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Re: trademark licenses and DFSG: a summary

Stefano Zacchiroli <leader@debian.org> writes:

> 2) what I'm proposing is in essence the second part of the first choice
>    in your dichotomy, i.e. extend interpretation of DFSG §4 to other
>    distinguishing marks (I notice that you mention sounds, but I do not
>    think they are in the realm of trademark protection; although I
>    haven't checked)

Sounds can be trademarked if they perform the function of a trademark
(uniquely identifying a company or product), but the rules around them
vary tremendously between jurisdictions.  According to Wikipedia (so more
investigation would be required for full reliability), the EU restricts
trademarks to things that can be represented graphically, so only sounds
that can be written in, for example, musical notation could be
trademarked.  The US applies a different strict test and has allowed
trademarking of, for example, the lion's roar used by MGM in introducing
their movies, but Harley Davison was not able to trademark the sound of
their motorcycle engines.

> IANAL, but AFAIR fact *collections* might be under some circumstances.

Yes, it depends on how much creative editorial judgement was applied.  In
the US, it's well-settled case law that phone books cannot be copyrighted,
since they are comprehensive and hence have no creative editorial
judgement, but cookbooks can be copyrighted because they do involve
creative editorial judgement.  (Individual recipes cannot be copyrighted
because they are facts.)

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

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