Would you believe it? For years it was not only possible, it was common practice to write Geek and Nerd together one after the other without fullstop or comma seperating the pair in ptoduct titles. It was done to inform the google index to whom the product might be of interest. It served a purpose free of restriction until one day trademark trolls registered „geek nerd“ as common word trademark with the German trademark register. After August, 29th 2013 this common practice became a privilege of the Trade Buzzer UG in the Nizza classes 25 and 21. Ever since this day you have to seperate the pair a least by a comma, or else! To fail to seperait the pair may result in a cease&desist and if you disagree with this particular tradmark and doubt that it is lawful to separate poor „geek“ from good ol‘ „nerd“, you might be forced to pay up to 5000 Euro for the priviledge to be told by a judge that geek and nerd are devorced for the rest of the world but the buzzers and that you need to enter a comma, like getDigital was told.
It’s a funny notion to assume, we toss our understanding of our language out the window, because someone make an entry in some dusty registrar no average comcumer ever reads or learns about. Since avberage Joe doen’t know, that suddenly and unexpected the rules have changed, he keeps thinking in terms of geek and nerd and nothing else. The trouble is, that in the eyes of the law, the true meaning seized to exist in some contexts: in titles and on T-shirts the meaning has changed. It is now: „Product, service or promotion belongs to Trade Buzzer UG“.
It doesn’t matter to the judge, that no sane person stops to check in the registrar and learns thereby of its new meaning. The average consumer, averagely informed adequately attentive to the situation, still thinks in terms of geek and nerd and wouldn’t dream to assume anything else. This means it is __not__ a trademark usage. In order to inform average Joe of the change in meaning, it needs a mark, a sign that tells him that in this title and on that particular T-shirt the context has changed. It takes a ® or ™ (provided in every ASCII char set & available in every decent font) to turn „Geek Nerd“ into one actually recognizable trademark: Geek Nerd ® or Geek Nerd™.
After all seperated „Geek“ and „Nerd“ are even in a trade context concerning the classes 25 or 21 neither special nor priviledged, they are ordinary words with their oiginal meaning and connotation.
According to the ruling of a court print-on-demand in Germany can’t offer T-shirts with Geek and Nerd cosying up, standing next to each other. It does not matter, if you found a way to trick spreadshirts DIY T-Shirt confomat to do it anyway, one of them need to be crossed or seperated in some way.
Let’s hope that judges stop being so stuborn and learn the facts of life concerning speech recognition and making common words recognizable for average Joe. In any other case geek and nerd remain geek and nerd even if they are cosily together without a comma in between them.
Help educate judges. Inform your friends from the press , discuss it with befriended judges and speak out, tell for everybody to see how you understand language and how you differentiate between common words and trademarks looking like common words. Quote Mark Lemley, Law Professor at Stanford University on sense and nonsense of trademark laws.
Thank you. We need help. And please remember I, too, suffer from the stubborness of a judge who refuses to acknowledge common speech regocgnition (Weird Legal view – Trademark trolls in German Woods).