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Re: advice for free software package named almost identically to non-free software

Nicholas D Steeves writes ("advice for free software package named almost identically to non-free software"):
> An upstream has named their GPL software almost identically to a
> proprietary piece of software.  Both the free and the proprietary
> software are developed in the U.S.A.  The upstream has confirmed that
> the name is not a registered trademark in the U.S.A, but the
> proprietary software unambiguously precedes the free version; thus, if
> ever there is a dispute, the developer of the first version has the
> "prior art" argument on their side.


I can't help feeling that this story is missing something.  I don't
disagree with anything Paul Wise has said, but:

> The developer of the free software implementation has asked me if it
> would be sufficient to ask permission from the author of the
> proprietary developer to name his software similarly.  If this is
> acceptable, would you please provide a template I can send to the
> author of the free implementation?

In most situations I can imagine, the proprietary software author
would be very unlikely to give permission.  Indeed, I would expect
them to object if they knew about it, so, contacting them to ask for
it might well trigger the latent problem.

If the free upstream suggests that they might ask for permission,
presumably they have a different understanding of the proprietary
authors' views.  Perhaps they know (of) each other or have some other
relationship that we're missing.

So, as far as the question actually asked I think Paul is right.  But
I have a strong feeling of "something odd going on here".  It may be
that if we knew more of the background, we could give better advice.


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