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Re: Registering the Debian Logo as our trademark?

On Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 04:04:34PM -0400, Brian Gupta wrote:
> Hi all,
> I have been helping to field trademark inquiries for Debian since late
> February, and the issue of our Logo has come up a number of times.
> Currently, our logo is not a registered Trademark, but is considered
> (and treated by our current Trademark policy) as a "common law"
> trademark, in that we have been using it to represent Debian for many
> years, and many people see it and recognize it as "Debian's logo".
> I know there have been discussions in the past about moving forward
> with officially registering the logo, but these discussions seem to
> have not ended with a clear decision or agreement one way or another,
> hence the status quo of unregistered common law trademark.
> Generally speaking, as a matter of law, it would be better if we
> registered our logo as our Trademark. We had also gotten advice from
> our legal counsel (SFLC) encouraging us to do so.
> I don't believe any changes would be required to our Trademark policy
> to accomodate the change from "common law" to "registered" trademark,
> we'd just have the benefit that we'd have an easier time protecting
> it, if we ever found a need to do so.
> Here is the Debian Trademark Policy 2.0 [1] guidance on using logos:

Note guidelines. We don't actually restrict use.

> "Guidelines for Using Logos
> - Any scaling must retain the original proportions of the logo.
> - Do not use the Debian logos as part of your company logo or product
> logo or branding itself. They can be used as part of a page describing
> your products or services.
> - You need not ask us for permission to use logos on your own website
> solely as a hyperlink to the Debian project website."
> Some may wonder if Registering our logo as a trademark is possible
> with the logo under a fairly liberal Free Software license. The answer
> is yes, as Copyrights are a different set of rights than Trademark.
> Bear in mind or Logo is already one of our Trademarks, we just don't
> have it registered.
> Another question that one might raise is, "What if the USPTO rejects
> our logo as too simple, and not creative enough?" In answer, this is
> not a criteria for acceptance. If the mark is distinctive, and unique,
> and isn't already registered, it doesn't really matter how simple or
> complex a design is. e.g. - Think of the "Nike Swoosh".
> I would like to work to address what I perceive to be a bug, and get
> our logo official registered. I spoke to leader@ (Lucas) about this,
> and he said that I should first start a dicussion on -project laying
> out the pros and cons, with examples of what other similar projects
> are doing.
> Pros:
> -----
> - Makes it easier, legally speaking, to protect our trademark, if it
> ever came to it

We really can't. It's now DFSG free. Folks can, legally speaking, do
anything with it, now. There's still the restricted-use logo, which was
left as-is, ISTR.

> - When companies are doing trademark searches for logos in the
> trademark database, they would be discouraged from using our logo, as
> it is would be in the database.
> - If a company tries to register a logo trademark that is the same as
> ours, the USPTO should not allow it, since it is in their database. (I
> say should, as mistakes can happen)
> Cons:
> -----
> - Filing costs of ~$700
> - Labor/work required to file (With assistance from SFLC, I am willing
> to do much of the work required.)
> - Required extra coordination with SPI
> - If someone has already filed our logo as a trademark, we will be
> forced into a situation where we need to deal with that. (I have
> already done a preliminary search of the USPTO database, and found no
> such occurrences, so feel this risk is minimal.)
> - In order to maintain the status of a federally registered trademark,
> the owner must file a statement of continued use and later, a renewal
> application. (Again more work, which I am willing to do.)
> Other projects that have registered their logo:
> -----------------------------------------------
> - Apache - Many trademarks, including the feather
> http://www.apache.org/foundation/marks/list/
> - OpenOffice - Seagull logo
> http://www.openoffice.org/marketing/art/galleries/logos/
> - Gentoo Linux - G logo http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/name-logo.xml
> - Fedora - Multiple logos http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Logo/UsageGuidelines
> - Drupal CMS - Druplicon logo http://drupal.org/node/9068
> http://drupal.com/trademark
> - Gnome - Gnome Foot http://www.gnome.org/foundation/legal-and-trademarks/
> - Mozilla - Multiple logos (Firefox, Thunderbird and Mozilla)
> http://blog.mozilla.org/press/media-library/
> - KDE - KDE and the K Desktop Environment logos
> http://techbase.kde.org/Template:KDE_Trademark_Notice

Do any of these also have a DFSG free logo? I know GNOME at least has
been pissy about our use of their foot on some bug report / ml post I

> So far in my search of other large Free Software Projects that have a
> singular graphical identify, pretty much all have a registered
> graphical trademark, with the exception of the GNU project's "gnuhead"
> logo. (However, FSF does still treat it as a trademark
> http://www.gnu.org/graphics/agnuhead.html)
> What do people feel about proceeding with this registration?
> Thanks,
> Brian
> [1] - http://www.debian.org/trademark
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 .''`.  Paul Tagliamonte <paultag@debian.org>
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