Re: On the uselessness of Debian trademarks.
(I apologise for the wrong `subject' in the earlier mail)
> His opinion is that Debian would be best served by abandoning its
> marks and purposefully making the term "Debian" generic. There are
> some clear benefits.
The Debian community first has to decide whether the term `debian' has
any monetary (or non monetary) value for the community.
> With the Debian trademark we want use that is almost entirely
> unenforced except for a few particular (and somewhat poorly
> defined) situations. This policy will put us in a difficult
> position if we have to litigate. The defendant will put forth the
> argument that there is no clear definition of proper use and claim
> that our mark is generic.
Registration or no registration, if we perceive it to have *any* kind
of value, and if we remain mute spectators to (mis) use by others, our
rights will be eroded. Because even if do not register the trademark,
we can bring suits/actions in Tort for `passing off'; and a person in
business selling debian trinkets for a sufficiently long time can get
away with it in passing off actions. Ditto even if we register a
trademark. Reverse alao applies. If a (hypothetical) company called
SClOne decides to take a trademark on Debian, it will not affect us,
coz we have been using long enough; and chances are that the
registration will be ignored or invalidated.
IMHO, the current policy of having two logos and allowing unrestricted
use of one, calling it the `unofficial logo' and imposing conditions
on use of the other, `Official use logo' is a very wise idea. This
will be viewed as some form of `regulating use of the mark'.
If there is no definition of proper use, we need to define what
amounts to proper use of the name/logo. As rightly pointed out in the
previous paragraph of the original mail --
`The owner must be the universal and final arbitrator of use and
must show that use is carefully monitored and enforced.'
*enforced* is not a very easily defined term, especially when we talk
of things under a permissive license. In the sense this term is used
by proponents of non-free licensing practises, the GPL has never been
`enforced' (till recently, that is).
Again, registration of a trademark provides protection in only limited
fields of commerce. For example, registration of the term as applied
to software distributions may not prevent application of the term to -
say - construction equipment, or the case where a trinket maker brings
into the market a `debian' trinket.
But even the courts will be in a quandary when the trinket is a either
a Penguin or a Gnu doll with a swirl like plume. (Now that you have a
good idea, will somebody please make such a graphic?)
PS - 1. I'm not subscribed. If you want my responses to your replies,
please cc me.
2. This is not legal advise.
"Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security
deserve neither security nor liberty"