Kowal Apologizes for Raytheon Sponsorship of DisCon III

DisCon III chair Mary Robinette Kowal today took responsibility and apologized for the Raytheon Intelligence and Space sponsorship that the convention accepted: “Statement and Apology on DisCon III Sponsorship”.

The sponsor’s corporate logo was on the backdrop used for red carpet photos before the Hugo Awards ceremony, and acknowledged from the stage during the ceremony. The ceremony also seems to be the first place people became generally aware of the sponsorship. Unlike Google, which was also thanked during the ceremony, Raytheon was not one of the sponsors acknowledged in the DisCon III Souvenir Book (page 54).  


Statement on DisCon III Sponsorship

I am Mary Robinette Kowal, and I was the chair for DisCon III. I take full responsibility for accepting Raytheon Intelligence and Space as a sponsor, and I apologize for doing so.

The decision tree that led us to this point is filled with branches that sound like excuses for my own culpability. At the root of it is simply that in accepting funding from Raytheon Intelligence and Space and partnering with them for the members’ red carpet event, I was wrong.

That choice has caused harm and damage to people: the finalists, who were unaware; the people in our communities; the members and staff of Worldcon, who trusted me to make good choices.

I am sorry that I let you all down.

DisCon III is making an anonymous contribution to an organization dedicated to peace, equal to the amount we received from Raytheon. I am also personally contributing to the same organization.

The delay in responding added to the distress that we caused. For this, I ask your forgiveness. We needed to have conversations that were slowed by post-convention travel.

For the past several days, we have read your comments in email and on social media. Thank you for sharing them with us and trusting that you would be heard and taken seriously. Your honesty and sincerity are what make our community a better place.

Future conrunners can avoid our mistakes by:

  • Developing a sponsorship policy for your organization that reflects the values and concerns of our community.
  • Creating a robust plan for doing due diligence on potential sponsors.
  • Creating a mission and value statement against which to measure actions.

We did none of those. Our Code of Conduct says that DisCon III aims to build an inclusive community for all fans. This sponsorship did not achieve that goal.

I cannot erase the harm that my actions caused. This happened on my watch. It is my fault, and I am deeply sorry for the pain I caused.

Signed,

Mary Robinette Kowal

161 thoughts on “Kowal Apologizes for Raytheon Sponsorship of DisCon III

  1. @bill, plausible enough.

    Your average Worldcon’s financial report presentation to the WSFS Business Meeting is about as humdrum, predictable, and drama-free as a C. of E. sermon, and that’s just the way we like ’em.

  2. @Gideon Marcus: The primary purpose of the Hugo pre-ceremony banquet is to gather the finalists, acceptors and presenters who need to be at the ceremony. I’ve been to a number of banquets as an acceptor or presenter. If there isn’t a reason for me to be there, I am fine with skipping the banquet and just being in the audience or viewing the awards from the bar. The banquet is not that glamorous. But if you’re a finalist, please do attend. I don’t mind at all that a portion of my membership pays for some appetizers for you. Just as I won’t mind paying for a rocket should you win one. I’m glad you enjoyed Callahan’s so much, but it would have been terrible to make everyone in the audience wait while we dragged you out of the bar to receive your award.

  3. While I agree fully with those who say that there is no evidence that Discon licenced the Hugo mark to Raytheon in any way, I would go further and say it is not at all clear that they could not do so if they felt it appropriate. (Based on the reaction and apology, they clearly do not think it would be appropriate.)

    The Hugo mark is the property of WSFS, an unincorporated society. The society is governed by its constitution and members. Its members are the members of the current worldcon. The members of the current worldcon are WSFS.

    There is a mark protection committee. It has only 2 powers — to register and protect the marks. It is not clear it has the power to licence the marks as that is different from the power to protect them, though it could be argued that the power to protect them could give it the power to forbid licencing which it deems weakens their protection. I am reading protect in the legal sense of trademark protection, not in the sense of protecting their integrity to certain ideals. Some might argue for this but it’s a very vague concept.

    As such, I think there is only one party which would have the power to licence the marks, particularly with regards to a Hugo ceremony and awarding, and it is a concom or its Hugo subcommittee. That doesn’t mean that the mark protection committee hasn’t felt it has that power, but it’s not clear to me it is delegated to them if people were to have a legal fight about it. Has there been such a fight?

    As such, even if Discon had licenced the mark to Raytheon — which it in no way did just by by accepting a sponsorship for the ceremony — it was probably not beyond its powers, unless in doing so it weakened the legal standing of the marks, in which case the MPC could interfere. While trademarks are much, much harder to weaken and lose than most people (including most trademark lawyers who have a vested interest in telling you that you must pay them to protect your mark) believe, you still would not want a concom saying, “Hey everybody, feel free to use the term Hugo Award any way you like.” In fact, the minimal step of trademark protection is to bother to require a licence for infringing uses. (Which again, you don’t need to be nearly as hard-assed about as most trademark lawyers will tell you when they want to bill you for writing scary letters to everybody who writes your name down.)

  4. Brad Templeton: An intellectual property license is an agreement between the owner of the intellectual property and the licensor. DisCon III doesn’t own the service marks. The MPC doesn’t own them. WSFS doesn’t own them. Since you’re trying to open another can of worms, you should at least do the necessary research to know the entity that owns them.

  5. Pingback: Barkley: DisCon III Reporter’s Notebook and Observations | File 770

  6. @Mike Glyer

    DisCon III doesn’t own the service marks. The MPC doesn’t own them. WSFS doesn’t own them.

    Registered United States Service Mark no.1287322 “THE HUGO AWARD” & Service Mark no. 1283680 “WORLDCON” are assigned to registrant “World Science Fiction Society, unincorporated association”.

  7. @Brad Templeton

    As such, even if Discon had licenced the mark to Raytheon — which it in no way did just by by accepting a sponsorship for the ceremony

    This hinges on the following question, “Was the Raytheon Red Carpet event a Worldcon Event that used the Raytheon service mark, or a Raytheon Event that used the Worldcon service mark.”

    However, there’s a logical flaw here.

    This is not an exclusive or.

    It can be an event where Worldcon uses Raytheon’s service mark and Raytheon used Worldcon’s service mark. And that’s what it looks like to me. And with it being the ‘Raytheon Red Carpet’, being paid for by Raytheon, and Raytheon hiring people to operate it, there seems to be more of the Raytheon than the Worldcon about it.

  8. @Gideon Marcus – just echoing what @Tom Becker said – the pre-Hugo reception is important as a way to gather all the finalists in one place for things like finalist category pictures and getting them to the reserved seating so they are not having to walk from the back hall if they win. Food and drink is served because many finalists may have been busy in the hours prior to the ceremony getting ready, and we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be fortified before the ceremony. In the context of a $1.5M event, the reception is a relatively small drop in the bucket and a nice way of honoring the finalists while serving some really useful functions for event organization.

  9. Jay Blanc: That’s right, WSFS registered the mark. Now find out what entity presently owns it.

  10. Tammy Coxen: Gideon’s issue seems to be with items that make the Worldcon cost as much as it does and influences how much people have to pay to get in.

    There are others whose issue with the pre-Hugos reception is that it isn’t restricted to pros, who don’t like jumped-up fannish riff-raff being let in.

    For others, they resent the Worldcon paying for a closed function they’re not invited to with stuff ordered at hotel prices — whereas they don’t criticize the con suite, especially if it’s serving junk food.
    There’s a strong populist pillar in fandom’s foundations .

  11. @Mike Glyer

    Jay Blanc: That’s right, WSFS registered the mark. Now find out what entity presently owns it.

    I have no idea what you think you’re trying to prove, but…

    http://www.wsfs.org/committees/mark-protection-committee/

    ‘The WSFS Mark Protection Committee (MPC) is the only permanent committee of the World Science Fiction Society. It manages the intellectual property and service marks of WSFS, including “Worldcon” and “Hugo Award,” which are among the service marks (similar to trademarks) WSFS owns.’

    The WSFS says they own them.
    The US Government says the WSFS is the registrant of them.
    The WSFS constitution retains control of them to the MPC.
    The Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization is an entity entirely and directly owned by the WSFS to administrate intellectual property rights in jurisdictions that require an incorporated entity for registration. (NOT the US, where the unincorporated WSFS is the registrant!)

    Unless you’d like to present some paperwork showing a transfer of the registrations to some external entity, the WSFS owns the US service marks outright and service marks in some territories through an incorporated holding company that it directly owns and appoints the board members of.

  12. Jay Blanc: I thought you were going to get all the way to the answer for a moment. WIP is a California nonprofit corporation. Can it be owned? No. So certainly not by WSFS or the MPC. And certainly not by DisCon III, to return to one of your suppositions about what they could do with the service marks. There are important distinctions between ownership,control, and rights of usage.

  13. @Mike Glyer:

    WIP is a California nonprofit corporation. Can it be owned? No.

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. Are you saying that you don’t think Californian nonprofit corporations are allowed to have owners? I’m pretty sure that’s not true, and all US corporations have owners of some kind.

  14. Mike, that sure is one bountiful piñata, isn’t it?

    As a former staff accountant / tax preparer, I appreciated how attractively decorated that particular garden path was, and I thought, “Oh, I sure wouldn’t argue with Mike on that subject.”

  15. @Jay Blanc:

    I don’t understand what you mean by this.

    Exactly so.

    Congratulations; you are one of today’s lucky 10,000 regarding this datum. In USA corporate law, nonprofit corporations in the general case lack ownership. As Mike said, primary control is a different concept.

  16. Once again, The Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization does not own the WSFS US service marks. They are registered directly to the WSFS. The Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization is for the registration of service marks in select jurisdictions that require an incorporated entity to own a service mark. And the WSFS’s description makes it clear the MPC consider themselves the owners of the Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization.

  17. @Rick Moen

    To say “no one owns it” is misleading semantic sophomorism.

    iirc, a non-profit’s stakeholders are the beneficiaries of its operations. The narrower the scope of beneficiaries, the more specific a group you can say ‘owns’ it. A Climate Change non-profit could be said to be ‘Owned by Everyone’, because it’s for the benefit of everyone. But a non-profit Town Library that only allows Town residents entry to the Library, would be ‘owned’ by the Town because they are the only stakeholders who benefit from it’s works.

    Since the beneficiary of the Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization is the WSFS, and solely the WSFS, the WSFS is the Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization’s owner.

    And the more restricted the beneficiaries of your non-profit, the more likely it will fail California’s ‘public benefit’ test. Likewise a non-profit that has ‘no one’ as a beneficiary of it’s actions, can’t have a ‘public benefit’ either. So at the very least the idea that ‘no one’ owns non-profits can’t be true of California non-profits, when at least one ‘public benefit’ stakeholder has to exist.

    The Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization satisfies the ‘public benefit’ test because its operations are solely towards the support of a public access organisation that supports the arts. There’s a clear sole-stakeholder relationship between WSFS and The Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization.

    But please continue to pat each other on the back for being witty and condescending.

  18. Since you’re trying to open another can of worms, you should at least do the necessary research to know the entity that owns them.

    I am trying to close a can of worms, actually, but I stand corrected. However, the existence of the Worldcon IP non-profit is quite an obscure thing, and a modestly recent thing, that I am sure most fans are unaware of, and I admit to having not read up on it previously, so it would have been appreciated if you had decided to point to it rather than say “do your reasearch.”

    Anyway, this does alter what I said, the MPC does then de facto own the marks, since its membership controls the non-profit which owns them. So now I am curious, does the non-profit every year do a licence contract with the new worldcon to define under what terms it can use the marks?

    In trying to close the can of worms, I presumed there was nothing to complain about there. Raytheon didn’t use the marks and I thought the convention, whose members are the entirety of WSFS except the MPC, had to right, if they wished to, to use the marks — without even the need to apologize, but subject to censure by their members who are the WSFS. Now you’ve revealed that no, even though the WSFS constitution only assigns to the MPC the authority to register and protect the marks, it de facto also controls them. Which is not a big deal. (I have mostly thought of the MPC as a committee that SMOFs covet being on because it’s the only persistent position in WSFS that exists, the closest thing to officially being a SMOF that it makes people salivate, and not some high-minded duty to protect the sacred marks. But I’m not cynical or anything.)

    I know others though find it contentious. Google should consider itself lucky that Raytheon Intel & Space is taking all the heat over the question of whether accepting a sponsorship is endorsing all the sponsor does, otherwise there would be debate over what it means for Google to sponsor, and it’s a company that does great good as well as great bad in the world, though mostly the former and Raytheon is further down that sale. I would prefer not to second guess and recriminate the decisions of a con chair that much.

    So if the terms of the licence contract between Worldcon IP Org and a worldcon are around, that might be interesting to this question. On the other hand, more things for fans to argue about and debate if they are being proper, and sensitive to all the issues and parties is probably not a good thing, frankly.

  19. Brad Templeton: So now I am curious, does the non-profit every year do a licence contract with the new worldcon to define under what terms it can use the marks?

    Brad, you’re just here to entertain yourself by stirring stuff up. This was already answered. No. You could read the publicly-available minutes of the MPC and learn this for yourself. But it’s much more fun constructing hoops to see if we’ll jump through them. And damned if we don’t do it every time.

  20. @Brad Templeton

    So now I am curious, does the non-profit every year do a licence contract with the new worldcon to define under what terms it can use the marks?

    Each Worldcon is required by section 2.2. to publish an agreed Service mark acknowledgement, the text of which is provided by the MPC.

    Raytheon didn’t use the marks

    Raytheon ran a ‘Raytheon Red Carpet’ event immediately before the awards. For which Raytheon paid to have a professional photographer to take photos of the nominees. Raytheon provided a ‘Brand Wall’ for those photographs to be taken against, and that ‘Brand Wall’ interspersed the Hugo Award mark and the Raytheon Mark. In order to do so, an amount of money was given by Raytheon in consideration towards the Worldcon.

    That seems to be Raytheon using the Hugo Award Mark to me.

    Google should consider itself lucky that Raytheon Intel & Space is taking all the heat

    The Google sponsorship hasn’t gone un-noticed by the people angry about the Raytheon sponsorship, there’s enough anger about “Renting out the Hugo Awards to the highest bidder” to go around. I think that is a fairly good argument for the MPC to add some language about Sponsorships to the Service Mark acknowledgement and give some direction on what is an acceptable use of the Service Marks.

  21. Jay Blanc: Each Worldcon is required by section 2.2. to publish an agreed Service mark acknowledgement, the text of which is provided by the MPC.

    Applause. Yes, the current year Worldcon’s use of the marks is already baked into the Constitution.

  22. @Mike Glyer
    The text of that acknowledgement isn’t set by the WSFS constitution, the MPC define the text of the acknowledgement. So no, not ‘baked in’, it can change if the MPC want it to change.

  23. @Jay Blanc:

    To say “no one owns it” is misleading semantic sophomorism.

    Honestly, as someone who studied several years of business law in college and have subequently spent a lot of time working on related matters with lawyers, in part while serving for decades on non-profit boards of directors, I have some sympathy for the viewpoint that both caselaw and statute law has a great deal of misleading semantic sophomorisms in it. However, the law’s own castles in the air have real-world tenants and ramparts — and, much though you might dislike the fact, USA non-profit corporations do in fact lack (in the general case) ownership.

    On that, you could have said “Thank you for clarifying”, but you do you, sir.

  24. Whew! All this verbiage reminds me of the title of the final chapter in Harry Warner’s “A Wealth of Fable,” which is “WSFS, Inc. Was Fussing.”

  25. Jay Blanc: I was concerned you’d be in such a hurry to contradict me that you’d neglect to understand my point, which is that the current Worldcon committee does not have to seek permission from the MPC to use the service marks because the rules are designed with the expectation that they will use them.

  26. Ah. So that text provided by MPC is presumably

    “”World Science Fiction Society”, “WSFS”, “World Science Fiction Convention”, “Worldcon”, “NASFiC”, “Hugo Award”, the Hugo Award Logo, and the distinctive design of the Hugo Award Rocket are service marks of the World Science Fiction Society, an unincorporated literary society. You can contact the WSFS Mark Protection Committee at mpc@wsfs.org

    since that appeared in some (but not all) of the publications of Discon3.

    I will note this doesn’t say a lot, and doesn’t mention the truth, that they are actually marks of the WIP Corp, and not, if I read things correctly, technically marks of WSFS any more, other than WSFS appoints the board of WIP Corp indirectly at business meetings. As a non-profit, WIP Corp has no owners. It has no members. It has by-laws and articles making its board match the MPC membership. I wasn’t present, but imagine this is all because WSFS has worn the badge of non-incorporated literary society with pride for decades and doesn’t want to incorporate, but mark ownership and control was easier if that tiny segment of things was incorporated and controlled by the PFWC. (The PFWC of course doesn’t exist, except when it does.)

    All that flyspecking aside, this is a surprising amount of trust in individuals for a society that has steadfastly opposed this in the past. Particularly if, as some people here would like to imagine, that there is a sentiment that there should be standards over who might sponsor a convention or the Hugo ceremony, because as soon as there are standards over that, they needs to be some way to enforce them, and that seems clearly to be the province of the MPC. Which is different from how I think many of us view the MPC – not a body that has much say over how conventions or Hugo ceremonies are run, but rather a body that lets the SMOFs enjoy their permanent committee and sends nasty letters out to other conventions that try to call themselves a worldcon or people not entitled to it using the Hugo name.

    But MRK’s apology, and those who called for it, suggests there are such standards, and she apologizes for going beyond them. That’s a slightly more interesting question. If it’s just that fans say they didn’t like it and somebody apologizes that’s one thing If we ever got to fans saying, “they won’t apologize or reverse course so we should force things” it’s another. And that hasn’t happened. Yet.

  27. @Rick Moen
    “in the general case” and “in this specific case where we’re talking about who has executive control and stakeholder interests in intellectual property” are two very different things. We’re not talking about the hypothetical disposal of assets in the case of winding up the corporation, but about who has actual control and interest in the Worldcon and Hugo Award service marks.

    And I’ve still to hear either of you or Mike acknowledge that this is all moot, because the United States Service Mark registrations are NOT registered to the The Worldcon Intellectual Property Organization. They are directly registered to the WSFS. The holding corporation is only for select jurisdictions that require a service mark to be registered to an incorporated entity. So the answer to Mike’s attempt at a trick question, was ‘The WSFS directly owns the service mark for the purposes of what we’ve been talking about’.

  28. I have mostly thought of the MPC as a committee that SMOFs covet being on because it’s the only persistent position in WSFS that exists, the closest thing to officially being a SMOF that it makes people salivate, and not some high-minded duty to protect the sacred marks.

    I think many of us view the MPC – not a body that has much say over how conventions or Hugo ceremonies are run, but rather a body that lets the SMOFs enjoy their permanent committee and sends nasty letters out to other conventions that try to call themselves a worldcon or people not entitled to it using the Hugo name.
    — Brad Templeton

    I’m going to try to be as kind as possible about how I say this. You’ve repeatedly made utterly uninformed comments about WSFS, the MPC, and the events of the annual Business Meetings in the comments you’ve made on File 770 in the last week or so. I do believe that at some point you were reasonably au fait with WSFS (I own the 1993 CD), but it’s obvious that is no longer the case and hasn’t been for more than a decade. And now you’re being incredibly insulting to the people who are.

    There’s no egoboo associated with the MPC. It’s pretty much a thankless job being done remotely all year long by people who do it because they care about WSFS and the Hugo Awards. I would appreciate it if you could refrain from sneering at the people who are actually doing the work while you spend your time doing uninformed armchair-lawyering in internet comments.

  29. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    Jay Blanc: Your determination to be the master of the word “owns” reminds me of someone.

  30. @Jay Blanc:

    Raytheon provided a ‘Brand Wall’ for those photographs to be taken against, and that ‘Brand Wall’ interspersed the Hugo Award mark and the Raytheon Mark. […]. That seems to be Raytheon using the Hugo Award Mark to me.

    Ah, I see your problem. Please, at your earliest convenience, look up the meaning and ramifications of the term-of-art “nominative use”, within the context of trademark law.

    This is not Trademark 101 class, but let me give you a hypothetical: Being a dedicated Coca-Cola hater, I take out full-page ads proclaiming that Coca-Cola sucks and that the One True Fizzy Sugar Water is Pepsi. (It isn’t, by the way. I will stoutly maintain that the honour goes to the delicious spruce soda such as the Montréal Worldcon bid brought down to bid parties.). Coca-Cola’s crack legal team^W^W^W paralegals send me a form letter complaining that I had used its registered trademark without permission, and moreover had also omitted the sacred ®. Hypothetically, someone at The Coca-Cola Company’s HQ in Atlanta is bit deranged when reading my “…horse you rode in on” rejoinder, and files civil litigation against me for infringement damages under the Lanham Act. Who prevails, class?

    Hah, trick question. The judge is the one who wins, as he happily hurls Coca-Cola Company’s legal staff down the courthouse stairs while dismissing the action on summary judgement. Because of nominative use, which never requires a stakeholder’s permission.

  31. @Mike

    Ae you willing to recognise that the US Registrations of the Worldcon and Hugo service marks are directly registered to the unincorporated WSFS, and the holding incorporated company is only for select registrations in the regions and jurisdictions that require incorporation?

  32. @Rick Moen

    “Nominative Use” is explicitly invalidated when the marks are used to indicate a Sponsorship agreement. Nice try tho.

  33. @Jay Blanc:

    And I’ve still to hear either of you or Mike acknowledge […]

    I’m sorry, are you wishing to engage me for some form of work? Normally, this sort of request that I perform labour I’d nowhere volunteered for, proving some assertion I didn’t make, would have been accompanied by a client-relationship letter and a commitment to pay my professional consulting rate, two-hour minimum plus materials.

    If you are serious about hiring my time and efforts, please write to me offline and we’ll see if there’s a fit. I’m thinking almost certainly a firm “no”, as I’m selective about clients, and also don’t normally consider work outside the San Francisco Bay Area. But we working capitalists are just not your monkey within your circus without monetary compensation, if at all.

  34. @Rick

    How much should I pay for you to not bring up legal terms that explicitly don’t apply?

  35. Jay Blanc: When in 2014 the Business Meeting was asked to pass a resolution that the MPC could establish a holding entity, the MPC said it intended to convey title to the service marks to the new entity. Therefore I don’t believe WIP only holds part of the title or that what it holds varies according to what jurisdiction the Worldcon is in.

  36. Worldcon Intellectual Property (WIP), a California non-profit public benefit corporation recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization by the US Internal Revenue Service, owns the WSFS service marks in selected locations and manages them on behalf of WSFS.

    Jay Blanc: So can you explain to me why you think that quoting the official statement which says WIP owns the WSFS service marks contradicts my statement that WIP owns the service marks?

  37. @Jay Blanc: For evident reasons, I’m firmly disinclined from contemplating any business relationship for any purpose, but certainly wish you the very best of luck in your pecuniary endeavours.

    Noted in passing: Your claim about the putative consequences of a “Sponsorship agreement” (Why the proper noun? Is that the name of your new garage band?) is non-sequitur. The rest you’ll have to work out on your own time. I have lint that needs sorting, and also two cats who need vacuuming.

  38. @Mike Glyer

    WIP owns the WSFS service marks “in selected locations”

    Service marks need to be registered in different Territories and Jurisdictions when there isn’t a treaty that does so automatically. Some of those Territories and Jurisdictions only recognise registrations to incorporated entities.

    The US registration for WSFS’s marks is registered directly to the WSFS not any other holding company, because you can register a US service mark on behalf of an unincorporated entity.

    Is there something here you need explaining in more detail?

  39. There’s no egoboo associated with the MPC. It’s pretty much a thankless job being done remotely all year long by people who do it because they care about WSFS and the Hugo Awards. I would appreciate it if you could refrain from sneering at the people who are actually doing the work while you spend your time doing uninformed armchair-lawyering in internet comments.

    With respect, I named no individual, and as such there is no reason (not that there ever is) to attack me personally rather than what I have written. However, I did express cynical and negative comments about a group of people, so let me say that I am sure many of the individuals are on the committee join it for the reasons you specify.

    But let’s be honest, since you have been critical of my character. A subcommittee devoted to doing minor and thankless bureaucratic tasks such as trademark protection does not get 16 members if that is what it is. That strains credulity. Perhaps you can differ with my impression that people seek membership on it because there is no other group with permanent standing in WSFS, and call it cynical, but it is arrived at honestly, by watching much more importance being attached to all aspects of it at business meetings than such a committee would otherwise merit in any other organization. I’m surprised to see that contention be disputed, it is so clear to me. In any other organization it would be 3 people, all acclaimed to their seats, you would have to beg people to serve on it and they would do it as a favour, and its report every year would be, “There were a few people misusing our marks this year, and we dealt with them. Nothing else needing the attention of the general membership.” But if you can give me another reason why it needs to be what it is, I am open to hearing it.

    I didn’t attend a business meeting until the 90s, but as Kevin Standlee tells it, the MPC arose out of the the attempt to make a permanent standing worldcon committee, which some people have wanted to see (along with an incorporated WSFS) and some — more — don’t. That in fact it used to be such a committee but was reformed as a mark committee to stop it from being a board of WSFS. But its size, and attractiveness as the only permanent role within WSFS remains attractive to those who wish such a role.

    Fans are all volunteers, but it is their nature to volunteer on their own terms, in a way that makes them feel that their work is important and rewarding. No big surprise, almost everybody on the planet is this way. People seek titles and officialness even in an organization that eschews officialness. Or at least does so officially. 🙂

    Since FIJAGDH, it is not so odd that people want to enjoy it. Nobody who has seen Kevin conduct meetings of one of our local SF clubs here, or a WSFS business meeting, would deny that he lives for that sort of stuff; he doesn’t do it as a thankless act of service. And there’s nothing so wrong with that, unless one tries to pretend it’s just service.

  40. I have lint that needs sorting, and also two cats who need vacuuming.

    I saw Heidi Hopper’s display of lint art at Worldcon just last week.

  41. I do not believe an attack becomes less personal just because you name the small group they belong to and not the individuals. If listing them by name would be irrelevant because everyone knows – or can look up with ease – who they are, then leaving the names off and claiming that it’s therefore fine and dandy and not a personal attack is sheer sophistry.

    The repeated conflation of criticism of action with criticism of character while actually being the one to criticise character is also noted.

  42. With respect, I named no individual, and as such there is no reason (not that there ever is) to attack me personally rather than what I have written.
    — Brad Templeton

    There was no respect in your previous comments, and there is none in this one. You personally attacked the 16 members of the MPC as being in it only for “glory” and are now disingenuously pretending that isn’t what you did.

    I’ve noticed that people who are thieves are convinced that everyone else is also a thief, or would like to be one if they thought they could get away with it. Liars are convinced that everyone else is a liar, too.

    It seems to me that someone who is convinced that everyone else only does things for egoboo believes that because they themselves are motivated purely by egoboo.

    watching much more importance being attached to all aspects of it at business meetings than such a committee would otherwise merit in any other organization. I’m surprised to see that contention be disputed, it is so clear to me.
    — Brad Templeton

    I can’t say how the MPC was treated at WSFS Business Meetings 20 years ago, but in all the years I’ve been involved in Worldcon, the MPC’s report is a mere footnote to the Business Meeting, and the report and the selection of new members takes a whopping 10 minutes of a meeting that lasts for 2-3 hours each day for several days.

    I think you’re totally out-of-touch with WSFS and you really have no idea what goes on at Business Meetings. I think what is “clear to you” is based more on your own imaginings than it is on reality. And it’s saddening to see you publicly spreading this sort of character smear on people who are donating their time and energy to trying to help WSFS and the Hugo Awards.

    Its report every year would be, “There were a few people misusing our marks this year, and we dealt with them. Nothing else needing the attention of the general membership.”
    — Brad Templeton

    This is pretty much exactly what the MPC report is every year, and if you took the time to read it, you would know that.

  43. Jay Blanc: WIP has to fully own the marks to serve that function. There isn’t some kind of shell game going on, where sometimes the marks are in WIP and other times they’re someplace else.

  44. @Mike Glyer

    Okay, I think I understand your point of view now. You view it as there being ‘The Service Marks’, and those marks consist of ‘The Worldcon’ mark and ‘The Hugo Awards’ mark and the ‘NASFiC’ mark.

    But that’s not what actually exists. There are multiple different service mark registration territories and jurisdictions across the world, and a service mark is not a monolithic consolidated entity even if you register the same mark across all different territories and jurisdictions. So there are multiple different versions of ‘The Hugo Awards’ for each unique registration that have to be managed as separate entities.

    It’s not ‘A shell game’, but recognition that there are multiple different sets of laws and mark registration regimes that have to be accounted for. And some of those only allow marks to be registered to incorporated entities.

    But not the US. The US service mark registrations are still registered directly to the WSFS, even after their 2014 update. And again, you can check this yourself using the TESS database. https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/

    Incidentally, if it was only the holding company that held all intellectual properties of the Worldcon, Hugo Awards, and NASFiC then… The WSFS and it’s constitution would be entirely irrelevant, because the Board of the holding company would have independent actual ownership of the right to call anything a Worldcon or a Hugo Award, and ability to independently change the rules of their corporation (short of certain limits).

  45. Jay Blanc: But that’s not what actually exists. There are multiple different service mark registration territories and jurisdictions across the world, and a service mark is not a monolithic consolidated entity even if you register the same mark across all different territories and jurisdictions. So there are multiple different versions of ‘The Hugo Awards’ for each unique registration that have to be managed as separate entities.

    That part I understood. However, let me fill in the rest of the information I was working from.

    The report of the Mark Protection Committee to the 2015 Worldcon — the first Worldcon after the formation of WIP — stated the following:

    The MPC voted in favor of the following propositions:
    a. The MPC shall use WIP to register the WSFS service marks that it can in
    those places where the MPC has prioritized the protection of WSFS service
    marks and where such marks are currently unregistered.
    b. As existing WSFS marks currently directly owned by the MPC within the
    USA come up for renewal, the MPC shall authorize that such marks be
    transferred to WIP.
    c. The MPC will delegate most of its functions (as long as not prohibited by
    law) to WIP; however, the MPC must always maintain the ability to override
    the actions of WIP

    So what we were told to expect in 2015 (under (b)) is that even the US service marks would migrate to WIP over time. Since at least a couple of them have been renewed since 2015 and continue to be identified as held by WSFS, one wonders what the story is.

  46. @Brad Templeton:

    [A]s Kevin Standlee tells it, the MPC arose out of the the attempt to make a permanent standing worldcon committee, which some people have wanted to see (along with an incorporated WSFS) and some — more — don’t. That in fact it used to be such a committee but was reformed as a mark committee to stop it from being a board of WSFS.

    Not… quite. It started as a mark committee, then got tossed more duties, then got those others taken away again, and renamed.

    I don’t want to make too much of your recollection being a bit inaccurate (living in the glass house I do, I’m not hurling stones), but you might want to refresh it here. Yes, it’s a wiki, and we’ll consider the first-level doubts about provenance and reliability to have been expressed, but you’ll note in the page history that all substantive content is from Kevin Standlee, not just net.randoms.

    Short version: The unlamented WSFS, Inc.’s (born 1958, died 1959, re-proposed 1976, 1980, 1984-5) Board of Directors had a committee that, when that entity was dissolved and replaced by the current unincorporated literary association, survived as “Standing Committee” (mid-80s), charged with managing trademark matters and a small dribble of other small tasks — which accretion caused controversy, such that the 1986 Business Meeting scaled back Standing Committee’s duties to just trademark, re-labelling it to MPC. (Technically, 1986’s renaming was to “Mark Registration and Protection Committee”, subsequently truncated.)

    All (er, most) of the gory details can be found in Fancyclopedia.

  47. JVE: I apologize if you felt this was a personal attack. It was not intended as such. Yes, it was intended to be a criticism of a structure and so I do understand how it might be read as a criticism of those supporting or participating in that structure, but there is a line between these two. When you have a specific medium sized group you can’t be critical of it without it seeming to criticise all those involved, but since no institution is beyond reproach, it is an inevitable consequence that discussion of one will seem like an attack. It is regrettable.

    As I wrote, I think the desire of people to be on WSFS’ only permanent committee is an understandable one. I find it amusing and not reprehensible. I apologize if my words seemed to imply otherwise. And I do have respect for the various people I know who get deeply involved, but that doesn’t stop me from being amused with the the idea of administration, bureaucracy and rulemaking as a hobby. I actually do understand the pull.

    And I only wrote this in an attempt to clarify the question brought up in this thread, namely who, if anybody, has or should have the authority to deal with questions about whether a sponsorship of a WSFS event is “bad.” That’s a real question.

    Yes, I have not attended the full depth of recent business meetings. If that leaves one unqualified to opine, then very few are qualified. Only a tiny fraction of WSFS membership attends or is aware.

    However, since you have not accepted my invitation to avoid criticism of the individual rather than the argument, I leave you the last word (which I shall not read.)

  48. @Mike
    Would it help in your understanding, that a US service mark registration term is ten years?

    Which means you will have to wait till 2024 for your statements to be correct.

    I’d then pay very close attention to the bylaws of “Worldcon Intellectual Property” corporation, and any meetings of at least half the board members, as they’ll have more legal force than the WSFS’s constitution.

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