[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Trademarks: what is the line?

On Sun, Jan 02, 2005 at 12:06:06PM +0100, Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 12:44:33 +0000 Andrew Suffield wrote:
> > It's not a major problem, because you can generate an unarguably free
> > work once by stripping it, and then everybody can modify the stripped
> > version instead.
> That's true, but...
> ...what's the difference between a trademark-encumbered work and a
> patent-encumbered one?
> If I take a patent-encumbered work released under a free copyright
> license, I can generate an unarguably free work by stripping the
> patented algorithms and replacing them with non-patented ones: then
> everybody can deal with the stripped version...
> Don't misunderstand me, it's *not* sarcasm: I'm really wondering what's
> the difference...

The *likely* primary difference is that trademarks are, *almost* always,
not relevant to the functionality of the program as a whole. In the cases
where they were, somehow (and I'm hard pressed to come up with one) I would
expect that the trademark license would be required to be licensed in a
sufficiently free manner that it wouldn't be an issue.

Patented algorithms, on the other hand, are often the very core of the
program involved - and thus, stripping and replacing them is often
impractical, or in some cases, impossible (if the patent covers the
entire concept of the program's usage, and not just a specific way of
accomplishing it). If the patent were on some tertiary function that could
be trivially done another way, well, I'd expect we might well strip it and
replace it to avoid issues with an actively enforced patent, but this seems
unlikely to be the case anytime soon (given how broad software patents
often are).
Joel Aelwyn <fenton@debian.org>                                       ,''`.
                                                                     : :' :
                                                                     `. `'

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: