Clear Sky Chart FAQ
My attorney has advised me to change the name of the CSCs to avoid potential trademark litigation by Skyclock Company of Michigan who owns a USA registered trademark for the term "SKYCLOCK".
However, it's still the same forecast.
I've been generating the astronomy-weather forecasts on this website since 2001. In June 2007, I received an email from Mr. Rosevear of Skyclock Company saying that the company had a valid United States trademark for "SKYCLOCK" and that I must "immediately stop employing it" or he would direct his attorney "to compose a formal notice and advise you of the legal implications." I felt both threatened and insulted by the content and tone of that email.
I had no idea what to do.
I posted a vague statement on my news page about the possibility of the CSCs being threatened and started looking for a lawyer. To this day, I am still amazed at the outpouring of support I received from my users.
Shortly thereafter, I received another email from Skyclock Company, this time from Mr. Rob Baxtresser. Mr Baxtresser was polite, even apologetic, and wrote that they had "no intention to pursue". In subsequent emails and phone calls with Rob continued to be cooperative. He suggested that Skyclock Company could offer me a royalty-free license to use their trademark.
Sometime later, I received a legal document from Rob. I asked my lawyer to review it. I thought that was just a formality.
To my surprise, my lawyer advised me to not sign Skyclock company’s licensing agreement. In his opinion, it would obligate me to pull my clear-sky forecast graphics from websites that Skyclock company did not approve of, and additionally would require me to promote the Skyclock brand on at least one website. This would be contrary to my terms of service that permit any non-commercial website to display my forecast for free.
I asked my lawyer to if we could negotiate better terms. In a conference call with Rob Baxtresser and his attorneys, I heard Rob ask us to counter offer terms which we'd be happier with. But in the end, my lawyer advised me against any licensing agreement unless I was willing to be legally bound by the terms of the agreement. We tried to negotiate an alternative agreement, however, I heard SkyClock Company's lawyers say that they wanted a licensing agreement. My understanding was that it was either a licensing agreement or a lawsuit.
I and my attorney believe that I never infringed Skyclock Company's trademark. My attorney advised me that any possible licensing agreement would give Skyclock Company some control, however small, on the way, or whether, I run this website. He also advised that I might be replacing a trademark dispute with a contract dispute which may be a worse problem.
To me, this situation came down to an inconsistency between the legal power such a licensing agreement might have over me and my users, versus the cooperative demeanor of Rob Baxtresser. I give Rob full credit as I perceive him to be trying to be non-adversarial in what is fundamentally an adversarial legal system. However, If Skyclock Company is sold, or if Rob leaves, I might loose the benefit of his character and be left with the terms of the agreement.
My lawyer's final advice was that the simplest and most reliable way, which did not depend on any one's good graces and for me to avoid possible litigation, was for me to change the name of the CSC.
Aside from being a significant amount of work on my part, changing the name may inconvenience and confuse some of my 900000+ users, many of whom are avid supporters. I regret the inconvenience.
However, It's still the same forecast.
Thanks to all my users for their unfailing support in this. Special thanks to Norman Van Treeck. Without his legal advice, I would have been lost.
Clear, and peaceful skies.
attilla danko 2008-02-29
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