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Re: AbiWord, trademarks, and DFSG-freeness

On Fri, Oct 15, 2004 at 02:12:41AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> Therefore, I think the biggest question for us is:
> 1) Do the default protections that attach to trademarks, even when
>    unregistered and unmentioned (not even with a "(TM)"), infringe upon the
>    freedoms the DFSG purports to defend?

I suspect that strictly as stated, no. Trademark dilution will stop
this for most works - anything which has been repeatedly branched in
the past, for example. You would have real trouble defending a
trademark on 'glibc', 'gcc', or 'emacs' at this point.

However, there almost certainly exist scenarios in which trademarks
can be an issue.

> In lieu of pursuing all of the above questions exhaustively, I propose the
> following:
> P1) Adopt a kind of don't-ask, don't-tell policy regarding implicit
>     trademarks.  Many free software developers don't give a whit about
>     trademarks, and some don't even care how much their software is patched
>     by third parties while retaining the name.  So, if you maintain a
>     package that doesn't assert any trademarks, don't worry about it.

For the above reasons I'm inclined to agree that this is safe.

> P2) If a package does assert a trademark, contact the mark holder and ask
>     for a trademark license that permits usage of the marks under the same
>     terms as the copyright license that has been attached to the
>     corresponding work, wherever applicable.

As with abiword, the main thrust here is:

"Can I call a modified version foo, even when you don't like the
modified version?"

So that makes a good opener for people with no comprehension of
trademarks; it'll rapidly categorise them into people who are and are
not willing to grant a free license.

(Answer appears to be 'no' for abiword; DFSG aside, we can't really
afford to distribute it with trademarks intact)

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
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