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Re: Python Software Foundation trademark policy

In message <[🔎] 4586B146.5050505@mozilla.org>, Gervase Markham <gerv@mozilla.org> writes
MJ Ray wrote:
If I purchase Debian CDs and type "python", or I do "man python" and read all about the interpreter which I can invoke by typing "python" which interprets the Python programming language, or I install "python-doc" and read some more, isn't that use of the trademark?
What trade is happening when one types "python", or does "man python"
and reads, or installs python-doc and reads?  If someone is paying you
to do those acts, I expect it may be necessary to beware the
trademarks more.

<sigh> Could you really not work out what I meant?

The CD I have been sold by the Debian distributor uses the Python trademarks to label their shipped version of the Python code. I notice this when I interact with what I have purchased in any of the ways listed above. The fact that the name Python is not printed on the outside of the CD is surely not relevant to whether the distributor is passing off their version of Python under the trademark.


The policy says:

"Use of the word "Python" when redistributing the Python programming language as part of a freely distributed application -- Allowed. If the standard version of the Python programming language is modified, this should be clearly indicated. For commercial distributions, contact the PSF for permission."

As I understand it, you are asserting that someone selling Debian CDs does not need to request permission from the PSF under this clause. But I don't understand why. In the case of a Debian redistributor selling me a set of Debian CDs, is your position that:

a) The distribution is not "commercial distribution" of Python; or
b) The distributor is not redistributing the Python programming
  language; or
c) The distribution does not use the word "Python"; or
d) The distribution does not meet the test of being a "freely
  distributed application"; or
y) The PSF does not have the right, under trademark law, to make the
  restriction quoted above for the uses to which Debian puts the word;

Actually, I think this is pretty damn close to the situation.

If the Debian version is unmodified (although I gather it is :-) then for Debian to describe it using the word "Python" CANNOT (aiui) be a trademark violation. They are describing a product, using its trademarked name. There is no violation. Whether it's a commercial distro or not is irrelevant.

Rule one of trademarks: Describing a genuine product by its trademarked name NEVER requires permission.

Seeing as it has been modified, however, this muddies the waters somewhat. I guess if it's just bugfixes and mucking about with installation paths etc, that doesn't count as "modified", though. If, however, the actual code of the programs has been significantly altered, then you do have a problem.

You might be thinking here of the "Red Hat issue", where RH forced the removal of their trademarks from copies of the distro. That's very different - there was real consumer confusion about whether the CD came with official support from RH. If the Python people expect most distros to package Python (and don't do (much) distro customisation themselves, they won't be able to argue anything like this.

z) something else?

(For the sake of argument, I concur that Debian is complying with the middle sentence of the paragraph about labelling modified versions.)


Anthony W. Youngman - anthony@thewolery.demon.co.uk

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