Arm's lawyers want to check assembly expert's book for trademark missteps

IPO-hungry chip biz promises to donate copies to universities – may also demand a reprint

Reverse-engineering expert Maria Markstedter, whose domain names were wrestled from her by Arm the other week for trademark reasons, has said the British processor design biz's lawyers are now reviewing her Arm assembly language book for any trademark violations – and may make her issue a reprint.

At the end of August, Markstedter received a cease-and-desist demand from Arm, whose lawyers said some of her domain names that pointed to her online resources on writing and understanding low-level code – including – infringed Arm's trademarks by including the word "arm." The debacle ultimately ended with a disenchanted Markstedter handing over the domains to Arm and relaunching at least one of the sites with the cheeky rebrand:

Markstedter is well known in the Arm community as an assembly language expert and security researcher, who's written extensively about Softbank-owned Arm's instruction set architecture. Arm staff see her as an advocate for their platform and architecture.

According to her, Arm assured her it wouldn't go after her Arm assembly programming book – the first edition of which was published in April by Wiley – if a reprint is issued, provided changes bring the tome in line with Arm's trademark wishes.

"I got confirmation that Arm won't go after my book as long as I comply with their trademark guidelines in the reprint," she xeeted.

We note that the book does include the usual legal boilerplate that trademarks in the work belong to their respective owners, though Arm may want to make that more explicit and have the textbook specifically state that Arm is a trademark of Arm. Making things slightly complicated is that, as we understand it, two Arm staffers reviewed the book pre-publication – albeit for technical rather than legal issues.

It's not yet clear what changes, if any, will be required to keep it in circulation. "They're gonna review it and let me know," she added.

The chip design house has promised to donate an unspecified number of copies of her book, which covers Arm assembly and reverse engineering, to universities around the world. However, Markstedter told The Register "Arm buying books was a promise they made years ago."

"It's a start," she said. "I'm not happy with the outcome, but I'm glad that they agreed to donating books."

The donation of her book to universities was one of several outcomes Arm discussed with Markstedter during a call last week. Despite the apparent attempt to repair its relationship with the author and security researcher, Markstedter says the only apology she's received was for the fact that Arm lost contact with her after a former developer outreach coordinator left the business.

"I still haven't received an official apology for the domain takeover, and getting my domains back isn't on the table," she added.

The whole affair reminds us of the palaver Intel raised back in the day whenever someone put the letters i, n, t, e, and l together in, well, anything.

A lack of communication with Arm about the issue has been a point of frustration for the author throughout the whole process. "At the very least, I expected a simple heads-up or direct contact from them acknowledging the unfortunate necessity of their actions and asking for input on possible resolutions," she previously told The Register.

We reached out to Arm about its review of Markstedter's book and were told the biz had "no further comment" to give.

Arm's crackdown on its trademark comes as it inches closer to an initial public offering on the US Nasdaq. This month we learned the stock listing is likely to garner a smaller valuation than expected.

In a regulatory filing last week, Arm revealed it would offer up 95,500,000 shares at between $47 and $51 apiece. With 9.4 percent of the business up for grabs, that puts its valuation at roughly $52 billion – somewhat below the $64 billion price tag some stuck on it when Softbank acquired the 25 percent stake in Arm held by its Vision Fund last month. ®

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