When Groupon decided to launch a new product with the name of Gnome they either forgot to check if it was already a registered trademark, or simply didn’t care that it already was. The “GNOME” has been a registered trademark since 2008, and has been known a known name in software for the last 17 years.
The GNOME Foundation recently found itself in an odd situation when Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) decided to roll out a new tablet based point of sale solution for merchants. Groupon somehow came up with the name of GNOME for the products. For the last 17 years GNOME been a name known in software, as it has been a desktop environment environment for GNU/Linum and BSD operating systems. This has been a staple for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server distrobutions. It is also the go to the desktop environment for many other distros. With the recognition that it had, it is surprising that nobody thought there was a problem before Groupon made 28 trademark applications even with a simple web search.
The GNOME Foundation reached out to Gropon to request that they pick another name. The reasoning behind that was that Groupon was trying to use the name on something so closely related to the GNOME desktop and its technology. Groupon refused to reconsider the name, and even filed more trademark applications after they received the request. So the foundation decided to file formal proceedings to oppose 10 of the trademark applications by December 3rd 2014. They also made an appeal to the public to help raise funds to fight Groupon, as its counsel advised them it would need $80,00 to do so, This is a bit like David taking on Goliath as the foundation is a non-profit and Groupon is a multi-billion dollar company. The foundation raised $87,693.47 to cover its costs.
When the media picked up on this after the foundation made the appeal, they gained a lot of support. They received so much that Groupon backed down and abandoned all of the 28 pending trademark applications. This was confirmed after the foundation made an update to its website where it made the appeal to the public. Groupon has agreed to change the name of its new product, and the foundation thanks its supporters for this outcome. This is just another gleaming example of the little guy standing up for itself and winning.