Don't call it a 'hackathon' in Germany

A German company has trademarked the term 'hackathon'

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Future hackathons in Germany may have to be called something else

Image credit: REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

On June 1 the White House will be hosting its second hackathon as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. If German Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to similarly engage with the tech community, she’d have two problems: (1) she’d have to hold it in her own apartment, since there’s no official residence for Germany’s chancellor and (2) she couldn’t call it a “hackathon,” at least not without getting the permission of a company named nachtausgabe.de. Why? Because the events company has trademarked the term “hackathon” in Germany.

The company trademarked the term last year and it’s now good through July of 2022, and applies to the following:

  • Clothing, footwear, headgear

  • Advertising agency services, radio and television advertising, business information, market and opinion research, public relations, online advertising on a computer network, outdoor advertising, publication of printed matter (including in electronic form), for advertising purposes, sponsors, sponsorship in the form of advertising, advertising by mail , marketing, recruitment, consultancy in human resource issues

  • Providing access to information on the Internet, providing Internet chatrooms, electronic exchange of messages via chat lines, chat rooms and Internet forums

  • Presentation of live events, organization and implementation of cultural and sporting events; entertainment

Does this preclude people from calling an event in Germany a “hackathon” without getting permission from nachtausgabe.de? Well, presumably, since the trademark covers “live events.” In the meantime, we’ll just have to wait and see if it stands up to the inevitable challenges that will be coming now that the word has gotten out.

The good news, at least for the White House, is that back here in the United States the word has not been trademarked. The bad news is, if they’re planning to hold a chessathon, a beachathon or a birdathon anytime soon, it might cost some money, since those terms are trademarked here in the U.S. Can’t win em all, I guess.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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