Re: trademark infringement FreeFOAM
I have to correct something: Holger Marschall, the author of the
"OpenFOAM Documentation Project", explained me he only received some
emails where OpenCFD threatened him to write a letter of legally valid
cease and desist letter. He actually did not receive it as he put down
the website. Also, after he named it to "FOAM Documentation Project",
which was put down after OpenCFD complained.
As stated in the OpnCFD trademark policies, the naming OpenFOAM and
abbreviations are explicitly forbidden.
That said I wonder if FreeFOAM is considered as trademark infringement,
even by OpenCFD, as a derived naming is not explicitly mentioned to be
Therefore, I still have my doubts if even renaming of the FreeFOAM
project is required. I will ask an attorney at our university for this.
In addition, the trademark 'Freefoam' has already been used by a
construction company and I found two registered US trademarks
(extrusion / machinery and a travel luggage and bags company). Whether
these companies will be annoyed by our software project remains to be
seen. At least, this might obstruct OpnCFD to go after FreeFOAM.
Thanks a lot for your contributions in searching a new name for the
FreeFOAM project. We will definitely take them into account.
the On Fri, 2010-11-19 at 22:57 +0100, Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Thu, 18 Nov 2010 16:31:28 +0100 Gerber van der Graaf wrote:
> > Hi,
> > 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/)
> I think you meant http://www.openfoam.com/ here...
> > 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".
> For other readers' information, there's an RFP bug about OpenFOAM:
> > 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/).
> Again, for other readers' information, the ITP bug about FreeFOAM that
> you filed is http://bugs.debian.org/528662
> > 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.
> I think that accepting contributions only when the contributor transfers
> his/her copyright is indeed allowed for GPL software: actually it's
> what the FSF does... :-(
I didn't know that and that's quite strong. Do they also erase the names
of contributing authors, as OpenCFD is requiring?
> But I agree that this practice is not really needed for GPL software.
> Even worse: I think that it's a very annoying practice, since it
> requires additional paperwork, creates a fundamental asymmetry in the
> relationship between the original author and the contributor, and gives
> too much power in the hands of one sole copyright holder, who may
> later decide to change license at whim.
> So in summary, I am not happy to learn that OpenCFD follows this policy.
> > 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.
> Your efforts are greatly appreciated: thanks for working on this
> project and on its packaging for Debian!
> > 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.
> This is more sad news: I think that overly aggressive trademark
> enforcement is counterproductive in a Free Software context...
> > 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?
> I recommend that you get in touch with a lawyer (one that is well
> versed in trademark laws in an international context, and, possibly,
> in copyright laws, as well) and seek legal advice.
> I am not a lawyer and I cannot give you any legal advice.
> What I can do is tell you what *I* would do in such a situation.
> > So far,
> > We have different options:
> > 2) Change the name of the project. Would this be sufficient to avoid
> > trademark name infringement?
> I would personally try hard to minimize the risk of being sued.
> I think a name change would benefit the project.
> See the Mozilla-Debian issue, where overly aggressive trademark
> enforcement on the Mozilla side led to the re-branding of Firefox as
> Iceweasel and of Thunderbird as Icedove within the Debian distribution.
> I've been thinking about possible new names that I could suggest.
> Two options came to my mind:
> * FreePhi
> pronunciation: /friː faɪ/ or /friː fiː/
> logo: FreeΦ
> explanation: you already have a Greek letter Φ in your current logo,
> and that letter may represent a general (scalar, vector, or tensor)
> field, which is the main type of variables involved in partial
> differential equations
> * FROTHY
> pronunciation: /frɒθɪ/
> logo: ΦΡΩΘΙ or ΦROTHY
> explanation: "froth" is a synonym of "foam", and we could even manage
> to interpret "FROTHY" as some sort of acronym (FRee sOlver Toolkit
> based on matHematical sYmbols? or something similar...)
> > 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
> > (partly) lost.
> I don't think that functional names have to be changed, but, I repeat,
> I am not a lawyer...
> > Any recommendations or suggestions are welcome.
> I hope my contribution to the discussion may help.