We have just learned that Freedom Scientific filed suit against Serotek on May 14 claiming trademark infringement for use of the term “FreedomBox”. This development raises several potentially interesting, if speculative, questions:
- FreedomBox has existed as a product of Serotek Corporation for seven years. Why is Freedom Scientific making this move after all that time has passed?
- This lawsuit was filed one day before the Wafra acquisition was made public. Is there any relationship between the two events?
- Serotek’s products are evolving in some rather innovative ways, covering some of the same territory as products manufactured by Freedom Scientific. Now that Serotek’s recognition and standing is rapidly increasing within the assistive technology industry and the blind community, does this lawsuit represent an anti-competitive move on Freedom Scientific’s part to attempt to delete a player from the field?
- The name “FreedomBox” and the name “Freedom Scientific” have only the word “freedom” in common. There are many other company’s with names including the word “freedom” including Freedom Communications, Inc. and Freedom Technologies Corporation. Given these and probably many other facts, how does Freedom Scientific have a case? The movie Jaws was made in 1975, long before either Henter-Joyce or Freedom Scientific existed. Should Steven Spielberg sue Freedom Scientific for trademark infringement over the name “Jaws”?
- Why has Freedom Scientific demanded a jury instead of simply allowing a judge to handle this matter expeditiously?
We at the Blind Access Journal are deeply concerned about the possible ramifications of this development, even if Freedom Scientific does not win their case. We are continuing to research this story with our sources in the assistive technology and legal fields and will report frequently as new details become known. Please feel free to post a comment or e-mail us at any time about this or any other item.
If I were ruling on this case I would judge in favor of Freedom Box. I don’t know what the suit based on but as you said 7 years have passed now. Competition is good for all of us. It brings us better products.
As a JAWS user for ten years, I have to say that I am absolutely disgusted with the recent series of events surrounding Freedom Scientific. Law suits of this nature are what large bloated corperations engage in to try to squash the competition, rather than continuing to come up with their own innovations to keep themselves relevant in the marketplace. All of this is not good news for those of us who rely on Freedom Scientific’s products to provide us with equal access to emerging technological advancements. It now seems as though FS is more concerned with killing the compeitition than with improving its own products.
I agree with the comments above whole heartedly and I believe any number of things in this post say it all. Where is there a case here at all when there is simply one word shared between a product name and another company name? Are there not numerous examples of this that one could easily think of? Are everyone of them rediculous excuses for court cases? The answer is that they absolutely are not in the least reasonable for a court case and as the post mentions if they think they have a case here then they are guilty with the jaws name of exactly the same thing. Freedom Scientific has just taken one step lower with this one. What they are proving here is that their business is not able to make it on the strength of their products and they have to look for dishonest ways to make money. This is childish and extremely selfish behavior and is not the point of this industry. This is the behavior of a desperate company that does not even believe themselves that they can make it on the strength of their products and that they can not stand up to the competition so they have to look for dishonest ways to eliminate it in a corrupt manner. I just don’t see any other way to look at this that would support what FS is saying here. I am open to consider anyone’s argument in any context that is convincing and respectible, but I do not see any way that this even begins to fit into that category at this point.
I do not know what grounds such a suit could be based on either, but I do have to say that if this is the way fs plans to proceed in the future, it merely justifies my remarks (that I’ve been saying for years) that fs is merely the Microsoft of the adaptive technology world. Isn’t this the exact same tactic MS uses when it runs into competition? Intel for godsake was told they couldn’t trademark a number, and thus, their line of cpus changed from 386-486-586 to pentium, pentium pro, and so on. Now, if fs is claiming trademark infringement, I’d like them to point out where (even once) they’ve used the trademark symbol in their name. I’ve never seen a (TM) after the Freedom in their name.
And, so we see that not only are they envoking MS tactics, but that they’re even neglecting to see before they start that their suit is baseless.
I could go on for pages (and perhaps I’ll finally open a blog just so I can, I’ve wanted to for years, but figured nobody would want to hear what I had to say) This kind of behavior moves fs from adaptive technology company into the class of corporate giant, and adds the final nail in their coffin as far as I’m concerned. I’ve not liked Jaws from the outset, but was forced to use it for various reasons. Each release has added new features while not fixing blaring bugs in previous releases. This forces upgrades just to have bugs fixed that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Typical MS behavior. I’m sorry, but I’ve also been saying for years that FS had a shoe-in at ms, and this behavior more than anything brings that point home to me, since it (to me) verifies the close working partnership they have. When one company begins emulating another’s business practices, it’s time to step up and break up the union.
More than once I’ve pointed out features that Jaws got (with their glorified scripting language) that the rest of the adaptive community got several months later when ms added it as a general feature to their os. I even went so far as to point this out to fs once, and was told that they get the same information all other developers get. My response was “Yeah, 6 months before every one else” to which I received a resounding silence as my only answer.
Coincidence (I think not)
I think that this whole thing is a waist of time on freedoms part. I think they should be more concerned with there products, instead of trying to put the other companies out of business. This is just my thoughts.
We the blind should take additional action by:
1. Boycotting Freedom Scientific until Dr. Hamilton is removed and this frivolous suit is withdrawn.
2. The NFB should for a second time condemn and deplore Dr. Hamilton and Freedom Scientific for trying to restrict competition.
3. If Warfam partners really want to show good faith to the blind community, they should pay Mike Calvo back every penny heâ€™s had to waist defending himself against this high handed reverse Robin Hood scheme. After all, even if the suit is withdrawn, resources have been squandered here that could have really made a difference to the blind community.
4. If any self respecting blind employee of Freedom Scientific reads this, I’d urge you to consider the long term effects of this behavior on your own life and decide if a pay check is really worth it. In the long run, if Freedom Scientific gets away with this we will all have a lot less Freedom to have and choose the technology that works best for us.
We are only victims if we allow ourselves to be victims! This is the time to take action!