Updated Thursday, February 11 at 9:50 a.m.
Apparently, there is trouble in paradise. But “trouble” is a trademark spat and “paradise” is the frozen wasteland of Cambridge. Specifically, David J. Malan ’99, the instructor of a certain popular class/form of torture, attempted to trademark “CS50” and “THIS IS CS50,” but Harvard had other plans. While FAS Dean Michael Smith claims Malan is upfront with his trademark goings-on, it is way more fun to imagine David Malan filing trademarks left and right and Drew Faust calling up her attorneys to protect Harvard’s trademark interests.
Since the timeline is a bit complicated and, let’s be serious, people do not give as much of a damn about CS50 as Malan would like to think, let us break it down for you.
2011: Malan attempts to trademark “CS50” and “THIS IS CS50.” His application is unsuccessful, maybe because he submitted it without an attorney (which is a low-key hilarious power move). He decides to incorporate “CS50 LLC.”
2012-2013: Malan tries to trademark “CS50” and “THIS IS CS50”…again. Once again, he doesn’t have an attorney. He’s more of a “DIY” kind of guy. Harvard requests an extension on the opposition period for his initial applications, and Malan withdraws his applications. Instead, Malan incorporates “50 LLC”. That’s right – David Malan now has two corporations, one of which is a course title and the other of which is just a number.
2015: CS50 LLC has not filed an annual report since 2012, so the Commonwealth of Massachusetts dissolves it. David Malan’s only corporate interest now is the number fifty. So sad. To rub salt in the wound, Harvard files applications to trademark “CS50” and “CS50x”.
In an alternate and more representative reality, Malan should have tried to trademark “sadness” and “THIS IS AN ALL-NIGHTER.” Then Harvard could have filed an opposition brief, claiming it had already trademarked both of those things along with “Lamont” and “Math 55.” At least in this fictional scenario Malan would have his limited liability corporation “Let’s See How Many Ivies Will Buy Into This Nonsense LLC”.
This post was updated for clarity regarding the timeline and causation of events.