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

From: "Lance Davis" <lance uklinux net>

> 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
> > >having their brand diluted, or sold as 'pink tie' etc , possibly
> > >of their lawyers misunderstanding of the way that gpl software is
> >
> > 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
> it.
> 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.

You are missing a couple of fine distinctions. A telephone book contains
data that nobody can prevent you copying and placing in your own competing
telephone book. However, if you do it with a direct copy line for line
from that original telephone book you are violating the copyright on the
specific compilation whereas if you go to primary data or extract only
portions of the telephone book you can copy at will, pretty much. The Red
Hat distributions are much like the telephone book. They are a carefully
crafted set of free items in a specific order. Red Hat could maintain a
compilation copyright, in theory, even though they even make the creation
process source code available.

My understanding of their case is that it is perfectly OK to take the
Red Hat ISOs, excise the Red Hat name from them, and distribute the results.
That is more effort than CheaperBytes wishes to go through. Therefore the
trademark law can be used to prevent them from introducing spurious disks
that brand themselves as "Red Hat".


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