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Re: Debian registered by a trade as TM in Spain!

Scripsit Rob Bradford <rob@debianplanet.org>
> On Tue, 2002-09-03 at 16:59, Steve Langasek wrote:

> > Can someone familiar with Spanish IP law comment on what weight is given
> > to "prior art" in the case of a trademark challenge?  I'm assuming that,
> > one way or another, some money will have to be spent on lawyers to fix
> > this.

> I'm interested in whether this in fact an issue, primarily because if
> they tried to enforce the trademark prior usage should be easy to find
> given that the date of the trademark issuing is May 2001. Hence the
> trademark becomes unenforcable, i'm not sure whether it is worth wasting
> time and money on attempting to get this revoked.

I think the question is not so much whether they can hit other vendors
of Debian-specific technical services with legal threats of their own
(which they would be incredibly stupid to do), but what harm they are
already doing.

>From what I've gleaned from the reports (third-hand, as I don't know
Spanish), they are using the trademark as backing for a "certification
program" in connection with courses they offer. Seing how they
apparently have no respect for names or trademarks, one wonders how
qualified they are in other respects. Will one of their "officially
certified Debian technicians" be any good in practise, and does Debian
want to be tainted with the implication that the project especially
endorses their courses?

Quite apart from the risk of actual tainting, don't Debian have the
(possibly implied) policy that whereas we encourage businesses to try
to make a profit from our system by distributing it or offer technical
assistance with respect to it, we do insist that they compete fairly
on price and technical merit, not on the ability to make themselves
look more official than the competition? Do we, as a project, want to
run the risk of businesses concluding that because we silently approve
of competitors who don't play fair, it will not be commercially
viable to enter the Debian trade?

Personally I think there seems to be good reason to try to stop the
apparent trademarksquatting. FWIW, The official strategy adopted by
SPI for protecting the Debian trademark is

|  1. contact an offender ourselves
|  2. send a letter
|  3. ask Chris Rourk to send a letter
|  4. go to the media
|  5. sue
| The letter in step 2 will have to be sent by the SPI secretary or an
| appointed legal secretary.


> *Theoretically* trademark law should be standardised across the EU.

If it's anything like Danish trademark law, there ought to be a
possibility of challenging the trademark registration (though there
may be out-of-pocket expenses, hence steps 1-4). I assume that
somebody has markeded Debian CD sets in Spain prior to 2001? Evidence
of saturation bombing of the general public by 4-color ads is not
necessary, though it probably wouldn't hurt to be able to produce a
few thumbnail-sized black-and-whites in the local geek press.

Henning Makholm                         "These are a nasty breed. They sting
                                  you without waiting to be insulted first."

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