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Re: trademark policy draft

Hi Stefano,

On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 08:07:02PM +0200, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 06, 2012 at 03:25:55PM +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> > Thijs Kinkhorst writes ("Re: trademark policy draft"):
> > > On Wed, August 1, 2012 18:54, Russ Allbery wrote:
> > > > We can choose to abandon our trademark and make it indefensible, but we
> > > > should do that intentionally and not under an illusion that we're just
> > > > creating a better usage policy.
> > 
> > I would not be in favour of this.

> FWIW, I agree with Ian's position here.

> Generally speaking, I think there is room in Free Software for project
> marks and that, in principle, there is nothing wrong with defending
> them. As observed elsewhere in this thread, it is just hard to defend
> them in a "reasonable" way, given that the law is what it is. Oddly
> enough, trademark policies that try to embrace Free Software principle
> are still relatively uncharted territory, which is slowly getting better
> in recent years. By giving it a try, working together with lawyers that
> do understand Free Software, I think we can actually contribute
> something useful for other Free Software projects out there.

> Down to the specificities of Debian procedures, I consider my duty to
> take care of Debian assets, including trademarks. I would not take the
> responsibility of acting in a way that --- according to our legal
> advisors --- might endanger them..

Even if there was a clear consensus that endangering the trademark was the
Right Thing To Do?

I'm hoping to write a longer response to the proposed policy where I can do
justice to the specifics, but for the moment, suffice it to say that I think
that some of the recommendations for how to protect our trademark cross the
line from "things it's reasonable for everyone to do to protect their mark"
into "jerky things that you do because there's some bit of case law
somewhere that led to a mark being invalidated and you're paranoid that the
same thing will happen to you".  Sometimes the right answer is that the case
law is *bad* and needs to be overturned - which never happens if no one is
willing to take a stand against it.

For a free software project like Debian, I believe it's more important to
uphold the principle of not being jerky to our neighbors than it is to have
an ironclad assurance that our trademark could never be invalidated.  I
don't think the argument "we could lose our trademark unless we [...]" is
complete unless it also includes some examination of how likely that outcome
really is.

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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