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Re: [Fsfe-uk] GPLv3 last days for comment, and other news links

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] GPLv3 last days for comment, and other news links
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2007 20:11:54 +0100

On Sun, 2007-06-10 at 17:57 +0100, Jon Grant wrote:
> Does anyone think any "trademark torpedo" prevention clauses should be
> added?

Personally, no, although I do have sympathy with the viewpoint you put
forward. A trade mark is, fundamentally, something unique you can use to
identify yourself as the supplier of something. That's basically
incompatible with a copy of free software, which could come from
anywhere, and even if it's identical to your version the supplier is
still different.

It does seem pretty clear to me that trade marks can be used to make
modifying/distributing free software more difficult, but I'm not sure
how you can get around that. Trade marks don't have to be registered;
you could be sued for passing off (though the standards are a fair bit
higher to meet). You'd essentially be asking people to commit to not sue
you under those rights, but I'm not sure how that could be enforceable
without a proper contract. 

There are any number of ways an original author can make license
something as free software but essentially make it difficult/impossible
to redistribute or modify. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it that
much - it's only really a problem if third parties can impose those
kinds of restrictions. In the case of the original author, they're not
bound by the license and can therefore do what they please anyway.



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