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Re: trademark licenses and DFSG

On Sun, Oct 09, 2011 at 08:02:01PM +0200, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> Problem statement
> =================

> The question we need to answer is whether DFSG should be applied to
> trademark licenses or not.

Our answer to this question has always been "no" and should continue to be

> The Debian logo
> ---------------

> As part of the impact analysis, we should also consider what it would
> happen to the trademarks that *we* own. At present, the version of our
> own logo with the "Debian" label is not DFSG-free [4]. This is
> unfortunate both because of the message it sends and because we cannot
> use the Debian official logo as part of Debian without making exceptions
> to DFSG (which is ridiculous either way).

> The reason of the non-DFSG-freeness of the Debian logo is that its
> *copyright* license tries to do some sort of trademark protection as
> part of its terms. Reifying trademark protection in a copyright license
> is a bad thing per se, and I've been working with SPI lawyers to fix
> that. The goal is to release the Debian logo under a common DFSG-free
> license and have a separate, new, trademark policy [5].

This is a long overdue change; I'm glad to see some movement here.

> Renouncing to trademark protection for Debian is another option, but
> it'd be equivalent to giving up Debian trademarks. I don't think that
> would be a wise choice.

I agree.

> Proposal
> ========

> We need to decide together what to do about the presence of software
> with trademark restrictions in the Debian archive. It would be nice to
> reach consensus through simple discussion, but we can of course also
> decide to vote on this matter.

> My own proposal, that I submit to your consideration, is as follows:

> - DFSG applies to copyright license; trademark restrictions should not
>   make a package DFSG non-free (philosophical part)

> - however, trademark restrictions that get in the way of "usual Debian
>   procedures" should not be accepted in the Debian archive (practical
>   part)

>   What I've in mind here is stuff like having to either rebrand or ask
>   for permission before adding a security patch or other kind of
>   restrictions on changing code that has nothing to do with the
>   "identity" of upstreams that trademarks are supposed to protect.

>   Practically, I think the set of unacceptable restrictions should be
>   proposed by the people who would actually have to deal with this kind
>   of issues: security team (that might need to apply impromptu patches),
>   release team (that might be forced to rename packages in past release
>   upon change), ftp-masters (same reason as before), etc.

Has the project received competent legal advice stating that a package name
would be interpreted as infringing a trademark, and that we might have to
rename it?

Note that I am not talking about violating the terms of a trademark
*license* here, which I maintain we generally have no reason to seek (or
accept), but about whether such use infringes actual trademark rights

If we haven't received such advice, then I don't think there's any reason to
worry about the possibility of patching a package resulting in a requirement
to rename it, *unless* there are particular reasons that we believe we need
a trademark license in the first place.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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