[aprssig] APRS is a trademark, nothing more

Borja Marcos ea2ekh at gmail.com
Fri Aug 18 02:19:55 EDT 2023

> On 18 Aug 2023, at 03:21, Ev Tupis via aprssig <aprssig at lists.tapr.org> wrote:
> Summary:
> If you wish to market your product or service as "APRS-something", then you will need to get TAPR's permission (which may include paying some royalty for the privilege) or you can "just do it" and risk legal action if TAPR chose to enforce their rights.
> Detail:
> Once a Trademark is established, marketed, and well known, consumers come to expect a particular (and consistant) "experience" from that brand as identified by it's trademark.  No other company can legally use that trademark, color combination, logo as a "front" to market inferior "knock offs".
> Bob (wisely, in my opinion) used that leverage to assure he could take legal action if someone used the trademark (like in an advertisement) without permission and/or in a way that that he perceived as diminishing the "experience" that people trusted.

(Note that I am not a product developer, so this doesn’t affect me directly. I have an opinion, however!)

I think I understand why he did it (although sadly I didn’t have the privilege of meeting him) but there is a fine line between fair and necessary protection and abuse.

Let me illustrate it with a well known example. The Java programming language, Sun Microsystems and Oracle Corp.

When Sun Microsystems released Java they protected it heavily for a good reason. It was a torpedo to the waterline of Microsoft’s main advantage: market encroachment
in the “Wintel” architecture (Windows operating system and Intel processor). Suddenly it was possible to write platform independent software. And they didn’r want
anyone to release their own proprietary version of Java riddled by subtle or blatant platform dependencies through extensions, marketting it as “Java” so that Wintel
centric developers would adopt it, only to have (again) applications chained to a single platform.

Microsoft had done or tried to do this before with any open standard they put their hands on. From email to the web. Remember those “Internet Explorer only” webpages?
Microsft being the obvious incumbent for whom “platform independence” was a nightmate was the first target.  Sadly, when Oracle Corp. acquired Sun Microsystems
they tried to turn Java into a cash cow, which is an entirely different matter. 

So, does TAPR make sure that APRS products are really APRS compliant? Does TAPR make sure that APRS products are feature complete? Or is there
a defined tier system so that I can purchase an “APRS tier X” product and I will know that it sends and receives messages, or, for instance, it can send
packets specifying which is my QRV frequency? (Kenwood does, Yaesu don’t), etc? That would be a fair and necessary enforcement of a trademark.

For new developments such as using other modems/phy (Vara on FM or HF, LoRa, whatever) it can be a bit more tricky, but we are at the point where 
nothing has grown out of control, I think developers are still in approachable mode and a timely standardization effort woudl ensure a smooth operation
in the future.

I think it’s time for growth and evolution. 


Borja / EA2EKH

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