Groupon capitulates in trademark fight with free software project

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 11, 2014 6:01 PM

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) - Daily deal website pioneer Groupon Inc has stood down in a trademark spat with an open-source software project called Gnome, after the nonprofit called on the public to help in its legal fight.

Groupon said on Tuesday it would abandon its trademark applications for "Gnome," the name it chose for a new merchant checkout platform it launched in May. The company said it would come up with a different moniker.

The decision came just hours after The Gnome Project, which develops desktop software for the Linux operating system and claims millions of users, announced a legal fund to formally oppose 10 applications Groupon filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Groupon spokesman Bill Roberts told Reuters in an email that the company's relationship with the open source community was more important than a product name.

Gnome launched its Internet fundraising campaign saying it needed about $80,000. As of Tuesday afternoon, when Groupon announced its decision, the group had already raised nearly $69,000. A representative from Gnome did not immediately respond to questions about what it would do with the funds now that the trademark fight has ended.

Gnome, which started in 1997 and claims its technology can be found in phones, tablets, TVs and systems used by retailers, trademarked its brand in 2006.

It said it had approached Groupon to choose a different name, but the coupon and shopping website refused. With the legal fund, Gnome said it was calling attention to Groupon's "terrible behavior."

When Groupon launched its tablet-based Gnome checkout system in May, the company said it would act as a cash register and a coupon redemption system for businesses.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Ted Botha and Dan Grebler)