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

On Sun, 2003-08-17 at 21:40, Sean Middleditch wrote:

> Why not offer different support URL and numbers for the RHL project? 
> I.e., any numbers/URLs/whatever in documentation (and thus that
> CheapBytes or whoever would duplicate) direct to more informative
> messages.

Lemme try and touch this one. Remember folks, IANAL. :)

So here are our problems.

1. Red Hat has to protect its trademarks, or it will lose them. Thats
the way the law works in the US, and we're a US-based company.

2. In the past, when we allowed the low-cost distributors to sell "Red
Hat Linux", we got a LOT of support calls on it. Writing unsupported on
the CD did not help. Telling people in the phone queue that it was
unsupported did not help (people will inevitably just push buttons until
they get to a support person).

Now, if anyone can help us solve these problems, we're all ears. I think
everyone involved in the RHLP from Red Hat would love to see a way for
the Red Hat trademarks to be used safely.

If it were up to me (and it surely is not), here is what I would do:

My idea is to set up an approved vendor program, where, at no cost,
vendors can use an approved logo and name, but they must be part of the
program and approved by Red Hat. Now, here's where the lawyers need to
jump in (and admittedly, our lawyers have plenty on their plates these
days). If we do this at no cost, is it binding? We may have to charge a
nominal fee to make it hold up in court. Is the program enough to ensure
that Red Hat is protecting its trademark?

The support problem may be something that we just have to limit and
accept. We should make sure that "This product comes with no support
from Red Hat or $VENDOR" is written on all RHLP media sold. Put an entry
in the phone queue (Press 1 if you are calling for RHLP...) that goes to
a prerecorded message that politely reminds the customer that this
product has no support options, then offers to transfer them to sales to
discuss RHEL, which does have support options. In my experience, nothing
scares people off more than sales. ;)

Yeah, people are still going to ignore all that and punch through to
support, but when I was in support, we were still getting calls on
long-ago end-of-lifed versions of RHL. You get skilled at politely
telling people that we cannot help them.

There is no doubt in my mind that our policies towards the low-cost
distributors will have to change along with RHLP.

Tom "spot" Callaway <tcallawa(a)redhat*com> SAIR LCA, RHCE
Red Hat Enterprise Architect :: http://www.redhat.com
Project Leader for Aurora Sparc Linux :: http://auroralinux.org
GPG: D786 8B22 D9DB 1F8B 4AB7  448E 3C5E 99AD 9305 4260

The words and opinions reflected in this message do not necessarily
reflect those of my employer, Red Hat, and belong solely to me.

"Immature poets borrow, mature poets steal." --- T. S. Eliot

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