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Lingo, Trademarks and Macromedia

Dear Forum

I would like everyone's view on whether to continue calling my new computer language 'Lingo'. The facts are:

1. Macromedia (US-based) have a product called Director with a scripting language called Lingo, which has been available for 13 years and maybe longer. They've registered Director as a trademark in the USA. They have not registered Lingo in the USA, nor have they a pending application (in spite of what it says on their website). This would give them common-law rights over 'Lingo' in relation to their goods.

2. I registered Lingo as a trademark in Australia in 1992 (#591171) and in the USA in 1995 (#1905439). Both registrations are current. Under trademark law, trademarks give you protection over the name when used *for the goods and services specified in the trademark*. In my case, the goods were software compilers and interpreters.

Under trademark law, ownership of a trade mark gives you protection against actions by other parties claiming that you are using their trade names. Their recourse is to have the mark canceled or amended.

3. Trademarks are not easily obtained, and when applying for Lingo, I discussed at length the similar marks with the patent attorney. The conclusion at the time was, if there's no intersection between my goods and Macromedia's goods, their common-law rights and my trademark could co-exist. Conflict would arise only if there's a likelihood of confusion in the minds of people who would use the goods.

4. In the UK where I currently live, there's an extra complication because another company (Linn micro) have a current trademark registration for Lingo. Their mark (which has never been contested as far as I know) would conflict with Macromedia's common law usage and with my usage. The Linn micro Lingo is the one I linked to from my site.

5. Note that although patents are easily invalidated by prior usage, the same does *not* apply to trademarks. In short, a trademark gives you a legally defensible right to a name *for the goods and services on the application*. The prior usage checks occur during registration. Another way of acquiring rights to a name is through trade - these are common law rights.

Until now, my feelings were not to worry about the other Lingos. I don't plan suing anyone, and my registrations give me a fairly secure defence against any action.

But another concern I didn't think about was the effect on potential users. I would prefer Lingo to be assessed on its merits, rather than getting into a meta-discussion on aspects of trade mark law. So far, all questions about the Lingo trademark have originated from users of Macromedia products.

My question is: should I continue with Lingo secure with my registered trademarks, or should I discard the legal advice, money and artwork I've done so far and think of a new name?

Bill Rayer
Saturday, July 19, 2003

I dont think you are in any danger leagally. But I would still recommend you think of a new name.

On the web, searching is the bees knees. Beeing easily "searchable" is important. The likelyhood of your site comming up among the top 20 sites for a search on lingo is pretty slim I think.

You may want to consider elaborating the name so to speak. You keep the lingo part but add something to it to make it uniqe.
WinLingo? LingoLang? WinGo!
Idunno :D

Eric DeBois
Saturday, July 19, 2003

I nominate "Bling-BLingo".

Saturday, July 19, 2003

I agree with Eric. There's bound to be a lot of confusion with your language and Macromedia's - and they have the history and users with them.

One of the first stops when naming a new product should be a web search. See if anyone else is using the name or a similar one. It _doesn't_ matter if they have a trademark or not, it just makes good business sense to not confuse potential customers.

How many returned sales do you think you're going to get from people who think that you've implemented Macromedia's Lingo in your own product? How much of your time do you want to take up with having to explain to people the difference between your product and Macromedia's?

Heck, I don't use Macromedia's products but I still knew that their language was called Lingo.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

There's a linear programming and optimization package called Lindo that has an associated modeling language called, yep you guessed it, "Lingo."

Looks like a pretty crowded market to me.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

[This is not legal advice]
IMHO, between you and Macromedia, you'll lose.  Macromedia's "Lingo" was in use and a common-law trademark when you registered your federal trademark. MM can sue to invalidate the registration, and will most likely win.
Did you *pay* the patent attorney for that advice? "if there's no intersection between my goods and Macromedia's goods, their common-law rights and my trademark could co-exist" well duh - but he should've indicated to you that there would most likely be an intersection.

Your attempt to distinct your language from Macromedia's won't work - they are FAR too close. Look at the reactions here - many people thought you were talking about Macromedia's language.

My $.02: get a new name. FWIW, on an aesthetic level, I always thought "Lingo" made it sound "cute". I personally believe a name can seriously hurt you, and "Lingo" goes right up there with "Bloomba"


Saturday, July 19, 2003

I'm not a lawyer, I don't give legal advice.

The details you present will not matter.  Macromedia is big, and you're not.  Do you want to spend your time and money fighting them to keep a name?  Or would you rather spend those resources making your software better?

Eric W. Sink
Saturday, July 19, 2003

In Germany there's a private academy called MacroMedia (note the 2 upper "M"s). They provide courses in new media technologies, but do not pay royalties to Macromedia for using that name.

So why not give it a try and call Macromedia?

Johnny Bravo
Saturday, July 19, 2003

... asking them straight on if you can use that name? Perhaps in a combination, different visual apperance (linGo) etc.

Johnny Bravo
Saturday, July 19, 2003

Seriously, I wouldn't bother. I think he wants to distance himself and make a unique mark - that's not gonna happen if the first thought most people have is "oh, Macromedia's thing"


Saturday, July 19, 2003

Even if you could use the name without any legal risk, why would you want to cause any name confusion? Two programming languages and they are both called Lingo? Macromedia's Lingo will drown out yours in Google's database. Personally, I would rather have a unique name.

Full disclosure: I am a Macromedia employee! :-)

Sunday, July 20, 2003

You can perhaps support the MM script language and call your language BiLingo. (Just kidding. )

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Your language looks pretty clever to me, quite cunning. Why not call it CunningLingoist?

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 20, 2003

I'd change. LingoBasic? Blingo?

Don't bother about being sued. You're the one with the trumps in this case, particularly as Macromedia doesn't sell Liingo as a product.

But I would bother about confusion.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, July 20, 2003

I do think Lingo is carrying to much baggage.

Btw.  I downloaded Lingo and installed (XP Pro) and It won't start.

I'm getting 'Improprly Configured'

Ged Byrne
Sunday, July 20, 2003

Overheard a convesation between two programmers...

"Hey, I heard that Jim is learning how to program in Lingo"

"That old language by Macromedia?  It was a piece of crap."

"Really?  He said it was new, and he likes it a lot."

"Well, maybe your friend Jim likes it, but I didn't like it when I tried it, and I'm sticking with Java and Python."

Foolish Jordan
Monday, July 21, 2003


I'm not sure what you mean by: 'I personally believe a name can seriously hurt you, and "Lingo" goes right up there with "Bloomba"'

What is Bloomba?


I've tested using XP home but not XP pro. Is the 'Improprly Configured' message an Installshield message or a Lingo message? I don't recognize it as a Lingo message, but if it is there will be an error number. Quote the error number when you contact tech support :)

Things I can think of are:
1. Remove the earlier version first, then make sure the \Lingo folder and sub-folders are empty (you can leave *.L and *.RC).
2. Delete the Lingo DLLs from \Windows (????1032.dll)
3. I've only tested it logged on as administrator. It needs to put the runtime DLLs into \Windows.

Everyone else:

Well no-one's in favour of keeping Lingo so maybe I should change it. I feel a bit dispirited with the change though. First I have to think of some new, great, unused name, then I have to do the work. Then it works the same as it did before :(

Anyway thankx for the comments.

Bill Rayer
Monday, July 21, 2003

The people who voice their opinion will be those who have a strong feeling against using Lingo. Personally I've heard of ColdFusion (from having seen advertisements for Web programmers), but (except for on this board) had not heard of Macromedia or their Lingo.

"Lingo Language" on Google turns up Thai-to-English translators ... that's the problem with not using a made-up word.

Christopher Wells
Monday, July 21, 2003


Advantages are that it can be used both interrogatively and declaratively.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Interestingly enough, the the 'lingo language' search on Google, the third link is to a programming language called Lingo.

To quote the page: "The Lingo language is based on the Smalltalk language with Algol-like extensions. Lingo consists of an environment which runs exclusively on the Rekursiv. system and has a windowed user interface similar to the Smalltalk environment."

Evidently it never was that popular: "...a book describing Lingo was due to be published by the summer of 1990. The book was never published."

Doign a google search on "Lingo Programming" gives lots of results. I checked the first three pages and all were about Macromedia's Lingo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The Recursiv Lingo is an interesting member of the Lingo family. I have a long article from Computer Weekly in the 1980s where its designer (Harland?) describes the details. The basic idea was the lisp primitives would be executed in hardware. The computer was to be designed by Linn micro (related to the UK electronics company). I don't think it ever got off the drawing board, however:

1. Linn still own the trademark on Lingo in the UK.
2. is registered to a company that do allegro lisp.

Bill Rayer
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

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