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Re: Proposed MBF - mentions of the word "Ubuntu"

On Sat, Nov 09, 2013 at 06:00:01PM -0500, Scott Kitterman wrote:

> Both the original letter and Mark Shuttleworth's comments make trademark
> ownership claims that overreach.

It's overreach based on the recipient's governing local law, not based on
the sender's.  Isn't it the responsibility of each of us to know our rights
under law?  If a corporation is attempting to police their trademarks
internationally and someone hosts a site in a jurisdiction that doesn't
recognize trademark rights at all, does the corporation have an obligation
to *not* try to protect their trademark by dissuading this person?  Does the
answer change if your local law says that not policing your mark against
them could result in you losing the mark back home?  Does it change when the
site is hosted in a jurisdiction that recognizes some subset of trademark
rights that you consider "reasonable", but that nevertheless doesn't meet
the standard for trademark defense in the corporation's home jurisdiction?

> I think it's entirely appropriate for Debian to work preemptively to
> protect itself from future bursts of enthusiasm from the Canonical legal
> department.

I write the following as a Debian developer, not as an employee of
Canonical.  Anyone who doubts this is welcome to check the Debian archives
for my posts in similar threads, because I have been consistent on this
point for years.

In the event that an over-enthusiastic mark holder tries to tell Debian that
their nominative use of a trademark (in a package name, file name, etc.) is
infringing, the appropriate course of action for Debian to take is to
*reject these claims*, and continue using the mark.  Not to buckle under
pressure and set a bad precedent for other mark holders to follow; not to
rename the software and cause confusion for our users.  When we know we're
on the right side of the law, we should be resolute in our defense of our
rights.  It shouldn't become a game where we pick and choose which names we
will and won't allow into the distribution based on how friendly the
trademark holder is.

(Firefox, FTR, was a special case where the maintainer had a clear choice
to make between losing any autonomy to change the upstream source of the
package, and losing all rights to the marks due to the copyright license on
the logos.  Contrary to how this has been represented by the Mozilla
community since then, it was never a question of a trademark license per

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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