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Re: GUADEC report

Andrew Suffield wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 06, 2004 at 08:21:39PM +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:
>>>What do you mean by "solid legal argument"? Do we need to find a 
>>>lawyer to check my reasoning?
>>Lawyers have told people that releasing images of their trademarks under
>>a free license would potentially harm their trademarks. As a
>>consequence, they potentially release them under a non-free license.
> Not much we can do about that, if true. Sounds like the old "free
> software destroys intellectual property" noise.
> I don't really think that trademarks fit with the spirit of free
> software (despite it being possible to use them), and I'd raise
> serious questions about why they're trying to use them at all. Raising
> artificial barriers to forking is a *bad* thing.

I think there are reasonable ways to use trademarks with Free Software.
  The appropriate usage of trademarks is to uniquely identify the
software, not to raise a barrier to forking.  For example, a trademark
can be used to support a requirement that modified versions must use a
different name.  This is not a barrier to forking, just a requirement
that the fork does not masquerade as the original software.  Such a
suggestion is the perfect response to those who argue that standards
cannot be Free Software because the standard itself must not be changed:
if modified versions cannot use the name of the standard, then that is
sufficient to maintain the standard.  Of course, such a requirement can
be done with a copyright license as well, but if a trademark is simply
used to reinforce the requirement, then it is still Free.

For example, "Abiword" is a trademarked name; Abisource requires that
modified versions of Abiword are either called "Abiword Personal", or
that they don't have "Abiword" in the name.  This is a perfectly
reasonable application of a trademark to Free Software, and Debian
distributes of Abiword using the branding "Abiword Personal".

- Josh Triplett

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