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PSF warns on angry trademark attacks: Python coders, this is not our way

Hacktivism and threats 'not who we are or how we act'

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Python fans have been chastised over their attacks on a tiny web host embroiled in dispute over the Python trademark in Europe that saw the police called in.

Top officials from the Python Software Foundation have urged civility and restraint in the dispute, saying death threats and hactivism against the web hosting company - which is seeking a European Community trademark on Python - will hurt not help their cause.

The company concerned, Veber, has filed for a trademark on the Python logo for its new cloud hosting and server back-up service.

Veber staffers told El Reg earlier this week that they had received death threats while being harassed over the phone and on emails. Its chief exec, Tim Poultney, said Veber has now received more than 4,000 emails. Hackers launched a DDoS attack taking down its main website as well as python.co.uk - the website where it punts its new service. Veber reported the attacks to the police.

The attacks were launched when the PSF wrote about Veber’s trademark application saying the Python trademark was at risk in Europe, and calling for help from Python fans in fighting the application - both with money and with prior art, which would help it oppose the application.

PSF chairman Van Lindberg, who posted the original blog, has now warned that the over-reaction damages their beloved language and the PSF’s trademark cause.

“We... saw that there were a few who decided to directly attack the people and the company we are opposing. We put out a call for civility - and we want to emphasize that any hacktivism or threats will end up hurting the Python community in the long run. This is not who we are or how we act,” he wrote.

Lindberg’s post came five days after his initial post and on the same day The Reg broke the news of the attacks on Veber.

Veber’s chief Poultney told The Reg he’d filed the trademark as a defensive measure. He said his company has had the Python.co.uk domain for 16 years and the PSF only became interested when Veber announced it was using the name on a new service.

Poultney told us he had no interest in applying the trademark to a language, just to the service Veber provides. You can view the trademark application here.

The community attack on Veber followed a post by Lindberg who’d called for written and other evidence to support the PSF’s own application for a European trademark on Python.

Lindberg’s is now the second blog calling on the community to calm down, following a “call for civility” by PSF board member Brian Curtin. Curtin posted his call for civility the day after Lindberg’s post. According to Curtin:

“It has come to our attention that the organization with which we are currently involved in a trademark dispute has been receiving messages from our community members, including threats. We ask that no matter who you support in this matter, that you remain civil in your communications and actions.

It is important that we maintain the positive and friendly atmosphere that Python is known for regardless of the situation at hand.”

Both Lindberg and Curtin remarked on the overwhelming response they’d received from Python users after calling for the written and other materials. The PSF and Veber are now involved in “good-faith negotiations” to settle the trademark dispute. ®

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