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Linus Explains Linux Trademark Issues 246

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the two-ounces-of-clarification dept.
Normally I avoid posting direct comments from mailing lists here, but since Linus posted this on Kernel-dev and says that he hopes Slashdot picks it up, I think that's permission. This message addresses the recent rumors that have been floating around about Linus' lawyers going after domain squatters abusing the Linux Trademark. It's an interesting issue, and one that I'm sure will divide you guys: we've always hated it when domain names are taken from people by others, but this is our beloved Linux Trademark.

The following was written by Linus Torvalds and posted to kernel-dev

I've been getting tons of email about the trademark thing due to the
action of stopping the auctioning off of linux-related names, so instead
of just answering individually (which was how I started out), I'll just
send out a more generic email. And hope that slashdot etc pick it up so
that enough people will be reassured or at least understand the issues.

And hey, you may not end up agreeing with me, but with the transmeta
announcement tomorrow I won't have much time to argue about it until next
week ;)

Basically, the rules are fairly simple, and there really are just a few
simple basic issues involved:

- I (and obviously a lot of other people) do not want to have "Linux" as
a name associated with unacceptable (or borderline) behaviour, and it's
important that "Linux" doesn't get a name of being associated with
scams, cybersquatting, etc etc. I'd personally hate that, for rather
obvious reasons. I _like_ being proud of Linux, and what has been
achieved. I'd rather not have to apologize for it..

- Trademark law requires that the trademark owner police the use of the
trademark (unlike, for example, copyright law, where the copyright
owner is the copyright owner, always is, and always will be unless he
willingly relinquishes ownership, and even THEN he ends up having
rights).

This is nasty, because it means, for example, that a trademark owner
has to be shown as caring about even small infringements, because
otherwise the really bad guys can use as their defense that "hey, we
may have misused it, but look at those other cases that they didn't go
after, they obviously don't care.."

- Even with things that aren't scams or something like that, VALID uses
of "Linux" may be bad if they mean that other valid uses of "Linux" are
blocked.

Those are the kind of ground rules, I think everybody can pretty much
agree with them..

What the above leads to is

- I'm required to ask people to acknowledge the trademark. When you use
the term "Linux" in official marketing literature etc, you should
acknowledge it as a trademark owned by me. Not because I love seeing my
name in print, but simply because of the "policing" issue (#2) above.

(And no, that does NOT mean that you have to add that to normal,
everyday use of the term. Common sense rules the day, think of the
situations where you see the silly "xxxx is a trademark of yyyy", and
realize that yyyy may not really care except the legal issues force
them to ;)

- _Intent_ matters. It matters a lot.

If your intent is to use the word "linux" as part of a real Linux
project, that doesn't mean that you automatically absolutely have to
get permission from me. That's the LAST thing I want. I want "Linux" to
be as free as possible as a term, and the real reason for having a
trademark in the first place was to _protect_ it rather than use it as
some kind of legalistic enforcement thing.

But, for example, if your intent is to register "mylinux.com" (made up
example, I don't know if it is registered or not) only in the hopes of
selling the domain name for mucho dinero later, then that kind of
intent is not something I (or anybody else, I think) would find really
acceptable, because now the use of "linux" in this case has really been
a question of blocking somebody ELSE from using the term and using it
to get money.

This is where the cybersquatting laws come in, for example, allowing
the use of a trademark as a way to make sure that such squatting
activity does NOT happen.

- Being "specific" is _good_. Being specific largely avoids the problem
of many people/organizations wanting the same name. We had an example
long ago of somebody who would have wanted to register "Linux Expert"
as a servicemark, yet obviously that is a pretty generic term. Not
good, if it means that there will be confusion about who owns the term.

In contrast (to give some tangible examples), something like "VA Linux"
or "Red Hat Linux" oviously isn't a generic term: it's a very
_targeted_ term for something very specific. Those kinds of names do
not detract from other peoples ability to call _their_ Linux company
something else.

- Finally, you have to judge the "officialdom" and the importance of
the business side of your usage. Not because I or anybody else
really cares all that much, but more because of the "pain factor" if
the name is asked for by somebody else.

Basically, ask yourself the question: "What if somebody else had a
project, and happened to chose the same name for his project as I have
for mine, how strong a protection do I want for MY version of the
project?"

Also, ask yourself: "Would anybody ever have reason to question the
name, and do I need to make provisions for protecting this particular
instance of it" (and note that "anybody" may not be me as the trademark
owner myself, but it may be a competitor who wants to make life
uncomfortable for you)

If you decide that you want some official protection from the mark,
that probably means that you want to own your own version of the
trademark, ie a "service mark" or a "combination mark". There are
obvious cases where such a thing is wanted - you should not be
surprised to hear that various Linux companies own their own
combination marks, or have at the very least gotten that ownership
verbally approved by me pending getting the paperwork done.

So basically, in case the trademark issue comes up, you should make your
own judgement. If you read and understood the above, you know pretty much
what my motivation is - I hate the paperwork, and I think all of this is
frankly a waste of my time, but I need to do it so that in the future I
don't end up being in a position I like even less.

And I'm _not_ out to screw anybody. In order to cover the costs of
paperwork and the costs of just _tracking_ the trademark issues (and to
really make it a legally binding contract in the first place), if you end
up going the whole nine yards and think you need your own trademark
protection, there is a rather nominal fee(*) associated with combination
mark paperwork etc. That money actually goes to the Linux International
trademark fund, so it's not me scalping people if anybody really thought
that that might be the case ;)

I hope people understand what happened, and why it happened, and why it
really hasn't changed anything that we had to assert the trademark issue
publically for the first time this week. And I hope people feel more
comfortable about it.

And finally - I hope that people who decide due to this that what they
really want is trademark protection for their own Linux trademark, that
they could just wait a week or two, or contact maddog at Linux
International rather than me. We're finally getting the shroud of secrecy
lifted from transmeta (hey, we'll have a real web-site and zdtv is
supposed to webcast the announcement tomorrow), and I'd rather worry about
trademarks _next_ week.

Ok?

Linus

(*) "Nominal fee". What an ugly sentence. It's one of those things that
implies that if you have to ask, you can't afford it. In reality, it's
more a thing where both intent and the size of the project will make a
difference - and quite frankly it's also a way to slightly discourage
people who aren't really serious about it in the first place.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linus Explains Linux Trademark Issues

Comments Filter:
  • If linus could sue LinuxOne, Theres no way they'd have enough money to have there little bogus IPO
  • >If you decide that you want some official protection from the mark,
    >that probably means that you want to own your own version of the trademark, ie a "service mark" or a >"combination mark".

    What are the differences?
  • Somebody moderate Linus up a couple of karma points. It's an interesting and informative piece.

    That said, is there any chance of the Linux community banding together to retain an attorney or two to watch this type of stuff on our behalf? Set up some sort of tax-deductible, charitable endowment to be administered by (*maybe* Transmeta since Linus works there) that pays the legals and keeps things focused.
    "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

  • by SEWilco (27983) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:03AM (#1359133) Journal
  • I would have to totally agree with Linus on this one. Just think how you would feel if you found a link to a website named something linke linuxlover.com (or something else), only to find that it is yet another porn site just out to get your creditcard? We have already found this to be a problem with whitehouse.com, if Linus did not stop this now it is only a matter of time before someone else did the same.
  • by kwsNI (133721) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:07AM (#1359138) Homepage
    I really have to agree with what he's doing. Being in-charge of the Linux trademark has to be a HUGE job. I think a lot of people, /.ers and all, really take advantage of Linux's good name. How many times have you gone to a web page just because the name of it matched something close to what you were looking for only to find it was completely off topic. Linus has the right to keep Linux domains on topic and I, for one, am glad he's doing this.

    kwsNI
  • ...to explain yourself. That is really something I like about open source in general. Most of the time people are open and honest and do not try to hide anything.
  • This used to be more fun. What happened?
  • by dougman (908) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:12AM (#1359144)

    1) In general, I agree with Linus' statements.

    2) It's unfortunate that protecting one's trademark inevitably forces (per current law) the trademark holder to go to great lengths (read: expense) to protect the trademark. Personally, I can't see why the owner of a registered trademark shouldn't be allowed to selectively decide who may or may not use the trademark for their own pursuits. To force the owner to treat everyone equally seems kind of odd IMHO.

    3) As a small (hopefully not for long) business owner myself, I've just filed a few trademark applications and I must say, the process isn't so bad, but it's prohibitively expensive, especially the issue of trademark searches. As a free bonus, let me mention a site I found where you can do free searches of the US trademark and service mark databases - an INVALUABLE utility for those without deep pockets interested in this sort of thing: Marksonline [marksonline.com]

  • by dustpuppy (5260) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:13AM (#1359145) Homepage
    I used to run (well I guess I still do) a Calvin & Hobbes fan site which I started way back in 1994. Back then, Universal Press Syndicate (the owners of the rights to Calvin & Hobbes) went on a campaign to close every C&H fan site on the web.

    Basically the reason behind their actions was the same as Linus' - to protect their trademark, they had to take action against any possible infringment of their copyright/trademark.

    In the end, Universal Press Syndicate stopped pursuing fan sites for a number of reasons that one can only speculate - but I have always suspected that one of them was that there was no way that they could close sites faster than they were appearing.

    Having read Linus' explanation, I have two observations:

    • First, it's great that Linus has taken the time to explain the situation - Universal Press Syndicate merely shot threatening lawyer letters to webmasters.
    • Second, will Linus' attempt to defend his trademark ultimately prove futile as more and more sites/companies/people start using the word Linux - I'm assuming that there is a strong possibility that the illegitimate use of the trademark Linux will outstrip Linus' ability to control it.

  • Wow! What a great idea! Penguin pr0n! Or maybe even Petrified Penguin pr0n! Or maybe just penguin softcore, with penguins looking sexy in nothing but little sweaters [penguins.org.au]...The possibilities are endless!

    Somehow I just keep thinking of the time in Bloom County when Milo gets a phone bill for thousands of dollars to 1-800-HOT-PUFFIN and Opus is looking decidedly sheepish...

    --Ravenfeather, off to register a domain name.

  • http://www.lynux.com
    I think.
    From accidently finding it about a year ago
    (It was an accident, honest)
    I can't check if it still is what it was then, because I'm sitting in a packed computer room so if it's changed into something acceptable, or doesn't exist anymore, sorry.
  • by anonymous loser (58627) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:17AM (#1359148)
    Has everyone seen www.microsfot.com [microsfot.com]?
  • If I'm not mistaken that already is Linux International's responsibility. - the man isn't referring to maddog at LI for no reason you know ;)

    Floris
  • Did you even read Linus' letter? He made this very clear.

    --
    sporter

  • by Our Man In Redmond (63094) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:20AM (#1359152)
    Under US trademark and copyright laws, if you own a trademark you have to defend every misuse of your product you find. Otherwise, your trademark can become genericized. Here's a glaringly simplified example:

    Say I make a product called OMIR's Covert Coke, "the drink for infiltrating and subverting large software companies." It becomes a modest success on campus. Microsoft's legal team thinks it's funny so they don't do anything about it. Coca-Cola's lawyers say we're too small to worry about so they don't bother us either.

    Now somebody like R. J. Reynolds makes a cola they call "Coke-A-Rama." Coca-Cola doesn't like their name being associated with a cigarette company, so they try to issue an injunction against RJR making and selling the product under that name. RJR's lawyers can argue to invalidate the trademark on the grounds that, since Coca-Cola knew about OMIR's Covert Coke and didn't do anything about it, they relinquished the rights to the "Coke" trademark. And they would have a very good chance of winning.

    Considering how much money Coca-Cola makes off of selling T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, windbreakers and the like with their "Coke" trademark on them, they aren't going to let this happen. It means a lot of money to them.

    This leads to things like companies writing in to magazines to inform them that "we enjoyed your article on why photocopiers should be banned, but we wanted to remind you that the word 'Xerox' is a trademark for our particular brand of photocopier and should not be used as a generic synonym for the verb 'to photocopy.'"

    Linus is in the same position. In order to defend the Linux trademark, he has to "crack the whip," so to speak. My wife used to have to do this for a company she worked for. It's annoying and time-consuming, but if Linus ever lost the trademark and with it his ability to veto uses of it, he would be sorry he hadn't (probably every time he heard it used for something he wished it wasn't).
    --
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I guess that blows my investing in LinuxOne....








    NOT
  • What exactly is it called when a private entity stops/prohibits/interferes with speech? The word censor has no inherent relationship to government.
  • Second, will Linus' attempt to defend his trademark ultimately prove futile as more and more sites/companies/people start using the word Linux

    Yes, I believe so. Unless you send a surfing force of thousands out onto the net every day there's no way you can really keep your name safe. I do agree with you that it's great that Linus is taking the time to de-mystify the monster, but I really don't see a way to solve the problem (especially with the current growth of the web).

    The Divine Creatrix in a Mortal Shell that stays Crunchy in Milk
  • Yes. It still exists. And if it was porn back then, it still is today. Honest! I am on a UNIX terminal using lynx!
  • by orcrist (16312) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:27AM (#1359158)
    Somebody moderate Linus up a couple of karma points. It's an interesting and informative piece.

    Are you kidding? If Linux ever decided to post personally on Slashdot (comments as opposed to this article posted by proxy) he could probably do nothing but troll all day long, and

    1. Have his automatic +1 bonus within a couple of hours, surpassing Signal 11 by the end of the day; and

    2. Prevent any other people from getting marked up; and

    3. Probably even prevent trolls from getting marked down, with the exception of trolls responding to him ;-)

    Chris
  • Come on folks. Now I know in this thread that most people supported Linus' decision to protect the name, but I want to speak seriously to those who think we are being a bunch of hypocrites. What Linus did by protecting the Linux trademark was a legitimate business move. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean that Linux is a business at all. What I mean is that Linus and all of us who truly support Linux, heart and soul, have a vested interest in protecting our good name. Linus Torvalds, as the trademark owner, has the right to pay no mind to those who are using the Linux name in a serious and productive manner. However, if he sees it being used in a manner that can potentially damage the reputation of our community, he has every right to tell those people "knock it off I will sue you".

    We cannot expect that because we all have good intentions, we are going to be left alone and no one will try to damage the Linux name. We need this kind of balance in the community if we are going to move beyond being simply a "geek hobby"
    That's my $.02


    Munky_v2
  • Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn! I even previewed :-(

    More coffee!

    Chris
  • by Jon Peterson (1443) <jon@@@snowdrift...org> on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:29AM (#1359161) Homepage
    "but this is our beloved Linux Trademark. " (quote from /. editor, not Linus)

    Speak for yourself. No trademark is beloved as far as I'm concerned, and I think this says something about the community. People are starting to care a whole lot more about names and labels, and I think it is a shame.

    Do you think the Gnu people would be doing the same thing? I notice that www.perlprogrammer.com is also 'squatted'. I don't hear Larry Wall getting the lawyers in. Or O'Reilly, for that matter. Gee, maybe Perl will get a really bad name - oh, but then with no Perl IPO's, that won't be hurting any back pockets too much, will it....

    Sure, I can sympathise with Linus feeling miffed at a bunch of yobs, but that doesn't mean we should all cheer and wave flags. Linus happens to be able to call in the lawyers. Most people who make free software what it is can't do that and never have been able to. That hasn't really hurt free software much. If Linus wants to get legal so that he feels better, I think that's fine, if he can afford it.

    But if he starts claiming that he's doing it for the good of the community*, I'm not going to be happy, because I'm part of that community and it does me no good. And if other people start claiming that he's doing it for the good of the communtiy, I'll get really pissed off. Especially if those people own shares in Linux companies.

    For me, it's a community of people, and to a lesser extend a community of software. When it starts to be a community of 'OS friendly companies' or 'Trademark owners' or 'Approved cool people as voted by the /. mob' then I'll wave good bye to the lot of it.

    I've got more hobbies and interests than programming and computers. If people want to make it all about trademarks and IPO's and what have you I'll spend more time sailing and cooking, and less time writing free software. No big deal. Either that or I'll go back to the world of Windows shareware, which is a whole lot less bitchy and is starting to produce better software.


    *I'm not suggesting that he is, BTW.
  • bash $ whois
    mylinux.com@whois.networksolutions.com
    [whois.networksolutions.com]
    The Data in Network Solutions' WHOIS database is provided by Network
    Solutions for information purposes, and to assist persons in obtaining
    information about or related to a domain name registration record.
    Network Solutions does not guarantee its accuracy. By submitting a
    WHOIS query, you agree that you will use this Data only for lawful
    purposes and that, under no circumstances will you use this Data to:
    (1) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass
    unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via e-mail
    (spam); or (2) enable high volume, automated, electronic processes
    that apply to Network Solutions (or its systems). Network Solutions
    reserves the right to modify these terms at any time. By submitting
    this query, you agree to abide by this policy.

    Registrant:
    mylinux.com (MYLINUX2-DOM)
    321 Cameron Pl. #1
    Glendale, CA 91207
    US

    Domain Name: MYLINUX.COM

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Karim, Elaagouby (EK2679) rrobb@KTB.NET
    1-818-550-1738
    Billing Contact:
    Abdelkrim, Elaagouby (EA2375) rrobb@KTB.NET
    1-818-550-1738

    Record last updated on 11-May-1999.
    Record created on 30-Nov-1998.
    Database last updated on 18-Jan-2000 14:03:13 EST.
  • There was once a porn site named linuxchick.com.
    It had no obvious Linux content, unless one counts the word "Linux" in its title banners. Seems like some pornmonger decided to repackage their content and tie it to a trendy buzzword.

    It was mentioned in NtK [ntk.net] sometime last year.
  • I think Torvalds is overstating the strength of cybersquatting laws here. I've read a few of these laws because I didn't want to run afoul of them as a domain owner. In order to get in trouble, you have to prove a bad faith intent to profit from someone else's trademark.

    How can I prove bad faith, as a domain owner?

    1) Register a domain that includes someone else's trademark, then contact that person with an offer to sell the domain.

    2) Register several domains that include the same trademark in different ways, as the owner of msdwonline.com did recently. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is going after him in court as a result, and I wouldn't want to be him.

    3) Publish something at the domain related to the trademark I don't own that creates confusion in the marketplace about whether I'm the trademark owner or not.

    4) Publish something at the domain that is so scandalous or disreputable the trademark owner would fear damage to his reputation.

    Avoid these four things and you have a much stronger hold on a domain. Torvalds seems to believe that merely owning or trying to sell a domain with Linux in it is sufficient proof of bad faith. From my desk miles away from the nearest lawyer, I don't think that's true.

  • Yes, I believe so. Unless you send a surfing force of thousands out onto the net every day there's no way you can really keep your name safe.

    I think you just defined the Slashdot readership.

    [smile]
    --
  • How many times have you gone to a web page just because the name of it matched something close to what you were looking for only to find it was completely off topic?

    A perfect example: accidentally went to www.ifoseek.com [ifoseek.com] instead of www.infoseek.com [infoseek.com] at work.

    In front of my Boss and his Boss.
  • by TheCarp (96830) <`ten.tenaprac' `ta' `cjs'> on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:34AM (#1359168) Homepage
    um...sorry but the Americain Heritage Dictionary
    disagrees with you:

    censor (snsr)
    n.

    1.A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.

    2.An official, as in the armed forces, who examines personal mail and official dispatches to remove information considered secret or a risk to security.

    3.One that condemns or censures.

    4.One of two officials in ancient Rome responsible for taking the public census andsupervising public behavior and morals.

    5.Psychology. The agent in the unconscious that is responsible for censorship.

    ---
    The obvious one I am asserting here is #1.
    There is no mention of WHO "Authorizes" a person.
    USUALLY it is used in terms of a "Government"
    action.

    It should be noted that even in common usage,
    employees of Television broadcasting stations
    who decide what content has to be edited from
    movies (which I find ruins the whole movie and
    is the reason I refuse to watch movies on TV)
    are called "Censors".

    However, your statment that it can only be applied
    to government action (as if the government is the
    only sickening band of authoritarians around) is
    a common assertation.
  • Linus does mention it in passing, but since people seem so obsessed over it, the Transmeta [transmeta.com] website has been updated to say that the real content will go live at noon (pacific) today.

    Maybe some of you care? I don't think it's that offtopic.

    ------

  • The last line is IMHO the most intresting of this message:

    ...We're finally getting the shroud of secrecy lifted from transmeta.

    That is news for nerds, trademark-disputes are not. Anyone thinking this is old news please post an URL.

    /Elias
  • Personally I think a suitable "nominal" fee should be in the currency that Linux is best known for - good, solid, well-written code!


    --
  • Yes, I believe so. Unless you send a surfing force of thousands out onto the net every day there's no way you can really keep your name safe. I do agree with you that it's great that Linus is taking the time to de-mystify the monster, but I really don't see a way to solve the problem (especially with the current growth of the web).

    But isn't that what makes Open Source so great? We have a community of thousands already on the web programming on various products, helping to kill off FUD, evangelizing to the population at large about Linux. So we add one more task to that list -- Linux trademark protection. When you see a violator, you report it to LI.

    All of us surf the web pretty heavily, I'm guessing. All of us have probably, out of curiosity, typed in some oddball combination of words to see if there's a site with that name. All of us have probably misspelled a URL and gone to the wrong site... I'm sure we could keep up with this. I'm an eternal optimist when it comes to this stuff, if little else.

    -Augie

  • Let's start a movement to throw all spammers and telemarketers in jail. Max security? -BigA
  • Yes, I believe so. Unless you send a surfing force of thousands out onto the net every day there's no way you can really keep your name safe.

    And, of course, hardly any of the millions of avid Linux users ever surf the web looking for Linux stuff...

    Chris
  • The last thing we need is some scam artist to get some investment money based upon a web site with the name Linux in it. That means good money is lost to legit hackers, and goes to a scam artist. Virtually all the domains that have Linux in them and almost any other common word have been registered, and very few of them have real Linux projects behind them. And that is sad.

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • I'm not saying that Linus' behavior is wrong, exactly. But what really makes this any different from any other "cybersquatting" issue discussed here.

    This action makes me a little uneasy as well. I would be very upset if we see this Linux trademark policing extending to taking domains away from people or blocking "objectionable" domains.

    Trademark lawyers have framed the issue such that the public now thinks of domain names and trademarks as analogous. They aren't! If someone registers linuxsucks.com or linuxofficesoftware.com - they have every right to use those domains to diss Linux of discuss the merits of KOffice, Star, etc. I don't want to see Linus start taking domains away from people (even unscrupulous people).

    That being said, stopping an auction is different from demanding the domain. Let's give Linus the benifit of the doubt, but be watchful where this leads.
  • Second, will Linus' attempt to defend his trademark ultimately prove futile as more and more sites/companies/people start using the word Linux - I'm assuming that there is a strong possibility that the illegitimate use of the trademark Linux will outstrip Linus' ability to control it.

    Universal Press Syndicate had to pay those lawyers by the hour to send out threatening letters. Linus basically has an army of people willing to enforce his "linux" trademark.

    -B
  • Hey, Linus, thanks for reminding me about the Transmeta(tm) announcement! I know what I'm going to be reading on slashdot tomorrow....

    I know enough about trademark law to feel sorry for the man, I'm sure he hates this crap as much as we do. But, it's good to know that "our creator" is looking out for the good name of Linux(tm). And I'm glad religion doesn't work the same way. :)

    Also, now I want to start a yyyy corp and trademark xxxx(tm). :)

    xxxx is a trademark of yyyy.
    Neener, neener, profits are for losers... (Dilbert)
    All other trademarks are owned by their respective owners.
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11].
  • Success happened. When fun stuff becomes big business its a lot less fun because theres much more at stake. Money brings every con artist in the book out of the woodwork. It also brings the lawyers. Also, more people are involved, so you can be much less assured that the people who are along for the ride have the same principles and goals that you (the original crowd) had or has.

    With any sub-group, theres usually originally a fairly homogenous community. By the fact that someone was involved with Linux, you could make certain assumptions about that persons interests or concerns. Those assumptions werent always true, but they provided a workable basis.

    Now that Linux has so much more money involved, you cant assume anything about somebodys involvement. The community has become like a small town suddenly faced with the need for burglar alarms and locks on the front door. Its not fun. Your neighbor used to be able to come over and walk right in. But improved transportation and a suddenly diverse population make that no longer an option. It doesnt feel nice to have to take these preventative measures, but they are (sadly) necessary.

    If Linus loses control of the trademark, it doesnt mean that it will be uncontrolled. It probably would just mean that it was controlled by the people with the biggest marketing budgets who could shout down the other people in the conversation. While Im sorry that this sort of legal business is necessary, Im glad that its being handled firmly.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    He is in the same position as Disney. In the past, Disney has sent cease-and-desist letters to daycare centers around the US. Why? Because someone at the center had decorated with unlicensed copies of the Disney characters. In reality they didn't care about this. But, had they not forced the issue, anyone could begin stealing the characters -- because Disney stopped enforcing the trademarks. It's an all or nothing situation -- you have to be very vigiliant, or you will lose your trademark.
  • Linus has to broadly defend the Linux trademark. That means that any citation of it where the use could be interpreted as a trademark (meaning any company name, any commercialish website) has to receive the same degree of attention if the trademark's ownership isn't credited to him. He hasn't done this, instead he's chose to pick on just those places where it doesn't mesh with his political agenda.

    He could very well lose rights to the mark before too much longer. This wouldn't be a loss to somebody else, it would just mean the former trademark Linux would belong to us all.

    Would that be such a terrible thing? I don't particularly care if the word Linux serves any particular body of people's political agenda.
  • Personally, I'd rather see LinusLover.com. Grrrooowwwrr! [208.240.130.2]
  • Personally, I can't see why the owner of a registered trademark shouldn't be allowed to selectively decide who may or may not use the trademark for their own pursuits.

    He can. You can give permissions to use your trademark to anybody you like as often as you like. What you should NOT do is selectively prosecute *unauthorized* use. In other words, you can allow Alice to use your trademark, but if both Bob and Charlie use it without your permission, going only after Bob and ignoring Charlie will weaken the trademark.

    Kaa
  • by jquiroga (94119) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:46AM (#1359188)
    In contrast (to give some tangible examples), something like "VA Linux" or "Red Hat Linux" oviously isn't a generic term: it's a very _targeted_ term for something very specific. Those kinds of names do not detract from other peoples ability to call _their_ Linux company something else.

    I'm confused. If Linus believes this, I don't know why he let VA Linux choose 'LNUX' as their NASDAQ ticker symbol. They should have chosen perhaps 'VALX', and not be too general. After all, aren't NASDAQ symbols just like domain names?

    In my opinion, Red Hat did the right thing with 'RHAT'

  • Do you like linux? good.

    Linus likes linux, too. And he wants more people to like linux. So he's jumped through the legal hoops. and laid down the cash, to turn linux into Linux (tm).

    Linux (tm) is just another name for the kernel. So when Slashdot editors write "our beloved Linux Trademark"... just read it as "our beloved Linux".
  • But I may be wrong.

    You may have just mispelled Kick The Punk Ass To Hell And Back Again.

    Have a nice day!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    He said surfing, not portscanning.
  • ...to explain yourself. That is really something I like about open source in general. Most of the time people are open and honest and do not try to hide anything.

    Not including the /. source code of course.




    They are a threat to free speech and must be silenced! - Andrea Chen
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Considering how much money Coca-Cola makes off of selling T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, windbreakers and the like with their "Coke" trademark on them,

    Yes, they obviously need to maintain their iron grip on the refrigerator magnet industry to survive. However, I have heard that the Coca Cola Company also makes some money in the soft drink market. Anyone have more info on that?

  • Flamebait? Not in a million years! This is the funniest thing I've seen here all day, not to mention completely true.

    Well Chris, looks like your bad luck that Signal11 had some moderation points left. ;-)
  • You just explained why Linus, because he's already ignored people who infringe on the trademark, who he considers as following the same political agenda as he does. How many websites out there bandy around the Linux mark freely? Thousands.

    You've already given it away, Linus. It's in the public domain. Give it up.

    (does Metcalfe own the trademark on Open Sores?)

  • :-)

    I wonder how much that was influenced by Acronsfot? For non-UK readers, Acronsfot was a nickname for Acornsoft, the software division of Acorn Computers. It turns up in all sorts of unexpected places (try disassembling their Arcadians game, for example), and was quite popular throughout the BBC micro scene in the early '80s.

  • TSR (makers of AD&D) had a rampage in the early 90's against web sites about AD&D/D&D to protect their trademarks. They eventually loosened their stance provided you acknowledged the trademark and didn't copy copyrighted material. I'd guess Universal Press may have taken a similar stance.
    --
  • Agree completely, it's really amazing how the Slashdot community bands together against trademarks and then all of the sudden they backpeddle since this is Linux it gets to play by different rules....

    I'm thinking I might just have to make a list of every poster on this message pro-trademark lawsuit; so that if they ever bring up a complaint against another company doing it, I will have to remind them how shallow they really are. It's really no wonder companies are warry of Linux, what large is going to take Linux seriously when the people who are advocating it, are showing that they are willing to excuse the same items they are most vocally against when it comes to their beloved Linux.

    Not standing behind what ones says is a big peeve of mine, when people start compromising their stated ideals; because they don't feel they should hold certain items to the same rules (because they really like it) shows how shallow they really are.

    spell and grammar check off because I don't care
  • This is interesting. I must say that I, too, am a little disappointed by this. Trademark law shouldn't apply to domain names, in my opinion. Look at the stupid McDonalds and Veronica things. Blah. Here's what I would like to have seen:

    1. Linux ignores the domains that use "Linux" (www.linuxbabes.com with naked women at computers).

    2. Some company comes up and abuses the "Linux" in another way (Linux dish soap, for example).

    3. Linus calls them to court for misusing the copyrighted word Linux.

    4. Lawyers for the dish soap argue the Linus did not go after www.linuxbabes.com, so he cannot go after them either.

    5. Linux argues that domain names are not protected by copyright, and therefore he cannot go after www.linuxbabes.com, but he can go after the dish soap.

    6. Linus wins with this. A legal precedent is set whereby copyright does not cover domain names.

    It might be time consuming, but it would be nice to get the whole copyright/domain name thing resolved.

    So now I'll sit back and let everybody tell me why I'm wrong.

    andy
  • "I (and obviously a lot of other people) do not want to have "Linux" as a name associated with unacceptable (or borderline) behaviour, and it's important that "Linux" doesn't get a name of being associated with scams, cybersquatting, etc etc."
    If I wanted Linus to choose what behavior is unacceptable and what is not, I would have elected him to Congress. If there's a scam, it is already illegal and will be shutdown anyway. If it's cybersquatting, and you want it to be illegal, contact your congressman. If enough people agree with you, you might just get your way. My real problem, is "etc etc". What if Linus decides that worshipping Budha is "unacceptable behavior"? It's just not his job to determine that. "Linux" is not free if a single person has the right to determine when it's right or wrong to use it.
  • by sanderb (9539) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:56AM (#1359205) Homepage
    No opinion but a question.

    Wasn't there like this dispute over www.linux.com. That Fred van Kempen (was it him, some Dutch guy?) eventually sold this domain for a lot of money. Shouldn't Linus have been policing there, as he explains if he did not do it in that case about what other domain could he possibly complain??

    confused...
  • The difference is that Linus is protecting the Linux trademark (which he owns) for the use of himself and others for respectable purposes at very little cost.

    Cybersquatters by contrast generally do not own or use the trademark (or use it in a desultory way to avoid cybersquatting laws), and only hold the domain name with the intention of selling it to the highest bidder.

    So both Linus and cybersqatters hold and sell names.

    But they sell for different reasons, to different customers, and for different prices.

    Thus it is perfectly consistent to condem one and praise the other.
  • Offtopic? Yet another moderator who isn't terribly bright. It is peripherally on topic, as Linus mentioned a domain (mylinux.com) that he wasn't sure whether it was real or not. This poster merely checked up on it, and posted the information. Of course, had the moderator read the original article (you don't even need to leave this page!) and used a bit of common sense (!?) the moderator wouldn't have done that.

    Questioning moderation (-1)
    Flamebait (-1)
    Troll (-1)

    Your choice.
  • by nevets (39138) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @05:59AM (#1359209) Homepage Journal
    Speak for yourself. No trademark is beloved as far as I'm concerned, and I think this says something about the community. People are starting to care a whole lot more about names and labels, and I think it is a shame.

    As Linux goes from a hobby to Business (which it already has) you do need to be concerned about names and labels. If corporations were able to start abusing the Linux trademark then those that do Linux as a hobby may have more trouble. Say if you are serious about a hobby and want to do your own web site, but it was squatted!

    Do you think the Gnu people would be doing the same thing?

    Well I can't speek for the FSF, but I do think they would if you started abusing the GNU label. RMS still thinks it should be called GNU/Linux. Talk about being concerned about labels. I did like the mention of calling it Linux/GNU so it doesn't sound like Linux is part of GNU.
    As for Mr. Wall, well, he's a nut anyway (in a good way! ;^) so I don't know what he thinks!

    Most people who make free software what it is can't do that and never have been able to. That hasn't really hurt free software much.

    Like I said above, as free software becomes more business like, it will hurt!

    But if he starts claiming that he's doing it for the good of the community*, I'm not going to be happy, because I'm part of that community and it does me no good. And if other people start claiming that he's doing it for the good of the communtiy, I'll get really pissed off. Especially if those people own shares in Linux companies.

    Well, maybe not the good of the community, but for the good of Linux itself. Linux was started by Linus, and he still wants control of it, in all aspects. I don't blame him. Disclaimer: I don't really own Linux stock, but I do own Andover (So I guess I own Slashdot!).

    I've got more hobbies and interests than programming and computers. If people want to make it all about trademarks and IPO's and what have you I'll spend more time sailing and cooking, and less time writing free software. No big deal. Either that or I'll go back to the world of Windows shareware, which is a whole lot less bitchy and is starting to produce better software.

    Well don't pay attention to what others do. I write code because I like to. It's not just a hobby to me, I like to get more involved. I also have several other hobbies, but this is one that challenges me intellectually. I don't think the "slash dot mob" will leave out someone that is doing something that they believe in.

    Steven Rostedt
  • Hmmm...I sort of agree with you, but in Nasdaq, you do seem to be limited to 4 characters to get your point across whereas on the web you can have a hostname like

    http://extremely-infringing-linux-site-selling-h ardcore-pr0n.com/

    whereas if that was a ticker symbol, LPR0N wouldn't even fit. :) Maybe it's a question of immediate recognizeability. Also, it may be that with trademarks, it's a game of picking nits, and "Linux Foo" contains the word "Linux" and therefore could possibly infringe on the trademark. But, LNUX, LINX don't contain the word "Linux" (I told you this was picking nits) and therefore don't infringe.

    Just throwing out some ideas, I know more about eastern samoan jungle gym construction than I do about trademark law.

  • Actually these are Design Marks rather than Trademarks.

    You're blocked from using the same words with the same design, but you could use the same works with a different design and/or colours.

    Design Marks aren't quite as binding as Trademarks. If you wanted to register www.ThankYou.Com you could be stopped from enforcing it because its a design mark. You could stop someone using your logo though.
  • The name "Linus Torvalds" is taken, and presumably has been for some time (I would have given it to Linus if I'd found otherwise, I swear!). So if he wanted to post as himself, he'd have to write to Rob asking that his name be assigned to him.

    If I were Rob, I'd mail those free software luminaries that haven't already posted here with /. passwords reserved for them...
    --
  • by MattMann (102516) on Wednesday January 19, 2000 @06:35AM (#1359243)
    IANAL, but if I were Linus I would be a little careful about what I said. As he himself said, intent is important, but perhaps not in the way he meant it.

    Intent is important to the law, and to judges who really frown on people pretending to have intent. As an example, you can't sue someone just to test and see whether a law is valid. You must actually have "standing" to sue, as an entity who has actually been affected by a law. For trademarks, much of the purpose and the design of the remedies is to prevent economic harm. If Linus is giving the name away widely, where's the harm in other people using the name? What are the damages?

    Trademarks can be legally lost, as he points out, by failure to police them. But for more reasons too, for failure to use them in actual trade, for failure to use them a way that gives them a distinct meaning, etc. I'd recommend that he come up with a meaning, something like "it's for free and open source, and that's ironclad" if that works legally, and I'd recommend that he not say, "I'm only doing this because I have to, I'd really rather give it away" because he might. IANAL, of course.

    I wish the FSF and other interested parties would come up with GPL equivalents for other kinds of IP:

    • Patents held by the FSF and licensed only to free and open sourcers, or

    • Trademarks that are usable only for free and open products

    • combinations of IP tied together:
      this copyrighted source code work is free to be copied, but may only be distributed under and free and open trademarks
      You wanna call it Red Hat? OK, but I can call my copy Red Hat too, since that's what you say it's called.
  • I don't say that VA Linux people aren't honest, I am sure they are very nice. I just asked because I'm still confused about what's acceptable or not when using (or abusing) the Linux trademark, and Linus didn't mention this particular issue.

    I think that the 4-character limitation in NASDAQ ticker symbols actually makes this worse than domain name squatting, because there aren't many ticker symbols that rhyme with Linux. Now, one of them is used by a company that sells hardware, congratulations to them.

    The problem with 'LNUX' is that some investors will think VA Linux is the only Linux company listed on NASDAQ, others will think that Linux is a piece of hardware, others will think that Linux needs special hardware to run on, and others, who knows what they will think!

  • I think that Linus having the Linux trademark is a good thing. Or, at least, the least of the evils, assuming we have to have trademarks.

    If Linus did get too nasty with it, we could pick up and move on, producing an OS identical to Linux, but with a different name. It wouldn't have the same market forces behind it, but it would be free of those same market forces at the same time.

    And, having Linus dictate who can't use the Linux trademark is handy, it keeps MS from labelling one release of Win2k 'Linux', or something.

    As free software types, with the GPL protecting us, we can't be hurt, we can just pick up and move on. I don't have any money riding on ANY software companies, let alone any Linux ones, so I'm not supporting this because of any financial reason.
  • Oh, poor little Linus has to fight for his trademark rights, (notice the timing "don't bug me, I'm busy at Transmeta revealing our big secret which is, that we're big patent bullies). Oh, and eToys and other multinationals can't fight for the same rights that Linus enjoys?

    Basically all you Linux kiddies are saying that intellectual property laws should only apply to Linux and the Open Source community, "because that's what you believe in". Otherwise the laws that are there for everyone else with civil rights should not apply! Grow up, look around. The only thing that Linus failed to mention was that you have to register the trademark in every country that you want to use it, like the US, Australia, UK. It costs about 6gs/country. So, someone in lets say.... France, could legally register the TM and have all the rights to use it and enforce it, just like Linus! Ha! Did you know, multimillionare ESR tried to register Open Source as a trademark? Oh but that's OK, cause he's one of us. Imagine your response if Corel tried, ...and they have every right to.

    Now you got me started... I can't wait for the day when Linus sues Richard Stallman for his use of GNU/Linux! Whose side will you be on? See you all at the media blitz, three ring circus of hypocrits called Linux World Expo! >:-P I can't wait for the /. $$$$ award going ESR so he can use the money to buy a bozooka!



  • Yes, we have always hated it when people have domain names taken from them. But the reason this is different is not because "it's our beloved Linux trademark."

    We hate it when monied corporations bully people who have otherwise legitimate claims on their own domain names. I wouldn't mind if, say, Microsoft went against someone trying to register "microsoft-software.com" just to capitalize on their name. But the recent cases, like eToy, the Gumby kid, Amazon, and so on, were just cases of corporations throwing their weight around because their legal staffs didn't have anything else to occupy their time.

    In this case, Joe Opportunist thought he could make a buck off the popularity of the Linux name, and he was quite properly stopped. I would be a bit upset if Linus sicced his lawyers on Mr. J. Howard Linux III, who has had "linux-family.org" registered since 1975 or something. And I don't think Linus would do that.

    Love is not the issue here--opportunism is. To draw a parallel between this case and other recent domain disputes presented here on Slashdot is to err.

  • Doubtful, because for 99% of users, all they'll have to do to comply with his wishes will be put a (tm) by the first mention of Linux on the page, and explain at the bottom that it's a trademark of Linus.

    Having a trademark doesn't mean nobody can use it, it just means they have to use it in a way compatible with your business, and with your permission.

    The people who run sites that don't support the community, like the cyber squautters, will be squashed, the rest, they help, so they'll be granted permission to use the mark.


    UPS didn't have to squash C&H websites, they just had to keep people from using the name without permission. If they had said "You're doing a service to the comic, as long as you properly credit the mark, you're allowed to use it." they'd have been just as legally protected. They just jumped in with lawyers blazing because they're assholes.
  • While I agree with you that the OED is THE
    definititve dictionary (I love using it),
    I do not have a copy, and the dictionary I did
    quote is nicely available for lookups online.

    Would my point be more effective is I spelled
    American "right"? Maybe. However, I am horrible
    at spelling. Sorry, I just don't care enough.

    Complaining about spelling is akin, in my book,
    to complaining that a car doesn't have a
    vanity mirror. Nice to have, but completely
    not necissary.

    I just use what tools are available to me.
    It is much more effective than sitting around
    waiting for censor to become the "Word of the
    day" at OED.com before I post.
  • Do you think the Gnu people would be doing the same thing?

    Have you not heard of RMS's obnoxious correction of "Linux" to "GNU/Linux"? I don't blame or fault him for this at all, but he's obviously VERY concerned with "names and labels", as you put it.

    If Microsoft started selling GNU 2000, how do you think RMS would respond? It's a hypothetical, I know. MS would NEVER do such a thing - it would engender too much strife and distrust of the company.

    But if he starts claiming that he's doing it for the good of the community. (I'm not suggesting that he is, BTW.)

    He doesn't suggest he's doing it for the good of the community. You're the one who brought that up. He does seem to be claiming to do it for the good of Linux. Note that Linux is not the linux community (whatever that may be).
  • > Probably the reason many people assert that only
    > the government can censor, is because in the
    > absence of trademark and copyright law (and
    > illegal actions such as coersion), it IS only
    > the government that can censor. Copyright and
    > trademark law gives you your own mini-government
    > over the use of your

    Which of course leads to the philosophical
    questions of who gives the government the
    right to censor or give someone else the right
    to censor?

    If I do not recognize the governments right
    to censor, then why should I recognize their
    right to authorize someone else to?

    Generally, we assume that the government is
    authorized to do whatever they want as they
    are the "Supreme power". Or perhaps we say that
    the powr of government derives from a mandate
    of the masses? Perhaps it is a devine right?

    The dictionary I am capable of using makes no
    philosophical distinctions as to who has the
    right to "authorize" this activity.
  • You make the implicit assertion that the presence of trademark owners and corporate activity related to the various free software communities is a problem. As if corpratism will somehow Borg-ify all of the developers of free software projects, or that we'll all wake up one day to discover that there are no people in the community, only corporations?!?


    Yup, I do :-). I guess some people would agree and others wouldn't and now's not the time to discuss it. Yes, I feel that corporatism corrupts, and that money and fame corrupt. Or if you think corrupt is too strong (it implies immorality, which I don't intend), then 'change for the worse'.


    I'll plainly state this is a personal bias. I enjoy volunteer work. Human interactions that don't involve money or fame have a quality that I personally like, and those qualities, in my experience DO NOT survive the introduction of money or fame. It's that simple.

  • Can (or should) Linus now piss all over this scam IPO by withholding permission to use the Linux(TM) trademark in their name?
  • This is going to sound hopelessly sycophantic, and for that I apologize.

    To Linus Torvalds: Thank you, for spending the time to inform us as to the reasons for your recent actions, and for detailing the intricacies of your position as a trademark owner. Frankly, I had no idea that you would be required to go to such lengths; I had naively assumed that once you'd registered "Linux", it was done!

    Second, it is my opinion that Linus' behavior here should be seen as an example to emulate. Rather than whine about the difficulties involved in enforcing his trademark, or blasting the people who expressed dismay at "lawyer-tactics" being used in Linux's name, he very clearly and politely explained himself, clarified the groundrules regarding the use of "Linux" in a URL, and even explained why he was using the term "nominal fee" (an expression I hate as much as he apparently does). I think we should be pleased that he chose to react in this manner, and resolve to behave likewise when confronted by disapproval and disagreement.

  • I AM the original poster, but the above post sums it up well :-)

    For me, the Linux community (in as much as there _is_ such a thing) will go the same way as Usenet or anything else. The decay is inevitable. You cannot have a dinner party of 100 guests. It isn't good or bad, it's just a fact of human society and interaction. After point, the number of people, the disparate desires, the search for fame, or money, or whatever simply changes the society into something different.

    That's fine, I prefer small groups that are not money motivated (or even money interested). I'll go find one that is (I dunno, the folks at POV-Ray for all their NON-opensource ness were the friendliest, sanest, nicest crown I ever found on the net).

    But to carry on waving a flag that no-one believes in is just unpleasant. The community is in danger of becoming like a corrupt labour union that proclaims much about the workers and the needs of the people, but actually just serves the power and politics of its own leaders and its more ambitious members.


  • As far as I can see, this is no frivolous move on the part of Linus. I'd like to add my support 100%.
    Several people seem to have mentioned the word "hypocrisy", as in the past, Slashdot readership has derided trademark enforcement for frivolous reasons (Etoys/Etoy for example).
    The world is not a clearly defined place, so a good deal of common sense is required to come up with a reasonable solution to each case. for example, Linus guarding the trademark against all comers with a team of rabid lawyers wouold be to the detriment of almost all the Linux community. I find myself wondering how long Linux would survive in that environment, and the phrase "Not long" springs to mind.
    However, simply casting the association of the word "Linux" to the winds is also a bad move. Where you hear the word "Linux", you're pretty much guaranteed it's something that does, indeed, relate to Linux (even names such as Linuxsucks etc. wouldn't be jumped on, I'd assume, as it defines the name Linux, so you know it's about linux, and sucks, so you know it's a place where people who don't like linux gather. It's what it says, and you'd know what to expect by going there).
    However, how long do you think it'd take for sites such as "Linuxmatter" (don't know if that's out there) or other namesl that random browsers may enter to hunt for Linux resources to be snapped up by sites (porn probably) with nothing to do with linux, simply for the extra hits? Denying future valid projects from occurring.
    I don't believe this is anything to do with political agendas, or any other such fripperies. It's just a move by Linus to make sure that everyone can continue to be a community as easily as possible. This kind of move is more along the lines of a good neighbour house sitting on your behalf than it is someone enforcing a house arrest.
    I say three cheers for common sense, and I'm glad that some of the big names out there have it.
    I for one am glad to see it whenever possible.

    Malk.

    P.S. The day I don't agree that Linus, or anyone, operates in the best interest of the world at large, I'll be just as vocal about it.
  • Note that Linus is letting Linux International administer the trademark (thus the part about "the fees go to Linux International"). VA Research was a founding member of Linux International. 'Nuff said.

    -E

  • Yes, and LI website tells me Larry M. Augustine is in the Board of Directors, from a company called 'VA Research'

    Gasp! 'Nuff said, indeed.
  • An "attempt to defraud" is needed in order to invoke the cybersquatting laws. Unfortunately, proving that in the case of LinuxOne is a bit difficult, because they do have a Linux product to sell (albeit that it's a repackaged version of someone else's product!).

    I do notice, from the trademark database, that LinuxOne has not filed for a trademark on their name or on their product's name. In other words, they have no legitimate basis for using said name. I wonder if their IPO filing mentions that anywhere? If not, the SEC can whack them down for fraudulent filing! (the SEC doesn't need a court case to cancel an IPO, they have the authority to do it in and of themselves).

    -E

  • I would hope that Linus, if he were aware of this site, would encourage LinuxOnline to drop the www.microsfot.com URL

    Who says that Linux Online has anything to do with it?


    • Registrant:
      Linux Online (LINUX-DOM)
      P.O. Box 1068
      Laurel, MD 20725-1068
      USA

      Domain Name: linux.org

      Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      McLagan, Michael (MM141) mmclagan@INVLOGIC.COM
      (301)490-7124 (FAX) (301)490-7162
      Billing Contact:
      McLagan, Michelle (MS249) michelle@INVLOGIC.COM
      (301)490-7124 (FAX) (301)490-7162

      Record last updated on 04-Nov-1998.
      Record created on 10-May-1994.
      Database last updated on 18-Jan-2000 14:03:13 EST.

      Domain servers in listed order:

      NS.INVLOGIC.COM 205.134.175.254
      NS0.AITCOM.NET 208.234.1.34



    • Registrant:
      JS technologies SA (MICROSFOT2-DOM)
      Rue du Centre 72
      St-Sulpice, 1025
      CH

      Domain Name: microsfot.com

      Administrative Contact:
      Szijarto, Jean-Stephane (JS3260) jss@JSTECHNO.CH
      +41 21 697 0451
      Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
      Christophe, Saintebarbe (SCT79) hostmaster@JSTECHNO.CH
      +41 21 671 1450 (FAX) +41 21 671 1455
      Billing Contact:
      Szijarto, Jean-Stephane (JS3260) jss@JSTECHNO.CH
      +41 21 697 0451

      Record last updated on 22-Nov-1999.
      Record created on 11-Jul-1997.
      Database last updated on 18-Jan-2000 14:03:13 EST.

      Domain servers in listed order:

      DNS1.JSTECHNO.CH 195.15.18.200
      DNS2.JSTECHNO.CH 195.15.18.252



    You can point your IP anywhere you want, can't you?

    -Brent

  • This is sort of what Linux International was set up to do. As far as I know, Linus has assigned the administration of the trademark to LI, with the mission being to protect the value of the Linux name for LI's members and the Linux community as a whole.

    Having LI administer the trademark isn't perfect. LI's charter states that LI's mission is to benefit its member companies, and LI was originally created in order to do the Linux Pavilion at Comdex, rather than as a generic Linux oversight group. Still, it can be argued that fostering a strong Linux community is in the best interests of LI's member companies.

    -E

  • I have had two nightmare senarios in my mind of late and only trademark protection can prevent them.

    First, imagine some company hostile to Linux, like Microsoft decides to take on a bunch of domain names. Like LinuxSupport.com, LinuxQuestions.com, LinuxHelp.com. Then every one of these sites simple redirects to the Microsoft pages instructing people how to remove Linux and install Windows 2000. Or, worse they could have a bunch of semi-informative, FUD enriched site that tried to pass itself off as a "REAL" Linux site.

    Second is Microsoft releasing "Standard Linux" their own distribution that would be very easy to install. But rather than being real Linux, it is NT with a posix shell, and the primary UI is bash.

    Imagine trying to explain to people that "Standard Linux" really isn't Linux at all and they really need to get anything kind of Linux but "Standard Linux." Does this sound confusing. Of course Microsoft would market the thing enough that it would cause confusion.

    It should be obvious that these would cause major problems for Linux. The only way to prevent such abuses is for Linux to be an aggressively protected trademark.

    Good Going Linus! Give 'em HELL!

  • You wanna call it Red Hat? OK, but I can call my copy Red Hat too, since that's what you say it's called.

    Are you sure that's such a great idea? I do see the reasoning behind it, but I think what it would do primarily is cause confusion.

    If we had 10 different distributions called Red Hat Linux 6.1, how would we support them? Install the xyz-3.1-3.i386.rpm update from ftp.redhat.com, no, wait, you're using Red Hat Linux 6.1 as found on geocities.com, you'll need abc-3.0-9.i686.rpm instead... Oops, no, there are actually two different Red Hat Linuxes hosted on geocities.com, you're using the other one, there's no fix available for you, sorry.

    And what's worse, Microsoft (or any other company that doesn't like Linux) could just grab some old stuff (kernel 0.99, patched with linux-0.99-bluescreen-every-5-minutes.patch.gz), release it, and then rightfully make a press release saying "Red Hat Linux SUCKS! Windows 98 is more stable by far!"

    Is that really what we want?
  • Like the other 900 people responding to this /. article and the last, you need to learn that trademark laws are codified and real and are available at the USPTO website. Take a look at this quote from you for instance:
    "Considering how much money Coca-Cola makes off of selling T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, windbreakers and the like with their "Coke" trademark on them, they aren't going to let this happen. It means a lot of money to them. "

    Now, if you knew that trademarks are assigned to specific goods and services listed as a trademark is registered, you would know 2 things: #1, Coke has trademarks on softdrinks, T-shirts, magnets, windbreakers, ande verything else. The products are listed by name in a very very long list that Coke's trademarks cover. And they go no further.
    #2, The Linux trademark lists ONE ITEM under its goods and services: computer operating systems. In other words, what Linus and his lawyers are doing is extra-legal at best, downright illegal at worst. His trademark does not apply to domain names, T-Shirts, hell, not even company names if they don't sell operating systems!

    So no, Linus is not doing what he is legally responsible to do. He IS being a bully and trying to enforce this trademark that applies only in the situation of naming an operating system.

    Esperandi
  • Nasdaq owns the ticker symbols. They aren't licensed to companies. And they can move them around as they see fit.

    I think, but i'm not sure, that tickers can be 5 or 6 letters long... But maybe it's not nasdaq, but rather on the OTC bulletin boards.

    I definetly think that no matter how much people slam LinuxOne, VA Linux definetly pulled the sleezier tactic by asking for LNUX. I have seen SO MANY articles about the Linux operating system that have hyperlinks cross-referenceing themselves to VA Linux.
  • I notice that www.perlprogrammer.com is also 'squatted'. I don't hear Larry Wall getting the lawyers in.

    "Perl" is not trademarked [marksonline.com] by Larry Wall. "Linux" is trademarked [marksonline.com] by Linux Torvalds.

    Therefore, Linus has both legal standing and a legal obligation to defend the Linux(TM) trademark. Larry does not, in the case of Perl (no (TM)).

  • there is a rather nominal fee(*)

    Damn, he's mooning at us again. Cut it out, Torvalds!

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • First, it's great that Linus has taken the time to explain the situation - Universal Press Syndicate merely shot threatening lawyer letters to webmasters.

    Sorry, incorrect. The lawyer letters were fired off, and then came the explanations - to a different audience.

  • "but this is our beloved Linux Trademark. " (quote from /. editor, not Linus)

    Quite apart from the fact that this makes us out to be a bunch of raving hypocrites with double standards - this quote did not impress me at all.

  • First, imagine some company hostile to Linux, like Microsoft decides to take on a bunch of domain names. Like LinuxSupport.com, LinuxQuestions.com, LinuxHelp.com. Then every one of these sites simple redirects to the Microsoft pages instructing people how to remove Linux and install Windows 2000. Or, worse they could have a bunch of semi-informative, FUD enriched site that tried to pass itself off as a "REAL" Linux site.

    Kinda like http://www.microsoftsucks.com [microsoftsucks.com] which links to linux.org?

  • Yes, I'm the one who posted an auction for the Pick of Linux domain names, forcing me unwittingly into the crosshairs of a lot of critical issues for the Linux community. Since fear and overreaction seem to be the natural response to the unknown, here are some facts.

    I have been a member of the Linux user community for years. That does not put me up in the ranks with most of you, who are much admired developers, but I'm still a great fan, albeit a quiet one.

    I have a consultancy that is 14 years old, and have been a multimedia developer and corporate consultant for 20 years in helping clients leverage technology (all and any technologies, including Linux), to improve performance. That includes infrastructures, testing, certification, design, development, consulting, training, benchmarking and many others... which are only mentioned here in case anybody remembers the Linux names on the original list, which reflect these specific segments of the service sector.

    I am one of the little guys. Even though my consultancy has included work for ADP, TRW, AT&T, Eli Lilly, Cummins, USAir, NCR, Sprint and many, many others, 1) we are small, 2) we get our work from word of mouth, 3) we don't do the tradeshow circuit. That means that even though we've won multiple national and international awards in cutting edge design and development, there are "in-between" times on our projects. Any undercapitalized consultancy that doesn't admit that is extremely lucky/blessed or in denial.

    I want to grow my consultancy, but I don't want to go the investor route (with it) that so many have done lately. If we had a lot of products, instead of mostly being a service consultancy, we could just sell off inventory, but that is not the case. My only other way I have to raise capital is to sell assets. That's how I got into buying and selling domain names. *If* I can sell some assets, I can expand my consultancy in areas that include additional Linux services.

    I am not a cybersquatter. Cybersquatting is reprehensible. A cybersquatter is somebody who deliberately goes out and purchases a domain name that is the name of another organization or person, and then turns around and holds the company up for ransom, to get back the name that rightfully belongs to them. The current cybersquatting law is perhaps too far reaching, rushed through Congress on the heels of heavy lobbying $$$ by specific large concerns. All the overstepping will eventually, hopefully, be sifted down to the essence of cybersquatting as stated above.

    I do buy and sell domain real estate. I know many here will disagree with this, but in my view, there is no more wrong with that than with somebody who sees certain growth trends in their town, and buys a piece of property ahead of time, where the investor predicts growth will be. It's no different than buying and selling stock. It's all the same: See growth patterns and trends, and invest accordingly. It's available to all, as it should be in a free market society. and does not need to be resented by those who choose not to invest, but human nature being what is, naturally will be criticized by a handful -- just as a handful of people criticize farmers who buy additional acreage or property developers who buy outlying areas in their own towns.

    Purchasers of real estate property have to comply with building codes, easements, and community covenants when they decide to build or improve their property. Likewise, a purchaser of domain real estate will naturally have to comply with the building codes, easements, community covenants (and licenses) of the location which they purchase as they begin to develop the site.

    Sellers of real estate property, (and by extension, domain name property), should not be restricted from advertising the property for sale, nor from selling the property, just because those who purchase the property must ultimately comply with the said building codes, easements, covenants, etc. There are laws on the books in America against such exclusionary and restrictive practices. Regarding what went down on the auction, I was closing up my computer Saturday night... actually early Sunday morning when I got an email accusing me of cybersquatting and threatening me with litigation that could result in "possible statutory damage award against you in the millions of dollars, together with substantial legal fees. Anyone who purchases the names from you could also be subject to suit, " and saying I was to cease and desist my auction, and "Should you persist in this course of action it will unquestionably result in litigation. Do not ignore this letter."

    Isn't that a nice way to start a dialogue with somebody? This was the first contact I'd had from anybody, and came directly from the attorney, and was courtesy copied Linus Torvalds at transmeta.com, Jon "Maddog" Hall at valinux.com and Dan York at linuxcare.com. I knew VALinux from the recent IPO press, but had never heard of LinuxCare.com, and wasn't sure what either of them had to do with such a letter. When I went to LinuxCare.com I noticed that their business is pursuing mostly Linux services including terms like infrastructure, facilitators, consulting, benchmarking, innovation and others that are in my list of domain names that were involved in the auction. (Later the attorney explained that one of those individuals had contacted him to take care of [me], and that both have a dual role in Linux International -- where now I see the welcome letter from Dan says "Linux International is a non-profit association of groups, corporations and others that work towards the promotion of and helping direct the growth of the Linux operating system and the Linux community. Welcome to the website and to the Linux revolution!" If I were less of a keep-my-head-down-and-just-do-my-work type person, I would have know that, but I didn't.) In any case, having duly received my most warm welcome into the Linux community (having been in it silently for years) I closed up shop as I try to do on every Sunday, knowing that I couldn't even talk to the auction people until Monday.

    On Monday (as I first got into work, mind you) I got a second email saying that "unless this auction is stopped immediately by Noon PST, we have been instructed to file suit under the Cybersquatting Act on Monday afternoon. We will hold you and any buyers liable for any violation of the trademark and unfair competition laws applicable." I called the auction people and pulled the webmaster out of a meeting to stop the auction. I removed my auction out of respect for Mr. Torvalds; the last thing a guy needs when he's trying to launch a product is a mess in the wings like this.

    Later on that afternoon, I got a call from the attorney, and being on another call couldn't take it. He informed the person that took the call that unless I called him by the end of the day, he was going to file a federal law suit in the morning. So when I called him, he said that I had to remove the auction (which I kept insisting that I already had), and then I finally figured out that he didn't want to just stop the auction, but he wanted all mention of Linux off my site, and the complete list off the site. When I explained that I would have to post some kind of explanation (so I could let people know what happened to the auction, and to alert people to the Trademark/license requirement), we finally got to the point that I could actually leave the word Linux and the link on my site, and therefore you see the result with my statement.

    I also asked him that in the event that the buyer understood that there were licensing arrangements to make with Linus Torvalds, would that be okay? He said that it was okay to sell the domain names, assuming the license could be approved, but I couldn't advertise them. (Huh?) I decided to let that go for now, too.

    I tried also to address an interest in getting licenses for my names, to discuss later in the week after the Transmeta thing was launched, and thought the door was open to that, but in a subsequent transmittal (yes, yet another) from the attorney that afternoon, it included this statement: "We would also strongly suggest you consider deleting the Linux domain names you have as many of them will never be approved for licensing since they suggest ownership of the mark. "

    For the record, I don't believe I was cybersquatting. I don't believe that selling a domain name dilutes the mark. I don't believe that the first inkling you get of a problem should be to threaten anything. (How about: Were you aware that you need to cite Linus Torvalds as the trademark owner of Linux? You also need to let your buyers know that they need to secure a license from Linust Torvalds.) I don't believe I should be accused of unfair competition (although the reverse actually comes to mind). I don't believe that it is appropriate to single me out, when there is plenty of precedent of other Linux derivative.com's out there. And I don't believe that any of my domain names suggest ownership of the mark.

    I do believe that I owe Linus Torvalds an apology, which I have extended to him by private email, and do so here also publicly, for not realizing that Linux was trademarked. I was so used to the open source concept, and was so used to other Linux{this}.com sites and [that]Linux.com sites that it absolutely never occured to me that there were any restrictions at all.

    I do also believe that Mr. Torvalds needs to protect his trademark by having licensing arrangements with domain sites and businesses, or his trademark will be diluted. I don't think licenses should be carte blanche, but I don't think it should be so restrictive, either. It's not my decision, but that's my opinion, which I think is more consistent with the culture and groundwork in the Linux community.

    For example, I don't believe restricting LinuxExpert.com which he has apparently done, is in the spirit of Linux either. LinuxExpert.com does no more dilution of the mark than LinuxCare.com or a host of others. Neither does it suggest ownership of the mark. Neither one says we are the only guys out here, and neither presumes success, in any event. I can have a DonutExpert shop on one corner, and have a DonutPro shop on the opposite corner, and we'll still get along as friendly competitors, with a different way of doing business, and different things to offer. We can even have TheWorld'sGreatestDonuts on the third corner, and TheOnlyDonutsInTown on the fourth corner, and there's no damage to the name Donut or to the Donut community. And we can also have Ma's Donuts three streets down from the big events who will still eat all of our lunches, because she has a better donut, that people come from miles around for. (I'm not saying us, I'm saying in this hypothetical scenario.) Basically, it seems bogus to get so hyped up about a few great names. Either you think they're great names or you don't, to each his own. But to allow some names and not others, because they're too good or too broad or whatever seems shaky ground.

    I don't believe in my wildest imagination or worst Linux-goes-Microsoft nightmare, given his open source approach and tremendous contributions to the very existence of this phenomenon, that Linus Torvalds would have been supportive of the style of his attorney's approach to me, nor in his far reaching (IMO overreaching) claims or demands.

    Bottom line is that we can figure everything out in the weeks to come, when he has time to talk.

    Tasha

    P.S. To the cacklers in the wings, Entrapreneur is a word left over from the 80's that meant, at the time, entrepreneurs working inside a corporation, i.e. internal innovators. It has fallen into disuse because of the obvious confusion with entrepreneur. Nevertheless, I do make typos occasionally --- and mistakes. (See above) :o)

  • Yeah, but...
    • I want you to try and play the game, and not say "this game sux" until the game has been explored. The game is, GPLing copyrighted sources makes those sources and derivatives always free to copy and use. Can we do this with names for those sources too? Do we want to? It's the "forking the kernel doesn't work" argument applied to names. Create a new brand name for the same OS? OK, but you have to share the name just like you shared the code.
    • 10 different RedHats? No, 10 of the same RedHats. If you own the RedHat trademark, and release a CD with linux on it and call it RedHat 1.0, then I can copy the CD and call it RedHat 1.0 too. It's the same product, it can have the same name [...is my proposal, not the reality]
  • Well, my initial post did mention patents, didn't it?

    With regard to trademarks, I'm not saying anything conflicts with what you said. I'm saying that it's cool that I can copy and redistribute linux and call it linux and since RedHat is based on linux I can copy and redistribute it and I should be able to call that version RedHat too.

    But lemme just take the idea back, pearls before swine apparently.

  • As Linux goes from a hobby to Business (which it already has) you do need to be concerned about names and labels.

    Man, that's exactly the point. Linux* is what is because there are programmers who put their own time and effort into it, for free. This collective effort has now become the IP of those with laywers-on-a-leash, like Linus.

    The bigger companies and egos get, the more their politics will become just like Microsoft's. We can wrangle with the right vs. wrong trademark practices all day, but there are going to be people who feel, rightly so, jipped from the commercialization of Linux. They may go back to baking cookies and sailing, its their peragotive. Maybe Linux* has become something this just isn't for them anymore.

    Personally, I do see Linux* quickly becoming the toy of millionare wanna-bes and their economic games. I also completely endorse cyber-squatting in all its forms. You can lift your jaw now. The only reason this has become such a thorny issue is because deep-pockets gave in to spending outrageous fortunes for that 'right' domain name or were too impatient to let the legal system sort out trademark issues and created this insane market.


    Is Linus and Linux* a victim of the deep-pockets and their politics? Maybe so, but the only way to keep up with them is to act just like them. On the bright side this is only one step towards the dark side...

    *This is a trademark if I'm poor and have a chance of making money off of it in ways Linus doesn't approve of.
  • Only if it's performed in public for profit. You can sing it at home all you want.

    dave
  • Domain Name: MYLINUX.COM
    Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
    Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
    Referral URL: www.networksolutions.com
    Name Server: No nameserver
    Updated Date: 11-may-1999

    Can I cry "squatters! squatters!" already? Especially seeing "No nameserver" part?

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