A few years back we released what was then a revolutionary product called the Bokeh Masters Kit. It is a revolutionary device (or at least it was back then), that transforms light into shapes with the spirit of Create Your Own Bokeh.
Just in case you need a refreshment, Bokeh® is a Japanese word with a close proximity to the English word blur, and in photography it is used to describe the blur (or out of focus area) quality. This made it perfect to describe our product which changed the shape of out of focus specular highlights.
Everything went well and we were selling quite a bit of units and picked up by most major vendors (B&H, Adorama and Photojojo to name some). Sadly not everyone respected the fact that we have a Bokeh® centric product, and product descriptions that referred to Bokeh® started to pop up.
It started with some of the major brands. We were first noticed on Nikon using the term Bokeh® in their lens descriptions See the following screen captures from 50mm f/1.8G, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G and AF-S 18-300mmf/3.5-5.6G pages.
But also Canon made a reference to Bokeh® on their “CINEMA LENSES” page.
And slowly there were many more. So it seems that everyone was using the term Bokeh®, not even caring that it referred to a specific product and that it is diluting the value of the word. Among the users, are Sigma, Tamron, Lensbaby, Rokinon, Manfrotto, Subaru and a bunch of smaller manufacturers.
This left me no choice but to seek out legal help. While the process has taken over a year, it has recently concluded, and I am happy to say that starting this week DIYPhotography is now the owner of the Trademark Bokeh®.
However, just because we own it, does not mean we are going to ask people to stop using it. That would be absurd, as we will lose all the feelings and emotions associated with this word which is why we called out product the Bokeh® Masters Kit to begin with.
We do have to set out some ground rules though, which are outlined below. Please take a minute to read them. Most chances they will not apply to you, but if they are, please contact us ASAP.
Rules For Using The Term Bokeh® Online
- Bokeh® is allowed for personal use, whether online or on printed material. This means that you can use the term in your blog, online class or online journal. You can use it in reviews as long as the review does not have a money generating link or ads.
- The term Bokeh® may not be used in product names, product descriptions or product promotional material without obtaining written permission from DIY Photography first.
- If you already have an online presence associated with the term Bokeh®, please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Online Bokeh Usage” and the relevant URL and we shall provide further instructions.
Update: April 1st is over and I can totalyl say that we do not own Bokeh as a trade mark. Actually, Alien Skin Software, LLC own this trademark, you can see the USPTO record here. That said, Bokeh is so generic that I doubt Alien Skin can actually do anything if anyone used that phrase. Almost as if omeone was to try and trademark the term Windows.