Re: AbiWord, trademarks, and DFSG-freeness
On Fri, Oct 15, 2004 at 02:12:41AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> Let me try to summarize their position as I understand it:
> A) The existing trademark restrictions documented in
> /usr/share/doc/abiword/copyright are out of date, as is
> <URL: http://www.abisource.com/tm_guide.phtml >. Unfortunately, there
> appears to be nothing available that supersedes these documents.
> B) As far as I can tell, they feel that the trademark usage guidelines Dom
> Lachowicz communicated to Debian should suffice for our needs.
> C) They feel that because trademark rights are automatic and implicit
> (though you are in a better position to sue people if you claim your
> marks with a "(TM)", and better still if you register them with the
> United States Patent and Trademark Office, earning the right to put (R)
> next to your mark), that there is nothing unique about their situation,
> and Debian needs to solve "the trademark problem" for everything we
> distribute before singling them out for special attention.
> D) They don't want to say anything more on the matter until and unless we
> can come back with some real lawyers.
> E) At least some of them appear to feel that we don't understand the
> distinction between copyrights and trademarks.
I would like to discuss whether Debian can legally ship abiword:
1) abiword/copyright read
" Source code created by AbiSource is
copyrighted by AbiSource, Inc., and is distributed under the terms of
the GNU General Public License. "
"The GPL does not grant you any right to use AbiSource trademarks in
connection with these derivative works. AbiSource trademarks may not
be used in connection with any such derivative works unless that usage
is explicitly and specifically licensed, in writing, from Dom
This imply that a restriction on modifications is imposed upon us.
2) GPL section 7. par. 1) say:
7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot
distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by
all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then
the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
It is my understanding that 'for any other reason' include restriction
imposed by trademark holders as well.
In light of GPL 6.
6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the
Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the
original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to
these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further
restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.
You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to
The trademark condition impose a restriction on modification in direct
conflicts with GPL 6., so the conclusion I draw is based on GPL 7.
"If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your
obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then
as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all."
My conclusion is that the GNU GPL does not allow us to distribute
abiword in its current form under the trademark obligation.
Probably we could still distribute it after removing all references to
abiword. Whether this is would be DFSG-free or not is a different
Imagine a large red swirl here.