back to article Snap continues to make a spectacle of itself as it tries to trademark the word spectacles

Snap has filed a complaint taking the US Patent Office (USPO) to task as it seeks to trademark the word "Spectacles." The dispute has rumbled on for a while. In 20 September 2016, Snap filed a federal trademark application for SPECTACLES, following up the application with amendments alleging actual use. The USPO issued its …

  1. LDS Silver badge

    Snap is making a spectacle of themselves...

    But at least this way a product no one was thinking and talking about is reaching the news. What about the Facebook glasses made with Luxottica? I never read about them anymore since the announcement of the partnership? After all, everybody needs to look like Neo in the Metatrix...

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    As long as there's some of the investors' money left to spend they might as well keep trying.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Now now, don't be completely sarcastic. There is always fresh money to be had in the next VC round. It is called throwing good money after bad money. A typical thing in the tech-VC-sector.

      Where is that boat with glasses. Ah yes, it is that spectacleless sinking affair.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "There is always fresh money to be had in the next VC round. It is called throwing good money after bad"

        Also called the icing on the cake if you're the recipient.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      might as well keep trying.

      And why not just spell it with a "K" replacing a C-- e.g. SPEKTACLES, SPECTAKLES or some other letter variation. It works quite well for a lot of brandifying.

      Unless, of course, the whole point was to use an actual word that was still in use, in order to hijack search results.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: might as well keep trying.

        wait ... how about "SPECTOCULARS" :-)

        1. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

          Re: Spectoculors?!?

          Shut up and take my money!!!

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: might as well keep trying.


          Not bad. I thought of 'SPEX' but it is already taken (in several different forms)

          (Then again, 'already in use' hasn't stopped them from trying anyway)

          This reminds me of that Futurama episode where the only names left "not copyrighted" were popplers and zitsels (or something like that) so they chose 'popplers', and then Lrrr's people found out about it...

        3. Woodnag

          Re: might as well keep trying.


        4. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: might as well keep trying.

          Since your smart device can function as Spectacles, Wallet and Watch, the obvious term that implies all three and more is ....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: might as well keep trying.

        Do you seriously expect "snap" users to recognise an incorrect spelling?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: might as well keep trying.


        Zuck, Bezos or Elon will be falling over themselves to buy you out.

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge

    There should be options

    Trademark "comb" "handkerchief" "toothbrush"....

    Still at least the Americans are being sensible here.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: There should be options

      Or for a more multi-functional device:


      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: There should be options

        Hey, how did you find my password?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There should be options

        I thought The Vatican(R)(TM) had that one already?

  4. msobkow Silver badge

    The Americans may think "spectacles" is an "old word", but here in Canada, it does get used. I'm sure it gets used EVERYWHERE in the world that isn't arse-backwards.

    1. gotes

      I use the word spectacles; "Glasses" is a little ambiguous.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Exactly! I mean when I think Glasses it's usually associated with the word Pint and the expression, "Yes I will have another, thank you."

        I cant possibly say why though...

        1. Fred Daggy Bronze badge

          Patient: Doctor, Doctor, I've got this mark on my nose from my glasses?

          Doctor: Why don't you try contact lenses?

          Patient: They don't hold enough beer.

          (Boom-tish, thank you, I'm here all week).

      2. ravenviz Silver badge

        Depends on the context, which is usually present.

        I don’t get sold a pint of beer in Boots when asking for glasses.

        Apart from the pint of Old Spectacled Hen they gave me once! ;)

        1. keith_w

          thank you for the shout out to one of my favourite beers.

      3. Rattus

        I put spectacles in front of my eyes to help me see. I drink pints out of glasses... doh!

        1. Number6

          Beer goggles?

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      The Americans may think "spectacles" is an "old word"

      Not all Americans; just Snap. I doubt that even they really believe that; it's just a legal gambit to try to trademark a common word.

      If that works, I'll register a global trademark on written-out forms of the verb "to be." It's an "old verb" that has long been replaced with "2B" in modern usage.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Trademarking common words is not unusual (see "Windows", for instance). It's the specific context of computing and camera that makes it distinctive.

  5. msknight

    "Spec Savers" might have a word, I think, if they ever tried this on in the UK. ("Spec" being shorthand for spectacles in the UK, which is still very much in current use.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      trademarked it themselves then!

      (Specsavers have got form - they trademarked "should've" from their marketing strapline "Should've gone to Specsavers" a few years ago.)

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: should've

        I did a programme of supporting IT work for the Specsavers marketing team in Guernsey about 10 years ago and met the chap that actually came up with that line. Whilst I'm not overly interested in the vagaries of marketing as a profession - at the time it was considered one of the most valuable corporate slogans in the UK.

        Awful company to work in IT for though. I originally thought it was due to the limited pot of people they had to choose from on a small island, and the insular mentality; but no - it was just as bad on the mainland sites.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: should've


        Other vaguely incompetent optical device box-shifters are available..

        (Got my first pair of glasses aged 5 then went through two replacements a year for the next 10 years until my eyes finally stopped changing.... Wore contacts for 30 years and have now reverted to glasses - I'd have to wear them anyway to read (presbyopia is a thing) so I simplified things by getting some new glasses. Because of my vision I get a generous grant from the government of £5 towards the cost of the lenses - which, because of my prescription, have to be made of high-refractive index glass and cost about £100 each..)

  6. Long John Silver

    Spectacular hubris?

    Move along, there's nothing to see here.

  7. Outski Silver badge

    Catholic Church wants a word...

    ...about the mnemonic for the act of crossing oneself:

    Spectacles, testicles, wallet & watch

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    You could see that decision coming

    Especially with the right prescription specs

    Sorry, couldn't resist. I'd better get me coat

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: You could see that decision coming

      Watch it or someone will frame you for an even worse joke! :D

      1. The Dogs Meevonks

        Re: You could see that decision coming

        I see what you did there

    2. Ian Mason

      Re: You could see that decision coming

      On refraction it was obvious that someone would say that.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: You could see that decision coming

      Sorry, couldn't resist. I'd better get me coat

      Just needs a bit of focus is all, but still worthy of several of these to provide some beer goggles ----->

  9. Aladdin Sane

    Bunch of pricks

    Up there with Peloton. Off they can fuck.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Aimed at "creators"

    Code for "the general public can't give a damn".

  11. Sparkus

    it's clear to see that.......

    they are gathering / consolidating IP and patents that will be part of their 'assets' for sale when snap inevitably collapses.

  12. xyz123 Bronze badge

    Snap's entire business model is to claim millions in R&D. Release a product that doesn't do whats claimed, looks awful, has terrible controls and is just utterly shitty.

    Then they claim millions more in further R&D and 'marketing'. Rinse & Repeat. Someone should be referring them for a massive tax audit, as surely their entire business model can't be fully legal?

  13. Spaceman9


    They should call them snaptacles, oh wait maybe I should trademark that.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Snaptacles

      How about googles? It's kinda catchy. If I search on googles, amazon turns up goggles, and the question "Did you mean google?" Erm, no thanks, I don't want to buy google, not today anyway.

  14. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Is it in the dictionary?

    If the word can be found in the OED then you don't get to patent/trademark it as your own.

    1. snowpages

      Re: Is it in the dictionary?

      Like "windows" perhaps and "apple"... I think that horse has bolted.

      1. The Dogs Meevonks

        Re: Is it in the dictionary?

        Is windows trademarked though... or is it just a copyright when applied to a specific area of the market.

        otherwise MS would be suing every double glazing firm out there.

        As for Apple... about 20yrs ago I read that the Beatles had an agreement with Apple over the word... one was only to be used in the Tech equipment space and one in the music space.

        When apple opened up the iTunes store... they broke that agreement and were I believe sued over it.

        No idea what happened over it though... it was about 20yrs or so ago.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Is it in the dictionary?

          It's trademarked, but trademarks are limited to a specific type of market. Windows can be used for tech products. Apple can as well. I think they'd be fine to trademark spectacles if they were naming an app that. Their problem is that the thing they want to call spectacles is a pair of spectacles. If Apple sold apples, they'd have a similar issue.

          The Apple trademark thing had a bunch of legal fights until the two companies agreed to let Apple (computer people) have the trademarks and allow Apple (music people) to use them as before. Most likely, this also involved computer people giving music people a healthy chunk of money to go away, but neither Apple wanted to say.

          1. The Dogs Meevonks

            Re: Is it in the dictionary?

            Now that I think of it, I remember a linux based OS called Lindows that MS sued some 15-20yrs ago.

        2. KBeee Silver badge

          Re: Is it in the dictionary?

          Apple's first piece of music software was called something like Sosume - which tells you a lot about the companys ethics.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Is it in the dictionary?

            The song from Guys and Dolls?

          2. elbisivni

            Re: Is it in the dictionary?

            Sosumi was a system alert beep that was originally called 'Chime'. The company's lawyers were concerned the nav was a bit too musical-sounding. After Apple Corps sued because of the sound chip in the Apple IIGS (was it a Yamaha AY 38910 as used in so many other systems of that vintage? I forget), and got a settlement that prohibited Apple from making "creative works that have music as principal content".

            SO they called it 'Sosumi, just to be annoying.

            The did the same with Carl Sagan after he sued because the internal prototype name for an early PowerMac model was 'Sagan' and he was concerned that it looked like product endorsement. They renamed it BHA (Butt Head Astronomer)

  15. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    "old word"

    If their case fails then they should be punished in the old way...

    100 lashes

  16. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    old word

    I'm scratching my head over this legal argument. One would think it is much easier to trademark a new word.

  17. xyz123 Bronze badge

    SNAP...because our products are poor enough to break your wallet and your mind.

    1. sebacoustic

      good point, so really "sanp" being a generic word for this is a similar case to the abovementioned spectacles being branded SPECTACLE

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        I was thinking that SPECTACLE singular might be available. But if this thing still is just eyeglasses with a forward facing video camera in them, then you won't see a "spectacle" in them that you didn't provide yourself.

        We shouldn't object to them being "spectacles", only to claiming to own the word.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SNAP... the sound of you sitting on your mega-expensive SPECTACLES

  18. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge


    Spectacles Not Allowed Protection

    *The Idiot Trademark Spectacles Unusually Prohibited

  19. mickaroo

    I Can See The Hiring Slogan Now...

    "Join SNAP, and make a SPECTACLE of yourself".

  20. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Oh, Snapd

    I clicked on this article wondering what dreadful update was coming to Ubuntu. I'm relieved that this is unrelated.

  21. Aussie Doc


    Trademark 'Spectacles'?

    Can't see it myself.

    Even though I'm wearing them like this guy --->

  22. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

    Words and Knowledge

    Can't we just say that some things are constant? Maybe work within a loose conceptual commonality?

    I'm sure it breaks down in praxis, but it'd be so nice to have words whose meaning remains consistent over time. Or maybe bodies of authority in knowledge that wouldn't be questioned during critical moments.

    I guess being wordy and knowy is fluid. For the record, though: if you find yourself in a tough spot with me and you're talking complete sentences and wearing a labcoat, you got point.

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    Dear Snap.

    To prevent future massive cockups of this nature, I'd like to suggest that you purchase something called a "Dictionary".

    In this you will find all the words in the language documented, along with whether or not they are unused, uncommon, obsolete or still in general use.

    Also you might want to look up "wanker" while you're in there, as it will save future confusion when people are talking to you.

  24. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge


    "and so the legal game of ping-pong continued"

    Table tennis, please. Ping-pong is trademarked.

  25. Grunchy Bronze badge


    You could call them bargle-glogs, I bet that hasn’t even been trademarked yet.

  26. spireite Silver badge

    So, they had to writedown a load of unsold inventory.

    Usually, before developing products you test the market...

    .... with a focus group.... and to be sure, you do it a second time... but with two concurrently. a bifocal group

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Usually, before developing products you test the market...

      If they don't, they could be criticised for being myopic.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Usually, before developing products you test the market...

        they could be criticised for being myopic.

        And (trust me) myopia isn't much fun..

  27. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    (Never heard of Snap, apparently a glasses company with idiots who think they can and should trademark words. I was wondering why the Ubuntu makers would want to trademark "spectacles" for their Flatpak-style attempt, Snap.)

    Anyway. Dumb. If they have some special font, they're perfectly free to trademark spectacles IN THAT FONT, it's treated like a logo and would prevent others from using spectacles with that font to make knockoffs, while not making them appear to be a bunch of morons by trying to trademark English words.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: ...they're perfectly free to trademark spectacles IN THAT FONT

      How about one of these fonts:-

  28. Winkypop Silver badge

    In other NEWS

    “Spectacles” no longer considered an old word!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just took a look at their site. At least the "carbon" color at lease hides the cameras. The "mineral" colored ones, not at all. Of course the carbon colored variants people might take you for a blind person though.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "an old-fashioned term popular in the 18th century"

    Like Rickets... Consumption... Small Pox... Whooping Cough... Jacob Rees Mogg...

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


      The last one isn't popular.

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