Fluke extends a generous hand to SparkFun for loss suffered in the multimeter trademark dispute

A shipment of 2000 digital multimeters (DMMs) of SparkFun got into trouble with the US Customs and Border Protection after being found that it infringed into the trademark design of dark gray and yellow colour design of Fluke Corporation. In a blog post, SparkFun, an online retailer of electronics goods and which also offers DIY classes, wrote that US authorities say that it must destroy a recent shipment of 2000 multimeters (worth $30,000) for the reason that it resembled those sold by Fluke Corporation.

Even though SparkFun has been selling the multimeters for six years, it received a notice from Customs on March 7, 2014, saying that its latest shipment was barred from entry in to the United States according to “US International Trade Commission Exclusion Order 337-TA-588.”

It appears that the reason for the rejection of the multimeter was Fluke’s 2003 trademark for a dark gray multimeter with yellow borders, and although SparkFun claims that their yellow is a different yellow from Fluke’s, US authorities want the multimeters returned to China or destroyed.

Regarding the matter, SparkFun says that it has decided to destroy the shipment as the expense to send the shipment back to China and modify them is very high. SparkFun says that it has no hard feelings towards Fluke and hope that Fluke might give it a 60-day temporary license as they think that there is not enough time that the DMMs can be destroyed in a few days. SparkFun also tells that they will happy to donate the DMMs to someone Fluke choose rather than destroy it.

Fluke has issued a statement on its Facebook page addressing SparkFun’s multimeter issue, saying that they have only tried to protect it trademark like any other electronic manufacturing company, and that they understand the plight of the small company regarding the trademark issue. Fluke also said that it has contacted SparkFun and offered to render a shipment of authentic Fluke equipment costing more than value of the Customs-held shipment, free of cost for them to sell on their site or donate it to the Maker community. The statement also said that Fluke believes in the support given by SparkFun to the Maker and education communities and that Fluke themselves have donated over half a million dollars’ worth of tools and employee time to Maker community and organizations like First Robotics.

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