Trademark license compatibility with GPL and/or DFSG
Please accept my apologies if I am flogging a dead horse. I have ST*W
but I cannot find a definitive solution to this problem. I did find a
thread  on debian-legal from last year but it had more questions
than answers ;-)
I have been working on a Linux kernel driver for a certain wireless
modem. I think it may be helpful to name the driver after the
technology. Unfortunately, the company's trademark guide makes the
following restrictions on the use of the trademark:
(1) the product (i.e. the Linux kernel) must display the trademark on
the splash screen (or in the About... box);
(2) the trademark must appear in all documentation, marketing and
promotional materials for the product;
(3) the product must be guaranteed to be compliant with the wireless
(4) the uses of the trademark must be approved by the company before
I'd say we can't accept these terms ;-)
What terms could we accept?
Can we accept the restriction that any modification to the product
must, at a minimum, first strip the trademarks from the product (or
otherwise seek re-approval for their use from the company)?
Can we accept the lesser restriction that any *significant*
modification (whatever this means) to the product must, at a minimum,
first strip the trademarks from the product (or otherwise seek
re-approval for their use from the company)?
I'd say the company would not license their trademark for free use
without the lesser restriction, at least.
It seems that these restrictions are incompatible with the GPL. On the
other hand, any trademark license would permit us to use their
trademark, which we could not do otherwise. With this understanding
these are not restrictions at all but liberations!
DFSG #4 permits licences that require derived works to carry a
different name or version number but does not permit other minimum
What do you think? Are these restrictions compatible with the GPL
and/or the DFSG? How about if the trademark license could be revoked
arbitrarily instead of imposing a "no significant modification"
restriction (which is also somewhat arbitrary)? Would this fail the
Tentacles of Evil test?
It's a bit late for "don't ask, don't tell" as well ;-)