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Re: Changes in formal naming for NetBSD porting effort(s)

[I am not subscribed to debian-bsd.]

On Thu, Dec 11, 2003 at 04:39:47PM -0700, Joel Baker wrote:
> On December 2nd, I was contacted by Luke Mewburn, on behalf of The NetBSD
> Foundation, asking about the "transition" to calling the NetBSD port
> "Debian GNU/KNetBSD", and expressing their appreciation for this change,
> as it reflects (in their opinion) a more accurate statement about what the
> system is, and avoids any potential dilution of the NetBSD trademark.


I'll go check, but is all of this discussion archived on debian-bsd?

[minutes pass]

I checked, and I don't see the *specific* grounds for the request
explicated anywhere.

> I did, however, say that I (at least) would be happy to try to find a
> name they found equally suitable, for the same reasons, rather than
> continue to use the current one.

What makes a suitable name?  Please be specific.  If you don't know, I
think you should request this information from the NetBSD Foundation.

> On December 3rd, Mr. Mewburn confirmed that The NetBSD Foundation would
> prefer to see the name changed, and I brought the issue up on the
> debian-bsd mailing list for discussion.

Okay, yeah, I'm caught up on that part.  The thread seemed to be mostly
concerned with technical issues, which is a completely legitimate
concern, but I think the discussion to date, if comprehensively
reflected on the -bsd list has almost completely neglected discussion of
the central thrust of the request you received.

> 4) The Debian port name will become 'Debian GNU/KLNetBSD(i386)'[1].

Well, no offense, but that's ugly as hell, and is going to square the
amount of confusion people experience when trying to decode our OS

> If anyone objects, or wishes to see further requirements met, please let
> me know, and I'll do what I can to resolve the situation.
I don't understand the nature of your request.  They're cool with
"Debian GNU/KLNetBSD" but not "Debian GNU/NetBSD"?  Why, exactly?

And how does trademark enter into this, exactly?  In both cases, the
mark is still being used.  Yet they're cool with the former and not the
latter?  As I understand the law[1], the mark is no more or less "used"
or "diluted" in either case.

Debian either needs a trademark license from the NetBSD Foundation for
use of the "NetBSD" mark, or it does not.  If we do, then our hands are
tied and we might as well ask them to tell us what they want it called,
and what the terms of use are.  Since the Debian Project doesn't legally
exist, this will probably have to go through SPI.  If we don't need a
trademark license, then I don't understand why they've grounded their
request for a name change on a claim to be preserving the mark.

It might be best to remove "NetBSD" from the name of the OS altogether
-- that would the most sure-fire way to mitigate their fears of
dilution, and help ensure that the NetBSD Foundation doesn't have to
rattle its saber at us again (albeit through a lace curtain, as you
say), enabling us to maintain good relations with the NetBSD Project on
the technical front.

> Please note that all of my discussions with The NetBSD Foundation, and
> it's representatives, have been both cordial and productive, to date,
> and that I feel their request is born largely of having seen an
> example which they preferred, rather than any antipathy towards the
> Debian project as a whole, or the various BSD porting efforts under
> it.

No, it's probably antipathy for the Free Software Foundation driving
this more than anything else.

Maybe they'd prefer Debian GNU/KLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZABCDEFGHIJNetBSD most of
all.  One can't get too far away from those pinkos in Boston!

On a more serious note, you have been contacted in your capacity as a
Debian Developer by a trademark holder who is either displeased, or is
suggesting that they might easily become displeased.  I think the
responsible thing to do at this point is to get the debian-legal mailing
list involved so that folks with a mind for trademark law can have a
closer look at the matter.

None of the abuse should be taken to denigrate the work of the NetBSD or
Debian developers.  My concerns here are twofold:
  1) the suggestion by a trademark holder that Debian might be regarded
     as infringing a mark if we don't take some action; and
  2) the comprehensibility of our OS names to the pubic.

[1] which ain't much

G. Branden Robinson                |      The greatest productive force is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      human selfishness.
branden@debian.org                 |      -- Robert Heinlein
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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