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Korean Linux Users Outraged by "Linux" Trademark Claim

Aug 28, 1999, 16:22 (35 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dwight Johnson)

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by Dwight Johnson, Linux Today

Thanks to Chris Hyun, Randy Leganza and Choi Jun-ho for contributing to this report.

The Korean Linux community was outraged when on August 20, 1999, several Korean businesses selling Linux-related products got a letter from the attorney of Yongtae Kwon claiming that they were violating his registered trademark of the name "Linux".

An examination showed that Kwon had applied for two "Linux" trademarks on September 27, 1995 and was granted them both on May 22, 1997 and July 5, 1997.

Kwon's letter, in part, claimed:

At present, I came to know the fact that you have sold the books in "attached catalogue", prohibited by law, and your these opportunities are included in violating act against the trade-marks in the laws of trade-mark...

Regarding the specified products of "Linux", no one has a monopolistic and exclusive right except me in Korea.

On August, 24, 1999, several publishers, including Information Publishing Group, responded by bringing a lawsuit against Kwon to unavail him of the trademark. Information Publishing Group and Youngjin Co. Ltd. are pursuing the suit directly and other publishers are supporting them financially.

On August, 25, 1999, an officer of the Korean Industrial Property Office announced that proving the fact that Linux was used as an operating system in Korea in 1995 will be sufficient to unavail the trademark.

He stated further that the reason this "Linux" trademark was successfuly registered was:

  1. In 1996, the examiner didn't know that "Linux" was one the name of an existing operating system.
  2. During the public response period of the application, there was no objection from anyone.

More information here. (Korean). (Korean).