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Red Hat Allegedly puts Foot Down on Trademarked Brand Name

Sep 02, 1999, 12:40 (38 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dave Whitinger)

-- Dave Whitinger

Update: Bob Young, CEO of Red Hat Software, has submitted his side of the story.

Accusations are flying that Red Hat has their lawyers in action to disallow everybody from referring to their GPL distribution as 'Red Hat Linux'.

Robb Sands has sent an E-Mail to everybody on the earth about his experiences with his on-line auction at Amazon.com. His claim is that Amazon.com has asked him to remove any references to Red Hat from his auction. He has forwarded me the entire mail he received from Amazon.com - the important part is included below:

In this case, Linux can be downloaded, recopied, and resold, however, the use of the trademarked name, "Red Hat," or it's "shadowman" logo may not be used to promote or sell any other software. Please note for a Linux program to be labeled "Red Hat," it must come with the original box, manuals and registration and the software must remain unmodified.

If you choose to relist the items, please do not refer to Red Hat Linux in any way as that would be a violation of both our Community Rules and the U.S. Trademark Act.

I contacted Schwartz PR (Red Hat's PR firm) for further information. They had no comment at this time, due to their quiet period that followed their IPO last month. This quiet period ends on September 6th.

Karl Valentine at Amazon.com was able to confirm that they were talking with Red Hat's legal department, and that Amazon.com's policy is, according to Mr. Valentine, "to respect the rights of intellectual property owners." If Red Hat asks (or demands) that Amazon.com respect their trademarks, Amazon.com will do so. Mr. Valentine noted that his main contact at Red Hat, Dave Shumannfang, is currently on vacation, so discussions are somewhat halted at the moment. He promised to update us on the situation as more information becomes available.

So, in the meantime, it looks like we play the waiting game. In 4 days, Red Hat's quiet period ends, giving us the opportunity to finally get real answers from Red Hat again.

We've compiled a list of about 20 questions that we are going to get answers for from Red Hat. This issue raises at least 10 other questions.

We'll continue to cover this story as it develops.

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