I was asked to provide some information on the trademark issue with
"Trusted Debian" (the project now known as Adamantix). I first heard
of the "Trusted Debian" project when they released version 1.0 and
subsequently received some press coverage. Reading the user comments
on the Slashdot posting in which the project had been mentioned, I
noticed that there was some confusion whether the "Trusted Debian"
project is a Debian project. Furthermore, some people approached me
directly and pointed out that they didn't feel comfortable with the
name, for various reasons. The most prominent was that the title
"Trusted Debian" implied that the project was endorsed by Debian.
However, since it is not in fact a Debian (sub-)project, we cannot
ensure that our standards of quality are upheld. I feared that people
might assume that "Trusted Debian" is a product by Debian and this
fear was confirmed when heise.de wrote that the Debian project
released a trusted version of Debian. Another oft-cited reason was
that the name "Trusted Debian" might suggest that the stock Debian is
not trusted or secure.
In my role as DPL, I contacted Peter Busser, the founder of "Trusted
Debian". I expressed my concerns, and asked if he would be interested
in either joining the Debian project and having his effort as an
official Debian subproject, or in changing the name to something other
than "Trusted Debian". Peter responded and said he would change the
I've bounced my original mail and Peter's two responses (I received
the second response before I had a chance to answer the first one) to
debian-email so Debian developers can read the messages themselves
It is needless to say that my mails were polite and that I never
threatened with legal action. In fact, I told Peter they can use the
trustedebian.org domain for a while to redirect traffic to their new
This incidence has shown two things. First, many people are not aware
that Debian is a trademark. I have therefore asked the webmasters to
add a trademark statement to the footer of our web site and this was
done on 2003-07-19. Second, our trademark policy is not clear at all.
The only written policy can be found in an announcement by Bruce
which states that,
To be fair to all businesses, we insist that no business use the name
"Debian" in the name of the business, or a domain name of the business.
Since this policy is not very clear, a Trademark Committee was created
to refine this policy and create a proper trademark policy. I will post
more about this soon.