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Re: trademark licenses and DFSG: a summary

MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop> writes:
> Uoti Urpala <uoti.urpala@pp1.inet.fi>

>> [...] A meaningful trademark license cannot permit everything permitted
>> under the DFSG; at some point you do have to rebrand the software and
>> remove use of trademarks to be allowed to further exercise DFSG
>> freedoms (a limitation allowed by DFSG 4).

> Hi! This looks like the unproven step. Why can't it?

Because you will lose the trademark if you allow anyone to do anything
whatsoever with the mark.  The point of trademarks is to protect a
publicly visible mark from confusion with other products.  If you allow
anything to be released under that mark, you have voluntarily allowed
confusing use of the mark, which under trademark law means that you've
essentially relinquished the mark and any further control over it.

> I could have sworn I'd seen at least one: OpenJDK or something like that
> - was it not meaningful in your opinion, has the law changed since, or
> something else?

There are a lot of trademarks that are still claimed but that, in
practice, are probably indefensible in court and would be rescinded if
they were ever challenged because they've not been defended by their
holders and substantial public confusion already exists.

Note, though, that as I understand it people have to actually *use* the
permissive grant that you've given them and create confusing products to
undermine your mark.  If you let people do it, but no one does, that's a
different situation.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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