Beware: No Pecha Kucha allowed without consent from Tokyo
My post Pecha Kucha - the future of presenting papers? received much attention and inspired others to arrange such sessions where papers are not read but presented through 20 images displayed for 20 seconds each. But I’m no longer sure if I would recommend Pecha Kucha after having received this email a few days ago:
To Lorenz Khazaleh,
This is Jean from PechaKucha HQ here in Tokyo. It has come to our attention that you recently organized a PechaKucha event without our consent.
The PechaKucha name, logo, and format are all trademarked concepts, and as we clearly indicate on our site, we ask that anyone who is interested in running a PK event get in touch, as we have a review and agreement process that we go through.
We do support one-off events as well, but again, they are all officially sanction.
We hope to hear back from you very shortly to prevent this from happening again.
founded by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in Tokyo
I first couldn’t believe what I read. A review and agreement process? Trademarking an idea? Is there a dubious commercial corporation behind Pecha Kucha? (And apart from that - I did not arrange a PK session, but only interviewed two participants.)
As I learnt on their website, you will need to go through a lot of bureaucracy, especially if you intend to arrange Pecha Kucha Nights. You’ll have to meet a lot of requirements and be prepared for providing lots of details about yourself and your team.
As we are now inundated with similar requests from across the world, we would love to know more about you!!! - your design background, design connections, events experience, ideas about venues, designers you would approach to present their work etc….Once we receive [your background/plans] we can review everything and get back in touch! KDa own the Registered Trademark for Pecha Kucha Night, 20 x 20 in the UK, Europe and US and if we decide to proceed we can provide you with the logos, templates and formats and our standard handshake agreement in order for you to get started!
As the Pecha Kuchs trademark owners explain on their website, they “sometimes say yes and sometimes say no - so be prepared for both answers". And normally it takes them “a month or so” to grant PKN “handshake” agreements.
Nevertheless, the Pecha Kucha format is great. So the best thing might be to call it something different, like speed presentations or so, a term that Greg Downey introduced last year at Neuroanthropology.net, create your own logos etc Good luck!
See also Greg Downey’s brilliant round-up Thoughts on Conference Organizing
UPDATE First reaction on this post: Marc Oehlert: Pech* Kuch* (evidently Japanese for “full of yourself"). He analyses and comments the Pecha Kucha website more thouroughly than I did and has already received lots of comments! Great post!
You’d probably have an easier time with BarCamp. I happen to think it’s a better model for anything outside of the PechaKucha/Ignite world. There’s a whole bunch of BarCamp-inspired unconferences which are quite relevant for us. I almost went to one for librarians (since librarians are the unsung heroes of the information era).
Hi Alexandre! In which way relevant? How would a BarCamp anthropology conference look like? What kind of presentations? Googling the term provided mostly geeky explanations, mainly aimed at tech people including the Wikipedia entry etc
Thanks for mention - just could not believe it when I read your post!I mean, its a format for pete’s sake.. you know?
Yeah, unbelievable! And strangely enough, all the other organizers seem to accept the Pecha Kucha “review and agreement” policy. I wrote back to the Tokyo HQ but they didn’t bother to answer
I’m part of the team that run Ignite Bristol. By comparison to the PK format, all that Ignite seem to ask of us is to bear in mind their house style. It’s very collaborative and the “Gurus” on the organiser mailing list are all very helpful. They provide us artwork and an international platform to publicise ourselves. That’s why I ended up running an Ignite event because I’d looked in to running PK and while I can’t see there is much they could reasonably do had I called our evening “Pecha Kucha", I didn’t even want to be associated with this. This is closed source, proprietary format negativity. Kinda daft.
Comment from: KP [Visitor]
I can see the point in wanting to keep a certain level of the events worldwide. However, the tone of the e-mail is not very friendly. Surprisingly.
Comment from: sharon twiss [Visitor]
Thanks for posting this – I’ll be sure to avoid calling an event Pecha Kucha. Something like “20/20″ might get the concept over faster anyway. Oops, that’ll get me in trouble with ABC
I wanted to bring Pecha Kucha to Madison. I contacted PK through their site and waited. Contacted them again when I didn’t hear back. Went through a lengthy process to be reviewed and accepted by PKN people. This took MONTHS. Finally my group gave up on them and we held our own PK event. We had 2 of them.
Contrast that process with Ignite, where my email was replied to the next day and all we have to do is follow their basic guidelines.
There really is no comparison. The PKN organization is bureaucratic and unbelievably controlling. I strongly recommend going the Ignite route.
Comment from: Sharon Domier [Visitor]
This is like trademarking the term buffet - or more possibly, “dim sum". I think it is fair to say that the organizers came up with an interesting concept and a term that is not normally known outside of Japan. But most Japanese that I have talked to would never relate the Japanese term for gossip to a lightening talk with slides.
It is easy enough to find another term to use. Imagine if we all had to receive permission from Microsoft to use Powerpoint in our presentations.
Good points! I think in case we’ll organize something like this here, we’ll call it 20/20. Sounds even better
Comment from: Frank [Visitor]
Having just been to the event tonight, I have some thoughts.
Anyhow, I know from International IP Law that you can’t trade mark the name. Pecha Kucha is the Japanese word for talking. It is a generic term. You also can’t trademark a generic chinese term.
My guess is that they are building a brand name, and may eventually charge a fee, or something along those lines.
There are countless examples in internet businesses where this was the case.
A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. In short, a trademark is a brand name.
But it’s hard to imagine how they could distinguish their goods since every even is totally different.
I would just go ahead and use the name if you want. Of course you wouldn’t be able to post on their website, ect…
You also have to understand the litigation process. Are they really going to hire a local lawyer to sue you? That is expensive and time consuming. Of course the very threat may induce you to forgo using the name for fear of the legal consequences.
I think it’s ok to shape a format and to observe some kind of quality and not “watering” things. Yes I was also surprised by some terms in the agreement. It sounds legal and not like a “handshake". But if you have a trademark and a logo this is also good for local organizers and people who come to a PechaKucha Night know this is also part of the global community and “quality checked".
I think it is no problem that people sign this and be aware to not make money with the event. The initial process could be faster but nothing is perfect!
My only concern is that the (organizer) community is a bit sowing down. I would wish a global mailinglist for all organizers and/or presenters. This is to centered atm. Btw if you are interested see the small facebook organizer’s group!
But in the main Mark and Astrid and the PKN Team in Tokyo are really cute and helpful – and it is really much work to coordinate so a lot of cities!
Comment from: Jo [Visitor]
I did a U.S. trademark search for Pecha Kucha night and found that the trademark is DEAD, abandoned in 2007. Below are the search results:
Word Mark PECHAKUCHANIGHT
Translations The English translation of PECHA KUCHA is “chit chat".
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: organizing and conducting of product presentations, namely, events whereby people in the creative fields present their work in projected slide format, and each presentation consists of 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds for a total of a presentation duration of 400 seconds; arranging and conducting of business conferences. FIRST USE: 20030226. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030226
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 01.05.01 - Sun, rising or setting (partially exposed or partially obstructed); Sunrise
05.15.02 - Laurel leaves or branches (borders or frames); Wreaths
26.01.02 - Circles, plain single line; Plain single line circles
26.01.11 - Circles comprised of animals; Circles comprised of geometric figures; Circles comprised of humans; Circles comprised of letters or numerals; Circles comprised of plants; Circles comprised of punctuation; Letters, numerals, punctuation, geometric figures, objects, humans, plants or animals comprising a circle
26.01.20 - Circles within a circle
26.11.21 - Rectangles that are completely or partially shaded
Serial Number 77025518
Filing Date October 20, 2006
Current Basis 1A;44E
Original Filing Basis 1A;44E
Owner (APPLICANT) Klein Dytham architecture Mr. Mark Dytham YUGEN KAISHA JAPAN AD Building 2F 1-15-7 Hiroo Shibuya-ku Tokyo JAPAN
Description of Mark The mark consists of a swirly flower motif under the wording “PECHA KUCHA NIGHT".
Type of Mark COLLECTIVE SERVICE MARK
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date October 18, 2007
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