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Re: Ubuntu trademark non-free?

On Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 12:48:36PM -0400, Jordan Metzmeier wrote:

> I had been looking at this bug for a few days now
> as well the the Ubuntu Trademark Policy [1]. I am
> not a legal person, so I would like to bring it to
> the attention of people who are, to see if this policy
> makes the application non-free in its current state.

> The statements that stands out to me are:

> "We reserve the right to review all usage within the open
> source community, and to object to any usage that appears
> to overstep the bounds of discussion and good-faith
> non-commercial development."

> and

> "Restricted use that requires a trademark licence

> Permission from us is necessary to use any of the Trademarks
> under any circumstances other than those specifically permitted
> above. These include:

> - - Any commercial use."

> - From the DFSG there is this:

> "The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party
> from selling or giving away the software as a component of an
> aggregate software distribution containing programs from several
> different sources. The license may not require a royalty or other
> fee for such sale."

> However, this refers specifically to a "license" and makes not mention
> of a trademark.

Disclaimer:  the views expressed in this mail are my own, and do not
necessarily represent the views of my employer.

There are a significant number of packages in Debian whose names are covered
by trademarks.  Under US law (and similar provisions in other
jurisdictions), the existence of a trademark does not permit the holder to
control all uses of the name - only those that may confuse a consumer into
mistaking your product for that of the trademark holder or otherwise harm
the holder's use of the name in matters of commerce.

If the source code of a package shipped in Debian is identical to that
provided upstream under the same name, there is no license issue; this is
nominative use which is not prohibited, regardless of the existence of a
trademark.  If the source code is modified, and this modification requires
us to give the software a different name, this is not a freeness problem -
this is expressly permitted under DFSG #4.  We do not require that the
maintainer of a package pre-emptively rename the work in anticipation of
such modifications; and we routinely ship modified versions of source code
using package names which match the upstream trademarks, on the grounds that
package names are not trade but computer interfaces, and are thus also not
trademark infringement.

All this, of course, is entirely separate from whether it's appropriate for
the UI of software center to refer to "Ubuntu" when used in Debian.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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