SOTA Trademark

I notice that on the introductory page of the main SOTA website ( it is stated that “SOTA” is a trademark of the Summits On The Air programme.

I wonder to what extent the exclusivity of this trademark is protected? A number of other, unrelated organisations are using the “SOTA” trademark, for example:

It is quite easy to accidentally route to one or other of these alternative websites! Furthermore, it is conceivable that one or more of these organisations might claim prior right to the use of the SOTA trademark.

Walt (G3NYY)

Barry is currently away, but as I understood his last update, Summits on the Air is an EU trademark, but SOTA was too generic to be so.

It is recognised by many people as an abbreviation for “State Of The Art”.

It’s recognised for all sorts of things Wlat but as Andrew says Barry will clarify when he’s back.

A search for “SOTA” gives 10 results for me on the 1st page. 7 of those refer to this award programs or to national associations for this award program. 2 are for other organisations and 1 is a Wikipedia disambiguation page listing Summits on The Air and other users of the term SOTA.

IIRC, a trademark can be market specific. That is why Kenwood food mixers and Kenwood home electronics both get to use the name. But the food mixer people cannot use Kenwood on an amateur radio or domestic CD players for example.

And why we can have HP Sauce and HP computers.


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I understand HP sauce (which was named after the Houses of Parliament) is now made in the Netherlands.

Walt (G3NYY)

Yes, their factory used to be in Aston in Birmingham, I used to live in Erdington, a couple of miles to the east of them, and when the wind was right we could smell them…

When I started in amateur radio Kenwood gear was named Trio in the UK. Whether the kitchen appliance company had threatened legal action or the name was changed out of courtesy I don’t know. If I decided to start the Google Potato Company could the internet search company stop me?

School Of The Air. Famous in Australia on HF for decades.


Yes. Their brand is so well known you would have a massive task proving that there would be no confusion between them and yourself.

Isn’t that the wrong way round? They changed their name TO that of the kitchen appliance company, not FROM it.

But since Google don’t sell potatoes (yet) how could they prove they had suffered? As long as I don’t pass off my company or products as anything to do with the other Google, I don’t think they would have a case. However, their pockets are deeper than mine so I would be foolish to try it.

The company name did indeed change from Trio to Kenwood. My point was that products that were branded Kenwood internationally were sold as Trio in the UK to avoid confusion with the kitchen equipment.

If you ran river cruises on the Amazon and wanted to call your company Amazon River Cruises then you would be in better standing against Amazon. If you name was William Henry Smith, you could try running a company as WH Smith but you’d fail big style if you setup a newsagents selling papers, cards, stationary and sweets. However, with Google, a made up word, trying to use it it for anything is going to fail. You have no real claim on their made up word for anything.

If they haven’t registered Google as a trademark in the food category they can’t claim a trademark violation. They cannot make a claim for passing off if they can’t show they’ve made a financial loss.

You’d be destroyed by the courts for passing off, real loss or not.

I’m not a lawyer, but I think you are wrong.

Lastly, in order for an infringed party to succeed in an action for passing off, the infringed party must prove that they have incurred actual or reasonably foreseeable damage to the business due to the alleged misrepresentation. This is generally difficult to prove and on a practical basis involves inspecting the books of account of both parties. Proving the likelihood of damage is sufficient.

I can tell :wink:

Trademark law is quite jurisdictional, so surmising on this reflector is pointless. In most, however, a trademark owner generally has a requirement to actively protect their trademark or lose it, so yes, Google is likely to engage lawyers

I’ve always thought that Google was just bad at spelling when they began, their headquarters are the Googleplex, and a googolplex is a one followed by a googol of zeroes, a googol being 10^100, so you could possibly use Googol Potatoes with impunity. I don’t actually know though - this being a typical internet argument between people who have no expertise in the subject…

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