Who owns the Commodore brand? Why are there loads of products using the Commodore name? What is this apparent new computer that is being brandished about by a company called Commodore Business Machines.
What in the world is going on? That’s what this investigative episode is going to ask.
Think back to 2015 (come on, it’s a lot more recent than I usually ask of you), and some saddened part of your mind will probably remember this;
This is, or was, the Commodore PET Smartphone, and by July of that year, pre-rendered images of it had been swirling around for a few months. The Facebook page Commodore Business Machines first posted in December 2014, using this imagery of, some kind of 3D phone render, but just a few months later, after trying to increase hype and affection for their page, promises of a new phone appeared. Using the power of archive.org, if you look at the website commodore-pet.com from around that time1, you’ll find this imagery, along with words like “a brand new and powerful mobile device from Commodore Business Machines” and “it features near the best hardware technology available on the smartphone market worldwide”.
From the go, people were questioning this new Commodore brand that seemingly popped up out of no-where, and apparently, judging from the language, was based in Italy. But hype is hype, and a number of people were convinced enough to take the plunge and order this new branded phone.
The question that’s been niggling me, is, did anyone actually receive one? Because, look around YouTube now and there’s hardly any videos about them…. and this is something that you’d expect to be all over YouTube. People love talking about shiny new things, especially when they have pointless rebrands.
Scene World Enters the Scene…
The main review you can find for this phone, is by Scene World Magazine, who were sent a model for review purposes, and even then, it wasn’t in the best of shape. Just look at that box. But they clearly had a Commodore branded phone, and it worked. You can tell from this video that it’s running Android Lollipop, it has a Commodore themed wallpaper, and a few apps have been installed to give that Commodore badge some credence. Namely AnVice64 & UAE4ALL, which are available for free download from the Play store2. Although these are slightly customised releases, featuring the Commodore logo3. The Vice application creator confirmed in 2015 to androidpolice.com, that they were asked to modify the original app for this specific purpose. Although Cloanto, who own the Amiga and ROM rights also confirmed they hadn’t consented to the distribution of their materials on the smartphone.
So I decided to reach out to Scene World and see what the score was. I had a chat with Joerg who informed me that they had done an exclusive interview with what they call “Commodore Italy” for their podcast. As part of this interview they requested 2 review units, but only received one. So Joerg had to ship his review copy to AJ in America who then did the main review video.
The gents being interviewed in the Podcast are an Italian duo. Massimo Canigiani and Paolo Besser.
Paolo Besser acting as general manager, does most of the talking, as Massimo, the main guy behind the outfit, isn’t a strong English speaker. Now this interview took place on 25th September 2015, so the phones had already been on sale a few months, but they sound credible, and genuinely excited, and you get the feeling that they’re genuinely trying to do something with a brand that stuck with them since childhood.
But this seemed to also come across in interviews on websites and the wider media, including prominent publications, both in English and other European languages. This was an exciting and emerging Commodore situation, and no one was more excited than the Italian media themselves. Here’s an excerpt from the publication Gazzetta di Mantova;
“The key to success? Having discovered that the historic logo, the C with the red-blue flag, was released after the 1994 Commodore bankruptcy. That’s despite the changes in ownership of the company and patents industrial, because for 5 years it had not been linked to any production.
Canigiani did not think about it for a moment and on May 20, 2015 he requested and obtained the exclusive right to use the figurative trademark from the European Union Patent Office with only 900 euros, registering it in 38 countries, including the United States”
So, on the face of it, this all sounded credible. But I wanted to dig a little deeper. Scene World themselves, were pretty sure this wasn’t a scam or anything underhand at all. They knew of people who had received phones, and understood that complaints were followed up.
Now Scene World run a very good podcast, so I have no doubt about the veracity of their belief, but this was all conducted during the initial media run, when facts were thin on the ground. Thankfully, the gift of time gives us more data.
In the comments of this video, there are a couple of commenters claiming to have received a phone, but there are also a fair few commenters with negative feedback. Positive feedback is a little on the thin side.
In Search of the Phone
It’s clear that most of those who did receive the phone, had to wait a long time for it, sometimes it seems over half a year, and then most quickly realised that it was actually a very low cost device shrouded in Commodore skin. If you take a look at devices such as PCBOX Bee and Orgtec WaPhone, you’ll notice the distinct similarity.. in fact the Orgtec WaPhone is a carbon copy in both specs and looks save the branding… and the cost, about $130. So, the obvious assumption is that this “Commodore Business Machines” had bought up some cheap devices and had them customised in China, to fit the Commodore branding. This is a pretty straight forward, practice, and if you look on YouTube you’ll see a lot of people have done it, including The Wall Street Journal, who got a fully custom branded phone for $70.
How much were they charging again? About 349 Euros or $3654. Ok, so that’s a decent profit. But hey, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that aspect. Companies are free to charge what they want, if, the market will pay it. This is capitalism. BUT, if the market doesn’t receive the product they’ve paid for, then we have a problem.
So I decided to track down a few people who had at least confirmed receipt… Richard Troupe was one of them… he told me…
“I think I finally got it 4 months after purchase. As for the phone itself, it didn’t work well and was very buggy with constant crashes. They sent me a replacement handset, and it was pretty much the same, to the point where they replaced it with their newer LEO model. Honestly that phone was much better and felt more premium”
So things worked out for some people, even with adequate customer service.
On the other hand, there seem to be a fair few people who didn’t get a device at all. One such is Michael Fisher, aka Mr Mobile;
“Commodore phone? Yeah, I remember that. Back when I worked at pocketnow in 2015, we droppred $380 something dollars to get a review phone (because they didn’t have a review programme), and I was stoked, because the Commodore 64 was in fact my first computer…. and then we never got one, and then I did a bunch of research and found out that *most* people never got one. So I wrote an article, asked for comment, never got any comment, and assumed the company would disappear. Well, it’s like six years later and I guess they’re still around. Are they shipping any products? I look forward to finding out.”
So it’s a very mixed bag, and more investigation is needed. So I decided to try and track down a device for myself and see what the crack is. After searching for a while, I was pointed in the right direction, and although it cost me a pretty penny, I managed to secure a Commodore PET Smartphone. Let’s take a look….
So at least my box isn’t ripped, it’s a pretty standard box, we get a list of specifications on the back; an Octa-core processor, 32GB of Read Only Memory apparently (I think they mean storage), 3GB RAM, reasonable for the time, but what gets me right away is how much Commodore branding there is. On the box, in the manual, on the battery, even on the inside of the headphones!
The manual has been printed on a bit of thick paper and impotently folded down, but it does the job.
The phone doesn’t feel like the most solid construction, but we do get dual SIM slots, and everything fits together. It even turns on. This battery has held its charge well.
I was not expecting that.
I must say, it’s a nice touch having the Commodore chicken head logo as the centre button. But then, that’s all this phone really has, branding.
Other than that, we’re straight into Android Lollipop. Which feels alarmingly dated compared to what we currently have. By the way, that’s the standard Lollipop wallpaper, with the Commodore logo wanged in the middle.
Now remember, these phones started shipping in late 2015, and with Android Marshmallow being released in May 2015, it’s would already have been slightly behind the times. I’ve also heard that people couldn’t get it to update.
But hey, in my limited test, it seemed to work reasonably well.
The Commodore 64 emulator throws you straight into BASIC. I really don’t like these weird touch control icons.
The Amiga emulator, brings up the standard AnVice screen, and you can boot the machine into what appears to be the AROS Kickstart ROM, which is an open source alternative to the actual Amiga ROM. So that helps get around any legal issues with Cloanto.
and that’s it. That’s what you get for your 349 Euros, or over double that in my case. An Android phone with a couple of apps and a load of branding. But at least it does actually exist, and if that’s your thing then you would probably have been happy with your purchase, unless any issues cropped up in use….
If you remember, Richard told me that he was so disappointed with the PET that he managed to get the company to send him the follow up model, the LEO. I suspect this is an instance where Richard’s persistence paid off, as I’ve found his comments strewn over various social media pages. Now the LEO is another Chinese Android, and this one also made it onto Amazon in some countries. Shame there are no Amazon reviews.
But here’s the German YouTube channel Crowfly5 showing off their model. So this appeared on the scene in late 2016, early 2017, for a more amicable 249 Euros. It was reviewed by a few tech sites to generally more favourable applause.
What about the Legality?
Ok, so we’ve determined that these phones do actually exist. We’ve determined that some customers at least received them, and we’ve determined that the first model at least, was a bit of a turd. But what about the legality of all this…..
Remember that statement earlier, that because the Commodore trademark hadn’t been used for 5 years, then it was free to use. Well, that applies in many areas, including Europe and the US6. You have to keep using your trademarks, or show intended use, otherwise they can be contested. It’s aim is to prevent trademark squatting, it’s also why we get seemingly the same Super Hero films every 5 years. As rights holders clamber to keep the IP in use. Now, the Commodore brand had indeed been a bit quiet, so Massimo thought he saw a legal loop hole and he was going to jump through it. Therefore his first port of call needed to be a local application. That meant going through the European Union Intellectual Property Office.
So it’s easy enough to do a search for that trademark using their online service, and this is what I found7;
What you’re seeing here is the business name Massimo has registered, a UK business, Commodore Business Machines of Wenlock Road 20-22 London, which is the same address on the original website, and then under that is the figurative trademark registration, filed on 10th April 2015. Now figurative means a registration other than purely text; in this case the Commodore logo, with name underneath, BUT, you may notice the left C is aligned differently to what we’re used to. I suspect this was a deliberate change to try and differentiate the mark very slightly from the original, in a hope that it would help circumnavigate any issues. Mainly because trademarks needs to be quite specific… and in fact, they kinda confirmed that themselves on a Facebook comment…. However, it clearly hasn’t worked because….
The registration was refused8.
Now when you file for a trademark, there’s a period known as the opposition period. This is usually a 3 month period9 where anyone can object to your registration, including companies who already own the trademark. Usually a trademark owner will have an alert system in place in case this sort of thing happens. So we can see on the 11th August 2015, one day before they were home free, an opposition was indeed received on the grounds of “Likelihood of confusion”. The opposition was filed by Merkenbureau Knijff & Partners B.V. who are trademark attorneys based in the Netherlands.
Their client? The then legal trademark holders of the Commodore brand.
Now the Commodore rights have been thrown about a bit, but the core of it is, Tulip Computers bought the Commodore brand name in 199710. It was then sold to various related sub companies11, becoming Commodore Inc, and Commodore International B.V.12 who tried to bring us a line of Commodore branded gaming PCs1314 in the mid to late noughties, before becoming Commodore Licensing B.V. and then C=Holdings15. They’re still based out of Roosendaal, in the Netherlands, and you may find on some documents they go under the name of NET BV1516, or something similar. These are in fact other companies under the same wing, and they’re managed by a company called Yamzz Holding B.V.17 operated by Eugene Van os18
The ownership was contested when parts of Tulip Computers was bought out in 2009 by the Hong Kong based Asiarim Corporation19, who had been trying to use the branding for keyboards and the like20. But ultimately, remains in the Netherlands, as this 2014 legal report verifies21;
“Asiarim Corporation (“Asiarim”) hereby states and publically acknowledges and accepts that C=Holdings B.V. (“C=Holdings”) is the sole and exclusive owner of the COMMODORE trademarks and brand name….Asiarim further states that C=Holdings’s exclusive ownership of the COMMODORE trademarks was adjudged and confirmed by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in its Memorandum and Order dated December 16, 2013″
So, back to this opposition by Commodore International. If we take a look, you can see the contested territory is the United Kingdom22, and the original trade mark is a text trade mark, which actually gives you more flexibility in legal proceedings, because this also contains the word Commodore, and it has a mark associated with Commodore.
Now another factor when filing a trademark is what category it’s in. For example. if you look in the UK’s Intellectual Property Office’s Database, you’ll find a registered trade mark here for the word “Commodore” in class 2823. Class 2824 relates to Fishing tackle; and nets for anglers. Not an area Commodore computers should ever find themselves in, and so, that class can be registered to a different company. But you also need to state specifics in each class, so Commodore Business Machines Ltd has tried to register for Class 9: Smartphones, hoping that it won’t be contested by Commodore Corporation, or Commodore Holdings as they then were. But if you look at the British IPO, you can see that Commodore is already registered to class 9 for Commodore Holdings25, through the associated company, Net BV, and even though they don’t specify smartphones (given how old the registration is), the use is comparable to computers. It’s on this basis that the trademark was refused and Commodore Business Machines (of Italy) were left without usage rights.
Further to this, Commodore Holdings then issued a press release on 7th August 2015 stating;
“C=Holdings B.V. hereby announces that it has not granted any rights to CBM for making use of the COMMODORE trademark, nor that C=Holdings B.V. has any involvement in the development and marketing of its products. C=Holdings B.V. will vigorously defend its rights in this matter.”26
Despite this, Commodore Business Machines brashly posted on their Facebook page, saying;
“Commodore wishes to confirm that it is in no way affiliated or related to C= Holding BV and confirms to be the only legitimate owner of the figurative brand Commodore in its business sector (smartphones)”……. “Commodore Business Machines LTD wishes to assure to its customers, partners, media and fans that all the ongoing activities will regularly proceed as planned, and they will not suffer any variation of delay due to this circumstance”27
So then, clearly a small technical matter like ownership wasn’t going to stop Commodore Business Machines from pressing ahead with selling the Commodore PET Smartphone, and indeed, some 6 years on, their new website still states28;
“In the year 2015 Commodore Business Machines Ltd obtained the Commodore brand rights within 38 countries all over the world to build and sell smartphones and accessories.”
It’s just like they completely refused to recognise the decision bestowed upon them, and chose not to care about the threat of any legal proceedings. This Italian has big balls man.
What about the Business itself?
So let’s dig a little deeper into the business listed at the bottom of these websites.
From 2015, all the websites and literature point back to Commodore Business Machines Ltd. at 20/22 Wenlock Road, London. Now that’s a UK registered company, which is a little strange for an Italian operation, and actually looking into the business gets even stranger.
So firstly, understand that registering a limited company in the UK is a lot easier than most countries. There’s actually very little bureaucracy and constraints around it here. As long as you have a registered address (which could be a virtual office, or even a mailing company), and you’re not barred from being a director, you’re pretty much good to go. It’s also very easy to dissolve a company, and strike off its assets. So if your business goes down the pan, dissolve it and start another one.
Yep, so we’ve got 3 companies here, all called Commodore Business Machines LTD and all registered to the same address. So already, that’s a bit odd and quite curious.
The first one was incorporated on 3rd March 201529, as a business with no specific nature. It has one director, that’s Dr. Massimo Canigiani, and he’s listed that same business address as his correspondence address.
That address, I should note, is a virtual address. It’s owned by the MadeSimple company registration service30. So for the princely sum of £19.99, you can register your company through them, and then use their address for your business (see I told you there was little bureaucracy).
In fact, in 2016, several bogus companies31 using the same address were ordered to be liquidated by the courts on the grounds of public interest.
So, on the 3rd March, the company had £1 in capital shares and 1 shareholder. Who isn’t Massimo, it’s actually someone called Carlo Scattolini. Who seems to be a writer and law graduate based in Italy32.
Now, interestingly on the 11th June 2015, just when the phones were going on sale, an extra £1,000,000 of shares were injected into the company33. Well, on paper at least. I couldn’t tell you if it was actually in the bank account, as that information isn’t publicly available. Typically this action is done to make a company appear more credible to the outside world, but there are also other reasons. But what I can tell you is that on the 23th August 2016, the company was dissolved34. Curiously, one month before the company’s first annual report was due. This is a legally required report, submitted to Companies House detailing how much revenue the business has made, how much in assets it holds, and so on. For new company’s the first report is due 18 months after incorporation.
Now being dissolved, this would typically mean that any assets the company owns are now owned by the Crown35, but if any cash had been extracted before that point, as dividends or expenses or anything else really, then there’s not much to take ownership of. Basically, if you ordered a phone though this company, and didn’t get either the product or a refund by this date, you may be in a spot of bother. Also, if say, you perhaps wanted to sue the company, you may also be in a spot of bother.
But at this point, Commodore Business Machines were, still seemingly, shipping out their new LEO phone36; regardless of the legal registered status of their business.
They had also moved onto a different trademark approach; rather than trying to register the Commodore logo to a company, they tried to register it to themselves, as individuals, again through the European Union Intellectual Property Office37. I should note, that once you’ve registered a trademark to yourself, or any legal entity, you can sell or transfer the rights to where-ever you want. Now again, the registration class is for 9, But expanded to include Digital Televisions as well as Tablet Computers.
But they also came bearing a new figurative mark! Does it look familiar, at all, in any way?
Yes, clearly, that’s the instantly recognisable Commodore C mark, but with plain and simple, CBM underneath. Thereby circumventing the Commodore word mark opposition from their previous filing. This filing occurred on the 12th July 2016…….. By the 2nd November an opposition had been received by, yes, Commodore Holdings.
The oppositions for this dragged on for quite a while. 3 years to be precise. But by 14th January 2019. The trademark was…… well, it was actually granted to Massimo and Scattolini. Crazy stuff. Why?
Well, it was argued this time around, that Commodore had failed to make adequate use of their figurative C trademark specifically in the 5 years prior to the application. Despite their claims to the contrary. Because Commodore Business Machines had gone in this time with a figurative mark, free of the Commodore text itself, they were able to convince the court of their case38.
Commodore Holdings had tried to claim that the mark had been used in various implementations, including a licenced iPhone application by the mobile game maker Manomio, but it was decided that, the logo was, quote “hardly perceptible in some of the examples”. This, combined with some arguments over European territories the app was used in, proved unsubstantial to oppose the registration.
So a win to the Italians then. Although using the Commodore name itself might still be a bit tricky, and even more tricky in a bit.
But, for now they have a trademark.
Roll onto 25th February 2019, and Commodore Business Machines LTD is back!39 Same address. same director. But a more specific nature of business; Manufacture of men’s underwear, manufacture of consumer electronics, activities of real estate investment trusts and administration of financial markets. Interesting choices. Again the same people are involved, and the business is dissolved on 5th January 2021. Again, seemingly without fulfilling their legal obligations of submitting any annual reports.
A Win for the Italians?
Now by 13th December 2018, Commodore Holdings had just emerged, after appeal, from a separate legal battle with a company known as Trademarkers NV40. Trademarkers NV had filed their own application on 26th September 2014 to invalidate Commodore Holding’s COMMODORE trademark for lack of genuine use for a continuous period for 5 years. Given the timings, this, is, I suspect the case where Massimo got the basis for his idea from. However, by the end of 2018, Commodore Holdings had come out victorious, by arguing that forced legal battles with Asiarim had tied up their ability to use their trademarks.
And, so Commodore Holdings were now intent on setting things straight. The first was to register C Commodore on 25th October 2019 with the EU41, which was granted on the 18th January 2021. Although not without an opposition by Massimo and Carlo, on the grounds of, you guessed it.. Likelihood of confusion. Just like Commodore Holdings had done with them way back in 2015. The difference is, Commodore Holdings, through the company Polabe Holding NV, this time retained the mark. Helped in part by their representation through GEVERS, a prominent European IP specialist.
During the same period, Commodore Holdings, also registered the C logo, again with a failed opposition from Massimo and Carlo. Crucially, these two marks were only registered to classes 25, for clothing, footwear and headgear and 38, for telecommunications. Although the latter, puts them in pretty good stead to legally retaliate on the class 9 smartphone use. Trademark law is incredibly complex.
But the most important registration here, is that Commodore Holdings re-registered the Commodore word mark42, to classes 9, 25, 38 and 42. 42 being computer software, consulting services and the like. This registration was not opposed by our now infamous Italian duo, and was registered to Commodore Holdings on the 19th February 2020, again via. Polabe Holding NV.
Now, this should complicate things even further for our Italian Commodore Business Machines. IF they play by the rules that is.
Bringing us to the Present
Which brings us to the current business. Incorporated on the 9th April 202143. This time we get a different address entirely, and the nature of business is; Manufacture of consumer electronics, Construction of commercial buildings, Television Programme production activities and Administration of financial markets.
Again, Massimo is the director, but we get a different correspondence address, this time based in Italy. AND, even better, another shareholder… It’s our friend Paolo Besser, holding 40% of the business control, compared to Massimo’s 60%.
Now, I’ve tried to contact Massimo numerous times throughout this investigation, but he seems incredibly invasive. Paolo however, is much more amicable. I asked him on Linkedin what his current involvement is and he confirmed he’s acting as a technical advisor, helping with development of Commodore products. I didn’t ask him if he was aware of the company structure or anything, as communication was still on the slow side.
But interestingly, Paolo has a Patreon page dedicated to his Amiga inspired operating system Icaros Desktop, and this is actually a proper OS. It’s open source, it’s free and is a re-implementation of Amiga OS 3, and I intend to check it out in more detail in a future episode. But I also thought it might be an interesting factor regarding the business, but we’ll come back to that.
Anyway, by now we’ve been through almost as many companies as we have trademarks… and that’s not even counting CBM’s website which jumped from commodore-pet.com to commodoresmart.com to commodore-cbm.com to finally, commdorecompany.com. This business is like a bloody frog. It’s almost like they’ve pre-empted me looking into the business registration details….
“From 2015 the Commodore group has been continuously upgraded and new companies has been created in different nations to better meets the needs of the market and distribution.”
Ahhhh, right ok. That explains it.
So what’s the anchor for all these businesses, where do they feed back to? What’s the mothership? Well, if you take the address from the current UK business registration, it actually traces back to an Italian company called Commodore Business Machines S.R.L.44
Ok, what about that new address. Well, it actually traces back to a company called Commodore Business Machines S.R.L registered in Italy. What a complex web we have here. This company was setup in March 2016 by Massimo with Carlo Scattolini as the Managing Director and with a share capital of 10,000 Euros.
It has also submitted financial statements. Up to 31/12/2018 at least, by which point it held 98,876Euros in equity, but had reported a loss for the previous years of 2,408 in 2017 and 27,137 in 2018. So this appears to be the main Italian operation.
I’m not going to speculate anything regarding this balance sheet. I feel like I’ve dived deep enough already, without disseminating a businesses finances. It’s publicly available for download from the Italian Business Register, so if you want, you can take a look and come to your own conclusions.
But, what’s crucial, is the business is still operating, and they still have that trademark.
A New Commodore Computer?
Which brings me onto what they claim to be their latest product… The Commodore 64GK. What in the world of holy crap balls is this?!?
If you look back through the Instagram account for Commodore Business Machines Ltd, still bearing the name commodoresmart, you’ll find a lot of images of their smartphones mixed with images pulled from around the web, but you also find this Extended Commodore 64 keyboard mock up. Now this was posted on the 20th May 2020, but it’s actually an image from danamania on imgur45, of a fabrication added to their collection. But it’s almost like that image and the interest around it planted a seed, because by January 29th 2021, we have this post…
“COMING SOON 2021 – I’m not just a keyboard or console :)”
Ok, what the hell are you then. Because even at this stage, it looks like these keys have just been glued to a plastic shell. There’s definitely no holes cut to depress them into, and that keyboard is just a generic cheapo PC keyboard. But, then this is clearly an early prototype of *something*
Over on Facebook there are claims about a new computer system46. So maybe it’s that.
Over on Twitter, we can see that some Commodore logos have presumably, either been stuck, or photoshopped onto the keys.47
Then February 6th brought another image, whilst over on Massimo’s personal twitter, we get a photo of a 3D printed case48. But this one does at least have holes to put keys into. We still don’t know what it really is.
“The images of this cycle are just a selection, the base of a more complex work. Your feedback is important. You asked us for the colors and fonts of the keys and that every detail is perfect”
It’s clear that they’re trying to build hype, but at this point, it’s just all very odd. We get some images presumably taken in an electrical retailer, to give it that commercial vibe. We get keys that change, sometimes they’re blurred out. Some angles even show there are holes in the case, but the keys don’t even remotely fit into them.
And then, we also get a box thrown into the equation too49. Which then gets it’s own little tour of the world for photoshoots.
A white model even appears in July, with a completely different keyboard.50
So what is this thing. Well I suspect at this stage it’s very little. I asked Paolo if he would confirm details, but as yet, haven’t received a reply. So, all we can do is wait to see what Commodore Business Machines Ltd tell us it is, and then decide how to feel about it.
I actually thought that this could actually explain Paolo Besser’s involvement. If perhaps they’re planning on plonking Icaros Desktop into a new Commodore branded machine. But that’s one thing he denied, stating that Icaros Desktop will have no connection to it whatsoever.
Like I said earlier, I also reached out to the contacts I could find for Commodore Business Machines and Massimo himself to get some more information on, well, everything here, and to get his views on the trademark debarcle, but as yet, all those requests have gone unanswered.
Another Commodore Business??
Clearly, at this stage, I thought it prudent to do something I should have done earlier, and double check that Massimo or Commodore Business Machines haven’t registered a trademark exclusively in Italy. Oh, nope, they haven’t, but I see that Commodore International BV (yet another pseudonym for Commodore Corporation) did, shortly after their European trademark opposition. Better to be safe than sorry.51
BUT…. Wait, what’s this? Another Commodore trademark registration. What IS this??
OH GOD. NO. IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN FOLKS.
Yes, in 2019 ANOTHER Italian company waving the Commodore logo about appeared. Now, this company actually managed to get the trademark registered in Italy. How did they do that? Well, it’s all down to those classifications of business. In this case, Commodore Engineering setup by Luigi Simonetti is claiming to be a Services business, having registered in classes 35, 41 and 42 with this figurative mark52.
So class 35 is Advertising and business services. Class 41 is for education and entertainment sports activities and Class 42 is Scientific and Technological services.
So if you look on their Facebook page, in October 2020 they setup Itasks.it; a project management system. This could very well be a rebranded white label system, or it could be one they’ve built from scratch, but I haven’t looked into it. What’s important, is this business activity fits within their registered classes. But elsewhere on the timeline, this appears. Oh please no, not again… and more recently we’ve got mock ups of products like this CP-64 appearing. Which reminds me somewhat of that handheld being promoted on THE64 Indiegogo campaign a few years back53, you remember that, right?
There are also products such as the C-Tab 1154, which is a tablet, and I presume it will be branded with Commodore logos, just like the phones from Commodore Business Machines.
I reached out to Luigi to try and get some more details. He told me that.
“I had my first Commodore Vic-20 when I was 7, have never stopped using a Commodore Since”
“In 1997, I had a serious accident and I lost my sight, I was blind for about 2 years. In 1999 a famous Italian surgeon managed to save my eye and the first thing I saw was a Commodore 64, with which I did rehabilitation. My mother told me, now that you have regained your sight, you have to become Commodore’s boss”
“In 2016, my mother passed away, and I started the trademark acquisition procedure that I concluded for Italy and part of Europe. I have to finalise it for the rest of the world with some legal steps that are already underway”
“Our mission is to revive a historic brand that has given us so much happiness and taught us a lot”
“We have made an ERP software called Commodore I-Tasks and we would like to make 4 new video games. On the hardware front we are selling the Commodore C-Tab-11 tablet and hope to be able to sell the new Commodore CP-64 console by 2021. In the future we would like to make a new home computer and a new mobile phone. We sell our products mainly in Italy, but also happen to sell them in Europe”55
So it looks like we have a NEW CHALLENGER for the Commodore crown.
Anyway, Commodore Engineering, there’s another company to look out for.
Finally, Commodore Corporation
So then, the final topic of investigation was to get in contact with the actual owner of the Commodore brand and get the lo-down. They stated in 2015 that no licence or rights had been granted to anyone, so I needed to check this was still the case.
So I reached out to Eugene representing Commodore Corporation, and he confirmed that Massimo’s Commodore Business Machines have not been granted any licensing rights to the Commodore brand, and that they have no rights over the Commodore trademark. Eugene has in fact, tried to speak to Massimo on several occasions, but co-operation has been somewhat difficult. He confirmed that legal proceedings were ongoing, but it was made difficult due to the company’s Italian base.
Regarding Commodore Engineering and Simonetti, things are a bit different. Currently, Eugene told me that they are also operating without licence, and so that’s perhaps risky territory, but have actually been in some discussions with Eugene to grant a licence. So that’s one I’ll be keeping an eye on
I also asked Eugene what the future plans for Commodore were, given that they really need to make use of the brand. He said that now the legal problems were mostly freed up, they are currently licensing the name out for some projects, including software that will, quote “change consumer habits”.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound too promising to me.
And I’ve gotta say, despite Commodore Coporation holding the legal rights to the name and the brand, I actually welcome this bit of excitement sparked into the world by Commodore Business Machines, and even this new Commodore Engineering. It’s enough to stir things up, and at the very least, to get Commodore Corporation to actually do something. Because, a well loved brand name sitting, doing nothing, being licenced out for the minimum it needs to be for legal retention is boring, unfitting and frankly frustrating.
I respect these laws and trademarks and copyrights. But I also think there is a lot of nonsense and legal wrangling that’s outdated, limiting, and heavily, heavily weighted against start-ups and the everyday man. So when a holdings company is just sitting on a trademark, doing nothing with it apart from stopping innovation from other people, that’s annoying. I understand that, and I understand why people want a crack at making something from it.
Likewise though, it’s also annoying if you get companies popping up, trying to shift low grade wears, or even worse, taking money without fulfilling orders… and I think we, as consumers, should be fully aware of the facts before going down that road.
I hope that’s not the case with Commodore Business Machines, Commodore Engineering, or any other company that pops up going forward. I hope that something truly good comes out of the Commodore brand in the near future, and I totally welcome something from Commodore Corporation, whether it’s in house, or a licensed venture.
Regardless, it’s clear that trademark law, and the Commodore brand are extremely contested and complex areas, and it really is a shame. It would be better if we could all get along for the greater good, and just bring the Commodore name back to decent product or enterprise. One that’s worthy of the brand and pays tribute to a name that we all know and love. Well, most of us do, anyway.
But for now, I’m done with all this. The rabbit hole has become too deep, my brain aches, and if you look at all the trademarks around the world, registering the Commodore name and trying to do something with it, there’s a hella lot of them. Some may be genuine, others may not, and that is definitely a story for another day.
And by that, I mean maybe in 10 years time.
Seriously, this thing is great.
In the mean time, if you want to check out any of the businesses I’ve mentioned in this video, their social media accounts are below. Also if you want to take a look at the references for this video check out the related post on my website, where everything is linked and laid out for your viewing pleasure.
Stay safe folks.
Until next time, I’ve been Nostalgia Nerd. Toodeloo.
Nostalgia Nerd is also known by the name Peter Leigh. They routinely make YouTube videos and then publish the scripts to those videos here. You can follow Nostalgia Nerd using the social links below.
- www.linkedin.com/in/eug%C3%A8ne-van-os-58122717/)). The actual Commodore specific operation is now called Commodore International Corporation and holds all global and licensing rights to the Commodore brand ((graydongo.nl/nl/dienstverlening-yamzz-holding-bv-roosendaal-66523923
- Decision document: euipo.europa.eu/copla/trademark/data/01393027/download/CLW/OPP/2016/EN/20160915_002565631.doc?app=esearch&casenum=002565631&trTypeDoc=NA
- UK IPO: trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmcase/page/Results/1/UK00001405251
- List of EU Classes: trademark.eu/list-of-classes-with-explanatory-notes/
- UK IPO: trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmcase/page/Results/1/UK00001188429
- CBM Facebook post: www.facebook.com/cbm.commodore/posts/1644111889162522
- Current website for CBM: commodorecompany.com/
- Same address at bottom of site: www.carloscattolini.com/
- Statement of capital: find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/09467670/filing-history/MzEyNDk2Mjc0NWFkaXF6a2N4/document?format=pdf&download=0
- Final gazette: find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/09467670/filing-history/MzE1NTA5NjQ3NGFkaXF6a2N4/document?format=pdf&download=0
- CBM Registration: euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/trademarks/015636137
- Decision document: euipo.europa.eu/copla/trademark/data/01563613/download/CLW/OPP/2018/EN/20181005_002840265.doc?app=esearch&casenum=002840265&trTypeDoc=NA
- Posted on May 16th 2020: imgur.com/gallery/a2GectM
- email received from Luigi Simonetti