Re: The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2016 10:21:09 -0800
On 11/15/2016 9:22 AM, Peter Constable wrote:

Klingon _should not_ be encoded so long as there are open IP issues. For that reason, I think it would be premature to place it in the roadmap.



I certainly sympathize with the fact that the Consortium wants to avoid being drawn into litigation, and that even litigation based on unsustained IP claims could be costly.

However, it appears relatively settled that one cannot claim copyright in an alphabet; one of the roles of the Unicode Consortium in this regard would be to reach a formal decision whether this is, in fact, an alphabet/script (and one that, based on the usual criteria of usage) is acceptable for encoding.

Ducking this particular determination serves no-one.

This does not mean that publication would have to be immediate; there's certainly room for something like an approval to include a script in "some" future version of the standard, which would allow all parties to figure out how to deal with any IP issues. (Note that this would not be a decision, "pending" anything, merely separating approval of a script proposal from a decision of the contents for a particular version - something that used to be rather routine in earlier years).

I would also like to point out that Unicode would be well served by taking a stronger position on the issue of IP claims on writing systems, in particular copyright claims. These seem to be unfounded at least under US law; should Unicode nevertheless allow such unfounded claims become a way to veto the encoding of any script/writing system (or script extension)?

As we move on, the number of cases where writing systems, or innovations in writing systems may be subject to unfounded claims of copyright may become more mainstream (think national writing systems, rather than fan-based ones). Already, the emoji are a good example how, now that the bulk of living/historic writing systems has been encoded, the "novelties" come to the forefront.

Finally, I really can't understand the reluctance to place anything in the roadmap. An entry in the roadmap is not a commitment to anything - many scripts listed there face enormous obstacles before they could even reach the stage of a well-founded proposal. And, until such a proposal exists, there's no formal determination that a script has a truly separate identity and meets the bar for encoding.


PS: the "real" reason that Klingon was never put in the roadmap (as I recall discussions in the early years) was not so much the question whether IP issues existed/could be resolved, but the fear that adding such an "invented" and "frivolous" script would undermine the acceptance of Unicode. Given the way Unicode is invested in "frivolous" communication systems of very recent origin (emoji), that original argument surely doesn't apply :)




From: Mark E. Shoulson []
Sent: Sunday, November 13, 2016 2:10 PM
To: Mark Davis
☕️ <>; Shawn Steele <>
Cc: Peter Constable <>; David Faulks <>; Unicode Mailing List <>
Subject: Re: The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back


On 11/10/2016 02:34 PM, Mark Davis ☕️ wrote:

The committee doesn't "tentatively approve, pending X".


But the good news is that I think it was the sense of the committee that the evidence of use for Klingon is now sufficient, and the rest of the proposal was in good shape (other than the lack of a date), so really only the IP stands in the way.

Fair enough.  There have, I think, been other cases of this sort of informal "tentative approval", usually involving someone from UTC telling the proposer, "your proposal is okay, but you probably need to change this..."  And that's about the best I could hope for at this point anyway.  So it sounds like (correct me if I'm wrong) there is at least unofficial recognition that pIqaD *should* be encoded, and that it's mainly an IP problem now (like with tengwar), and possibly some minor issues that maybe hadn't been addressed properly in the proposal.

Can we get pIqaD removed from then?  And (dare I ask) perhaps enshrined someplace in pending further progress with Paramount?

I would suggest that the Klingon community work towards getting Paramount to engage with us, so that any IP issues could be settled.

I'll see what we can come up with; have to start somewhere.  There is a VERY good argument to be made that Paramount doesn't actually have the right to stop the encoding, as you can't copyright an alphabet (as we have seen), and they don't have a current copyright to "Klingon" in this domain, etc., and it may eventually come down to these arguments.  However, I recognize that having a good argument on your side, and indeed even having the law on your side, does not guarantee smooth sailing when the other guys have a huge well-funded legal department on their side, and thus I understand UTC's reluctance to move forward without better legal direction.  But at least we can say we've made progress, can't we?






On Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 10:33 AM, Shawn Steele <> wrote:

More generally, does that mean that alphabets with perceived owners will only be considered for encoding with permission from those owner(s)?  What if the ownership is ambiguous or unclear?


Getting permission may be a lot of work, or cost money, in some cases.  Will applications be considered pending permission, perhaps being provisionally approved until such permission is received?


Is there specific language that Unicode would require from owners to be comfortable in these cases?  It makes little sense for a submitter to go through a complex exercise to request permission if Unicode is not comfortable with the wording of the permission that is garnered.  Are there other such agreements that could perhaps be used as templates?


Historically, the message pIqaD supporters have heard from Unicode has been that pIqaD is a toy script that does not have enough use.  The new proposal attempts to respond to those concerns, particularly since there is more interest in the script now.  Now, additional (valid) concerns are being raised.


In Mark’s case it seems like it would be nice if Unicode could consider the rest of the proposal and either tentatively approve it pending Paramount’s approval, or to provide feedback as to other defects in the proposal that would need addressed for consideration.  Meanwhile Mark can figure out how to get Paramount’s agreement.




From: Unicode [] On Behalf Of Peter Constable
Sent: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 8:49 PM
To: Mark E. Shoulson <>; David Faulks <>
Cc: Unicode Mailing List <>
Subject: RE: The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back


From: Unicode [] On Behalf Of Mark E. Shoulson
Sent: Friday, November 4, 2016 1:18 PM

> At any rate, this isn't Unicode's problem


You saying that potential IP issues are not Unicode’s problem does not in fact make it not a problem. A statement in writing from authorized Paramount representatives stating it would not be a problem for either Unicode, its members or implementers of Unicode would make it not a problem for Unicode.







Received on Tue Nov 15 2016 - 12:21:44 CST

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