run into _one_ person with a lawyer friend who has a bit of spare time on their hands.

    6. You aint sin me, roit
      Facepalm

      Why does nobody stop to think?

      HBO meeting...

      "Some girl has uploaded a picture with Winter is Coming written on it..."

      "Well, we could threaten to sue her, demand the site takes down the picture... crush the girl and show the world we are serious about protecting out trademarks...

      OR

      We could offer to buy her picture, set up an online gallery using her picture as a centrepiece... encourage other people to come up with their own Winter is Coming artwork. Think of the positive publicity! Think of the goodwill! Imagine the love we'd get from the fans of the most popular TV show out there!

      And it would cost us next to nothing!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why does nobody stop to think?

        >And it would cost us next to nothing!

        And result in zero fees for lawyers, hence why they're being dicks about it.

    7. Oh Homer
      Mushroom

      HBO: Interdimensional Time Travellers

      Apparently HBO travelled back to 1925 and asked Mary Alice Jones to grant them the exclusive rights to the title "Winter is Coming".

      Although I think they may need to go back and ask Mary to do a bit of time travelling herself, so she can go back to 1862, and ask Richard Coe for the rights in the first place.

      "IP" is a farce.

  2. m0rt Silver badge

    Winter is coming.

    Winter is coming.

    Come and get me you twats.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Winter is coming.

      Winter is coming.

      Winter is coming.

      Winter is coming.

      Winter is coming.

      Winter is coming.

      Winter is coming.

      A lovely piece of art from a young girl who has enough challengs in her life without arseholes like HBO adding to them.

      Even worse if they are doing it to everyone who uses the phrase, boycott them and fuck them off out of it!

      The boy in the film clip sounded horribly like a young Billy Hague.

      1. Steven Guenther
        Trollface

        Re: Winter is coming. -- different for Floridians

        Living in Florida we have a different vision of Winter.

        http://www.seewinter.com/winter-hope/real-life-story

        A strange picture of Winter is coming. :P

    2. MotionCompensation

      Re: Winter is coming.

      Winter is coming®

      FTFY

    3. macjules Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Winter is coming.

      And in our next segment:

      Channel 4 is to take action against HBO for attempting to trademark the phrase "You know nothing Jon Snow" from it's well-known GRR Martin adaptation. A Channel 4 spokesperson said that, "they are insulting our lead news anchor by implying that Mr Snow is intellectually bereft".

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Winter is coming.

        I've got to say before anything else, what an excellent picture it is.

        So if there is any association with that show then it can only be good.

        What will do "irreparable harm to the brand" is throwing their lawyer weight around and generally being a fucking arsehole about stuff.

        Winter is coming

        Winter is coming

        Winter is coming

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Winter is coming.

          In one of my native languages, I would like to say

          #include <stdio.h>

          #define MICHAELMASS 0

          int main(){

          while (! MICHAELMASS){

          printf("Winter is Coming\n\n");

          printf("Come and get me, HBO!!\n");

          }

          return 42;

          }

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Winter is coming.

            Who the f*ck downvotes things like this?!? Have an upvote just to balance the tally.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Winter is coming.

              Who the f*ck downvotes things like this?!? Have an upvote just to balance the tally.

              Probably people who want it in BASIC?

              :)

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Wilseus
              Linux

              Re: Winter is coming.

              "Who the f*ck downvotes things like this?!? Have an upvote just to balance the tally."

              Probably people who are appalled by the bad layout of that C code!

          2. Wade Burchette Silver badge

            Re: Winter is coming.

            Well, there is one way to get around the copyright. I'm just going to URL encode the message. Come and get me now!

            %57%69%6E%74%65%72%20%69%73%20%43%6F%6D%69%6E%67

            &#87;&#105;&#110;&#116;&#101;&#114;&#32;&#105;&#115;&#32;&#67;&#111;&#109;&#105;&#110;&#103;

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Winter is coming.

            For the old 'uns. In the only sodding language I could ever program in, ZX B.A.S.I.C

            5 Poke 23613,Peek 23730-5

            10 Print "Winter is coming";

            20 cls

            30 Goto 10

            Fuck HBO.

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          spread the news of these dicks

          Winter is coming

          Winter is coming

          Winter is coming

          wouldnt it be great to get that pic to "go viral" or "trend" , or memed , complete with defiant message to HBO to go fuck themselves.

          This could be the most worthwhile thing 4chan ever did.

          could also be best use of a botnet

          1. JLV Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: spread the news of these dicks

            Hmmm....Thinking.... thinking... How to protest? Ah, yes, Femen!

            Generously-bosomed young ladies modelling T-shirts

            Winter is coming

            Come and take this off, HBO!

            That means they are already infringing on the TnA in GoT, so clear need for a takedownoff. Need to find the dragon angle somehow.

            p.s. I don't know about HBO as a whole, but the lawyers who made this stupid call really, really, need to find themselves a purpose in life other than stereotyping the joke about 5000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea.

    4. Mutton Jeff

      Re: Winter is coming.

      "Spring is in the air" anyone got that phrase, should I worry.

      What if the kid never watched the telly prog?

    5. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      @ m0rt Re: Winter is coming.

      "Winter is coming.

      Come and get me you twats."

      You do realize that its not just uttering the phrase that gets you in trouble.

      Its using that phrase "Winter is Coming" as a title to the artwork that got her picture taken down.

      So go outside (especially if you live in the Mid West of the US) and snap a photo and title it "Winter is coming" and then post it online. Then see what happens.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ m0rt Winter is coming.

        You do realize that its not just uttering the phrase that gets you in trouble.

        Its using that phrase "Winter is Coming" as a title to the artwork that got her picture taken down.

        OK, here goes:

        Winter is coming

        8=======>

        How's that for artwork, HBO assholes?

        1. Gert Leboski

          Re: @ m0rt Winter is coming.

          So, would this warrant a DMCA take down, do you think?

          https://bsd.craigm.net/winter_is_coming.html

    6. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Winter is coming.

      I'm Spartacus! (providing Roman slave rebellions aren't effing copyrighted now).

      HBO, I fart in your general direction.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Spartacus is Definitely On Topic today

        "I'm Spartacus! (providing Roman slave rebellions aren't effing copyrighted now)."

        Kirk Douglas is 100 today

  3. Dwarf Silver badge

    Common sense required

    How on earth can common expressions be "owned" by a company.

    Winter is coming - its a standard expression used across the world and has been for a very long time. Perhaps I should get a film made where I use the word "Hello" a lot, then go and screw the world for trying to be make contact with other individuals.

    So, lets try something :

    Winter is coming

    Christmas is coming

    The new year is coming

    Brexit is coming

    See, all common expressions, none can be protected if we have freedom of speech.

    Time for a reboot on the DMCA. What a bunch of complete idiots.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Common sense required

      I would add to your post.. what the fuckity-fuck are they thinking and what the fuckity-fuck was the Trademark Office thinking when they approved this? Prior art? There is if everyday conversation is considered. What's next..."this is the winter of our discontent".??????

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: what the fuckity-fuck was the Trademark Office thinking when they approved this?

        They weren't thinking, they were counting the dollars coming in to their account.

        Icon is for how much I hate the current legal landscape. Hey RedBubble : grow some balls !

        Shame on you RedBubble.

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Common sense required

        What's next..."this is the winter of our discontent".?

        I think you mean "Now is the winter of our discontent". Or have you changed the wording to avoid a take-down notice from the Royal Shakespeare Company?

        I wonder who's bagged "Sumer is icumen in"?

        1. The_H
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Common sense required

          Summer, probably. Beat you-know-who to it by several centuries :-)

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. MonkeyBob

        Re: Common sense required

        Lawyers are coming?

    4. Strahd Ivarius
      Trollface

      Re: Common sense required

      "Hello" is similar to "Jell-O" so no you can't trademark it ;-)

      1. Dwarf Silver badge

        Re: Common sense required

        "Hello" is similar to "Jell-O" so no you can't trademark it ;-)

        Isn't she a musician or something ?

        Or am I thinking of something else ?

      2. King Jack
        Holmes

        Re: Common sense required

        Hello is a magazine yet I don't hear them kincking up a fuss when a telephone is answered. But time will tell.

    5. kmac499

      Re: Common sense required

      I'm reliably informed that in an earlier work of dramatic historical dynastic fiction there was the line.

      ''The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers,''

      Which for the sake of HBO legal dept (twinned with Sirius Cybernetic Corp marketng dept) comes from Henry VI, Part II,

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely the phrase is one that has "prior use"? Does the estate of George Formby still have a copyright on "Turned out nice again"? ...or the BBC "Here is the news"?

    1. veti Silver badge

      Trademark. Not copyright. Nike is the name of an ancient Greek goddess, but try marketing some kind of sports equipment named after her and see how far you get.

      Trademarks are limited in scope - that is, they only cover the situation when the phrase is used to market or sell certain things (and those "things" have to be explicitly listed, by category, in the trademark application or notification). So you might get away with marketing avocados, or ball bearings, using 'Nike'. But not shoes or bags.

      In this case, it looks like the publishers have dibs on clothing bearing the phrase, and the website allows you to print it on T-shirts. Hence, infringement.

      Not mentioned in the story is whether the website would, in fact, allow you to print this image on a T-shirt. If it would, then much as I hate to admit it, the sharks were right. If not, then I'd say the family should have a good case.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        veti No. It's a statement of fact. Winter is coming. And If she or you or I or anyone wants to wear that on a shirt, so be it. It's a common expression - well used ever since humankind was first able to follow the seasons. If she ( or anyone) were to use the typeface, image or characters from the poxy series, that's fair game and they can expect to be approached by lawyers. But the saying/writing/printing of "Winter is coming" belongs to all of us.

        1. james 68

          common use and prior art.

          There are dozens of poems titled "Winter is coming" and the phrase has been used in many novels, tv series and movies, all created many many years before Game of thrones was shat out, and all of which make money.

          HBO can fuck right off. Any court challenge where the judge hasn't been bought off would kick HBO in the balls.

      2. frank ly

        "Not mentioned in the story is whether the website would, in fact, allow you to print this image on a T-shirt."

        I'd like to see them stop anyone printing that image on a t-shirt (purely for personal use of course).

      3. William 3 Bronze badge

        I actually laughed at your awful attempt to emulate a greedy sociopathic lawyer.

      4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "In this case, it looks like the publishers have dibs on clothing bearing the phrase, and the website allows you to print it on T-shirts. Hence, infringement."

        Perhaps the girl should use Google Translate to create a non-English version of the text and upload that instead. I hear that translating random phrases into Arabic is a popular meme right now.

    2. itzman
      Paris Hilton

      BBC?

      Golly, they could solve the license problem with royalties from 'London Calling'....

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      or the BBC "Here is the news"?

      I thought ELO had that one?

      (Sad 80's music-related joke)

      1. Steve the Cynic

        "I thought ELO had that one?"

        Somebody has broken out of Satellite Two.

        Look very carefully, it may be YOU (you you you).

        Even sadder... I did that without looking on a lyrics site.

  5. Mark 65

    Arseholes

    The sooner the fuckwit yanks are segregated from the rest of the internet so they can sink under the weight of their idiotic legal system the better. Given all the big services have data centres around the World I shouldn't think we'd lose much either. Barely even notice.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Arseholes

      Trump is working on that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Arseholes

      Surely not Ser George R. R. Martin as well?

      Still, I see your point. We are mostly a sad lot of angry assholes who fucked themselves and can't figure out how to do otherwise.

      In the grand scheme of things, HBO and those two dufuses who claim responsibility for the atrocity that is the GoT TV show are indeed ignorant assholes who should be burnt at the stake. The books are a kagillion times more entertaining than any of the TV series. AFAIC the HBO show can fuck off to north of the wall. The books are not impressed by the TV show. Not at all. Even with Leslie Rose. Holy crap, she's nice. Everything else must GO!

      1. John H Woods

        Re: Arseholes

        "The books are not impressed by the TV show" --- AC

        That's ridiculous, Ser. The books are wonderful, but this has got to be almost the best adaptation that was actually feasible. Each TV season is about 1000 pages of text boiled down to less than 10 hours of screen time. Given the circumstances it's about as faithful as it could possibly be.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Arseholes

          Each TV season is about 1000 pages of text boiled down to less than 10 hours of screen time. Given the circumstances it's about as faithful as it could possibly be.

          That was actually the biggest problem I had with the TV show. I loved the books, but watching the first few episodes I was constantly thinking either "I remember what happens next" or "Oh, they left out xxx". I gave up after episode 2, despite the excellent Peter Dinklage.

          Returning to topic, I can see snow on the mountains. Looks like Winter is coming, HBO.

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Arseholes

          The TV adaption was well done (stayed mostly faithful to the books, good casting, wardrobe, locations not all CG), but they can't beat the books.

          Odd really, all my life I've been waiting for a good adaption of fantasy books, when a few come along I'm no longer that excited after a bit, because I realise you can't beat the the novel format after all.

          I think the two Dune takes did it. David Lynchs film version was kind of good (the fan version fixed a lot of issues) and the Sci Fi channel version had it's good points (except characterisations for some, turning Paul into a whinger at the start, and totally lobotomising Gurney Halleck).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Arseholes

            "[...] because I realise you can't beat the the novel format after all."

            The TV adaptation of "The Colour of Magic" seemed to work quite well.

            1. Truckle The Uncivil

              Re: Arseholes

              But it was hardly the same. Maybe an order of magnitude in page numbers? Hog father was also excellent

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Arseholes

            "I realise you can't beat the the novel format after all."

            I think the real truth is that you can't beat the *original* format. Each format has strengths and weaknesses and a competent author will play to the former, making it very hard to produce an equally good "translation" into a different format.

            As a result, producers who buy the rights to a book might be better advised to buy the rights to the characters (or universe) depicted therein and then commission someone to write a different story. (This needn't be the original author and unless that author has some experience in the other medium perhaps it shouldn't be.)

            I think I read somewhere that JKR made a lot of friends when she first met the producers of the first film and suggested that quite a few things would have to change to make the books filmable. Cue huge sighs of relief from the screenwriting team.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought existing phrases and words could not be copyrighted or trademarked. Hence the advertising industry's penchant for homonym spellings like "beanz".

    Garry Kasparov published a book last year with the title "Winter is Coming"

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Coming-Vladimir-Enemies-Stopped/dp/1782397868

    Church of Void had a song released in 2012

    https://churchofvoid.bandcamp.com/album/winter-is-coming

    It reminds me of the take-downs of internet domains containing "Java". Leading to the situation of the lawyers demanding compliance by "the country formerly known as Java".

    1. Maty
      Headmaster

      Wouldn't 'homophone spellings be a better usage here? 'Homophones' - apart from gay chat lines, obviously - are words with the same sound (homo = same, phonos = sound) but different spellings. For example 'moat' and 'mote'; or indeed 'beanz' and 'beans'.

      Homonyms are words with the same spelling but different meanings, such as the Poles who are from Poland and the poles that hold up phone wires.

      I'm aware that there's a certain overlap between the two words, that's why my suggestion is 'better usage' rather than 'correct usage'.

      1. mstreet
        Big Brother

        that's why my suggestion is 'better usage' rather than 'correct usage'.

        If you are saying what I think you are, then I disagree strongly. See George Orwell's essay 'Politics and the English Language', if you want some ideas on the dangers of watering down language for the whims of the few.

        Changing the meaning of words to suit the idea you are trying to get across, rather than using the right word in the first place, is what politicians and advertisers have been doing for decades. And how much credence can you put on anything either of those two groups use?

        1. Trilkhai

          mstreet, chances are that GP used that sentence in order to avoid having the correction cause offense. I often find myself being similarly conciliatory by throwing in "chances are" (like above), "my guess is," "I could be wrong" and similar phrases.

          Anyway, it seems to me that most of the damage to our language is now caused by adults not having studied grammar beyond a glance in school as kids, not reading remotely enough to integrate/reinforce the lessons, and the dulling effect of modern everyday life producing an attitude of “if they can figure out generally what I meant, that's good enough.” (In other words, roughly the scenario Orwell outlined in 1984.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Wouldn't 'homophone spellings be a better usage here?"

        Mea culpa. I first wrote "homophonic" - which the spell checker did not like and usually it is right. So in then changing it to "homonym" I made the error in meaning.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "the spell checker did not like and usually it is right"

          Is it?

          I strongly disagree, I find it is normally wrong.

      3. Truckle The Uncivil

        @marty

        That made me crack up “The MOAT in God’s eye”......

        Some homophones are opposites.

  7. Andy 73

    I've had a call

    I was woken up at 3am by a call that turned out to be an American lawyer who was concerned that I had used one of their product names in the name of a tool I had written for their product (it made sense at the time). It had not actually occurred to them that I might not live in the US (despite ringing an international dialling code), nor that they could have simply asked instead of going in with full legal threats. It's the latter that brings a chill to the feelings towards heavy handed companies.. almost like winter is coming.

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Re: I've had a call

      Since I mentioned in a product review on Amazon that the item was better than my speedo pair, I will stay up until 6am waiting for a call.

      Some one was impressed with my review, because the next time I visited the pool, some tealeaf nicked them.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1
        Unhappy

        Re: I've had a call

        > my speedo pair

        Aaahh, when read your first para, I thought "speedo pair" was a euphemism along the lines of "the dog's proverbials", and then I read the last four words, and cognitive dissonance + extreme sympathy resulted!

        For readers unfamiliar with rhyming slang, Tea Leaf === Thief

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I've had a call

      "I was woken up at 3am by a call that turned out to be an American lawyer"

      Correct response: "Give me your home number and I'll call you back".

  8. Brian Miller

    If you have enough money and lawyers...

    Honestly, this has become so ridiculous. The phrase, "winter is coming," has been around since the concepts of both "winter" and time were formed. And the USPTO allows it to be trademarked.

    Yeah, we need reform, but it isn't going to happen any time soon.

  9. alain williams Silver badge

    Winter is Coming

    We shall all be reduced to consumers, deemed not fit to have a creative thought in our heads, no thoughts at all beyond how much money we pay to large corporates.

    I have added a link to that picture on my web site.

  10. Alan Sharkey

    Can I just say

    Feel free to go outside while the weather is warm because

    Winter is Coming

    [And no, I have never watched any episode of GoT]

  11. Drew 11

    Anyone in the USA who happens on a huge object they find objectionable should spray "winter is coming" on it.

    Then HBO will come along and remove said object or give it a nice new paint job to protect their "IP".

    Trump Tower would be a starter for 10.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ohhh. Then there was the time Hilton Hotels sent out legal emails to website owners "using their brand in domains to link to other websites without permission". No one had visited the Hilton IT department first to learn about wildcard DNS.

    So they were schooled, with examples such as http://hilton.sucks.compared.to.sleepinn.com

    No reply was ever received. Not even an apology.

  13. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    @HBO @USPTO

    I'm thinking that image needs to go viral on a few social media.

    We've not seen much winter here in Southern Ontario, but I understand from the weather forcast that winter is coming, tonight, in a big way.

  14. Kaltern

    In response I call upon all artists to draw up a #winteriscoming pic and stick on every social media site possible.

  15. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Devil

    From the HBO legal department

    Acceptable substitutes for "winter is coming"

    Winter is approaching

    Winter is arriving

    It's F'ing cold out!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: From the HBO legal department

      Prior art, "Sumer Is Icumen In" - 13th Century

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: From the HBO legal department

        "Sumer Is Icumen In"

        Now that phrase is most useful.... you can sing it while burning to death the idiot lawyers who came up with the trademark thing in the US plus the scumbag no brain lawyers who send take downs to 13 yr olds

        Oh and add to the pyre the utter &%&^$&%$^%£"%$"(* ^&&*^(*()&**%& *&%&^$&*^(&(ers who remade one of my favourite films too

        Flames..... they dont just look pretty ..

    2. Lotaresco

      Re: From the HBO legal department

      "Acceptable substitutes for "winter is coming""

      I have trademarked the term "Th' neets are fair drawin' in.(TM)" So everyone across Lancashire and Yorkshire owes me a bundle.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: From the HBO legal department

        I have trademarked the term "Th' neets are fair drawin' in.(TM)" So everyone across Lancashire and Yorkshire owes me a bundle.

        Not really. That 'h' shouldn't be there.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HBO will be wanting to sue Hitler also then, given he used the phrase repeatedly.

    1. julianh72

      Adolf Hitler: Speech to the Nazi Party in Munich

      (February 24, 1941)

      http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/hitler02241941.html

      "Winter, General Winter is coming, and he will force Germany to her knees."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "General Winter likes blowjobs"

  17. Youngone Silver badge
    Flame

    This website has ruined my life

    I followed the advice at the end of the article, put a nice warm coat and scarf on before heading off to the train station, and I nearly died of heat stroke.

    As I live in the Southern Hemisphere winter is not coming.

    Thanks The so called Register.

    Angry of Auckland.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: This website has ruined my life

      Localisation failure, please check your browser settings.

      The correct tag line for NZ should have been: Earthquakes are coming.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: This website has ruined my life

        The correct tag line for NZ should have been: Earthquakes are coming.

        Did the earth move for you dear? Coz it sure did for me! Repeatedly!

    2. MrDamage

      Re: This website has ruined my life

      Jist stuck yah hid un a chully bun, and yull be sweet cuz.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: This website has ruined my life

      errr

      isn't it railway station?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This website has ruined my life

        MJI,

        Errr

        No! :)

        English allows Train Station.

        Follows the form 'Bus Station ---> Train Station'

        Probably is a Generational thing, as it is something my Mother/Father would have said.

        [I am UK based so similar usage of English to NZ]

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take care in 6 months time because if you think Summer is Icumen in then lawyers will get all medieval on you!

    BTW, has the estate of the Emperor Hadrian considered suing HBO over the idea of a wall as a northern boundary?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <<THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED BY HBO>>

    The phrase "HBO ARE CUNTS" is trademarked and a DMCA notice of removal has been issued, and El Reg have removed it from the forum.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: <<THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED BY HBO>>

      > The phrase "HBO ARE CUNTS" is trademarked and a DMCA notice of removal has been issued, and El Reg have removed it from the forum.

      You've got it the wrong way around! The phrase that you need to trademark is "HBO are lovely people" as then no one, not even HBO can ever use the phrase again, without your permission.

      Another good choice would be "HBO are not criminals" - you can then prevent HBO from defending themselves publicly should, heaven forbid, they ever be accused of a crime.

      1. JustWondering
        Meh

        Re: <<THIS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED BY HBO>>

        The advantage of using HBO are lovely people" is the unlikelyhood of any prior art existing.

  20. moiety

    I've got a feeling that something is coming, but can't for the life of me figure out what....

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      "I've got a feeling that something is coming, but can't for the life of me figure out what...."

      A writ?

  21. lukewarmdog

    Prior use

    The phrase was used in the books, HBO should take George to the cleaners, get him to pay them for turning his books into films.

  22. SimonF

    C'mon boys

    Can't you just

    Let it go?

  23. Kaltern

    #winteriscoming

    And it's probably here to stay. God this stuff really winds me up.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about some 'prior art' (I know, I know, this isn't a patent...)

    The poem 'Winter is Coming' by a certain Mrs. H. Perry Allen, born 1839:

    https://books.google.ca/books?id=QQ5aAAAAMAAJ&dq=%22winter%20is%20coming%22&pg=PA530#v=onepage&q&f=false

  25. maccy
    Coffee/keyboard

    Lawyers are coming ...

    It's white and a bit sticky.

  26. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    You know nothing HBO.

    1. Steven Roper

      Cease and desist

      "You know nothing" is also a valuable protected trademark of HBO and anybody using it without authorisation is infringing on their trademark.

      Shakespeare was right all along. We need to kill all the lawyers.

      1. Chozo

        Re: Cease and desist

        HBO will going after Welsh flags at this rate

  27. Raja

    Winter is Coming.

    This is hilarious. The term Winter is Coming is used in literally thousands of pages of books. For example in the book "Keeping Bees & Making Honey" the term "Winter is Coming" is on Page 10. Would HBO now demand that this book be banned?

    Several apparel manufacturers use the term "Winter is Coming" in their advertisements. They have been doing it for years. Should they take it down?

    Which clown gave HBO the right to claim commonly used phrases as their's?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Winter is Coming.

      I think that demonstrates Prior Art.

      The author of that book should sue HBO for $1,000,000,000 for breach of IP.

      1. moiety

        Re: Winter is Coming.

        Just had a quick grep and there's enough authors who used the phrase to get a class action together, just with what I have kicking about locally:

        Andre Norton - Dark Piper

        2918 dont want to be, Vere. Not if Kynvet is like Feeholme. Winter is coming; we must get home

        Andre Norton - Dark Companion

        4179 "Winter is coming; we must get home before the passes close," I continued as if I did not hear her, for I

        Ann Maxwell - The Jaws of Menx

        3399 speak no more of serat things, Shiya whispered. Im alone and winter is coming.

        Anne McCaffrey - Ship 3 - The Ship Who Searched

        6434 handle? Winter is coming on, and I can't predict what the native animals are

        Anne McCaffrey - Twins of Petaybee 01 - Changelings

        5624 "Besides," Da said, "there's no hurry. Winter is coming and Ke-ola's folk don't care for the

        Avram Davidson - The Woman who Thought she Could Read

        115 My father said, "You mean you can tell a bad winter is coming from the beans?"

        Barbara Hambly - James Asher 2 - Traveling With the Dead

        7016 ache. Winter is coming on. This city will be under snow. A master fighting for

        Bernard Cornwell - Warlord 1 - Winter King

        13074 are thick with berries, both signs that a harsh winter is coming. Sagramor once told me there were places

        Bernard Cornwell - Warlord 2 - Enemy of God

        752 one remaining hand. And tonight is Samain Eve and tomorrow is a new year. The winter is coming. The

        Brian W. Aldiss - Helliconia Winter

        2650 "The winter is coming," was all he said. His face was drawn into bitter lines.

        C. J. Cherryh - Fortress 2 - Fortress of Eagles

        7556 Winter is coming, snow, and ice. So they tell me. Take care, take

        C. S. Friedman - In Conquest Born

        12590 We lost five more today, bringing the total to half our number. The winter is coming quickly now and we

        Carol Emshwiller - The General

        278 Winter is coming. The weather will worsen. We've postponed our search, perhaps until spring, perhaps forever.

        Catherine Asaro - The Phoenix Code

        486 "Winter is coming and they have a long way to go." He sounded more relaxed now. "So

        Dan Parkinson - Dragonlance Heroes 2 - The Gates of Thorbardin

        5352 "Do you suppose winter is coming early this year "

        Dan Chernenko - Scepter of Mercy 01 - The_Bastard King

        7817 winter is coming on. Nothing much will happen out in the provinces till spring at the

        Dave Duncan - A Man Of His Word 1 - Magic Casement

        2074 for a reply. Winter is coming. You will love the sea voyage in summer, my dear,

        David Drake - General 03 - The Anvil

        7214 cloth and fuel. Winter is coming, and it's hard enough for us in

        David Drake - General 04 - The Steel

        4517 the general position, now that winter is coming to an end."

        David Drake - General 05 - Conqueror

        7666 Poor men have no savings, no warehouses of food and cloth and fuel. Winter is coming, and it's hard

        15947 general position, now that winter is coming to an end."

        David G. Hartwell - Year's Best SF 5

        9378 She sniffed. “Dear Night-Dawn. Always dreaming. But first we must eat, for winter is coming.”

        David Gemmell - Drenai Tales 09 - Hero In The Shadows

        2976 'Perhaps,' said Kysumu. 'But when I see birds flying south I know winter is coming. They do not need to be large

        David Zindell - Ea Cycle 03 - Black Jade

        398 when winter is coming?'

        Deborah Chester - The Sword, The Ring, & The Chalice 3 - The Chalice

        3183 “Good. I could hunt the eld-folk on my own, but winter is coming soon, and I must find what I seek

        Elizabeth Willey - A Sorcerer And A Gentleman

        713 "Exactly. Winter is coming."

        Eric Flint - Grantville Gazette - Vol 2

        1353 "Winter is coming," said Donovan, halting his friend's rant cold.

        1817 we need to leave as soon as possible. Winter is coming, as you constantly remind me. How many men

        2294 "Winter is coming."

        Harry Harrison - Eden 02 - Winter in Eden

        10827 "Winter is coming, Eistaa, winter without end. Each winter the snow is lower on the mountain. One day

        J.R.R. Tolkien - The Hobbit

        7702 winter is coming on fast. Before long you will be having snow and what not,

        Jane Lindskold - Firekeeper Saga 2 - Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart

        5782 to your queen's benefit. Indeed, why go so far as Dragon's Breath? Winter is coming and the Sword of

        Jane Lindskold - Firekeeper Saga 3 - The Dragon of Despair

        14131 the count. You reason like a late-autumn pup." That was one born when the winter is coming, and so

        Janny Wurts - Light & Shadows 2 - The Ships of Merior

        9418 'Winter is coming everywhere else,' Dakar prodded. 'The Scimlade

        Jean M. Auel - 2 - The Valley of Horses

        3446 and winter is coming."

        Jennifer Roberson - CotC 1 - Shape-Changers

        7053 Winter is coming. Your coal must be thick and warm. A heavy

        John Crowley - Engine Summer

        1457 hot again, and summer returns for a time. Winter is coming; you know that from

        4260 winter is coming."

        John Dalmas - Farside 3 - The Lion Returns

        6299 have wooded areas. And winter is coming, with its long nights. Armies travel mostly on roads. Their

        John Marco - Tyrants and Kings 1 - The Jackal of Nar

        5678 The castle never seemed so large before, and winter is coming. We will

        5721 remembered. Outside the world has turned a watery gray. Winter is coming

        John Morressy - The Juggler

        1771 peace," said Sir Hubert, crossing himself. "My daugh-ter is leaving me now, and the winter is coming. This

        John Norman - Gor 18 - Blood Brothers of Gor

        14988 "The Kaiila have little meat," I said. "Winter is coming."

        John Varley - Blue Champagne

        8981 excuse not to write... and the Mac made it even easier! Now winter is coming on, I've missed a

        Kate Elliott - Crown of Stars 4 - Child Of Flame

        28057 shudder. Winter is coming, and they will all struggle to survive among the ruins.

        Kate Elliott - Crown of Stars 3 - The Burning Stone

        12809 We must learn more of this 'Nokvi' before we fight him. Winter is coming on, and

        Kate Forsyth - Eileanan 02 - Pool Of Two Moons

        9627 "Winter is coming, we shall have to see what we can do for ye," Iseult said, leading the way through the

        Kate Forsyth - Eileanan 03 - The Cursed Towers

        13464 will both die in the snows. Winter is coming and ye do no' ken the ways o' the mountains or where the

        Kate Elliott - Jaran 4 - The Law of Becoming

        20560 "Good wool cloth," said Jaelle instantly. "Winter is coming on."

        Kathleen O' Neal & Michael W. Gear - People 6 - People of the Lakes

        21292 warning the world that winter is coming."

        Kim Wilkins - Giants of the Frost

        13802 climb high up in a tree because winter is coming and the sky is grey; snow pitches down and ice hangs on

        Kim Wilkins - The Autumn Castle

        12213 "What you're doing is upsetting the balance of the seasons. Winter is coming early."

        13852 disappeared with the royal magic, six faeries have been murdered, winter is coming, and their queen is

        L. E. Modesitt - Recluce 02 - Scion of Scyador

        5836 Winter is coming, with the cold rains, and chill winds, and with it, I would hope, fewer

        L. J. Smith - Vampire Diaries 01 - The Awakening

        5722 "Winter is coming, Elena," he said, and his voice was clear and chilling even over the howl of the wind.

        L. J. Smith - Vampire Diaries 02 - The Struggle

        205 "Winter is coming, Elena," he said, and his voice was clear and chilling even over

        Leo Frankowski - Stargard 1 - Crosstime Engineer

        2068 "But how is that going to keep you alive? Winter is coming on."

        Leo Frankowski - Tank 3 - Kren of the Mitchegai

        12873 won't be a problem at first, because winter is coming on, and they will

        Mercedes Lackey - In Celebration of Lammas Night

        2283 you like to have someone to warm you? Winter is coming. You could have a babe

        Michael Chabon - McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury

        3024 Winter is coming. The weather will worsen. We've postponed our search, perhaps until spring, perhaps forever.

        Nebula Awards 2002 - The Nominated Stories

        11106 creeping into me. "Winter is coming," I said in a puff of steam and had one fleeting vision of Cavanaugh, his leaves

        P. N. Elrod - Vampire Files 01 - Bloodlist

        1462 "I think winter is coming," he said, and winked at me. It was only

        Parke Godwin - Firelord

        1945 forgetful, but winter is coming. Prince Peredur, when you have quite heard

        Patricia White - A Wizard Scorned

        4954 "We must go whether I'm strong enough or not," he said slowly. "Winter is coming all too soon, it must

        Paul Kearney - Monarchies of God 1 - Hawkwoods Voyage

        11620 sources report that it is somewhat demoralized. Winter is coming on, the Thurian passes are closed and

        Robin Hobb - Soldier Son 03 - Renegade's Magic

        1736 will be months before they undo my destruction. Winter is coming

        7060 'Winter is coming. It's right to be cold in winter. The wind will

        Roger Taylor - Nightfall 1 - Farnor

        2409 feel when a thunderstorm is about to break, or that quality in the air that tells us winter is coming . . . who

        Sarah Ash - The Tears of Artamon 1 - Lord of Snow and Shadows

        5553 "A harsh winter is coming . . ." The voice that

        Scott Westerfeld - Succession 1 - The Risen Empire

        8127 Legis population is all in the northern hemisphere, where winter is coming."

        Spider Robinson - The Mind 2 - Time Pressure

        4035 when Winter is coming on fast and you still don't have your firewood cut or your house

        STAR TREK - SNW - 008 - Book VIII

        224 sheepish grin. "I have to warn you. Winter is coming up here." He passed each of the four

        Star Wars - [Jedi Apprentice 06] - The Uncertain Path (by Jude Watson)

        1377 the city. The people are already unhappy with us. They're cold, and winter is coming. They need to see

        Stephen Baxter - Huddle

        1129 winter is coming."

        Stephen King - The Stand

        12236 winter is coming), they're eating out of cans, they're miserable. A strongman

        Tanith Lee - Delerium' Mistress

        9114 "Winter is coming," said the prince's daughter. "The leaves will blacken and the fruit become

  28. d3vy Silver badge

    I have an idea

    Let's post that image everywhere with a link back to this article.

    I'll put it up on my home page for a few days

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: I have an idea

      Done and done.

    2. julianh72

      Re: I have an idea

      Done!

    3. Alister Silver badge

      Re: I have an idea

      Also done!

  29. James Ashton

    DMCA or Trademark?

    The talk of notices and counter-notices does sound like the DMCA is being used but this is claimed to be a trademark issue. My understanding is that the DMCA is for copyright only and not for other forms of intellectual property. As noted "Winter is Coming" is way too short to qualify for copyright protection.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: DMCA or Trademark?

      This is correct. Sounds like someone is being penetrated by lawyers.

      And RedBubble should really be ashamed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DMCA or Trademark?

        I thought lawyers penetrating small children was only a problem in the UK.

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: DMCA or Trademark?

          No that's BBC TV personalities who were at the height of their fame in the last century.

  30. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    When will the estate of Brian Aldiss sue....

    Can anyone check through "Helliconia: Summer" for use of the Phrase That Shall No Longer Be Uttered Because It has Become A Hallowed Trademark?

    Torrents are coming!

    1. moiety

      Re: When will the estate of Brian Aldiss sue....

      One reference in Hellicona Winter.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: When will the estate of Brian Aldiss sue....

        TAKE HBO TO THE CLEANERS!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    its a common search term before game of thrones even came out

    https://www.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=winter%20is%20coming

  32. cd

    Lhude sing goddamm!

  33. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Trollface

    I feel the need to design a t-shirt...

    I feel the need to design a t-shirt. Nothing too complicated. Just the words "No human in the loop" written across the chest. The text description on RedBubble will, of course, read "Winter is Coming".

  34. Herby Silver badge

    Simple Solution...

    Maybe rename the piece as "December 21 is coming" (northern hemisphere centric, for sure).

    Yes, this is a bit silly.

  35. Shades
    Mushroom

    F*ck you HBO

    Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming.

    What you going to do about that c*nts?

  36. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    All this kind of idiocy ever does..

    ..is ultimately make companies like HBO look like assholes and harm them. How do they never learn? How can their collection of pointless savant lawyers and marketing folks not understand that this behavior will bite them in their smarmy asses when the (totally 100% predictable) backlash occurs? Doesn't anyone actually vet these requests before they go out, or is there just some spambot used for takedown notices?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This and Trump winning the election, the government of the United States is changing from a Democracy to a Plutocracy where wage earners will be slaves

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This and Trump winning the election, the government of the United States is changing from a Democracy to a Plutocracy where wage earners will be slaves"

      Changing?

      Where have you been the last 30+ years (and the monopoly era pre world wars, etc.)?

  38. julianh72

    Winter is coming

    I'm gonna download the image and get it printed on a tee-shirt - just because it will really piss off the HBO lawyers!

    1. W4YBO

      Re: Winter is coming

      "I'm gonna download the image and get it printed on a tee-shirt - just because it will really piss off the HBO lawyers!"

      Be sure to send Miss Wilcox a couple of pounds for her labors.

  39. Emmeran

    Winter is Coming

    I heard that when I was a child (and that was long ago). Winter is coming and that's a fact, get your water fowl linear or it's gonna be a long, hard winter.

    That has always been a warning call in the colder climes, nobody get's to own something we've always said.

    1. Yugguy
      Headmaster

      Re: Winter is Coming

      gets

  40. admiraljkb

    Fimbulwinter FTW

    Hmmm, for "art/entertainment/poetry/story" purposes, I interpret the phrase "Winter is coming" as referencing the "end of the world/Ragnarök" Fimbulwinter from Norse mythology. There is a REASON its a common phrase for literature/arts and such, even if the majority of the population doesn't understand the significance. Not sure how HBO can issue a takedown on that with a straight face, but I assume their lawyers aren't well versed outside of law classes?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Fimbulwinter FTW

      I interpret the existence of the DMCA and copyright lawyers as a sign of coming Ragnarök

      1. admiraljkb

        Re: Fimbulwinter FTW

        "I interpret the existence of the DMCA and copyright lawyers as a sign of coming Ragnarök"

        Ugh, I think you're right. So Winter IS Coming!

  41. Grade%

    There is no such thing as bad publicity.

    Think about it.

    "Hey, how can we get into the public eye?"

    "Some developmentally challenged child used our catch phrase in Australia."

    "Perfect. Release the lawyers."

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

      Hardly. When Sony fucked up with the rootkit episode I didn't buy another thing associated with them for over 10 years.

  42. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Melancholy Elephants

    The story by Spider Robinson

    http://www.spiderrobinson.com/melancholyelephants.html

    is more relevant than ever.

    How many three-word phrases that make some kind of sense are there in the English language? (eg. excluding things like "blue weep coffee", but allowing "cake has measles"). Seems like a problem similar to the one discussed in the short story.

  43. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Hau my baas, die winter, hy is op pad...

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Summer must fall.

  44. Bitbeisser

    HBO? WTF!

  45. LDS Silver badge

    'remember to dress warmly and bundle up in layers'

    For a moment I read '... and bundle up in lawyers'. Because HBO is coming (after you), of course! And I'm afraid it will get even worse...

  46. MrDamage

    Hows about some photoshopping?

    Replace Ned Stark with Yoda, and use the phrase "Coming, Winter is."

    Or a pic of a buxom Ariel diddling herself, eyes glazed and panting, with the phrase "Winter is cumming"

    Or a pic of some jihadis, bundled up in cold weather gear, charging at the viewer, and the caption "Winter. IS coming."

    The English language is sufficiently broad enough for us to be able to fuck with their precious trademark/copyright, and they won't be able to do a fucking thing about it.

  47. GrapeBunch Silver badge

    Winter Is Here

    This is proof of prior art of my trademark phrase for a drama set on a world a bit like our own, but most everybody's gone PTSD or Psychopathic because it really is boring to be stuck in the Iron Age for thousands of years.

    The small company which produced my first computer trademarked the phrase "user-friendly" circa 1979, but I guess it didn't stick.

    Of Our Discontent.

  48. PhilipN Silver badge

    Quietly beautiful picture

    Thanks for publishing El Reg

  49. hapticz

    freedom of expression

    a lawyers best activity is?, How to prevent people from excising their most valuable rights!

    a class action lawsuit against HBO and any other slimy group of trademark holders would suit me just fine.

    this is what happens when lawyers/barristers have nothing really important (make money) to do, they sit around, figuring out ways to intimidate the public, squeeze money out of 'the little folks', smoke their fat imported cigars and then give everyone the finger.

    give HBO the "cold shoulder" they deserve. little girls lives matter MORE!

  50. MakingBacon
    Flame

    Winter is coming ...

    I shall expect a cease and desist letter from HBO soon and will no doubt put it to the best possible use I can ... wiping my rear end with it.

  51. Milton Silver badge

    Opportunity knocks

    ... for some enterprising business. Your first product could be seasonal tee-shirts, each bearing an original and appropriate landscape photo to go with simple phrases like -

    "It's April: summer is coming"

    and

    "November now: winter is coming"

    and perhaps also a line showing common orifices in buildings, called "Doors" and "Windows".

    Stupid laws bring the law itself into disrepute.

  52. Milton Silver badge

    Another tee-shirt

    What will HBO's parasi-, sorry, lawyers do about a new line of clothing showing an original drawing of a classic out-of-copyright fairytale dragon accompanied by the word "Winter isn't coming"?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    After this news

    I'll pirate their shows with a clean conscious.

  54. hapticz

    freedom of expression

    "12/9/2016 2:37:41 AM"

    wooops retracted, double post!

  55. Stoneshop Silver badge
    WTF?

    Are they going

    to sue every* sodding met office in the world too, as well as amateur meteorologists and almanac publishers and writers?

    * not applicable to those in the tropics, and the lower latitudes of the subtropics. Void where prohibited. May contain allergenes. Certainly contains nuts.

  56. mattkillen

    Think of the meteorologists

    Michael Fish wouldn't have tolerated this shit.

  57. El Duderino
    Megaphone

    Cunts

    That is all

    P.S.: winter is coming. In 12 days even.

  58. Lee D Silver badge

    OOohh, that would have provided me with months of entertainment at no cost if they'd done that to my daughter.

    The "counter-notice" stuff sounds all scary and whatever, but I'd assert a good faith belief that they were talking b*****ks in a heartbeat and make it as expensive for them as I possibly could.

    That's the kind of weekend project I like, along with correcting the junk mail that comes through my door, reporting "faith healers" to the advertising authorities when they claim to be able to cure stuff, and taking the smallest of personal complaints to the extreme when companies pull unnecessary junk like "Sorry, can't do that, data protection" when it's not actually anything to do with that.

    A lot of companies have learned the hard way that a guy bored on the weekend, with a modicum of legal knowledge, and a desire to REALLY purge the world of this kind of piss-take can cost them more than their notice could ever have provided them. Especially when I add my costs to a running total stated in every letter after a certain point (i.e. we've established my complaint, you've asserted I'm wrong, it's gone back and forth, so from that point on I add on the price of every stamp, envelope and my time to every letter from that points onwards and demand you not only solve my [reasonable or I wouldn't even bother to get this far] complaint but those costs too now that it's gotten silly).

    Hell, I just hope they would actually bite and fight to assert their claim, because I hate when companies do what they should on reception of a complaint, it takes all the fun out of it (my father-in-law does the same but he's refused to do it with certain companies because they do just refund/compensate you immediately without question, and it takes all the fun out of it, and then why punish the good guys?).

    Hey, HBO. Winter is coming. That's a statement of fact, written in books long before you even existed. You don't own it, even if you have a trademark on it. That trademark is to stop COMPETITORS passing off as you, not to censor little girl's unrelated artwork. Your due diligence in asserting such claims just f***ed up royally, and I'd take you up on every offer of counter-filing, lawsuit, etc. just out of principle.

    Here's hoping they are too stupid to spot the bad press and back down from such future endeavours. Where's the fun in that, when they are utterly in the wrong?

    Hey, HBO, why don't you pick on Garry Kasparov:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Coming-Vladimir-Enemies-Stopped/dp/1782397868

    Or the Cambridge University Alumni store? Or any of the 13m hits I get for the phrase that have nothing to do with HBO or their TV series at all?

    I know the answer. Because they would write back and tell you to f*** off at great expense to yourself, whereas a girl and her father won't.

    Winter is coming, people...

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      "That trademark is to stop COMPETITORS passing off as you, not to censor little girl's unrelated artwork."

      Quite.

      The site in question can print T-shirts from submitted artwork, and that's covered by the trademark - but while the image bears the phrase, the artwork is nothing whatsoever to do with Game of Thrones, it's a completely independent work, with the phrase added as a title afterwards. The girl is not a competitor, and is not passing off her work as relating to Game of Thrones.

      Given other uses of the phrase, what's needed is for someone who has in the past used it in a commercial context - preferably predating the trademark, and where the phrase is used in a significant way and is recognisable from that use (which rules out simply being used in a line in a book or whatever) - to produce T-shirts with it in the context of their work.

      Then we could all invest heavily in popcorn companies (or just buy lots of popcorn) and see what happens.

  59. HKmk23

    Now is the winter of madness...

    Never watched Game of Twats and never will (I have a life)...

  60. akeane
    Trollface

    More victim blaming...

    HBO have gone to a lot of time and expense to trademark their highly inventive "Winter is coming" phrase, a phrase which was unknown to the English speaking world before they released their recent historical documentary featuring said phrase.

    How people can defend this little girl (who can reasonably be compared to Hitler) is beyond me...

  61. iRadiate

    Game of shite. Winter is coming.

    Game of shite. Winter is coming.

    Game of shite. Winter is coming.

  62. Adam_OSFP

    Hypocritical load of horseshit...

    Don't kid yourselves, you know damn well what I mean, because most of you SERVE the system of corporate greed already or intend/wish to do so in near future.

    Oh, well, whatever helps you sleep at night...

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are they going to do a take-down for the news reader with the name "Jon Snow"? Like the lawyers tried to do with the country formerly known as Java.

    Maybe the news reader could issue a defamation claim against HBO - for using the name as absolutely defining someone as a legal bastard.***

    *** I've read the first book at the insistence of a young friend. I stalled at page 600 - even before realising the imminent end was merely a pause in a large series of books.

  64. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    13 years old?

    fantastic picture

    1. Nigel222

      The girl is autistic. Gifted and handicapped in the same package. (Lots of sympathy. Most of us programmers share the same traits in a more diluted form).

      Can't HBO be attacked under some sort of disability discrimination law for throwing a clear abuse of the DMCA at a disabled minor? In fact I suspect that might be possible even without any input from this young artist.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    game of who

    There are only 10 episodes each season and so many deaths, penises and boobs I can't even get my head around who is supposed to be in the next one.... seems like winter has been coming for a long time (yes, you can read that as a double entendre because most of the characters seem to come way quicker than winter - 7 seasons, no winter yet... anyone want to buy this summer wear?).

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Start of Winter

      If you had bothered to implement RFC1149 they would have told you about the start of winter. Season 6, Episode 10, about half way through:

      Sansa Stark: "A raven came from the citadel. A white raven. Winter is here."

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HBO ought to adapt Simon Raven's series of novels "Alms for Oblivion" and "First Born of Egypt" - a similar mix of politics, sex, and the supernatural in the 20th century.

    It was said that his friends were wary of any admitted peccadillo appearing in his next novel. His autobiography "Shadows on the Grass" was called by one critic "the filthiest cricket book ever written". The author responded by asking if he could include the quote on the book's cover.

  67. Olius

    I was wondering...

    ...what all the ex-SCO bunch were doing these days.

    It appears they're pretending to run a US cable network.

  68. M7S

    So if the young lady in question was doing this as a "fan review"*

    and IIRC you are allowed to quote short passages for review purposes, then perhaps someone on her behalf could counter-sue HBO for suppression of free speech?

    *And I am sure there would be a legion of people prepared to affirm that they think this is a helpful review, ahem

  69. Potemkine Silver badge

    It's getting cold there

    Winter is coming

  70. cd / && rm -rf *
    Pirate

    Fuck you, HBO.

    Makes me glad I torrented every single ep of GoT.

    By the way... Winter is coming.

  71. Gruezi

    Cold Outside

    On my walk to work this morning, there were several ice patches on the ground. It really looks like winter is coming. DO YOU HEAR THAT HBO? I SAID: WINTER. IS. COMING.

  72. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    anybody willing to bet on top bps*?

    *backpedals per second

  73. Dominic Thomas

    "Use it or lose it"

    It should be noted that the "Use it or lose it" page linked at the bottom of the article is hosted by a firm of IP lawyers, who might well have a rather biased viewpoint given that cases like this are their bread and butter... The EFF has a very different opinion on the issue:

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/trademark-law-does-not-require-companies-tirelessly-censor-internet

    1. moiety

      Re: "Use it or lose it"

      Good point, and might be worth the author adding a footnote to the article. It's a common myth that I believed myself up until fairly recently.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We are not quite as stupid

    At one time I used to do trademark registration. I had one marketing guy who wanted to trademark a phrase consisting of words in common use in the UK, I argued he couldn't, so eventually I just slapped it in and put the rejection notice on his desk.

    I now realise I should have trademarked it in the US, where it would obviously have gone through. Words simply fail me on this, I simply cannot find adequate ones to describe the incompetence (or venality, your choice) of the USPTO.

  75. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    Talk is cheap. Lawyers are not. Where can I donate some money to take these clowns down?

  76. moiety

    Props to Mr. Nichols, by the way, for getting Winter is coming into the title AND the article AND the image description AND the URL.

  77. adam payne Silver badge

    How can someone have been able to trademark a well known phrase such as "Winter is coming"?

    #facepalm

    Please HBO don't take down my post.

  78. Alien8n Silver badge

    Games Workshop all over again

    When will these companies realise that just because you own a trademark it doesn't make it valid for EVERY use?

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I must be warped

    I saw the headline and the caption and thought.. ah, it's a girl called Winter and she's.. but no.. not that.

  80. PLAzmA

    How can they trademark the phrase when there are so many examples of prior art in the public domain of the use of this phrase going back long long before HBO's show. Do a google image search for the phrase and you will see its used in lots of memes and similar images to the one produced by this poor child.... I dont understand who's arse got bend out of shape by the picture for this to even ever happen.... Oh wait....

    Could this be a publicity stunt to keep the stupid show in peoples mind and in a few days/weeks they will issue a public apology and invite the kid onset for a photo opportunity and to make amends..... watch this space.

  81. Daz555

    I am happy to state winter is coming. Because it bloody is coming.

    Winter is coming.

    It starts on 21st December this year.

  82. dmacleo

    used often in cold climates

    here in Maine the phrase winter is coming has been used often by many for many many decades..

  83. Gert Leboski
    Trollface

    Go on 4chan and co...

    This is exactly where you want the prats from 4chan and similar seedy, ne'er-do-well-infested, dark corners of the internet to go and coat this with their own particular brand of chaos and disorder. They could get themselves some good PR here. :-D

  84. Florida1920

    Sue me, HBO

    I'm going to splash the words "winter is coming" all over every domain I own. Bring it on, dickheads.

  85. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Are condoms considered clothing?

    Hmmm, I think "Winter is coming" would be a good catch phrase for my new line of cool mint flavored condoms.

    1. Gert Leboski

      Re: Are condoms considered clothing?

      Now I have the twisted and sick image of Jack Frost giving a special facial to the assortment of severed heads on display in all the GoT billboard adverts I see around. Thanks for that.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Are condoms considered clothing?

        That's perfect! The commercial will be absolutely wonderful.

        "It's cold outside but it's warm in 'ere! Jack Frost Condoms: Winter is coming"

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all her own fault!

    She "should've" asked!

    Oops...

    www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37092366

    Specsavers seeks to trademark 'should've' catchphrase - BBC News

  87. BazzF

    Cue a rash of

    Blinter is coming

    Vinter is coming

    etc.

    What would be much better would be picures of warm tones with Summer is coming. Fuck HBO.

  88. Gert Leboski

    I'll just leave this here and sit back.

    https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/jon-snow.jpg

    1. Haku

      Re: I'll just leave this here and sit back.

      Hahahahaha! Brilliant.

      Here's a clickable link of it so people don't have to copy/paste:

      https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/jon-snow.jpg

      1. Gert Leboski

        Re: I'll just leave this here and sit back.

        Thanks Haku. I don't have a shiny badge so I don't think I can do that. That's the price I pay for being a bit of a lurker for the last 7+ years. :/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'll just leave this here and sit back.

          It intrigues me how you found that image - assuming it isn't a composite. Was it a case that it was fortuitously remembered - or just search serendipity?

          1. Gert Leboski

            Re: I'll just leave this here and sit back.

            It stuck in my mind and a single google search brought up the image.

    2. Florida1920

      Re: I'll just leave this here and sit back.

      He should be sued for wearing that tie.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would boycott HBO for this - but their programs are the best things I can get on Bittorrent...

  90. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    How about we all tweet pictures of the Autumnal scenery and add a caption? Can we think of one we can all use?

  91. shmuel6

    This is where all the anti piracy BS bites you in the @$$. It trains companies to Chase after every Tom Dick and Shmuck to "Protect" itself.

  92. macspite

    Set up a fighting fund for countering idiotic trsademark protection? Just do it

    Ask for donations, however small. Every little helps

    This is only a suggestion, feel free to Nave it your way

    Thanks to the Register this comment is connecting people, because you're worth it,

    As for me, trademarking? I'm lovin' it - making America great again

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lawyers....................................

    Iceland = company

    V

    Iceland = country

  94. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Fair Use

    Using that phrase within the artwork might be protected by the 'fair use' doctrine. It's possible that HBO objected to the use of that phrase as the file name when it was uploaded. It would then appear in a search along with their branded merchandise. So, change the name and put it back up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fair Use already Streisanded

      " It's possible that HBO objected to the use of that phrase as the file name when it was uploaded. It would then appear in a search along with their branded merchandise. "

      Did you actually try putting that into Google before coming out with that attempt at pro-HBO PR?

      They are totally Streisanded at the moment, the front page is full of this story whereas if they had done the obvious thing - i.e. nothing whatsoever - an obscure file wouldn't make it onto any search page anyone is likely to look at. Because Google has clever algorithms called "Page Rank" to ensure that's exactly what happens. If I put a file called Winter is Coming and a picture of the various tits on my bird table (as distinct from the various tits that work for HBO IP department) it won't make it onto page 300, let alone the first page.

      As it is, Kasparov's book of the same name is on about page 2. I await with interest what HBO does about that.

  95. keith_w

    I think that PAUL CLAYTON, LARRY EHRLICH, DAVID LAZAR, TOM SIX

    should sue HBO and GRRM for stealing ther phrase:

    Done laid around, done stayed around this old town too long

    Summer's almost gone, winter's coming on

    Done laid around, done stayed around this old town too long

    And it seems like I've got to travel on

    And it seems like I've got to travel on

    Gotta Travel On

    Performed by lots of people including Bob :Dylan, Neil Young, Billy Grammar and a host of others

  96. Paul Herber Silver badge

    Game of Thrones? I know what I do on the throne every morning, I often take the newspaper in there with me. I'd give it 5 minutes if I were you.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still haven't got round to watching Game of Thrones.

    Maybe I'll pirate it one day because screw you HBO.

  98. Uffish

    Prior use ?

    Ezra Pound (Lustra, 1916):

    Winter is icumen in,

    Lhude sing Goddamm,

    Raineth drop and staineth slop,

    And how the wind doth ramm!

    Sing: Goddamm.

    Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,

    An ague hath my ham.

    Freezeth river, turneth liver,

    Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.

    Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,

    So 'gainst the winter's balm.

    Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,

    Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

    (a parody of the the 13th century song "Sumer Is Icumen In").

    And all sing "Goddamm, DAMM the fartwits at HBO".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prior use ? - Ezra Pound

      Ezra Pound wrote an immensely long poem attacking capitalism and arguing that culture was universal and couldn't be appropriated by commercial interests.

      "with usura [i.e. rent seeking, which is basically what HBO is doing]

      ...

      no picture is made to endure nor to live with

      but it is made to sell and sell quickly"

      He may have been a nutcase of paranoid tendencies who thought Mussolini was a great thinker, but he had a point.

  99. ProfessorLarry

    Trademarked speech

    The idiocy of allowing the trademarking of common, widely used phrases was mapped out and lampooned in my 1995 column "Registered Peopleware," reprinted in _The Peopleware Papers_ (Prentice Hall, 2001). The bulk of the story is constructed almost entirely from trademarked words and phrases, such as "We've thought of everything", "The Best Solution", and "Bad Idea." Pity the poor meteorologist or climate scientist who now can no longer say "winter is coming." [Disclaimer: All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.]

  100. sisk Silver badge

    As I understand trademark related laws (read: IANAL and thus could be wrong) there's no way in hell that it could legitimately be used in this instance to block the distribution of a child's painting. And if it CAN be used that way then IP law is even more broken than I thought.

  101. Paul

    I hereby declare I own the trademark to "Fuck Off HBO".

    Anyone who wishes to use that phrase must pay a licence fee; the licence fee is £1 or $1, to be paid to the Cancer Research charity.

    1. Vic

      I own the trademark to "Fuck Off HBO".

      Anyone who wishes to use that phrase must pay a licence fee

      Per use? I'm going to be broke...

      Vic.

  102. Anon41

    Winter is coming

    Please note this is in no way a reference to Game of Thrones. I'm just stating a fact!

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid

    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    Frank Zappa

    And America has way more than its fair share.... after all they made Trump president!

  104. NANOTECH

    CUT CABLE DUMP DISH

    Whenever I see the abuse of trademarks in this way, I cringe having had to fight similar suits and threats over the years. Beat microsoft years ago, and now am fighting dish as they claim they own trademark dish, when in fact, they don't, the registered dish network. This has gone on for over a year where I keep getting threatened and bullied by dish network. I offered to sell them my url, even lease it to them if they are so concerned. After all, it will cost them more to sue than what I am asking, a measly $5K, so makes you wonder what motivates companies like HBO in this case whereby an innocent autistic childs art work would be attacked over such a generic phrase that probably no one even knew about until now.

    Protest with your pocketbooks and wallets, drop HBO from your TV cable or dish subscription, in fact, a move to put these monopolies out of business is well under way with new media centers, or as we use to call them, the black box which allows you to watch what you want when you want, no more rip off costs for PPV rentals, so I hit them in their bottom line and no longer pay subscription fees saving thousands to date. Nothing better than FREE-PPV.com so see how much you can save and fight back against these bully monopolies who have ripped us off for decades. Stream your way to savings. Best way to beat these bullies is to post all over the place winter is coming and let them attack everyone.

  105. David 4

    This should never have been trademarked as it is an English phrase that has been used extensively thoughout the world since the 'Winter' season was named.

    The people who are responsible for trademarks are just morons shoud not be allowed to trademark terms that are in general use, or that are part of the standard English language.

    Copy and share the image with the girls name/story across the world.

  106. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Geek code

    So re-do the title in all caps, and replace the "I" with "1" and the "O" with "0".

    When the HBO fuckwits come complaininng, tell them "No, it says 'w1nter 1s c0ming', an entirely different phrase."

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Winter is coming

    Hey, it was only last month that I thought Winter is Coming. And then I thought, ah, it's December so it has come, if I work for the Met Office. Then I thought, ah, Winter is Coming, but it has not yet come. When I think that Winter is Coming I think of snow and ice and all things nice. Although Winter is Coming, it has not yet come. But Winter is Coming. It is, honestly. Winter is Coming.

    On the 21st it will be a different thing. But until then, Winter is Coming. Then again, after the 21st, even though it will have come, it will be less than 12 months before Winter is Coming happens again. indeed, Winter is Coming happens every year.

    Winter is Coming is not my favourite time of year. But Winter is Coming means Christmas is Coming (TM).[1] So Winter is Coming also means nice thoughts about Christmas.

    Winter is Coming, and the goose is getting fat. Yum, yum. Winter is Coming, nice.

    Twats. (Anonymous, obviously.)

    []1 You are not allowed to steal this, you cunts.

  108. Mpeler
    Paris Hilton

    Pounding away again, Ezra and Mike...

    Ah for the Auld dayze of groat of the day on the header line:

    Winter is icumin in, Lhude sing Goddamn....

    (And Paris is going Sumer, Sumer I want SUMER is icumin in, I'm f-f-f-freezing --^^^)

  109. bitwise

    "The Smiley Company"

    I had a takedown notice from "The Smiley Company" after I made a tshirt with (my own design) of smiley faces and used the word smiley in the name.

    It was the biggest load of bullshit... it's not like I'd even sold any.

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prior usage?

    HBO better slap a take-down notice on Google for hosting this poem written in 1862.

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?pg=PA166&dq=%22winter+is+coming%22&id=W85LAQAAMAAJ

  111. Robert Baker
    Flame

    List please?

    Someone should publish a complete list of all shows by the Heartless Bastards Organisation, so that we can all boycott them. Let them see how much their "trademarks" are worth if they're rendered worthless by the fact that their shows no longer have any viewers.

    In the meantime, they can shove their "trademarks" where the sun don't shine, closely followed by at least one lighted stick of dynamite.

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Winter is HERE

    https://static1.e621.net/data/e3/b6/e3b672270dbf40806e7f59b273f931c0.jpg

    from left to right: Puzzle, an Anglo-Indian giraffe (very long story) and Diamond, a zebra who thinks that black is a drab colour and needs to be brightened up a little, and Nightshade, an Egyptian jackal who has no sense of humor at all, and, unlike Diamond, thinks that black is her colour. Diamond and Nightshade are NOT friends. Diamond has just hit Nightshade with a very large snowball.

    The takedown notice for this one ought to be interesting.

  113. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/12/winter_is_coming/

  114. This post has been deleted by its author

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