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Endangered Pythons

February 18, 2013 by Ben. 5 comments

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Well, not yet, but possibly.

There’s a dispute going on between the Python Software Foundation (PSF) and a UK company over the name Python. A loss for the PSF could mean that they are no longer able to use the name Python within the borders of the EU.

The chairman of the PSF, Van Lindberg, posted a “call to arms” last Thursday on the PSF blog about the trademark issues:

For anyone who works in a company that has an office in a EU Community member state, we need your help. There is a company in the UK that is trying to trademark the use of the term “Python” for all software, services, servers… pretty much anything having to do with a computer. Specifically, it is the company that got a hold on the domain 13 years ago.

The company is POBox Hosting, formally Veber, an ISP based in the UK specialising in dedicated hosting. The Guardian newspaper quotes the managing director of Our Holdings (apparently another name associated with the company)  as saying

… that the PSF had dragged its feet after he had been in touch with it last year about applying for a trademark on’s logo – which also necessitates seeking a trademark on some uses of the name. “We were talking to them but they didn’t get back to us so we filed for the trademark. And now, with 14 days remaining, the PSF has got back to me at 5.30pm on a Friday.”

According to the European trademark database POBox Hosting registered the trademark in April 2012; the status of the application is now “opposed” since the PSF filed a separate trademark application on the 6th February this year. As with everything, it’s not that simple. The PSF needs help in opposing this application; they need evidence that they have more right to the name “Python” than POBox Hosting.

What is easy is what you can do to help. Van Lindberg writes (emphasis mine) that

[a]ccording to our London counsel, some of the best pieces of evidence we can submit to the European trademark office are official letters from well-known companies “using PYTHON branded software in various member states of the EU” so that we can “obtain independent witness statements from them attesting to the trade origin significance of the PYTHON mark in connection with the software and related goods/services.” We also need evidence of use throughout the EU.

If your company uses Python and has an office or hires in the EU, whether you’re in Austria or the UK, Malta or Germany, you can do something to help. Van Lindberg asks

Could you write a letter on company letterhead that we can forward to our EU counsel?
  1. just a brief description of how Python is used at your company,
  2. how your company looks for and recognizes “Python” as only coming from the PSF, and
  3. your view that another company using term Python to refer to services, software, and servers would be confusing
This doesn’t need to be long – just a couple of paragraphs, but we would want any description of how you use Python for software, web hosting, Internet servers, VPNs, design and development of computer hardware or software, hosting websites, renting servers (like Openstack), or backup services.

Alternatively do you have, or know of, anything published within the EU that uses “Python” to refer to Python? Can you provide copies, pictures or scans of books, pamphlets, conference programs or talks, job listings, magazines or other publications or prospectuses.

All the above should be sent in PDFs to

Predictably, and understandably, they’re also asking for money and ask that you consider donating to the Python Software Foundation at

One last point. The Guardian also reported that:

Poultney said that the issue… had led to him receiving death threats and that the website was receiving 250 hits per minute.

This was followed up by Brian Curtin in another PSF blog post

… 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.

Civility harms no one and threats and crashing the companies website could actively work against the PSF. Far more important is to get writing something relevant and useful to support Pythons everywhere.

Full details are available on the PSF blog post.

Halp Cat

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