trademark infringement FreeFOAM
I have a question concerning trademark name infringement for a GPL
software I and a colleagues are working on. The company OpenCFD
(http://www.cfd-online.com/) issued software for Computational Fluids
Dynamics (CFD) called 'OpenFOAM' under the GPL license
(http://www.openfoam.com/). The abbreviation FOAM is an invent of the
company and means "Field Operation And Manipulation".
We have modernized the entire configuration / compilation system of
this software using CMake. In order to publish our improvements we
have issued the software package under the name 'FreeFOAM', referring
to the company, the original software and keeping all author rights in
the existing files (http://freefoam.sourceforge.net/). We issued a new
project because it already was widely known that OpenCFD refuses to
include improvements, extensions etc of the code in their original
releases unless the author will abandon all rights of his work. IMHO
not needed nor allowed for GPL software. Thanks to this work, I
have been able to debianize the software relatively quite easily and
hope to get it into GNU/Debian soon once a formal FreeFOAM
release has been issued and I have found a sponsor.
Recently another user started the "OpenFOAM Documentation Project"
(ODP) and promptly received a letter of thread to bring the project to
court because of trademark infringement. Because of this and because the
author of ODP had been threaded to be exiled from the user community
forums, the ODP project was forced to go down. As we feel that FreeFOAM
is now in a similar situation we also fear to receive a similar letter
of legal thread of trademark infringement.
My question is how to handle in such a situation? So far,
We have different options:
1) Wait until we will receive such a thread. The advance is we can
keep the FreeFOAM name that associates the project with the original
OpenFOAM project and will not break-up its large user community. The
drawback is uncertainty and fear.
2) Change the name of the project. Would this be sufficient to avoid
trademark name infringement?
3) Or is it required to change the name of the project and all its
libraries, binaries, file names etc. that include the word 'FOAM'? This
would bring a lot of work and maintenance, among synchronization with
the OpenFOAM project. Probably the history of the git repo will be
4) Another option is to write the company asking for a letter of
declaration it will not pose a thread against the FreeFOAM project
because of trademark name infringement. Is this done before and, if
so, what are the experiences? Will such a letter hold in court once
the company will decide to pose a legal thread?
Some other questions remain:
Will the domain name for a software project give legal rights as primary
owner of a (trademark) name? Or, to put it in other words: is legal
trademark registration of GPL software required? If so, how to do this?
What are the costs?
Any recommendations or suggestions are welcome.
Gerber van der Graaf