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Re: On the uselessness of Debian trademarks.

On 2004-05-07 07:31:27 +0100 Ean Schuessler <ean@brainfood.com> wrote:

With the Debian trademark we want use that is almost entirely unenforced except for a few particular (and somewhat poorly defined) situations.

The only well-defined situation I can see at the moment is when someone attempts to claim debian association, backing or endorsement fraudulently. I believe that is covered adequately by other laws everywhere where we could enforce it. Is that correct?

[...] Our only alternative is to religiously shut down everyone who is using the word Debian without our explicit permission. That isn't very Debian. Why not just cut to the chase?

Not only is it not very Debian, but accurate use of the Debian mark to refer to our Debian doesn't look like something we can stop with trademarking in the UK:

"Nothing in the preceding provisions of this section shall be construed as preventing the use of a registered trade mark by any person for the purpose of identifying goods or services as those of the proprietor or a licensee." (Trade Marks Act 1994 s.10(6), readable at http://www.bailii.org/uk/legis/num_act/tma1994121/s10.html amongst others).

There are caveats about honest practices, but that's the basic. For example, if someone claims to sell "Debian for Desktops" which includes the Debian distribution and their own desktop setup (and possibly packages), I'm not sure that we could do anything to stop them.

We could use copyright licences to police the trademark a bit more (such as the logo licences do), but that seems pretty clearly non-free.

I'm not sure if Chris is right, but I see the logic in his reasoning. If anyone can put this email in front of any attorneys, I would be very curious to hear their thoughts.

I've suggested it to a few. I hope some reply.

My Opinion Only and possibly not of any group I know.
http://www.ttllp.co.uk/ for creative copyleft computing

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