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Re: On the uselessness of Debian trademarks.

(I apologise for the wrong `subject' in the earlier mail)

>From http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2004/05/msg00033.html

 > 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"

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