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Re: Trademark policy for packages?

On Thu, Feb 02, 2006 at 05:06:19PM +0100, Florian Weimer wrote:
> There are no established policies, AFAIK.  As long as trademark issues
> do not prevent creation and distribution of derivative works, or
> prevent an interoperable reimplementation, trademarks are outside
> Debian's scope.

If Debian's inclusion of a trademark is such that users of Debian find
themselves in violation in the course of exercising their DFSG freedoms,
then the trademark is within Debian's scope.

Now, many trademarks are simply the names of products, and Debian does
permit requirements to change the name when modifying a work.  So
saying "don't call it Subversion if you modify it"[1] is allowed; Debian
users expect that they might have to rename a work if they change it.

But others are used differently.  A piece of software in Debian might have
been certified by Microsoft to be allowed to use the Windows XP logo.  It
might then do so in the documentation.  (That wouldn't be fundamentally
inappropriate in Debian; there's a lot of cross-platform software, typically
with one set of documentation.)  If the work is modified, the logo probably
has to be removed.  In that case, it should be removed in advance.  People
modifying software in Debian can't be expected to scour documentation for
logos that need to be removed as a consequence of making a modification.

Similarly, if the Debian swirl-with-bottle logo is trademarked, and says
"forks of Debian can't use this logo", then it shouldn't be used in main,
since having to remove it would place too heavy a burden on modification.

In practice, these conditions are still rare, so I think it's fine to stick
with doing things on a case by case basis for now--I don't think we have
enough experience in this area to formulate a general policy yet.

[1] Subversion's actual renaming clause is in copyright, not trademark.

Glenn Maynard

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