Open communities, kids and coding and people

I opened my mail today (I try to only do this once a month) and I saved the largest until last. How exciting I thought. Then I saw this:

With an accompanying letter for the press and sentence about how the trade name belongs to P&M Brannigan.

Conflicted I was. Had P&M Brannigan not turned out to be three people who attended the Coding for Kids meet that Katy and I ran last year, (a mother, father and son), I suspect I would have hit the phones and the roof, but they are, and Paul is marketing this with his 10 year old son fronted as the “CEO”, so you can’t be too harsh on the child! Indeed, But yet… wtf?!

Katy and I had a chat about it and wrote an email to the Coding for Kids google group, which by no means includes everyone, so I want to be clear that we have not published this, it is nothing to do with Coding for Kids – indeed they are using the name without any discussion, agreement or acknowledgment.

The email is pasted below:

Hello lovely community!

Katy and I are very very slowly getting our stuff together. We’ve been working away behind the scenes to try get some money to develop the programme (we’re currently speaking to NESTA and Nominet who are keen to support us) and create resources for you to draw on. As soon as we have some news (hopefully very soon) we will be in touch, however I just wanted to raise one point.

Today I opened a large and exciting letter to receive a book published by one of you, trading under the name P&M Branningan Publishers using the trading name Coding for Kids books. Images attached. The Coding for Kids name/header and colour use is terribly familiar! (http://rewiredstate.org) We have not trademarked the Coding for Kids name yet – on purpose as we consider this a community movement and community owned project. We will look to do this once we’ve finished working on this initial stage, getting frameworks established within which you could all happily share the brand and expertise.

We do feel like it is in breach of the spirit of the community to take the Coding for Kids brand and use it for commercial projects. And especially to trademark it as your own without any acknowledgment of the CfK community or provenance.

In the spirit of keeping everything open, for helping each other learn, share and grow through the power of community with a shared goal – please could you respect the principles of openness and operate with kindness.

Do let us know if you have any questions and we’ll be back soon with more news about funding, resources and next steps.

Katy and Emma
It is a huge shame when things go like this, but in the open org, open community world of course these things will happen. But luckily the majority of the time they don’t.
I hope Mark (10) is enjoying writing the rest of the books in his series, we know it is hard to do great things in this world – we know this from our years of very hard work often for free and certainly for free with regards to Coding for Kids!
Time to move on, a little bit sadder than this morning.

14 responses

  1. That sucks something awful. I hope it gets resolved without any conflict. :|
    I do think it might have been wise to have nabbed that trademark as soon as, though. It might not sound ideal on a moral basis, but it could have probably spared you this and a ton of potential future headaches.

  2. I doubt anyone should have the trademark on “coding for kids” though, kinda silly don’t you think. You’re all in the same boat: trying to excite kids into getting them to learn about coding.

  3. Hi, can you scan the letter and upload it here to show exactly what they’re laying claim to have trademarked? I’m no expert (at all) but the “TM” trademark symbol appears alongside the lion logo (so presumably only applies to the lion logo and not the text?).

    And they seem to have acknowledged some issue could occur by surrounging the lion logo with “coding is cool” and their website address. By using “coding is cool” on their logo, it begs the question why didn’t they use “coding for kids” there.

      • That doesn’t mean theyre claiming a trademark. As their registered business name is P& M Brannigan Publishers, they are legally obliged under the Business Name Act to have a disclaimer like that if they use another name to trade. So they’d have to use words like “trading as” or “is a trading name of”.

  4. Let me start by saying that Mark is brilliant. His passion, enthusiasm, and hard work are inspiring.

    It’s a total shame that his father seems to be exploiting both his work and a hard working community for his own gain.

    Coding for kids is an ideal – something we all work towards. It is NOT, in the minds of many, something to be monopolised and exploited. I think our entire community has lost a little pride today.

    The “CFK Books” website lists 020 3355 1682 and codelion@cfkbooks.com as methods of contacting them. If you share the sincere wish for them to help aid the community from which they appear to have taken but not, as of yet, given back, then I suggest you drop them a (constructive, not angry) line. I have done so already.

  5. Is there any way of trademarking/copyrighting your logos/material and then releasing it under a non-commercial creative commons licence so anyone can use it with attribution, but won’t be able to make money from it (without a separate agreement)?

  6. Pingback: ICT: Experts debate the barriers

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