The definition of a Hackspace by the foundation is restricted. Many existing hackspaces do not meet their definition on organisation structure or have open membership. Reading Hackspace has operated for many years outside the foundations definition, with a community structure based on trust. Other local hackspaces, do not meet the definition, especially in their early stages. University Hackspaces, often do not meet the open membership.
The HSF will be a membership organisation, some existing hackspaces will not be able to join, some will choose not to join, others may be excluded. I assume the HSF directors will ensure the HSF best serves the membership, not necessarily hackspaces in general.

What is it about Reading Hackspace that you feel doesn’t meet the foundations definition? An (admittedly cursory) glance over their website suggests that it does.

No, university hackspaces don’t fit the definition as they are not open to the public but they would be eligible to join as associate organisations and should be encouraged to do so as they have many resources and years of experience that they can bring to the community.


Reading Hackspace has always been member driven, but the underlying company structure does not reflect this. The actual structure was based on trust and a pragmatic approach.
This may change, but we have come along way based on this structure.

So is it your opinion that University Hackspaces are not actually hackspaces, and therefore could not use the trademark if HSF owned it ?

One of the few things the HSF is opinionated about is that you are not a member-run organisation unless that’s legally the case. We’ve seen spaces in similar situations fail because the members don’t legally have any way of governing the organisation. Pragmatism works fine, right up to the point where it doesn’t.

I will also note that the HSF itself does not have a view on the trademark issue at this point - that’s why we’re having this discussion.

I’m personally not convinced we should trademark the name, however if we do our policy should be to license it freely to all non-commercial organisations - not just those who are entitled to full membership of the Foundation.

OK, first off I don’t feel that trademarking hackspace/makerspace is a good use of the foundations time and resources so what I think about this debate, beyond that, is a tad moot.

Are university hackspaces, hackspaces? Well yes, they are spaces for making. What they are NOT is community hackspaces, they’re a great resource but only if you are a member of the university.

The definition that we created was based on the fact that the core group of spaces who were/are involved does fit that structure, we felt that we should focus on community led spaces as they are the ones lacking any significant support. I’d quite like to know more about Reading as I feel they (you?) may be a grey area. It wasn’t meant to be exclusionary but we had to define what a space was, it’s not set in stone though :slight_smile:

I’m going to do a separate post for this later on btw as I feel the debate about what kind of spaces should be supported by the foundation, might be better off in its own topic rather than under the trademarking one. You’re also very welcome to join our live chat :slight_smile:


And Russ and I have just contradicted each other. We should talk more :wink:


Is it not the case that since we are widely using the terms makerspace and hackspace that they are generic and these trademarks should already be invalid?

If so then any defensive trademarking would also be invalid?

My understanding of the law is that only commercial use counts for proactive or retrospective trademarks. I.e. Unless the term Hackspace is used by a commercial entity any concept of trademark is irrelevant.

I’m also of the opinion that UK HSF has a lot more to offer the community than protecting the name.

The term Hackspace was invented by @russ and @jonty for London Hackspace, thus was the first commercial use, and could trademark, other spaces could file objections on the basis they’ve been using it unchallenged, but if the majority of those spaces got on board then it would likely win, not to mention the cost of objections.

Just to reinforce this, Gratnells went for the trademark of FabLab too as @marc just this evening pointed out.

In case anyone’s missed it, the new HackSpace magazine is relevant to this discussion:

My view is that having a trademark isn’t about creating legal disputes, but to put this sort of person off even considering it as an option.

Does anyone have the minutes from the Manchester meeting on this topic?

afaik it is too late to trademark it after it has become generic, if you manage to get it you probably shouldn’t have been able to.

Also if they created the word (is that correct/provable?) for London Hackspace then surely only London Hackspace has the claim and has London Hackspace ever used the word Hackspace alone as a trademark?
So do they even have a right to make any kind of claim?

Are there examples of the term “hackspace” being generic? I’m reasonably sure we are very far from being a household name in that sense.

It is used widely by separate people and entities generically as a synonym for hackerspace or makerspace, it doesn’t need to be a household name. (Some existing worldwide before London Hackspace) The fact that they are making a magazine about the subject itself points out that it is somewhat widespread. And no one has enforced a trademark over that time. Compare it to something like Fab Lab which has been protected. Clearly it would take more time to pin it down entirely legally and I haven’t attempted to do that.

No, it points to them using our goodwill and reputation to provide the appearance of community support and origin. This is deceptive and precisely what we’d need to fight to enforce the mark.

I’m not aware of any “hackspace” that predates London, only Vancouver Hack Space.

Even if you can show that they took the space out, they have never enforced hackspace as a non generic term. ‘London Hackspace’ is their trademark and unless anything has been formally handed over the Hackspace Foundation has no claim to it at all.

Eg. the wikipedia page hackspace predates London Hackspace by 6 months and uses the word generically so it clearly was already a term in use.

I don’t see why you should need to enforce it as a non-generic term if its purpose is clearly specified. The term hackspace is relatively rarely used as it is, and in company names it’s exclusively used by Hackspace foundation companies.

The person who created the Wikipedia article is German, where the standard term is hackerspace. That’s not relevant to the UK.

That’s how trademarks work. It’s specifically to stop people sitting back and letting it get popular and then claiming exclusivity. Now that the term hackspace is used generically you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. But that is also a good thing because they can’t enforce it for this magazine either. Plus the argument that they are using your goodwill falls flat if you contradictorily claim that it isn’t a widely used term!

I said relatively - outside the hacker/maker community it’s largely unknown. I still haven’t seen anything to back up your claim of genericity. We’ve jumped on people using the word hackspace for publicity or naming without some sort of blessing, defined it clearly on the HSF website, and used it in a consistent way and encouraged other spaces to do the same.

“In 2017 we plan to start allowing hackspaces to apply for membership of the foundation”

Used on the front page generically and also implying that there are hackspaces that are not members of the foundation.

You are clutching at a straw which by my understanding of IP law, simply isn’t there. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so. It’s not me you need to convince, it is the court.

Makerspace is in the Oxford Dictionary

Hackerspace is in the Oxford Dictionary

It seems to me that ‘Hackspace’ should be listed as an alternative to Hackerspace, at least.

With the right definition, it makes it more difficult to trademark for the definition that matters, and that matters to the hackspace foundation.