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Re: An official trademark policy for CheapBytes-type RHL CDs?

On Sat, 16 Aug 2003, Stephen Smoogen wrote:

> On Sun, 17 Aug 2003, Lance Davis wrote:
> >We have always felt that cheap cds are a good way to introduce new 
> >users to different distributions, and some will then go on to purchase 
> >boxed products or support contracts, or recommend that their companies 
> >roll out a particular distro and it really hasnt done redhat any favours 
> >having their brand diluted, or sold as 'pink tie' etc , possibly because 
> >of their lawyers misunderstanding of the way that gpl software is distributed.
> Red Hat has very good lawyers who know a lot about the GPL and have
> spent most of their time defending it when used in products that do not
> give any support. The main issue is that TradeMark law is very very
> explicit. If a company does not defend their trademarks to the death
> they will lose them if challenged later on it. It is up to the owner of
> the trademark to show that they have done their best in making sure that
> the trademark is not used by others no matter how silly the case may be.  
> In comparison to normal trademark controls Red Hat has been very good
> about even allowing the name to be licensed.

I think that you are wrong there, Redhat have used trademark law to 
prevent the distribution of 100% GPL code, and have restricted the rights 
under the GPL of someone who has purchased a GPL product to redistribute 

Protecting your trademark and using your trademark to restrict GPL rights 
are two very different things.

All you have to do to protect it is to insist that your mark is recognised 
as such by those using it.

> One of the big issues other than Trademark concerns was that the number 
> of support tickets that would be opened to Red Hat when the product was 
> bought without Red Hat support elsewhere. At one point in 1998, for 
> every 5 tickets being opened up, about 1 was for a CheapBytes CD, 2 were 
> for MacMillan CD's, and the other 2 were legitimate tickets. It didnt 
> matter that the CDroms had labels telling them to get their support at 
> XYZ place. The people would still go to www.redhat.com and expect it to 
> be supported because it had Red Hat's name on it. 

So Redhat should have recognised that as an opportunity to sell mini 
support contracts without the baggage of having to produce the retail 
boxes etc, and it also meant that at least 60% of the increase in their 
user base was being driven by outside companies at no cost to them !!

We quite clearly say that the software comes with no support.


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