Pocket reply

Nate Weiner, Founder / CEO at Pocket, replied me:

Hey Nicolas,

I wanted to reach out and reply to your open letter directly.

I have no issue with you creating an open source service like Pocket. I’ve appreciated the number of similar products in our space as it means there are a lot more people helping to drive the idea and space forward. It's exciting to see it evolve and it's great that you are a part of that.

Likewise, I'm a strong believer in open source. I used to do volunteer work as an AMO Editor at Mozilla because I believed in what they were doing. I poured months of time into my own free, open source project, ShareKit, that hundreds of iOS apps have used to help users share with each other. And most importantly, without open source code to help in the early years, Pocket probably wouldn't be what it is today. Open source is a critical component for a flourishing development community.

Finally, I also understand what it's like to be a solo developer working on a project. For the first 3.5 years of it's life, Pocket was a solo, indie project and it was just me cranking away on it. There were a lot of potential scenarios to think about that kept me up at night.

That is why I was incredibly thoughtful about how I built this product and company. Because I wanted it to be around for a long time, it was important to me that it was built not just on a strong product foundation, but also a legal one too.

Two years ago, we decided to rebrand from Read It Later to Pocket. We spent a few months figuring out what name to build our future on. We had a list of names that was a mile long. There were others that we liked but that were already clearly established brands or conflicts and so we avoided them.

Unfortunately, “Poche”, which is literally the word “Pocket” in French, has created a strong likelihood of confusion and that's exactly what trademarks were created to help prevent. Confusion does not help anyone: our company nor yours. Most importantly, it does not help the users of our products if the two services end up confusing everyone. The confusion of our users is what we are trying to protect against.

“Poche” was clearly created as a service that was as close in name, brand and description to Pocket as possible. You have even described directly on its site specifically as an open source version of Pocket.

We registered the “Pocket” trademark as it relates to our products and services both in the United States and in the European Union, and our registration covers France. (See U.S. Trademark Reg. Nos. 4,354,899 and 4,354,900; Community Trademark No. 011111184.) Although we registered the English word, our trademark also protects us from the French-language equivalent when used on similar or related products or services.

If a foreign word or phrase translated into English is exactly the same as the existing English trademark, the marks are considered to be confusingly similar. As shown in cases such as Popular Bank of Florida v. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, 9 F. Supp. 2d 1347, 1359 (S.D. Fla. 1998); General Conf. Corp. of Seventh-Day Adventists v. Perez, 97 F. Supp. 2d 1154 (S.D. Fla. 2000).

The U.S. courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office both apply this rule. So, for example, “LUPO” was found to be confusingly similar to “WOLF” (230 U.S.P.Q. 702), “CHAT NOIR” was confusingly similar to “BLACK CAT” (111 U.S.P.Q. 286), “MARCHE NOIR” was confusingly similar to “BLACK MARKET” (79 U.S.P.Q.2d 1021) and “LA PEREGRINA” was confusingly similar to “THE PILGRIM” (86 USPQ2d 1645).

Because you are using POCHE (which translates in English to POCKET) to offer a similar product and service, we believe our users around the world are likely to be confused and we have already started to see such confusion.

This is why I've asked you to change your service’s and company name and logo not to resemble Pocket. As one indie dev to another, my hope is that you'll find a name that is unique to you, your service and is something that you can build a true foundation on.

Thanks for your time,


My answer:

Hello Nate,

I’m glad you sent that mail instead of your law firm. You know, open-source communities are open-minded and discussing is always possible.

I’m aware of the potential problem it could be for you. And for us, ethically, it’s not so good to have that name. My application has to have its own identity.

On my side, I’d like to go ahead and don’t want to waste any more time with that point. My application name will change in the next few days, and the same will happen to the logo.

You can tell your law firm that I won’t reply.

As this discussion is not confidential, I’ll publish your answer and mine on my blog. I think that publishing your answer will show too your open-mindness. After that, I won’t publish anything else about that story.

Best regards,


Let's go! Open letter addressed to Read It Later, Inc., creator of Pocket

Want to give it a try?


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