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Slashback Software Linux

Australian Linux Trademark Holds Water 408

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the trademarks-hard-at-work dept.
Seft writes "The Inquirer is running a story in response to the recent Linux trademark news in Australia which was previously covered on Slashdot. The story was dismissed as a hoax by many, but now it seems that Linus Torvalds is dead serious." John 'Maddog' Hall stated for the article that the move was not about getting a slice of anyone's action but purely to protect the quality of products that utilize the Linux name.
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Australian Linux Trademark Holds Water

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  • by AndyFewt (694753) * on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:26AM (#13354498)
    Well someone didnt proof read their article or have absolutely no idea about what linux and open source is. From TFA:
    Letters demanding US$5000 for use of the Linux name were originally dismissed as a hoax. But according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the
    Open Sauce king is dead serious.
    Open SAUCE king? Sounds like something I'd put on my cheeseburger and I definitely don't want Linus on my cheeseburger.
  • Rabid (Score:2, Funny)

    by thc69 (98798)
    'Maddog'
    It's coming right for us! Quick, somebody shoot it!
    • BttF (Score:3, Funny)

      by fantom2000 (700930)
      Maddog? I hate that name. I hate it, you hear? Nobody calls me "Maddog", especially not some duded-up, egg-sucking gutter trash.
  • More at Groklaw (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkkOne (741046) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:27AM (#13354510) Homepage Journal
    At Groklaw they've got a pretty clear writeup as to everything behind it.
    • Re:More at Groklaw (Score:5, Informative)

      by freshman_a (136603) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:35AM (#13354567) Homepage Journal
      I assume you're talking about this:

      http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=200508160 92029989 [groklaw.net]

      Very interesting read, IMHO.
      • Re:More at Groklaw (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Magada (741361)
        Especially the comments. Especially the ones about $200 being a ludicrously high fee to rip off a not-for-profit's back. This really goes against the grain, guys and gals. Linus needs to be told off, and this shady lawyer needs to be muzzled promptly.
        Also, why not give the name to the FSF? They do a pretty good job managing other people's trademarks, without charging an arm and a leg off the community for it.
        But seriously... This is nuts. I live in a country where $200 is a bit more than the average monthly
        • Re:More at Groklaw (Score:4, Informative)

          by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:37AM (#13355037) Journal
          No *inux will be left here. At all.

          You only need to pay the fee if you are using the word "Linux" in your own trademark. If you were a non-profit wishing to distribute Magada Linux, you could either trademark "Magada Linux" and pay the fee or trademark "Magada" and not pay the fee.
          You can still market Magada Linux either way.
        • Re:More at Groklaw (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:47AM (#13355113)
          Or you could have read the rest of the comments that didn't ignore what is really happening, didn't resort to FUD about not-for-profit's being ripped off, didn't confuse the issue by pretending this is something that it isn't, and in general didn't miss the entire point. But hey, on /. it's considered normal to miss the point and then rant about something that is totally off-topic from what is really going on.

          In other words, not-for-profits are NOT going to be shaken down, they can continue to use, comment on, write about, and give away Linux all the want. But if they want to create a for-profit business that will use "Linux" in the name, trademark laws come into play and they will need to pony up money. Simple solution: Call it Knoppix, or the like. Problem solved.

  • Uh huh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:28AM (#13354517)
    So, it's not about money, it's about control.

     
    • Re:Uh huh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by awkScooby (741257) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:38AM (#13354601)
      It's about loosing your trademark if you don't defend it. Linus holds the trademark "Linux", so it's up to him to take actions to protect that trademark. If that means "control," then yes, it's about control.

      It helps to show that you've made a good faith effort in defending your trademark if you have documentation showing how you've licensed the trademark, and if you've gone after people who have not licensed that trademark.

      If Linus does nothing, Microsoft could call the next version of Windows Linux (not that I believe that would happen), and nobody could do a thing about it. Knowing the Patent Office, Microsoft would then be granted the Linux trademark, and would charge $10 per copy... Chaos would ensue, etc.

      • So what is to stop Microsoft from creating:

        Microsoft vi
        Microsoft apache
        Microsoft php
        Microsoft emacs

        I'm not trying to troll, just curious.

        • Vi or emacs? Nothing's stopping MS from making vi or emacs.

          From apache.org [apache.org]: 'Apache', 'Apache Software Foundation', the multicoloured feather, and the various Apache project names are trademarks of The Apache Software Foundation, and are usable by others only with permission.

          "Microsoft apache" would violate the Apache Software Foundation's trademark, unless Microsoft licensed the trademark from the Apache Software Foundation.

          I don't know if PHP is trademarked. At any rate, Microsoft could add PHP sup

      • So why doesn't he charge $0.01, rather than $5k?
  • by xtracto (837672) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:30AM (#13354527) Journal
    So this means, that Linux is not so free after all uh?

    Maybe Linus thought of a new proffit plan:

    1. Post a crappy kernel in Usenet and say it is free
          as in freedom
    2. Wait until everybody uses it
    3. Enforce trademarks
    4. Proffit
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The linked article was short, uninformative, and I actually have a hard time believing it.

    Does anybody have a link to something a little more informative? Like Linus' blog or something?

    What's really going on here?

    (and the mind-reading anti-script picture is "writhe." Spooky.)
    • I'll tell you more about this once I receive the money.

          -- the Open Sauce king
    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:51AM (#13354689) Journal
      Does anybody have a link to something a little more informative?

      A number of people have attempted to clarify this, including on Slashdot. I'll post the full text http://lists.linux.org.au/archives/linux-aus/2005- August/msg00084.html [linux.org.au], since most people seem to dislike reading linked articles.

      Subject: Re: Quick press enquiry re LinuxMark enforcement
      From: Jon maddog Hall
      Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2005 09:25:04 -0400
      To: "David Braue"
      Cc: maddog@li.org

      David,

      Your story is quite accurate, LAI is acting in Australia on behalf of LMI, and this is not a "scam".

      Since 1995, when an unfortunate incident in the United States showed us that the world is not made of altruistic people and companies, Linux International has been defending the Linux Trademark. At that time an entity had obtained a US trademark on the word "Linux", and was trying to obtain twenty-five percent of the REVENUES of companies that had the word "Linux" in their name, or in their product names. Instead of all the member companies fighting this battle individually, Linux International fought it and won. Unfortunately it cost us a lot of money to do this, despite the pro bono efforts of Gerry Davis, of the law firm of Davis and Schroeder.

      Linux International has been defending the Linux Trademark for the world, which due to the costs of registering and obtaining International Trade Marks is VERY expensive. Linux International has spent over 300,000 USD to do this over the years. LI is a non-profit and does not have very much revenue, so some of this money has come from my own personal checkbook. While I can not say how much money I have spent on defending the mark per se, I can tell you that I have spent about 250,000 USD of my own money in keeping LI alive. I am not looking for medals or a chest to pin them on. I am only stating this to show people that this is not a "scam", nor is anyone making any money off this other than the international legal and trademark community, and I am sure that they are necessary and justifiable fees. Certainly Jeremy Malcolm has seemed to be above board and conscientious in all of our dealings with him, as has Jonathan Oxer and the rest of the fine people at LAI.

      After a while the board of Linux International recognized the advantage of forming a separate non-profit, the Linux Mark Institute (LMI). We need LMI to be self-funding, and following trademark laws in the 200 countries of the world is very expensive. In addition to the normal issues of a company obtaining a trademark of their own product, using their own name, we have issues such as:

      o "Who owns the right to use 'Linux'"
      o "Who (therefore) has the right to the broad name 'Linux University'?"
      o "Can there be more than one "Linux University? If so, what should its name be?"
      o "If I call my company 'Linux Experts', does this mean that I am the only group of 'Linux Experts' worldwide?....shouldn't everyone come to me because I called myself 'Linux Experts'?"

      as well as the issues of people who wish to use the name in bad ways (as a pornography attractor or on items confusing to the Linux market).

      We have tried to make the licensing as unobtrusive as possible, tailored to the amounts of money that people might be making off the use of the mark, and with an eye to keeping the cost to non-profits and user groups as low as possible. We also have to re-license the name periodically so we can protect against "name squatting" (ala URLs) and defunct entities who no longer need the name they registered.

      The trademark laws of the world were not created in the days of the World Wide Web, or even the Internet, where unscrupulous people can take advantage of a good name for a good idea and create havoc for people who want to start legitimate industry in their territory under a mark that is registered in some other coun
    • by damiangerous (218679) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:56AM (#13354727)
      How about Groklaw [groklaw.net]? They have a writeup with pretty much everything there is to know.
  • by inflex (123318) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:32AM (#13354543) Homepage Journal
    When I received the letter re Linux it quite honestly scared the daylights out of me. There was this letter that started out saying "this is a notice, not a letter of demand" but then it goes on talking about moderately large sums of money and potential legal fees.

    What was doubly annoying though was that the letter appeared to be sent out without checking to see if the recipient was applicable. None of the services or products that I had on my WWW site used the word "linux" in them, they simply happen to be able to /execute/ on linux too (so linux was listed as a "compatible OS".

    I still consider the email to be bordering very close to spam.

    Next time, a registered letter in the post after each site is checked for relevance would be a far more reputable manner of distribution.

    • Drop a line to Linus and ask him if it is real. There's some kind of stipulation regarding fair use of a trademark, e.g. to reference the product's name in your documentation.

      The trademark, as I understand it, should only cover conducting trade under the mark "Linux"

      This is very close to what Redhat is doing. You can't use "Redhat" unless you've paid. Then you use "Fedora"... and then to confuse things a bit, they add some copyrighted materials to Redhat which are not Open Source so, I suppose for le

      • by OmniGeek (72743) on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:25AM (#13354923)
        BTW, PJ on GrokLaw has an interesting piece on this issue.

        As I understand the matter, Linus gets the massive sum of $0 from Linux. From this enormous war chest, he has to spend money on lawyers and C&D letters defending the use of the registered trade name; if he doesn't defend it, the trademark is lost, and anyone can use the name for any purpose they like, good or bad (as, for example, a hypothetical Microsoft Linux that had nothing to do with real Linux and just served to fragment the community).

        Clearly, there is good reason for SOMEONE to protect the use of the Linux name, and this takes money. The numbers I've seen for the fees being charged to license the name for trade use do not appear unreasonable (and if you're using a Linux product someone else produced, you don't pay anything, plus there are the aforementioned fair-use exceptions), the folks the money goes to are an independent foundation that only manages the trade mark (nobody is being enriched by it), and there doesn't seem to be any other viable alternative if the trademark is to be protected from misuse.

        With this in mind, I don't find Linus' actions the least bit disturbing or unreasonable.
      • $5k to use a trademark is peanuts for the people who have the money to abuse it

        You've got it wrong. Whether you pay the money or not, you can't misuse the name. Microsoft can't put out a version of Windows called "MS Linux" without Linus' permission. If it's software, and not Linux, he can tell them not to use the term "Linux" with it. How much kernel code they have to use would be something of a question, but they'd run afoul of the GPL anyway.

        Charging the nominal fee is just to fund the enforceme

    • So you are probably supposed to add the little circle-R when you say your stuff runs on Linux. You're right though, no need to pay anything ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:34AM (#13354554)
    ... for those who don't want to register:

    Linus backs trademark charge, says 'Maddog'
    By Sam Varghese
    August 19, 2005 - 1:48PM

    Trademarking the Linux name and charging for its commercial use world-wide is supported by its creator Linus Torvalds, a senior Linux community figure from the US says.

    A recent letter sent to nearly 90 Australian companies, demanding payment of a sub-licence fee that can range from $A200 to $A5000 for use of the Linux name, caused considerable confusion and prompted speculation the fee was a scam.

    But in an attempt to clarify the situation in Australia, Jon 'Maddog' Hall, the executive director of Linux International in the US, said a community organisation called Linux Australia had been nominated to handle the trademark issue in this country.

    The Linux Mark Institute (LMI) handles trademark issues in the US. In other countries it nominates local bodies to look after things, he said.

    Linux is a popular, free open-source operating system that runs on a number of hardware platforms, including PCs and Macintoshes.

    Hall said while Torvalds and the LMI did not object to people using the Linux name for legitimate purposes, there were some who tried to limit or block other peoples' business by creating bogus trademark registries.

    "We are not blocking anyone's business. If there is a single business out there that is blocked by this issue, please have them contact me," he said.

    When asked how open source advocates could fight against the legitimising of software patents and yet charge fees for a trademark, Mr Hall said you couldn't create a product covered by a patent unless you licences it; with a trademark you could change the name and still sell the product.

    "You certainly could create and distribute a useful product without having 'Linux' in the trademarked name," he said. "Debian comes to mind. Red Hat Software is another."

    Linux Australia president Jonathan Oxer said while patents could stop people from doing the same thing, such as writing a piece of software that was functionally equivalent, trademarks regulated people who wanted to use an identity. "In effect, it's a measure to prevent identity theft," he said.

    "Patents can be anti-competitive (or at least anti-productive) in the software world by preventing other people competing on a level playing field. They are specifically intended to grant a limited monopoly."

    Oxer said trademarks did not prevent fair competition. "They don't stop anyone else going into business and doing the exact same thing as an existing company. What they do prevent is someone stealing the name of an existing product or company and then using that name to their benefit."

    Hall said while the LMI could, in some cases, refuse to grant a sub-licence for use of the name, Torvalds had the final say.

    He is the owner of the mark, it is his name. But my experience has been that Linus views this as him holding the mark for the community," he said.

    The highest fee in the US is $US5000. "While to some the $US5000 fee may seem like a lot to pay on $US1 million of revenue, we point out that it is only on the revenue generated by the trademarked product, not the whole company (unless the whole company is called 'Linux XXXXXXX'), and there is no upper limit to the revenue that could be made," Hall said.

    "We are not trying to limit the use of the name Linux. We are only asking that people help us protect the quality of the Linux name, and ultimately their trademark by both giving proper attribution (everyone) and by helping us fund the cause (the actual sub-licence holders)," he said.

    • "You certainly could create and distribute a useful product without having 'Linux' in the trademarked name," he said. "Debian comes to mind. Red Hat Software is another."

      Ok, but Debian doesn't have the word "Linux" in its name, because it's not completely based on Linux, it's based on GNU, so you can run in with Linux or with GNU/Hurd, jokes aside.

      Anyhow, this can only be good for free software, "Linux" being a overused word that overshadows the importance of other free software. If companies were forced to
  • If Linux patented Linux that would certainly happen.


    Oh no! Recursive patents! I knew GNU's Not Unix was behind this!
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:35AM (#13354566)
    After all, some of the things said about the lawyer involved in this case were less than civilised or polite, and indeed a lot of posters had him mixed up with someone else of a similiar name. So, anyone willing to retract what they said?
    • Indeed. (Score:5, Informative)

      by rholliday (754515) on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:13AM (#13354833) Homepage Journal
      Excellent point:

      Speaking of abusing someone's good name, Jeremy Malcolm, the attorney in charge of sending out the licensing letters in Australia, has a long history of voluntary and pro bono work for the Internet and open source communities. This includes serving on the boards of the Internet Society of Australia, the Western Australian Internet Association, Electronic Frontiers Australia, the Society of Linux Professionals (WA) and the Australian Public Access Network Association. He also received the Community Award in the 2004 AUUG Australian Open Source Awards for outstanding contribution to the understanding of para-technical and legal issues surrounding open source within the Australian context. He isn't a Scientologist and never has been, by the way, although he believes in freedom of religion for all.

      Don't you hate it when the mainstream media doesn't bother to check their facts? Why do what they do, then? The community stands for ethics, does it not?


      - Groklaw article [groklaw.net]

      As much as we techies usually investigate things, we kind of dropped the ball on this one.
      • Re:Indeed. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by k98sven (324383)
        As much as we techies usually investigate things, we kind of dropped the ball on this one.

        "We" dropped the ball? Nobody dropped the ball. What happened was that the usual gang of zealots quickly decided that in their world of black-and-white, that this was in the black, and promptly went off to find further 'evidence' supporting that position.

        People actually in the know, know that "Linux" is trademarked, and has been for years. The Linux Mark Institute has been around for years. The only real news here was
  • I don't know what's really going on here, but a move like this should have begun with an announcement from Linus himself, preferrably not in the press but somewhere like LKML. It risks coming off as a retreat from the open spirit of Linux. "Hey, if I wanted to get shaken down and sued, I might as well go with the old pro, Microsoft."
  • by tvlinux (867035) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:38AM (#13354593)
    IBM and Novell can afford $5000, a small linux project of just a few people $200 is a major burden.

    It costs about $100 per TVLinux [tvlinux.org] show ( tapes, food, equipment), all paid by one person. TVLinux just wants to inform the TV public about open source and Linux. Do I drop 2-3 shows to pay for a "MARK". I think the rate should be $20-$50 for very small projects.

    TVLinux

    • The rate is on a sliding scale.
      Check the LMI Fees Page [linuxmark.org] to see where you fit. Based on your description, I'd say you're either non-profit or for profit tier 1, which would be $200.

      The Groklaw article [groklaw.net] others have referenced mentions it, too.
      • by rholliday (754515) on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:09AM (#13354813) Homepage Journal
        Actually, reading deeper, you might fall under "Fair Use."

        From Groklaw [groklaw.net] again:
        Examples of Fair Use.

        If you are a journalist interested in writing articles that include the term "Linux," you do not need a sublicense. If you are printing up pencils, stenciling T-shirts, or distributing coffee cups with a legend on them like "Linux®is the greatest!" or "Even my Mother uses Linux®!" this is normally considered "fair use".


        But I'm not a legal expert, so you might want to invetigate on your own.
      • That is still BS from at least the general community viewpoint that the Linux name was trademarked to keep it out of the hands of would-be opportunists that would gouge the community. I guess the community faith here has been broken again, but by Linus himself? What is next, GNU being trademarked (it is) and similar fees for GNU projects?

        Licensing fees like this only serve one purpose: To keep potential competition out of the marketplace and to "raise the bar" for any potential entrants. This is totally
    • TVLinux just wants to inform the TV public about open source and Linux.

      You can do that. What you can't do is call your programme something with "Linux" in the name without permission from the trademark holder. Trademarks can't stop you talking about something.

      Do I drop 2-3 shows to pay for a "MARK".

      No, you simply rename your programme to something that doesn't infringe upon the trademark. You can still have exactly the same content, informing the TV public about exactly the same things. Yo

    • Just to follow up on my other comment, the Linux Mark Institute [linuxmark.org] says, quite clearly, that talking about Linux, as you seem to be implying is forbidden, is absolutely fine:

      If you are a journalist interested in writing articles that include the term "Linux," you do not need a sublicense.

      The problem you have is that you are marketing a service that actually contains Linux in the name:

      On the other hand, if you plan to market a Linux - based product or service to the public using a trademark that i

  • the move was not about getting a slice of anyone's action but purely to protect the quality of products that utilize the Linux name

    You have to wonder, if in some whacky parallel universe Microsoft decided to release some form of Linux toolset or even a distro of their own, whether or not they'd end up getting permission to use the name or not..

    While I'm sure John Hall is right that they're interested in protecting Linux from shoddy rubbish, if they were presented with an opportunity to block Microsoft by us
    • Not copyrights.
      Copyright is about content.
      Trademark is about names.

      Trademarks say: you can't sell product with the name I registered. Of course, you can sell any product with any name I didn't register.

      Copyrights say: you can't further distribute the product I made, unless I say you can.

      Being that Linux is copylefted, there are no other restrictions to its further redistribution other than you can't distribute it less freely than you received it. So you can distribute Linux all you want, but you can't use t
  • Free as in speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tezza (539307) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:43AM (#13354630)
    This needs to be ammended to

    Free as in Speech, as long as you don't use our Trademark.

    But a lot of open source licenses have exactly this restriction, like the Apache License [apache.org]

    6. Trademarks. This License does not grant permission to use the trade names, trademarks, service marks, or product names of the Licensor, except as required for reasonable and customary use in describing the origin of the Work and reproducing the content of the NOTICE file.

    And lots of others too, mainly extending from the time when Open Source was driven from universities Berkely, MIT who didn't want their 'Trademark' abused.

    • Re:Free as in speech (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bogtha (906264) on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:15AM (#13354853)

      But a lot of open source licenses have exactly this restriction

      If I remember correctly, Firefox has this restriction, because people were modifying the source code (introducing bugs), compiling it, and calling the result "Firefox". Naturally, when those bugs start affecting people, they go bother Mozilla.org instead of the people truly responsible for the bugs.

      It seems to me that trademarks are completely compatible with Free Software - it's one thing to share software freely, fork it, modify it, etc, but it's another thing altogether to cause problems for the original project because you pass your hacked versions off as the originals.

    • by stor (146442)
      This needs to be ammended to

      Free as in Speech, as long as you don't use our Trademark.


      This needs to be amended to

      Free as in Speech, as long as you don't use our Trademark. Now pony up the moola you cock-smoking tea-baggers!

      Cheers
      Stor
  • Wrong spirit... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Delphix (571159) *
    Free Software doesn't mean you can ex post facto decide to get a trademark and then use it to charge a fee for use of the software. While it's quite a clever way to get around the GPL by restricting what people can do unless they pay, but it's certainly not consistant with the spirit of Free Software. Free Software doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with the software unless the author decides he doesn't like it.

    If it's true that Linus is behind this, then it's time to fork the kernel and remove all
    • Re:Wrong spirit... (Score:3, Informative)

      by 10Ghz (453478)
      Oh for crying out loud! This is abiout PREOTECTING the trademark! if they don't do this, then anyone could use the name "Linux" for just about anything! Like it was said, Microsoft could rename "Vista" to "Linux" if they wanted to. And what if MS then copyrighted the word "Linux", and started charging Red Hat, Novell etc. money for using the word? If you do not protect your trademark, you will lose it.

      Linus (nor his representatives) is NOT asking for any money from these companies. The letter mentions that
      • First off, no one can copyright the word "Linux." It doesn't qualify as a protected work and is explicity excluded under the following list of non-protectable works:

        Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents

        You can find that list here:

        http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#wci [copyright.gov]

        Now, while I understand the desire to protect the name Linux, what they're doing is in viol
  • I dont like it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by peope (584706)
    The mark has been in use for a very long time without any intervention by the said trademark holder.

    This is like submarine patents.. everybody can use it and then suddenly you have to pay royalties.

    I dont care if it is Linus or Ghandhi that does bad things.. This is a bad thing. Shame on you.
  • An awful lot of people in the previous ./ coverage [slashdot.org] had problems with this [google.com].
  • Never get down on your knees , begging your client/customer to accept his great product. Let that beotch come to you! Mark Fleury has learnt it. and Lot's of other Open Sauce fired chicklets are following suit. It(some rights issues) will generate friction but eventually will give *that OS*(I don;t want him to sue me..heh heh) more credibility( by exercising control).
  • by Theovon (109752) on Friday August 19, 2005 @09:59AM (#13354743)
    It's amazing how uninformed so many slashdot posts on this are. Or maybe it's not amazing. If I interpret this correctly, the fee is $5000 per million revenue on a product that uses the trademark. If I don't sell $1million, I don't pay $5000. Furthermore, this has absolutely no effect on Free Software. As long as you comply with the GPL license, you can rename the Linux kernel and do whatever you want with it.

    Linux is a very important identity for the software industry, and I'm glad someone out there is doing something to protect it from being vandalized and abused.
  • New Linux Tactics throws Slashdot Moderation into Chaos

    (AP, Teh Intarnet) Before today moderation was simple: "-1 Against OSS/Linux", "+1 For Linux". "-1 Anti Free Software", "+1 Pro Free Software". But after a quick turnaround trademark infringement score in the late quarter, slashdot moderation is thrown into chaos. "I just don't get it" states TripMaster Monkey, a slashdot regular. "It's definitely +1 for Linux.. I mean, they're getting money and ensuring a quality product.. but.. It's definitely anti
  • by Zapdos (70654) on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:00AM (#13354752)
    The Linux trademark is simply being protected. For example, if you name your business, or try to trademark the name "Linux World" then you are asked to pay the fee. This fee is an acknowledgement that Linus owns the "Linux" trademark. This will allow the term "Linux" to stay open, and not be confused by someone's trademark of "Linux Smack Daddy LLC."

  • It's fair but stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by pieterh (196118) on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:02AM (#13354772) Homepage
    By simple logic:

    1. If the Linux(tm) mark is not looked after, it will become junk.

    2. "Looking after a mark" means getting a trademark and enforcing it.

    3. Enforcing a trademark means preventing others from abusing it (using it for contradictory purposes, trying to trademark it themselves, etc.) All these abuses have happened with Linux.

    4. This kind of enforcement costs money, and often quite a large amount of money.

    5. It's normal that the people who use the Linux mark in their business should pay this, proportionally. They benefit from a well-protected mark.

    Lincensing and paying money for things we're used to getting for free is a bit sad, but in the real world. people do mean and unkind things when money is involved. This means: if you like Linux, if your business depends on it, and if you want the word to mean anything at all, you should be willing to pay for this.

    Ultimately, though, Linux will become (IMO) the commodity OS just as TCP/IP became the commodity networking protocol. Within 5-10 years, no-one will pay much attention to this.

    From this perspective, asking licensing fees, even small ones, will slow down adoption. It creates one more barrier for people who have Linux-related business ideas.

    What I would have done is to license the mark and pursue those who abuse it, but allow free licensing for those who comply with certain criteria - especially non-commercial open source projects.

  • But it might be a good idea to make an announcement next time. Nobody trusts lawyers these days, regardless of who they claim to be acting for.

    As for the actual claim of trademark ... From what I understand of trademark law it should be rejected on the grounds that it wasn't protected. I bought my first set of linux cds from a company called Linux System Laboratories nearly ten years ago. It bodes badly for Linus in Australia.

  • It is not clear
    1. why the individual spent 250,000 USD (?) of his own money, that's a lot
    2. why not liscense for $1.
    3. that GPL-liscensed software is still not free to sell if it has linux in the name, and whether any payment for a mark is passed on to forkers
    4. why this was not sent through the community first. Linus may have started things and still have a hand in the kernel, but the value of the trademark is mostly I would imagine NOT due to him personally.
    5. how exactly this protects quality of linux p
    • Before I get flamed I would like to note that I was mostly thinking about the case in which you make a new linux distro or fork a new one. And I see in the comments on the article's page, that this is indeed something major, in that "Linux" has come to be a generic term (i.e. "I'm running Linux." "Oh yeah? Which distro?") and encompasses the concept of GNU/Linux operating system, kernel, drivers, applications, X Windows, KDE/Gnome, etc.

      Since it is very hard to even talk about linux systems without using t
  • From my reading of this, our Linux User's Group will be on the line for $200/year. Perhaps a large LUG can afford that, but ours sure can't.

  • by feargal (99776) on Friday August 19, 2005 @10:35AM (#13355009) Homepage
    Wait, is this water as in water, or water as in beer?

    With the Australians, it's hard to tell the difference...
  • Quality of posts? (Score:5, Informative)

    by billyj (908794) on Friday August 19, 2005 @11:23AM (#13355415)
    [Background: I've been reading /. for many years, and never felt the need to register and comment... until today].

    Are the above posts really representative of the opions of most of us? It seems to me I've seldom seen so many confused people...

    - "the story is just wrong", "this is just FUD"
    Well, it's not... hasn't enough material been presented to convince you?

    - "what is really going on here?"
    This is a simple trademark defense. [The simplest possible explanation is the most likely one.]

    - "blatant misuse of power"
    Ehm, no... see above.

    - "The mark has been in use for a very long time without any intervention by the said trademark holder."
    Do you get the part that you must defend your trademark or you can lose it?

    "Also $5000 does not garantee that their is a quality product."
    The fee pays for the quality of the trademark, not the product.

    "why not liscense for $1."
    Because the license fees need to be reasonable. When push comes to shove, your defense of the trademark needs to be defended in court. Token effort is likely not going to be deemed sufficient.

    'nuff said...
  • by TrueJim (107565) on Friday August 19, 2005 @11:28AM (#13355456) Homepage
    The problem is easily solved. The community just needs to agree to adopt a common name for all Linux derivatives that don't wish to use the Linux trademark. Users will then come to learn that this new term is also a form of Linux, but one that simply doesn't carry the Linux brand name (like a "generic" pharmaceutical).

    I propose we use the term Jimux.

  • by Andy_R (114137) on Friday August 19, 2005 @11:36AM (#13355516) Homepage Journal
    Why on earth is there an upper limit on contributions and no lower one? Wouldn't it be far easier and cheaper to administer this if only really big companies had to pay?

    Why not just say that if your Linux related turnover exceeds $1bn a year you have to pay it all, and therfore let IBM pick up the tab (or better still simply ask them to use their legal team to defend the trademark)?

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