[Linux-aus] Trademarks for use with GPL

Jon maddog Hall maddog at li.org
Fri Mar 17 01:53:02 UTC 2006

Trademark law, copyright law and patent law have three completely different
purposes and many different applications in many different countries.

Trademark law is usually used to protect an entity's name, and to give a "brand"
to an entity.  Usually the goal is to keep other people from using that "brand"
or "name".  The very definition and being of a trademark is to show ownership
and "source" of commercial products.  This is one reason why Linus' wish of
protecting the mark, yet having it freely usable, is particularly difficult,
and that is why we created the sublicense.

The real task would be to get everyone really used the trademarked terms in a
way that is legally consistent and correct, yet helps the community by being

Not "Black Hat Linux(TM)", but "Black Hat Software(TM) for Linux(TM)"

Not "Linux Magazine", but "Sam's Magazine(TM) for Linux(TM)"

Then gave attributes to both "Sam's Magazine" and "Linux".  Here the ownership
and "source" of the magazine is "Sam", and quite distinct, but still tied to
the name "Linux".

To try and establish a different "type" of trademark that would be effective
around the world (or even useful) would be (IMHO) about as monumental as moving
Mt. Fuji to the Hawaiian Islands.

But then again, a lot of people said that creating something as complex as
Linux was also impossible, and due to the RIM/NTP case, people are now looking
seriously at patent law again.

Warmest regards,

From: Janet Hawtin <lucychili at internode.on.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 15:20:36 +1030
To: Linux Australia List <linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au>


There was some discussion about trademarks in Dunedin.

I was wondering if the FOSS community could propose a new type of
trademark specifically for distribution with GPL products.

Trademark TM - the version of your product's trademark for standard use.
Trademark GPL - the specific version of your trademark for distribution
of your x using a GPL license.
Trademark GPL Based - the version of your logo for x based but further
modded things being distributed using GPL.

Would it be possible to make this different *type* of mark so that
people do not have trouble with defending trademarks because they are
used in a gpl fashion? There is still a specified appropriate use, it is
just not the standard proprietory flavour, the mark and the appropriate
use can be prestated and commonly understood.

Just a thought


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Jon "maddog" Hall
Executive Director           Linux International(R)
email: maddog at li.org         80 Amherst St. 
Voice: +1.603.672.4557       Amherst, N.H. 03031-3032 U.S.A.
WWW: http://www.li.org

Board Member: Uniforum Association, USENIX Association

(R)Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in several countries.
(R)Linux International is a registered trademark in the USA used pursuant
   to a license from Linux Mark Institute, authorized licensor of Linus
   Torvalds, owner of the Linux trademark on a worldwide basis
(R)UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group in the USA and other

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