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Re: trademark policy draft

On Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 11:06 AM, Gaudenz Steinlin <gaudenz@soziologie.ch> wrote:
> Philip Hands <phil@hands.com> writes:
>> Francesco Poli <invernomuto@paranoici.org> writes:
>> ...
>>> [...]
>>>> \item You cannot alter the DEBIAN trademarks in any way.
>>> [...]
>>>> \item Any scaling must retain the original proportions of the logo.
>>>> \item Logo should only use ``official'' logo colors.
>>> [...]
>>> These restrictions are currently violated by countless uses of Debian
>>> logos (above all) and of the Debian textual trademark (sometimes).
>>> Several such uses are done by the Debian Project itself, most notably
>>> in desktop themes shipped as official Debian themes (for instance the
>>> very nice default wheezy theme, named Joy [2]).
>>> [2] http://wiki.debian.org/DebianArt/Themes/Joy
>>> I think that these restrictions should be dropped entirely, since they
>>> seem to be incompatible with the basic Free Software principles.
> I agree that these restrictions prohibit many uses of the logo that I
> would consider acceptable. As Russ pointed out they might be necessary
> to be able to protect our logo at all. In that case I think we should
> not register a trademark for the logo. Maybe we could ask the SPI
> lawyers if a policy in a similar spirit to the one for the text mark
> would be possible for the logo. In other words do not use the logo in a
> misleading way (formulated in proper legal language).
>> There are some things that one needs to do simply to maintain a
>> trademark.  I'm pretty sure that the bits you are objecting to are
>> included in that set (although IANAL).
>> If we don't do those things, we might as well not have a trademark, so
>> if you're arguing for us to avoid doing those minimum things we might as
>> well just discard the trademark now.
>> The alternative would seem to be a lot of wasted time here, followed by
>> a lot of wasted effort for the lawyers who are kind enough to give us
>> their time, arriving at the eventual discovery that as a result of our
>> own incompetence we don't have a defensible trademark anyway.
>> Note that I'm not arguing that we _should_ have a trademark -- I'm with
>> Lars in that I think it's somewhat distasteful for Debian to be dirtying
>> our hands with this, but if that's the only way we can stop some bastard
>> From distributing "Official Debian CDs" that turn out to be packed with
>> back-doors and trojans, then we need to do the legal bits properly, and
>> that involves following the legal advice we receive, rather than
>> spouting unfounded drivel about what we might like the law to be.
> A middle way could be to not tradmark our logo. As Stefano stated in the
> initial mail they are not trademarked at the moment, but SPI lawyers
> recomend it. This would still stop evil doers from distributing
> "Official Debian CDs" but not from distributing CDs with the Debian logo
> without any mention of Debian. As the Debian (open use) logo is far from
> unique anyway this would be a fair compromise IMHO.

I believe that the Debian project should be trademarked in name and
image, and we should defend the trademark, as both the Debian name
and the logo, are fairly well recognized, and have built a lot of
good-will over the years, that I don't believe anyone wants diluted by

Would we be ok if a large company, like Oracle, forked Debian in a non
DFSG way, and started selling it as "Enterprise Debian" with our logo
on their site? Without a trademark, we have no legal recourse to
address this issue. Not registering the trademarks would also be a
mistake because if we don't, someone else is free to do so, and
prevent us from using them.

Although I do suspect that the likelihood of either of these scenarios
coming to bear, are relatively low, if we wait until after it occurs
it will be too late, and we will have no clear recourse to address the

The draft as written appears to be a good starting point, as it
appears to largely follow basic trademark laws.

I understand the concern about hindering creative use of the logo, and
I don't really think anyone really wants to put a stop to this. I
think one way to address the "permission" issue is to have a *very*
lightweight approval process. Perhaps a webform, but the idea here
would be to have an approval process that is as lightweight as
possible, but still fulfilling the legal requirement that we are
protecting the mark. (I leave it to counsel to advise what this might
look like, and whether or not it is appropriate to put the details in
the document.)


> Gaudenz
> --
> Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
> Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
> ~ Samuel Beckett ~

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