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Re: On the uselessness of Debian trademarks.

On 2004-05-07 14:55:36 +0100 Stephen Frost <sfrost@snowman.net> wrote:

* MJ Ray (mjr@dsl.pipex.com) wrote:
If it's software, it seems illegal anyway. If it's not software, it's probably outside the scope of debian's registered trademark.
Uh, it'd only be illegal if we have a trademark on Debian which made is
illegal.  If we don't then I don't think we'd have a leg to stand on

Maybe illegal is the wrong word. I believe we could still prosecute for "passing off" without a trademark? There is an identifiable group called debian with a presence in the UK, so one arguably cannot produce software called "debian ..." without their involvement or approval without causing confusion with this prior group. I'll need to look this up again, as it's common law not legislation, but it's the same reason that you cannot call your product "MJ Ray's Moolie Grater" if I produce moolie graters and that's not your one.

Do you support trying to use the debian mark to crack down on sellers of shirts without contracts with SPI?
Erm, not if they're using the mark to mean Debian. Possibly if they're
claiming the mark means something else, which would kind of be the

There is a popular debian/lesbian shirt in the UK, although I don't know what agreements exist between the seller and SPI. I think it's perfectly fair to have that, although maybe someone can argue this is using the mark to mean something else?

Anyway, trying to stop this probably wouldn't work. If someone produces "debian round silver drinks coasters with a hole" shirts then there's nothing our project's trademark would do about it, so it sounds to me like you're demonstrating exactly why the trademark is useless.

The concern was that we have to enforce our trademark in all cases if we want to be able to keep it and enforce it in certain circumstances.

I believe that you have to defend it from infringing use in the US. I do not remember whether the same is true here. (I am not a lawyer, remember?)

This doesn't make sense if you can use the Coke trademark without Coke
doing something about it if you don't have a contract with them.

As long as it is not infringing use of their trademark, they cannot touch you. Some debian developers seem ignorant about non-infringing uses of trademarks and some things they wish to prevent seem to be non-infringing uses IMO.

Alright, that's fine, we can stipulate the license under which the
Debian logo is used.

Yes: I say MIT/X11-style now!

Having a generous license there should *not*
detract from our ability to enforce the Debian trademark since trademark
and copyright are seperate and distinct from each other.

I agree entirely with that. It's the reverse case (where you do write trademark enforcement into copyright licences, or sometimes go further than that and try to prevent non-infringing uses, as in the newer XFree86 licence) which causes "non-free-ness" of the copyright licence IMO.

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

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