The Daily WTF maliciously infringes Programming Praxis trademark

August 13, 2009

The Daily WTF, a web site that chronicles “curious perversions in information technology,” recently introduced a new feature called Programming Praxis in which simple programming exercises are assigned to readers who post their solutions and discuss the exercise in the comments. Alex Papadimoulis runs The Daily WTF.

On June 23rd, Programming Praxis published an exercise based on one of the stories at The Daily WTF. That was done only after consulting with The Daily WTF to ensure there was no copyright violation, and credited The Daily WTF as the source of the exercise, even providing a link back to the original The Daily WTF article.

Papadimoulis liked what he saw at Programming Praxis, and began discussing with me some kind of collaboration between the two web sites. After some discussion, on July 22nd The Daily WTF published a programming exercise of its own, based on the Russian peasant multiplication algorithm. That article used the phrase “Programming Praxis” in its title, and credited me with the idea, but did not refer to the Programming Praxis web site. That article was a success, generating over seven hundred comments with a high signal-to-noise ratio, and Papadimoulis and I began seriously discussing a collaboration.

While we were discussing how a collaboration would work, on July 29th The Daily WTF published a second programming exercise second article that also used the phrase “Programming Praxis” in its title, and borrowed the exercise from one previously discussed at Programming Praxis, but did not credit me or refer to the Programming Praxis web site.

At that point discussions about collaboration broke down. The problem was that the two sites had different goals: The Daily WTF is primarily entertainment, and Programming Praxis is primarily educational. The difference was highlighted by the decision to use the Josephus problem; Papadimoulis selected that problem because he thought of a neat way to use an animated gif to show how the soldiers die. I notified Papadimoulis that no collaboration was possible, and asked him not to use the name “Programming Praxis” in any future exercises he might publish.

Papadimoulis never responded to my email, but did respond on The Daily WTF by publishing on August 5th another exercise based on a common mathematical problem. The problem used the phrase “Programming Praxis” in its title, and Papadimoulis wrote, in the first comment, that “Programming Praxis” now had its own category on The Daily WTF; he also asked readers to submit tips for future “Programming Praxis” articles.

The name “Programming Praxis” belongs to me, not Papadimoulis. I have been publishing under that name twice a week for six months, and own the domain. Papadimoulis is using the name without my permission, and against my expressed wishes.

Papadimoulis’ improper use of the name has already caused confusion in the marketplace of ideas. At proggit (, a reader named “bhrgunatha” says “I think the real WTF here is they are taking these exercises from the actual programming praxis site apparently against the license.”

After publication of the third exercise, I sent an email demanding that Papadimoulis cease and desist from using the phrase “Programming Praxis” to describe his weekly programming exercises. After four days, Papadimoulis responded that it is now too late to change the name, and that we would have to be happy to share it. I am not happy to share my name, and on Monday I sent a registered letter for next-day delivery demanding that Papadimoulis cease and desist from using the phrase “Programming Praxis.” However, The Daily WTF continues to use the phrase “Programming Praxis,” publishing yet another exercise under that name today.

A log of emails between Papadimoulis and me, complete except for a few emails arranging the time of our telephone conversation, appears on the next page. The emails show the history of the situation as it transpired.

I must defend my name. Thus, I am publishing this account of what happened. I will also explore trademark protection for my name, and such other legal action as may be required.

Thank you to all my regular readers for listening to my story. If you wish to help, you may act to provide wide attention to this situation in the blogosphere; feel free to post a link to this blog entry to your favorite forum, and add your comments. Your code, your comments and your private emails inspire me to continue publishing Programming Praxis. I apologize that I must engage you in this ugliness.

/s/ Philip L. Bewig


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76 Responses to “The Daily WTF maliciously infringes Programming Praxis trademark”

  1. P. Riva said

    The daily WTF was a great site and in the past it was really really funny to read what was presented, but in the last year(s) it has changed quite a bit… (my impression is that it has lost the freshness it had trying to categorize the cases and providing every day something new, plus it added a bit of ads pollution!).

    I already skip nearly all the stories presented in it and enjoy mainly the crazy errors images. Reading here about this story is just another small step towards the removal of its rss feed from my reader.

  2. BS said

    He’s a prick. You’re a winey bastard. Move on, yo.

  3. JudgeD said

    You’re doing the right thing. I didn’t realise that Papadimoulis had done this. I had found these articles among the more interesting and am glad to have found their true home. Keep up the good work…..

  4. Peter said

    Huh, interesting to know. I’ve been reading TDWTF and had never even heard of this site until seeing it just now on Reddit…

  5. Miksu said

    You want some cheese with that?

    Seriously, the programming praxis is not (AFAIK) a registered trademark and you’re just going to have to suck it up. Maybe I’ll start a domain…

  6. David said

    I haven’t read all of the email-conversation, but here is my view:
    If you really wanted the programming praxis (two overly general words in IT) to be established as a brand, you should have done so. I doubt it is easy to sustain though.

    I can imagine you feel like alex hijacking your idea, but let this be a learning point for you.
    He is not using a logo or any other component of your blog, soin court tdwtf will win this.

  7. Azeroth said

    Well, at least you’ll gain some publicity out of this. *Adds RSS*

  8. Toshiaki said

    Publishing someone else’s emails without their consent is a dick move and probably illegal.

  9. […] Sheetsreddit Adventures in Middle-Aged Gaming: My Six Year Olds Zangief Owns My Fei Long! Programming Praxis accuses The Daily WTF of name infringement Parents criticizing a DNA sculpture as "Vile and Offensive". John Copeland, a […]

  10. Hi,

    I have to say I love your website and I support your decision to protect the programming praxis name. It is however hard to fight people like the admin of Daily WTF online. I wish you the best of luck. I will be posting a formal comment about this later on my website to raise awareness to the issue. Hope you can achieve something. Let us know, your readers, if we can be of further help.

    Paulo Matos

  11. John Woods said

    Wow, that makes sernse to me dude!


  12. Joseph said

    I do not take kindly to those that steal from others.

    I have cut TheDailyWtf out of my reading because of this blatant theft.

  13. Aaron said

    I’ve been following your site since near the beginning, and have enjoyed it quite a bit. When The Daily WTF started a section under that name I was wondering if they stole it, now I know. They are jerks, best of luck.

  14. nausea said

    Seriously, let it go.
    You’re coming across as a bit of a dick and making yourself look bad.

  15. (Hoping this doesn’t get deleted!)

    Hey, Alex from TDWTF here…

    There’s two sides to this story, and quite clearly only *one* side has been presented.

    If you can read between the lines on Phil’s account, it should be clear who’s being unreasonable… I mean, come on… overnighting a C&D letter? Threatening legal action? Are you kidding me?

    I like Phil, and we tried to work together. Our conversation started with having him join TDWTF team and merge pprax if our first exercise or two was successful. If it wasn’t, he was going to go is way, I and I was going to go mine.

    Turned out it was successful… and Phil changed his mind, saying something to the effect of, “great, now just link all over the site, and you can continue to publish progrmming exercises.”

    That seemed pretty unbalanced to me… so I tried to further our conversation with phone calls, but he was uninterested in talking. So we parted ways, and I continued on. Next thing I know, I get a C&D, and you see this blog post.

    If he wanted to protect his “trademark”, he should have told me in the first place, and I would have *never* used the name in the first place on TDWTF without credit… but coming back a month later and demanding I remove the name…. and then overnighting a C&D letter… and then posting a blog article?

    These are not the actions of a resonable person. Sould I have taken the effort to remove all references to PPrax because he demanded that I do or face legal action? Maybe.

    But I certainly didn’t “steal” it.


  16. Daniel said

    Alex Papadimoulis: Having heard your side of the story, I think I still side with Phil. I’m not sure “no backsies” is enough of a defense in this case.

    Also, he’s talking about infringement, not stealing; it was pretty obvious from his post that it wasn’t theft but the breakdown of an agreement, after which he decided he wanted exclusitivity over the term “Programming Praxis”.

  17. Brain said

    Mhhh, I would say its a bit your own fault dude, I mean, I like your blog and I like your praxis. Calling it theft is ridiculous, and we both know that, using two non-copyrighted generic terms as a heading does not qualify as theft. If they would have willingly stolen your content after your collaboration plans collapsed it would be something different. You got the intellectual rights on your work, but not on a generic name!

    My 2 cents…

  18. rock said

    Wow you should get a day job or something, you clearly have too much time on your hands if you’re posting this crap.

  19. that guy said

    Congratulations Phil, you’ve just lost the respect of the Internet!

    You’re an attention-grabbing, whiny baby. And your programming praxis suck.

  20. sorryoldman said

    I’ve been through such an event myself a couple years back.
    Here are some more points for everyone to consider:
    Phil keeps saying that he might not be able to get challenges online every week.
    He knows he has limited resources. Had he thought of “brand” he would have jumped at the platform TDWTF provided, given up the name, taken the money, become famous for a few months and parted ways nicely, with a big name and new site. There’s no dearth of such sites. All this would have made Phil a celebrity, richer, and would command a wider audience after peacefully parting ways with TDWTF. That he has not chosen this way means that he is not after hits and money.

    OTOH, Alex keeps mentioning hits all the time.
    All. The. Time.
    “TheRealWTF(TM)” indicates the “corporate professionalism” of Alex again.

    Alex does not reply with this:
    “Wait, we can sort this out – let’s start over. I had a bunch of assumptions and you had a bunch of other assumptions.
    I said you join and merge or we part ways.
    You said you allow us the name and the content with permission.
    Then I said…
    Then you said…

    Here we mismatch.
    Let’s see a third solution that solves the problem for us both.”

    Phil suggests a bifurcation of focus – TDWTF for fun and PP for serious challenges.
    Alex starts with “fun” and HITS and ends with “sorry cannot roll back”

    Alex, in my opinion is showing opportunism, by definition.

    Let’s see how they end :
    “As you know, I am the registered owner of and have been writing a blog named Programming Praxis that publishes programming exercises twice each week since February. I am sorry that our recent discussions did not lead to a merger of my blog with your blog The Daily WTF.
    At no time have I given you permission to use the name Programming Praxis as part of your blog. ”

    Now note this sentence by Phil:
    “I acquiesced when you used the name Programming Praxis for two programming exercises as we were contemplating some kind of merger, but when we were unable to agree on the terms of a merger, I did not give you permission for the continued use of the name Programming Praxis, and in fact requested that you cease use of the name.”

    “However, instead of publishing your programming exercises under a different name, you again used the name Programming Praxis on your most recent publication, last Wednesday. Your use of that name leads to confusion among readers; in a recent email I pointed out to you a comment at Proggit that discussed the confusion.”
    Phil’s argument is based on a user’s real comment.

    “Therefore, I demand that you immediately cease and desist from using the name Programming Praxis, and state to me in writing your binding commitment not to use that name in the future. If you have already prepared a programming exercise for publication this coming Wednesday, I expect you to publish using some different name.
    Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.”

    Alex replies with legalese to the trigger of “cease and desist”. Those words trigger legalese everywhere. But there are no lawyer names and there is no mention of the trademark. Phil doesn’t seem to know that only registered trademarks hold. He is not a corporate shark.
    Alex OTOH, is a guy in the corporate trenches. He has seen a lot of this. Instead of showing experience and negotiation, inspite of being a “community chief”, he replies like this:

    “1) The operator and responsible party for The Daily WTF ( is Inedo Publishing, LLC; not myself nor Inedo, LLC.
    2) Clearly, there was never any agreement nor meeting of the minds in regards to any collaboration.
    3) The words “programming praxis” are entirely descriptive and generic, especially within the IT/development community.
    4) Your encouragement to use the words “programming praxis” in our first two articles on TDWTF without any consideration or restriction further establishes point #3.
    5) You have made no sincere effort to establish “programming praxis” as a name you intend to exclusively use since there is no federal trademark registration, no Missouri trademark registration, nor even a fictions name filing in Missouri.
    6) Given #3 and #5, any action taken against Inedo Publishing, LLC would be retaliatory and done in bad faith.
    7) Should you wish to take action, you may direct legal correspondences directly to Inedo Publishing, LLC’s counsel:”

    This is using a cannon to shoot a baby in the corporate world.

    It sounds like this:
    “You had her first all right, but I slept with her and she’s way too hot for me to give up now. So bugger off and dont come looking for her. She’s too sexy and she’s mine now.”
    I hope this last sentence puts things in persepctive.

    I have no enmity with either Alex or Phil.
    I still think this can get sorted out – if Phil and Alex go to Obama, he’ll offer them beer and matters can be settled. It wont be easy, but things can get repaired. Of course this is all about a blog and software examples. Had a real girl or physical object or tangible exprience been involved, it would be difficult to sort out peacefully.

    Also, I write this because I’ve had a bad experience of being dumped just like this by a startup neo-corporate bunch of self-styled geniuses. They may be making a name and good money, but others are **changing the world**. And this serves as a nice time for me to remind them that the latter is a bigger deal. Well, that was my personal motivation, or shall i say, objective ;-) .
    Hackers have long memories. And some tiny tots too.
    This is opportunism on my part, I plead guilty, but the case is the same, and it happens far too often to feel lazy about. It hurt me and I wouldn’t like Phil or anyone else, being used-and-thrown like that.
    All this of course is my opinion. YMMV.

  21. BA said

    At first, I thought this site was associated with this one due to the name Praxis being used in an educational context:

    I see that is not the case. It looks like your use of the term has led to confusion in the marketplace regarding your product. And I’m sure that the Educational Testing Service actually has a trademark for the Praxis name as it relates to educational material.

  22. sorryoldman said

    And yes, point #2 in Alex’s reply is a BLATANT LIE.
    “2) Clearly, there was never any agreement nor meeting of the minds in regards to any collaboration.”
    WTF!! By definition!!
    “never any agreement”
    “nor meeting of the minds”
    “in regards to any collaboration”

    Becoming famous should probably not excuse Alex for contradicting himself, consider this:

    Alex to Me 6/22 2:19pm
    Cool, thanks for sharing!
    Looks like some pretty cool stuff that you’ve got going on there… if you’re ever interested in discussing/exploring some sort of collaboration, I think we could really work well together.

    Alex to Me 6/29 5:20pm
    Hey Phil,
    Sounds like we’re on the same page about the direction I was thinking.
    Static pages and “special stuff” isn’t a problem so much, since TDWTF is 100% proprietary. As for formatting, it’s 100% HTML, so if you can do that, there shouldn’t be an issue.
    I’m slammed since I got back, so I didn’t get a chance to read/think about the Russian Peasant Multiplcation exersize… but I will soon, was there a date you had in mind for starting? Perhaps the week after the 4th?

    “As for content… I suspect readers will gladly contribute exercise concepts. ”
    Making use of users resources to come up with ideas by taking users for granted.

    “We can also use some of the older exercises on PP.”
    Not collaboration?

    Alex, you need to behave like a leader, not like a kid.
    Phil, legally, he’s right. Trademark is what matters.

    The fanboys are always willing to create significant problems for any vulnerable target.

    There are enough avenues in programming to keep both sites running at full steam.

    Statistically, TDWTF will not get hit by this AT ALL. Not a bit.

    Phil loses due to “brand economics” or whatever is the jargon for “established”.

    It is best if you both have a beer with an Obama, starting with Alex, the community leader, who could also simply switch to a neat name like the “Me, FTW!!!” challenge.

    That’s a “better brand”, Alex, in keeping with your “wtf” site.

    And me, I need to shut up NOW!! :-)

  23. Srjk said

    Completely with you on this on.

    You are not being “whiney”.

    I have been doing your problems over the past couple of months and have enjoyed it a lot. Its obvious that maintaining such a steady stream of high quality problems is no easy job so you definitely shouldn’t back down from random strongarm tactics.

  24. Re: Alex Papadimoulis

    As you said, there are two sides to every story. From what you said, there was no ill-will or anything on your side. In that same vein, why not just change the name on your side of things? That doesn’t sound like a stretch for you at all from what you have already shared.

  25. Dave said

    You there. With the big “Post Blog” button. Shut up. You’re one person, and welcome to the age of information. You’re laying claim to *words*. Let me repeat that for you: *words*. “You’re fired!” “Programming Praxis.” “What’s in your wallet?” Do what the rest of us do: suck it up and be grateful you got a mention. Most assholes wouldn’t credit you that much.

  26. Mike said

    So this means that Daily WTF will no longer have these lame Programming Praxis posts?


  27. Like I said earlier, this all kinda blew up in the matter of a few days… the whole issue of not using the words “programming praxis” came up when I didn’t want to promote him. We were cordial, then BAM – C&D letter and then I’m like the big bad guy on the internet.

    But hey, whatever. I don’t get my panties all in a ruffle when other people use “Daily WTF” — or heck, when other blogs call themselves that (,, and many more).

    Anyway… I honestly don’t care one way or another, aside from the fact that I’m now devoting even more time to “meta” stuff. I’ve got a day job, family, house, garden, websites, and all sorts of other things to do. But no matter, let’s change the article titles!

    Am I allowed to use “Programming Practice” or, would that infringe upon this guy’s non-existent trademark and create “confusion in the marketplace of ideas” [sic]?

    And just to be sure… I am still allowed to write programming exercise articles, right? Or would that infringe on a make-believe patent?

  28. Re: Alex Papadimoulis…

    LOL you have a good sense of humor and perspective man, keep it up :).

  29. Brian said

    Alex Papadimoulis said
    August 13, 2009 at 1:14 PM
    (Hoping this doesn’t get deleted!)

    To bad he didn’t extend the same courtesy to one of his on posters about this. TDWTF has been on a (content) downtrend for some time. This is the end for me. I’ll be back here.


  30. jake said

    Man that dude at TDWTF is kind of a dick…

  31. gob bluth said

    “Papadimoulis selected that problem because he thought of a neat way to use an animated gif to show how the soldiers die.”

    I don’t believe this and i don’t believe you.

  32. Do you actually have a registered trademark? Didn’t think so. STFU. If you do have one hiding somewhere that isn’t showing up in my research there should be little trouble getting it nullified since it’s a generic term in the German language.

  33. JustMe said

    Hadn’t heard of either site before today, but I did some searches:

    “Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted or practiced.”

    I don’t see that you registered that name as a trademark or a service mark with the government. Sorry, I think WTF and all the other sites that use the term ‘programming praxis’ aren’t required to get your permission. He used a fairly common term the same way that you used his ‘wtf’ in a (slightly slanderous) way in your headline.

  34. jake said

    ProgramingPraxis has a custom logo. You dont need to register a trademark, just use it first. When was the last time you heard someone say ‘Hey man i think im gonna get some programming praxis in today’. Yeah didn’t think so. It’s obviously a unique term, maybe each individual word is generic, but together its a pretty novel alliteration. TDWTF dude is a prick for stealing it, especially since he didn’t come up with it out of the blue, he knew your blog used that name.

  35. Mike D said

    Are you honestly such a whiny little bitch that you would try to prevent TDWTF from using the term “Programming Praxis”? Seriously? This is a generic term, you don’t have a trade-mark on it and you couldn’t get one if you wanted it. Grow up and get over yourself you pathetic little child.

  36. Connochaetes said

    People justifying Alex are obviously his fanboys, over from his site built to feel superior by ridiculing others. The truth is that Alex came across as one of the biggest dicks of the Internet community.

  37. Bill Gates said

    I have trademarked “The”

    Meet you all in court.

  38. Steve Ballmer said

    I have trademarked ‘trademark’. I will see you, Bill Gates, in court, along with the rest of these monkeys.
    Oh yeah… P.S. Can I have the keys to your office yet? :'(

  39. I support Programming Praxis in this matter. There’s no basis for Alex’ claim that he can’t change the title of a column less than half a dozen articles in, and he shouldn’t have published a second article under someone else’s title knowingly.

    The Daily WTF is clearly in the wrong here.

  40. As a former multiple donator to The Daily WTF, I have now ceased reading The Daily WTF. I am advising readers on my site to do the same until Alex changes his mind.

  41. Fred Durst said

    There will be no use of the word ‘nookie’, nor can you claim to ‘have done it all for’ the aforementioned term. Please C&D.

  42. wtf said

    Wow, the vitriol spewing around here is crazy. Arguing over the use of two generic words? Calling someone a “little bitch?” Why can’t we all just play nice?

    This here is why we can’t have nice things on the Internet.

  43. Kev said

    Alex’s responses avoid engaging with the core of the arguemnt put forward. They’re essentially straw men responses, sarcasm and other rhetoric. When you don’t engage with the points being made and instead try and distract with rhetoric, it’s fairly obvious you don’t have a real response. Having dealt with him before, this isn’t all that surprising.

  44. K said

    Awful lot of Daily WTF cocksuckers in here…

  45. Dan T. said

    I’m a Daily WTF regular reader who hadn’t even heard of this site before, but after reading the sequence of correspondence I tend to side with you. My interpretation of what was being proposed in terms of an alliance was that you would become sort of a “columnist” for TDWTF, providing material based on your own site, which would continue as a separate site, with cross-promotions going on between the two sites. The purpose in titling the columns in TDWTF “Programming Praxis” would be to highlight their origin with your site (and that in fact is the major purpose of trademarks: to designate the origin of a product or service). Having the columns say that they’re in association with this site, and link to it, would be a perfectly reasonable thing within this context. However, the other side seems to have been under a completely different understanding. Why they insist on continuing use of the name after the alliance crumbled is beyond me.

  46. R said

    Phil on 6/23: “You and I have similar objectives: you want to extend your already-successful brand by offering something new to your readers, I want to grow my new blog. So some kind of collaboration makes sense.”

    Phil on 6/26: “I don’t want to abandon Programming Praxis — it’s fun having my own presence on the web. And I can’t greatly expand my output of exercises — they look easy, but require considerable effort. So I’m not entirely sure how a collaboration would work. Again, let’s wait on the response to a trial posting before thinking too much about the future.”

    Phil on 7/3: “I like the idea of having a Programming Praxis sub-section on TDWTF, and I also want to keep my blog at […] So I think I’ve found a way to differentiate the two Programming Praxis sites. My site remains as it is, with an exercise on one page and a suggested solution on the next, with a medium level of difficulty. At TDWTF, the exercises are somewhat simpler, the pseudo-code solution is integrated into the discussion of the problem, and the tag line asks the reader to implement the solution in his favorite language and post it in the comments below.”

    Phil on 7/11: “The only question left is frequency. If PPonWTF gets popular, you will soon want more exercises. But I’m already writing two exercises per week, and struggling to get that done. I’m not sure how much I can add. Does a schedule of every-other-Wednesday sound okay to you? Assuming, of course, we both want to continue after the initial test.”

    Phil on 7/19: “I have to tell you that I am still worried about maintaining a continuous flow of new exercises for TDWTF while still keeping my schedule of two exercises per week at ProgPrax.”

    Seeing the elevating concern of Phil, as he talks about running his own blog while simultaneously contributing to TDWTF, Alex gives himself a minute little response to these statements (which he’s otherwise ignored in their conversation).

    Alex on 7/20: “And just so were on the same page (I’m hoping this didn’t get lost in the back-and-forth)… I’m really seeing these initial trial/test articles answering whether or not Programming Praxis can/will have a home on TDWTF, and then deciding where to go from there. It could be a bad fit for the audience, a bad fit for you (i.e. you want to continue building your own site), etc.”

    Aha, ‘it is a bad fit for you’ = ‘you want to continue building your own site’. Considering Phil has by this point stated SEVERAL times that he wants to continue his own blog, it would be ridiculous to use this small phrase to say that Phil should have understood a merger was implied all along. (And if they don’t use that phrase to imply it, how the hell did they come to that understanding, when Phil was constantly saying ‘I want to keep my blog running’??)

    Phil on 7/22: “May I ask a favor? Can you please include somewhere in the text of the exercise a link to my blog? Something like: “More exercises like this one are available at the Programming Praxis website.” where the words Programming Praxis link back to”

    Alex on 7/22: “Regarding the link… as a rule, we outbound link very, very, very, very rarely…”

    Phil on 7/22: “Since you decided not to use Let’s Make A Deal!, I’ll use it at Programming Praxis. I didn’t yet have an exercise for Friday; now I do.

    If you continue putting Programming Praxis problems on The Daily WTF, I would very strongly like a link back to my site. That’s why I’m doing this, to help make Programming Praxis grow.”

    Phil on 7/27: “First, will continue to exist in roughly its current form, as a stand-alone web site with two exercises per week, no matter what happens with Programming Praxis exercises at TheDailyWTF. I’m having too much fun learning about blogging and the web to stop now. […] Regarding linking: If Programming Praxis is going to become a regular weekly feature on TheDailyWTF, with at least some original content, I don’t see the problem with putting a link to somewhere obvious. It’s good for me, obviously, and it’s also good for those of your readers who are interested and want to do more. […] So let me make another suggestion. With each exercise, I will write a comment with my own personal solution, perhaps some discussion, and add at the end a sentence “You can see more exercises like this at” Would that be acceptable?”

    Alex: “I don’t want to come across as abrasive or inconsiderate, but we started this conversation on the premise of joining forces, and I’ve reiterated that intent several times. My understanding has been that, if our test(s) proved successful, then we’d combine blogs; if not, then you’d continue with your blog, and I would continue with mine.

    It’d be difficult to describe these last two articles as anything but an overwhelming success, so I’m having a hard time understanding your reticence to join the TDWTF team. The offer still stands, but if you don’t want to take it, then that puts me in a difficult position: we definitely want to continue with this type of content, but we don’t want to grow your site in the process.”

    Translation – WTF, you want to keep your blog!? Why didn’t you say something? I didn’t know that! You totally misled me dude, you let me understand something different!

    Seriously, Alex is a fucking asshole. Either he skimmed these important emails about their collaboration enough to miss the several references to keeping intact (his fault, and he should correct the problem by laying off), or he intentionally glazed over those in the hopes that he could bully Phil into bending over and joing TDWTF (which is what I suspect). Phil constantly asserted that he would like to keep his site intact and did not bend over, and what is Alex’s response? “What the hell, dude, I’ve been riding you for a month now, just drop and suck it already!”

    I don’t see how anyone could read those emails and take Alex’s side. I could see perhaps, if you like his site (I personally don’t read either of them, I just came here off of a random social networking site), saying ‘Alex isn’t bad, he just misunderstood’ but even in that case the burden should still be with Alex to compromise and remove the name. Not because Phil has legal recourse, but because that is just the decent thing to do.

    I hope this doesn’t end how I figure it could – with an innocent well meaning blogger losing the name he poured his energy and effort into, just so some bigger company who just thinks it sounds catchy can add some feature to their website. Seriously, is TDWTF so devoid of talent that they can’t even come up with a simple name for a subsection?

    Alex started out very friendly, very cordial. Now, especially with his first two responses to this blog post, he has degenerated into “Yeah, my cock is so much bigger than yours! Look at my suit, at my car! I’m SO cool.”

  47. Zach said

    Phil, this is Steven R. Covey’s lawyer. You are infringing on the term “Sharpen your Saw”. Please C&D asshole.

  48. Wizzard said

    As a DailyWTF reader and contributor, I also support Programming Praxis in this matter. Alex obviously decided to use the name after seeing your site. Whether you have a registered trademark or not, that is in bad faith. Also, not giving you any credit as his source for the idea of posting programming problems and the source of one of the actual problems used is completely wrong.

    To the people who are saying that “praxis” is a common word and “Programming Praxis” should not be able to be trademarked… what planet are you from? Seriously? It’s not even in Firefox’s dictionary, spell-check is complaining as I type this comment.

    To the people calling Phil “whiny” and telling him to “get a life”… I hope that is the reaction you get someday when you are a victim of theft. Although, that’ll probably never happen because you’d have to create something of value for it to be stolen, eh?

  49. Frederick said

    Alex, of course you look like the bad guy.

    You think that because he has no trademark on Programming Praxis, it gives you the moral right to take his idea. It’s like skipping the bus line, sure there is no law forbiding you from doing so, but other people would still rightfuly think you’re an ***hole. You did something morally questionnable, now please, accept the consequences and don’t complain when people think you are an opportunist.

    = Frederick

  50. Enough swearing from the peanut gallery, please; you guys are just making a bad situation worse.

    Phil: in conversation with Alex, Alex has suggested that he did not decline to cease use of the name, but rather that he said he just couldn’t get to it that day. Whereas it’s kind of a stupid thing to say that one can’t change infringing text in a day, it also throws this entire situation into a significantly different light.

    Phil: did Alex refuse outright, or just postpone you? The difference is pretty important.

  51. Looks like s/Praxis/Practice has been done on TDWTF already.

    Also, this website has some serious unclosed code/pre tag action going on, leading to most of the home page rendering monospaced text after a certain point. :-(

  52. Alex, Phil, I think you both need to step back and look at this a little more objectively.

    Phil, it would be difficult and costly to engage in a legal battle with TheDailyWTF over the name “Programming Praxis”, and since your site only receives a few thousand hits a week it would be an unprofitable venture. The article concept on the other hand isn’t something you can copyright. Aside from that, you’ve already given Alex permission to continue to display the existing content.

    Alex, you’re using someone else’s website name for an ongoing section on your own site. Whatever your previous plans to collaborate on a more permanent basis, these fell through when you couldn’t reach an agreement. Even if “Programming Praxis” is not a legally registered trademark, TheDailyWTF may take a PR backlash over this. Although a court may find in your favour, it’s the reader base who pays TheDailyWTF’s profits.

    Moreover, it’s not necessarily that great a name for a category, as praxis is probably an unfamiliar word to most readers. It’s a new article type and a change of future articles to, say, “Programming Practice”, would not incur much confusion or damage the content’s value. Most readers would consider it reasonable to change a category name to avoid confusion with an existing website.

  53. Dear Phil:

    As you request not just a few days ago, I removed the words “programming praxis” from TDWTF. As I told you on a few different occasions, I don’t have fancy CMS software and doing this requires editing the code, compiling, backing-up, deploying, etc. Being out of town, I didn’t have the time to do it any earlier.

    I also noticed that you published select parts of our private email conversations without my consent. As someone who champions protecting “intellectual property” so very much, I’m sure you’ll accept my request to unpublish our private conversations. As you’re quite aware, when one selectively picks and edits email messages, it makes it pretty darn easy to make the other party look bad.

    In the future, I would suggest that you ask nicely for what you want instead of overnighting a C&D letter and then publishing a scathing blog article two days later. Granted, it won’t get you nearly as much attention… but, it’s the nice thing to do.

    Again, I’m sorry that our collaboration didn’t work out, and I regret that our conversation ended this way. Good luck with all the new traffic!

    Sincerely, Alex

  54. Philo said

    Alex, you’re a gigantic douchebag.

  55. lol said

    Light grey text on slightly darker grey or white background. Who designed this shit.

  56. JT said

    It’s not trademarked. The story ends right there. Anything you babies are crying about is already cemented in monstrous tomes of legal precedents, and it would do everyone well to shut the fuck up about it.

    Never heard of this site until today. Certainly never coming back.

  57. Taylor Sullivan said

    Phil is being obnoxious here.

    It’s obvious there was a miscommunication and that Alex acted thereon, but Phil didn’t see this or make a reasonable move towards Alex it until way too late.

    Also, sending the C&D, thereby initiating legal action, and then backing up and posting this huge bawwww in the public is a seriously miscalculated step if you’re really interested in pursuing further legal action against TDWTF.

    You’re angry, and your posts echo it–this reads like teenage angst on Xanga.

  58. Thelonious said

    >The name “Programming Praxis” belongs to me…I have been publishing under that name twice a week for six months, and own the domain

    This is where you lost me. Compare “The name ‘John Smith’ belongs to me…I have been living under that name for 40+ years and I own the domain. You may not name your child ‘John Smith’ without infringing my rights”

    It doesn’t work that way legally or morally. You might have had a moral case if the name was somehow original or unique, but frankly “Programming Praxis” is not.

    That said, I don’t buy Alex’s “it’s too late to change it” argument either. If he wanted to play nice, he could change the name to something else. I think he’s being kind of a jerk, but you’re also asserting rights you don’t have.

  59. It turns out that there may not have been an “it’s too late” argument at all. Alex suggests that what was actually said was “I can’t do this today because I don’t have a CMS and don’t have time to go updating a million links.”

    Kind of a WTF site design, but far less acrimonious than as presented by Phil.

    Phil: we’d really love some clarifications here.

  60. Not a Programmer said

    I’m just a guy. I don’t know a damn thing about programming or about trademark law.

    That doesn’t mean that I can’t tell right from wrong. Alex – you’re a douche. You tried to muscle someone into giving up a valuable property and it didn’t work. Maybe you rescue abused cats in your spare time… but in your professional dealings you’re a scammer. Your belated decision to relent makes it clear that you understand what you did and that it was wrong. Good for you for coming to your senses. One presumes you will find it significantly more difficult to find others with which to collaborate in the future – since you have seriously tarnished any intergity you once had. Your lame excuse about not having the time to affect the change is transparent and weak by the way.

    Phil – good for you for standing up to the kind of strong-arm bully tactics that all too often reward the unscrupulous in their dealings with straight shooters like yourself. Like I said, I’m not a programmer, and so I’m not going to pretend that I would even understand the content of your blog – but you’re all right with me. Maybe nice guys don’t always finish last after all.

  61. Philip, you’re a genuine, arrogant asshole.

  62. Keith Henderson said


    Your decision to remove “programming praxis” from was a good one. Claiming it as your original intent – just delayed by a few days – seems implausible since you said “we’ll just have to share” in a prior email.

    But I’m glad you’re doing the right thing, even if you were forced into it by bad PR. Maybe next time you’ll get ahead of the bad PR by doing it in the first place.

  63. Never heard of the Programming Praxis blog before this post. This here is an interesting little scuffle between it and The Daily WTF.

    Seems a bit strange that a C&D letter was sent followed by a blog entry detailing the situation. Maybe it was all a ploy to protect the non-trademark. Or perhaps it was a way to generate some traffic.

    In the end, Alex gave up the name. I don’t know if Alex is a good guy or a prick. But this was a good move by him.

    All through the story I was trying to figure out whose side I was one. That was difficult. However I think Alex did the right thing in the end. I will give The Daily WTF some link love from my own blog.

  64. edward said

    don’t take legal action that’s pathetic

  65. edward said

    dont take legal action that’s mean

  66. Arne said

    The title says, TDWTF infringed your trademark, but from the body of this article it’s clear that you have no trademark. While trademarks can be leveraged in domain name disputes, the converse is not true. This means that the claim you make in the title probably constitutes libel. Even if you have a moral case of some sorts, legally you are treading very thin ice.

  67. Issarlk said

    Way to go, you want to protect your imaginary property, that’s not even trademarked. And you publish private conversations without consent, thus violating Alex’s copyright.

    Hopefuly you’ll be less clueless next time something like this happen.

  68. Steve said

    If you want to claim trademark infringement I’m pretty sure you need a trademark to begin with and it’s perfectly clear you don’t have one. Using a term on your website does not automatically constitute a trademark (I commonly use words on my website, all sorts of them, but that doesn’t automatically grant me a trademark on them – lucky for you because I’ve seen hundreds of “infringements” of my words on this site). Stop acting like a butthurt little kid and get on with your life (I assume you have one of those although all evidence to the contrary).

  69. attorneyman said

    Hey guys,

    Just wanted to say, as an attorney and legal historian, that there is such a thing as common law trademark. Trademarks were protected by common law long before trademark statutes were enacted. One need not register a mark or phrase to have a legally protectible interest therein. It just needs to be unique, and based on a simple, seat of the pants google search I just did, it looks like it is. I’m not saying common law trademark protection is as strong as statutory, or that Phil wouldn’t have been wiser to register Programming Praxix, I’m just saying his claim of trademark is not invalid just because he didn’t register it. So all of you amateur attorneys out there need to back off a bit and rethink this thing.

  70. C said

    Mr. “Not a Programmer”, how did you get the impression that Alex wanted “to muscle someone into giving up a valuable property and it didn’t work”? Giving up would imply Phil not using it anymore, i believe.

  71. If “programming praxis” was such a common name, the domain wouldn’t have been available. Not being a lawyer, I don’t know what your odds of succeeding are, but I wish you the best of luck. It’s an obvious copy of the name and idea IMHO.

    If it’s any consolation, I only heard of this site because of this post. I used to read TDWTF religiously when it first started, but it’s gone down hill since. I still read it, I guess mostly out of habit, but I’m not sure it’s got much life left.

    I would say you’d be better off pursuing this, as it’ll get you more readers, even if you don’t win any legal settlement.

  72. sorryoldman said

    Hey Phil,
    The name is changed to Programming Practice!!
    I think Alex either admitted his mistake to himself or bowed to public opinion.
    More than anything else, I hope this becomes another outstanding example of internet justice in the programmer community.

    To all the unscrupulous webmasters and LLC’s out there:

    The lesson is that your brand is of no use before public opinion on the internet.
    On the internet, once a thief, always a thief. Don’t steal and expect to get away with it. It will come back to haunt you. Ignore at your own risk.
    If you find something cool and want to copy, copy the concept, that is allowed in software.
    Give credit where it is due. Link back correctly where required.

    Kudos to the Proggit community. This is a much-needed show of power for a good cause.

  73. […] in, or is pretty good at. I am familiar with the following: PERL C/C++ PHP(some) Javascript. The Daily WTF maliciously infringes Programming Praxis trademark … – 08/20/2009 The Daily WTF, a web site that chronicles “curious […]

  74. Rick said

    I have a button on my site that says “Contact Us” which a lot of other sites stole from me.

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