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Re: Bug#607839: Question about GNOME Trademark and GNOME project packages in Debian

On Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 10:07 AM, Mike O'Connor <stew@debian.org> wrote:
> On Fri, 15 Jul 2011 13:01:13 +0100 (BST), MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop> wrote:
>> Joerg Jaspert wrote:
>> Is there a tension?  Isn't it obvious that many Free Software related
>> marks are not themselves free software?
> The way you state your question "Isn't it obvious that many Free
> Software related marks are not themselves free software?"  Makes me want
> to respond "No, trademarks are not software."  Perhaps in an "ideal"
> world we would be saying that the DSFG applies as cleanly to trademark
> issues as it does to copyright issues, but in reality it is not the
> case. The stance that we do not allow the use of any trademarks in
> Debian would be an insane stance to take, once you realize how many
> trademarks are in Debian already.  MySQL is trademarked, OpenGL is
> trademarked, we mention Microsoft, Apple, and probably a number of other
> companies.  Python is trademarked, mono is trademarked.  For that matter
> "Linux" and Debian are trademarked.  We clearly are not going to either
> remove all this software or rename it.  We ARE going to be using
> trademarks that other entities have some legal control over.  Since this
> puts us in the position of having external entities having some legal
> control over what we do with our software, this is in tension with the
> DFSG which tries to make sure I have complete control over the software
> in Debian.
> I believe we are going to have to make decisions about what to do about
> a trademark we are using once a trademark owner notifies us that we are
> using their trademarks in ways which they don't approve of, as it is
> happening in this case with the GNOME marks, and once we are notified,
> decide how we react.  In some cases, we should be able to dismiss a
> trademark owner's claims entirely.  Although someone owns the Git
> trademark, since our use of "git" is not likely to cause confusion to
> people, we don't have to worry of our use as infringing.  In other cases
> we might decide that our use of their mark falls under "fair use" and
> thus not infringing.
> When we are contacted by a owner of a trademark on which we believe we
> are infringing, the safest thing for us to do legally is to cease all
> use of the mark.  The easiest thing for us to do is to ignore their
> claim.  We'll need to figure out where we want to land between these two
> extremes, and here again, there is tension.  I don't believe it is as
> simple as you state it: "...that seems like something that will have to
> stop if the GNOME foot is not free software because of some restrictive
> TM license".  Because by that argument tells us that we have to rename
> all GNOME software, since the trademark license is restrictive about how
> we use "GNOME".
> I think it is clear in the case of the foot/swirl icon, which has been
> definitively identified as infringing on their mark in a way which is
> objectionable to the owners of the mark, we should cease the
> distribution and/or use of this icon.  There perhaps is little tension
> here. When they tell us that our non-compliance with their trademark
> policy in areas like using GNOME in all lowercase letters is
> objectionable, there will be considerable trouble in resolving this.
>> It disappoints me when free software projects use proprietary frosting
>> to restrict user freedom, but it seems like an old chestnut rather
>> than a new problem requiring a new GR.
> Since we are in the position of having to decide on multiple different
> outcomes, none of which are 100% desirable, and that this is not likely
> to be the last time that such a situation will arise, I believe it might
> be wise to reach a consensus about how the project wants to handle these
> situations. The best means to do this might be to memorialize this using
> a GR.

One of the most absurd examples of this tension, is that Debian isn't
allowed to use the 'Official' Debian Logo in its Debian distribution.
It would be nice if during the process of unravelling this issue, via
GR or what have you, this rather embarrassing case could be addressed
as well.

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