writes "According to statements made by Clement Lefebvre, the maintainer of Linux Mint, Canonical's legal department informed him that Mint needed to license Ubuntu's binary packages. These packages are critical for a wide range of Ubuntu-based distributions, and the loss of the availability of these packages would doom many of those projects. According to Lefebvre, the request for licensing was probably not about money, but about controlling Ubuntu's position in the commercial marketplace.
Clem responded, "Money isn't a primary concern. Although the original fee was in the hundreds of thousands pounds, it was easily reduced to a single digit figure. The licensing aims at restricting what Mint can and cannot do, mostly in relation to the OEM market, to prevent Mint from competing with Canonical in front of the same commercial partners."