The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back

Mark E. Shoulson mark at
Fri Nov 4 15:17:37 CDT 2016

I know of the Axanar flap.  I'm not sure that Paramount was *seriously* 
saying "we own everything anyone ever says or will say in this 
language."  What they said was more "you used Klingon in your story, and 
Klingon is our language, therefore your story is infringing on our 
stuff."  So while it's true they *might* make that claim, I don't know 
that they *have*.

All of which is neither here nor there; it's something they could say.  
The LCS wrote an amicus brief, which is linked to from my document, by 
the way, arguing that very point, which the judge dismissed without 
prejudice on the grounds that he wasn't going to be addressing that 
issue (so he may not have seen it as critical to Paramount's case 
either).  A claim as bald and universal as the way I worded it above is 
practically indefensible logically, intuitively, and legally (Sun 
invented Java, but can they claim every Java program???)  At any rate, 
this isn't Unicode's problem.  Unicode would not be creating anything in 
Klingon anyway!  Just encoding letters used to write it.  Now, those 
letter-shapes might (for all I know) have legal strings attached, and 
what's more, the word "Klingon" is definitely owned and claimed by 
Paramount, which might cause problems with naming the block.

Really, though, that isn't what UTC should be deciding.  The question is 
whether or not to encode pIqaD: is it a writing system that people use 
or have used in the past to communicate (that's the main criterion, 
right?  Unicode is supposed to contain "all" alphabets).  If there are 
additional issues outside of UTC's purview that raise difficulties, 
those will have to be heard and addressed. But decide to act first, 
*then* see what obstacles need to be overcome.


On 11/04/2016 01:41 PM, David Faulks wrote:
>> On Thu, 11/3/16, Mark Shoulson <mark at> wrote:
>> Subject: The (Klingon) Empire Strikes Back
>> At the time of writing this letter it has not yet hit the UTC
>> Document Register, but I have recently submitted a document
>> revisiting the ever-popular issue of the encoding of Klingon
>> "pIqaD".  The reason always given why it could not be
>> encoded was that it did not enjoy enough usage, and so I've
>> collected a bunch of examples to demonstrate that this is not
>> true (scans and also web pages, etc.)  So the issue comes
>> back up, and time to talk about it again.
> There is another issue of course, which I think could be a huge obstacle: the Trademark/Copyright issue. Paramount claims copyright over the entire Klingon language (presumably including the script). The issue has recently gone to court. Encoding criteria for symbols (and this likely extends to letters) is against encoding them without the permission of the Copyright/Trademark holder.
> Is Paramount endorsing your proposal?
> <snip>
>> ~mark
> David Faulks

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