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NewsForge: Linux Mark Institute: Protecting the Linux Trademark

Apr 20, 2002, 03:00 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jon "maddog" Hall)

"Trademarks and Linux make a funny combination. Normally, a trademark is meant to be kept private, and the company who owns the trademark is expected to 'defend' the trademark's every use to maintain ownership. Linus Torvalds is the owner of the trademark 'Linux' in several countries around the world, but instead of keeping the usage for himself, he would like to see everyone using the term 'Linux' for any legitimate need.

"If the world was perfect, all you would have to do is put the term 'Linux' into the public domain just like the word 'brick.' However, if the word 'Linux' was in the public domain, then Linus could not prevent someone from using the term 'Linux' in what he feels are negative ways.

"For example, there was a site started called linuxchix.org. This was great, as it met a real need and made people happy. Unfortunately, there was soon a site called linuxchix.com, which advertised pornography. While some people might not complain about this, Linus and I (and more importantly Tove, Linus' wife) felt that applying the term 'Linux' to pornography was not the proper thing to do. So an appropriate letter from our attorney, Mr. Gerry Davis of Davis and Schroeder, to the offending party quickly got the reference to pornography removed from the URL..."

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