Re: Extropian Agroforestry Ventures Ltd.

Michael Lorrey (
Sun, 14 Feb 1999 23:35:51 -0500 wrote:

> Although I often helped ExI head off possible infringements of its trademarks
> and service marks back when I was still on the board of directors, please note
> that I no longer speak for the organization. My comments here merely reflect
> my continuing abstract interest in trademark law.
> Does the use of "Extropian" in "Extropian Agroforestry Ventures, Ltd." (EAV)
> infringe on ExI's rights?


> Mike Lorrey nicely summarizes some of the considerations of tax-exempt
> organizations thinking about policing their marks:
> >[W]hile promulgation of the use of these terms over as wide an area as
> >possible is beneficial to extropy as a whole, there is the risk of dilution of
> >its meaning, as well as the possible development of negative public opinion
> >of it if its use, especially for commercial purposes, if it is not overseen and
> >licensed by someone at ExI.
> I think that Mike speaks a little too broadly, however, in saying that,
> >While common use of the word obviously is not restricted under the
> >'fair use' clauses of copyright laws (in the US or Canada), use by a corporate
> >entity which ExI does not have interest in or some measure of oversight
> >or control over is a definite infringement on the copyright and trademark.
> Again, the question as regards infringement (though not dilution) is whether
> or not the use is likely to confuse consumers as to the source, origin, or
> affiliation of ExI. Some uses of "Extropian"--even by huge, for-profit
> corporations--may not go that far. Consider, for example, "Not Extropian
> Cremation, Inc."


I present the case of Network Solutions, owner of the domain name, who are the US Gov't contracted domain name registry. An Australian company, calling itself, has set its own registration site up which is very similar to the Network Solutions internic site. The site will register sites with, for a fee of $220.00, far in excess of the $70.00 which Network Solutions charges for the same service, but this is not mentioned by until the last clause of the registration agreement.

Network Solutions has succeeded in court to force to put a disclaimer on every one of its pages that Network Associates,, and the US Gov't are not affiliated with

Now, I guess I was a little broad, but only a bit. It tends to be a matter of who has the most money. MacDonalds, for example, has succeeded in forcing most all producers from naming products using the MacDonalds name, or in paying them license fees. There are a few notable exceptions. In general though, it is the intent to which the name is used which decides the acceptability of its use. Using a name for a purpose which overlaps that of the original trade name owner is definitely treading on thin ice. Likewise, French champagne producers have succeeded restricting the general use of the name 'champagne' for any sparkling wine produced by the method champagnois. Such wines must come from a specific region of France to use that label. Naming your record company "Champagne Records" would obviously have no problems with the trade name property for the wine producers.

The problem with the terms extropy as well as extropian, is that they are general terms which can apply to any sort of futurist, personal freedom oriented products. If I named my gun company Extropy Arms, and produced a gun which only shot stupid narrow minded people, I would not only run the risk of giving people in general a bad impression of extropy in general, but because I was producing a product which is in fact extropic (even in a rough and brutish sort of way), I would be trespassing on the property of ExI.

Now, back to the money question. Given that ExI is, shall we say, not the most well endowed think tank, someone could probably start a company called Extropian Holistic Nose Pickers, Inc. and not give a fig about what ExI thinks or says about it, since it seems like they probably can't afford to contest it in court. However, if they did in fact consider themselves extropians, and wanted to remain in contact and good terms with ExI and its members, they would be smart to seek the blessing of and try to accomodate the trustees of ExI.

   Michael Lorrey, President
                        Lorrey Systems
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