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Re: To Linux or not to Linux

On Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 03:27:53PM +0200, Henning Makholm wrote:
> The "Linux" trademark, which used to be owned by Linus personally, has
> apparently been transferred to "the Linux Mark Institute"

It's still owned by Linus personally; he palms of management of it to
the LMI, and has done pretty much since it was first registered. AIUI,
the change is that LMI's no longer just maddog/LI, but now has some
paralegals from OSDL helping out.

> For-profit licenses start at $0,
> whereas a non-profit entity such as Debian must pay $200 a year to use
> the trademark. [Sic!]

People who purchased perpetual licenses in the past don't have to pay
any more money for licenses (hence "perpetual"); non-profits who aren't
grandfathered pay $200pa, for-profits who aren't grandfathered have a
sliding scale from $200pa to $5000pa.

This only applies to folks who have to purchase licenses; if you simply
use the word descriptively, as in "I'm a Linux consultant", you don't
have to pay anything. I'm not sure if "Debian GNU/Linux" was specifically
given as an example of a "descriptive" use (I vaguely recall it was,
but can't figure where), but Linus specifically notes [0] that getting
a name of your own, like "Red Hat" or "Debian", is a way of avoiding
having to worry about the Linux trademark.

Presumably "Linux Standard Base" and "OpenLinux" are examples of names
that do require a sublicense (since Linux is part of their name), whereas
"Debian" is Debian's name, and "Debian GNU/Linux" is purely descriptive,
and hence fair use that doesn't require a license.

If anyone really cares, it's probably wise to check with LMI directly.

aj, who's had to learn far too much about this stuff as part of Linux
    Australia's efforts to get Linux(tm) registed in Oz

[0] http://kerneltrap.org/node/5581

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