Is the name "Soylent" already copyrighted or trademarked?


#1

Copyright isn’t relevant here – copyright is about copying works, not names. Trademark wouldn’t even really be an issue with respect to the original book

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Room!_Make_Room!

and movie

I don’t think, because trademark is about avoiding confusion in the marketplace, and nobody is going to confuse Soylent the food with Soylent Green the movie (as in, think they are literally the same entity). And apparently @rob registered a trademark for it already, so we should be all set. (IANAL.)

Marketing wise, I think it’s a friggin’ awesome name. It’s universally known, communicates lots of correct ideas instantly, and the incorrect ideas (it’s not people, and it’s not from a dystopian nightmare) make for good talking points.


#2

Don’t think the name is changing since Rob’s filed for a trademark on it. :smiley:


#3

There is no copyright issue.


#4

Not sure how the whole law thing works for you Americans, but it looks to me like Soylent green is only trademarked for cookies, sweets etc, not as a shake.
http://www.trademarkencyclopedia.com/soylent-green/

Also, there is Rob’s own trademark anyways, though that application seems to be still in progress.

I wouldn’t be worried so


#5

These people have stolen their company and product names from someone else’s copyrighted intellectual property, with the VERY clear intent of using the popularity of that IP for their own financial gain.

As the previous poster said “I doubt there would be as much interest if he had named it Rob’s Meal Replacement Powder.” That’s precisely the point! The fact that they cannot come up with an interesting name, does not mean it’s OK to steal someone else’s IP to make money.

And the fact that he has supposedly “registered” a trademark is irrelevant. misleading and dishonest. He may have APPLIED for a trademark, but that is not the same as having obtained one - a process that takes CONSIDERABLY longer than the couple of months since this all emerged.

Investors need to beware!


#6

Actually, Rob idly chose the name Soylent for his first experimental, non-food meal, and the name then stuck.

Furthermore, there is an application for a trademark, then there’s honesty about the name. If the application becomes rejected, then the company will have to choose a different one. End of story.

Everything is legal and honest so far.

And if you continue to think that Rob’s doing wrong, you may need to go out there and get a life.


#7

And the fact that he has supposedly “registered” a trademark is
irrelevant. misleading and dishonest. He may have APPLIED for a
trademark, but that is not the same as having obtained one - a process
that takes CONSIDERABLY longer than the couple of months since this
all emerged.

MGM does not have a trademark on “Soylent Green,” someone else does but it appears to have been suspended per CuriousBen’s link.

Regardless, the USPTO will sort this all out when they either approve or reject Rob’s application. Personally I do not like the name, but I think a lot of older people who may remember the movie from before I was born will likely have a quick laugh at it and realize it is not really made from people. You know what that is? An easy way to get someone to look twice: try doing that in any market that is saturated already: food, laundry detergent, even automobiles.

Personally, I am waiting for this to make its entry on the market and have major news outlets pick this up. I think more important than the name or company behind it is having licensed physicians back it up, which is what the media will likely focus on. If someone with a bunch of letters after their name can vouch for it, I think this could literally explode and make a huge impact, literally catching the big food companies with their pants down.


#8

The name stuck because people know it ffrom somewhere else. ie it is stolen.

Yes there is an application for a trademark, which may be denied. That is something of which investors need to be aware.

“Get a life” is not a legal argument that will get you very far.


#9

If you really need to know, the name “Soylent” comes from a minor plot device included into the 1966 novel “Make room! Make room!” by Harry Harrison. MGM then bought the movie rights over the novel and made “Soylent Green” into the focus of the story.

Last time I checked, that information wasn’t only publicly available, but broadly known.
If you didn’t know it, that may have to do with your account only being three days old.

It is not a legal argument: is moral advice. And considering that you keep demonizing the actions of Rob and Co without quoting the law that you so dearly want to uphold, and specially when Rob and Co aren’t doing anything wrong, I am convinced that you are nothing but a troll.
Thus, trolls like you should learn to accept advice and stop making themselves into laughingstock.


#10

Unfortunately, I will have to remove @danielp359’s comment based on its use of bad language. I will address his concerns though:

The USPTO has granted the Trademark, here is the information:

Serial Number: 85855749
Filing Date: 2/21/2013

Classification Information

International Class Code: 005
US Class Codes: 006, 018, 044, 046, 051, 052
Primary Class: Pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations; sanitary preparations for medical purposes; dietetic substances adapted for medical use, food for babies; plasters, materials for dressings; material for stopping teeth, dental wax; disinfectants; preparations for destroying vermin; fungicides, herbicides.
Class Status: Active

Our investors love us!

They wrote about us on their blog! http://blog.ycombinator.com/soylent-taking-pre-orders-on-crowdhoster-now-what-if-you-never-had-to-worry-about-food-again
And have tweeted about us many times!
https://twitter.com/Harjeet/status/336955937619320832

SelfStarter is MIT Licensed and Open-Source

Learn more here: http://selfstarter.us/
If you think it’s janky, commit improvements to the GitHub repo!
https://github.com/lockitron/selfstarter

Hope that addresses everything!


#11

Sorry John, there is no indication that the USPTO has granted the trademark. I don’t know where you get that idea. The application is in process - “Live” - and they have assigned a serial number. There is no registered trademark. (If you look at Warner Bros’ trademark, you will see that has a Registration Number and Date. They have a trademark, unlike this product).


#12

John works for the Soylent Corporation (as the Chief Technology Officer), so I assume that is how he got the information.

The trademark owned by Warner Bros is for “Soylent Green” and in class 032 (beverages WITHOUT food supplements and meal replacements, those are a separate class).
Also, it’s for the name “Soylent Green” specifically and makes no claim to the word “Soylent” standing alone, just as it makes no claim to the word “Green” standing alone.

Edit: Sigh…I tried :smiley:


#13

It is very clear that the “Soylent Corporation” has no clue about trademarks, and I’m sorry to say neither do you.

One of the most shocking things about it is the repeated claims being continuously and arrogantly made by company officers and their supporters, when they clearly know nothing about trademarks. Plus the repeated flagging and removal of my posts here merely for directly telling the truth, that these people don’t want to hear (or don’t want others to hear). Suffice it to say, there is a record of the removal of these posts by company officers, which of course illustrates the real extent of their claimed willingness for everything to be out in the open, honest and above board. We will see whether they also remove this post.

Here’s some more free advice from someone who knows what he’s talking about. Perhaps Ignacio will also read something he doesn’t like and shoot off some more personal abuse. In the meantime, I suggest reading it and taking it seriously.

  1. When a trademark is registered, it will say so on the USPTO website. There is no extra information or insight that anyone, including an officer f the company, would have. In fact, the application has not even passed through any of the required stages beyond having been submitted. For example being published for public opposition. So all of this stuff about the trademark having been granted is ignorance (at best) or wilfully misleading (at worst).

  2. As for the Warner Bros beverage trademark, anything more than a careless search would have revealed more than one trademark.

  3. The fact that Warner’s trademarks are not in dietary and nutritional supplements does not make the difference that you imagine. I suggest you consult a lawyer, because I’m getting bored with having to provide free legal advice to people who don’t want to hear anything that contradicts their assumptions. (Not a good sign for success in business, BTW).

  4. As for “Soylent Green” - you cannot trademark or make a claim to the word “Green” alone, so your statement is irrelevant. Again, this does not make the difference that you imagine and you need to consult a lawyer.

If I were Rob, I would seriously think about the value of the use of the name, and weigh the pros and cons of continuing to use the name without a license vs approaching Warner Bros and asking to negotiate a license with them for the use of the name in return for royalties etc. If their lawyers decided to oppose the use of the name and to act on it, Rob will be unlikely to win, and if he does it will be at the cost of a great deal of money and time. In addition, while using the name has generated a great deal of publicity for this project, ultimately the name carries with it a whole load of negative and sinister connotations, that may ultimately be detrimental.

You people should be thanking me for this advice, instead of flagging, removing and hurling personal abuse.


#14

Hi Daniel,

Why are you personally so passionate about this subject? While I understand your concern that the name may be owned by someone else and if it is, it will eventually come out in the wash and need to be changed or licensed from the owner but you seem to be overly concerned by all this. Why? Just let things run its course and if things hit the fan… you can come back and go “i told you so”. It obvious they want to try and stick with the original name. If it comes back and bites em in the butt, so be it.


#15

I’m “passionate” because I don’t like to see people trying to take advantage of the hard work of others (writers and film makers) to make a quick buck for themselves.

Don’t these people see that Harry Harrison, and then MGM and Warner Brothers, spent a lot of time, skill and money on creating a story line and a movie that has attained cult status on its own merits? And then along come these people trying to exploit the results of that hard work for their own financial gain.


#16

You must be a busy person then…


#17

Yeh, busy saving the world by minding other peoples business for them, lol.


#18

Coming in, I was about to go into a post about the movie “The Mask” and the discotheque chain “CocoBongo” in Mexico, but now I’m not going to bother.

Considering your latest post, and the trend before it, I can now understand where you are coming from: you must have personal experience, perhaps ample experience, with legalized theft of intellectual property: you could be a graduate student who wrote half of a dissertation before being dismissed, then saw it published without your name in it; you could be an architect that once designed a beautiful mansion but could never sell the design, only to later find photos or your mansion already built and inhabited; you could be a cubicle worker who gets his projects continuously lifted up by his boss; you could even be in the big leagues: working for some big consumer-products’ corporation inside their industrial labs, knowing that your contract pretty much states that anything you create during your contract automatically becomes company property, and that you can become dismissed from your own project at a moment’s notice.
Who knows, you could even be like me, who’s writing a physics thesis that, once applied, could potentially revolutionize the fuel economy of tug, tanker and bulk cargo ships. However, as you know that patent law can be very easily circumvented, you just keep calm, continue on with your experiments and try to not start writing the bitter rant you will hurl at the 2030 shipping industry convention when, rather than give you a cent in royalties from the hundreds of millions of dollars you have earned or saved them, they will give you a medal.

In the end, the mature response is to just keep calm, seek legal advice and keep going. Also, keep your fingers crossed over the possibility that some shipwright could just copy-paste one of your patents rather than circumvent patent law and reverse-engineer it.
And, of course, don’t go roaming the internet, seeking perfectly legal companies that you find immoral. Just consider how you look: That’s like a gay-in-denial being at the forefront of one of those “traditional family values” demonstrations.

The mods didn’t delete your posts because they wanted to “silence your truths”: they did it because you were hitting under the belt.
If must really know, my English skills weren’t deteriorating. I’m not a native English speaker, which comes to show with my still-spotty usage of idioms and common slang, and my over-reliance on argot.
Shame on you.

Furthermore: I, unlike you, try to check the spelling and grammar of my posts before sending them. I you want to be a grammarian on people, you should strive to be an example.
Shame on you, again.

Even more, instead of accepting that your language was unacceptable, you wrote a bitter reply against the erasure of your posts.

Well, I’m off: my sleeping medication is kicking in.


#19

I hate to say it, but daniel raises some relevant points in his comments in terms of trademark. The main point is that Warner Bros owns a number of trademarks on “Soylent Green.” Though “Soylent” is different from “Soylent Green” WB might still have a basis for legal action.

If the case were to go to court, the issue would probably come down to the question of the likelihood of confusion. In other words, would a person think upon seeing a product labeled “Soylent” that it’s associated with the film “Soyent Green” or WB? Unfortunately, courts have generally used a pretty low standard, usually called the “moron in a hurry” standard, which is to say if a person of low intelligence with no time to think about it were not to confuse two similar trademarks, then there’s no likelihood of confusion (instead of using the higher so-called “rational person” standard).

Considering these things, I think Rob is unlikely to win a suit if WB were to press it. Even if he is granted the trademark by the USPTO, I don’t think it’ll change anything. And, even if he were to win, is the trademark really worth the legal fees and time?

Of course, WB may never press it. The Soylent Green trademark is old property for WB, and not a particularly valuable one. The copyright on the movie and the book it’s based on are still moderately valuable, but we’re talking trademark here and since companies aren’t out there hocking a whole lot of Soylent Green products, it doesn’t have much value.

This means it’s possible that Rob could just continue with the name, waiting for the legal nastygram from WB that may never come. The downside with this is that, should WB try to play trademark bully after Rob’s product is established and he’s got name recognition, it could hurt the company, since he’ll have to build up name recognition on a new trademark. For that reason, personally, I’d try to change the name now. Us DIYers can continue to call it Soylent with no concern for trademark infringement (unless we try to sell our soylent), but I think the product Rob brings to market should be call like “Nom,” or “Vida” or “Chi” or whatever name he likes.

On the other hand, he could contact WB’s legal department and try to work out a licensing arrangement, but, again, you have to ask whether it’s worth it. I don’t think it is.

As to issue of stealing other people’s intellectual property, which daniel brings up a few times, he’s confusing copyright and trademark. Aside from the fact that “stealing” is an inappropriate metaphor for intellectual property since ideas are non-rival goods, Rob is not making illegal copies of either the book or the movie and selling them. The copyright on Soylent Green and Make Room! Make Room! are both secure and the relevant people continue to make money off of these. Trademark and copyright are two very different things. If you’re going to haughtily lecture people on legal issues, you might want to first get a grasp on these very basic legal concepts.


#20

@JosephK All that you say is true and well reasoned, Joseph. But not only that… there are a couple other aspects worth considering in all this. I’m sure you’ve heard it said, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Although that is not at all true in every case, in this instance, I think there’s a strong element of that sort on both sides. Rob’s use of the name can only give WB’s now very long-in-the-tooth film a publicity boost, maybe result in a few more videotape rentals or DVD sales. And on Rob’s side – IF Warner Brothers were to pursue it, can you imagine the publicity boost it would give to Rob and his product? He’s already fairly obviously visible as the “little guy,” one of the ever increasingly-pinched 99%. Having a big corporation bully him would result in widespread public visibility and quite possibly a tremendous boost for Soylent. I would tend to agree that it’s hardly worthwhile to seek a licensing arrangement. And probably it’s worth the risk for Rob to continue to use the name. As you point out, he isn’t stealing a damn thing. Maybe worth seeing what a TM lawyer would advise…