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Thread: Is trademarking logos consistent with open sourcing software?

  1. #71
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    Re: Is trademarking logos consistent with open sourcing software?

    I ran across a real world example of this tonight on my commute home from work. It's got nothing to do with software, but I think it fits nicely in with the conversation.

    There is a major college in my metro area that has trademarked the words "Sun Devil". You may have heard of them. Anyway, many companies around here use "Sun Devil" in their names, for example Sun Devil Auto, Sun Devil Manufacturing, Sun Devil DVD...you get the idea. Whenever I come across another "Sun Devil" business, I think "Man, can't you be more creative?" They are obviously playing off of the popularity of the college and especially the sports teams to drive business.

    Well, one of these companies has decided it would be a good idea to name a beer after the college, I believe it's called Sun Devil Ale. Apparently the college is upset about this and has threatened to sue the company producing the beer because it infringes on their trademark...but no one else is even though (from what I understand) all these other companies have not asked for permission. The college can be selective (as is it's right) on who it does or does not allow to ride on it's coat tails, so to speak.

    So where does this leave us? It's ok to use the work of others and modify them for your own purposes for your own benefit, even in trademark land. However, if you're going to use it, it's probably best to ask first. Just like the borrowing of $50 discussion. There's a big difference between asking to borrow $50 and stealing $50.

  2. #72
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    Re: Is trademarking logos consistent with open sourcing software?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eisenwinter View Post
    So we all use Free software. Most of us use it because we agree with the ideology (on top of it also satisfying our needs from our computers).

    Yesterday there was a thread here about how some company was "infriging copyright" due to them "using the Ubuntu and Debian logos", or at least somewhat "copying the logos".

    Why are the logos even copyrighted and trademarked?

    Without delving deeply into the intricacies of US or international law, it comes down to two elements; Property rights (ownership) and brand-imaging. To put it another way, you wouldn't want anyone to deny you the ability to earn an income off of the fruits of your labors, nor would you wish for a rival company to misuse a symbol which stands to represent you or your product.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eisenwinter View Post
    Isn't it hypocritical, when someone who supports a big free software project, copyrights a logo which is designed to represent that project?

    If the software is free, the logo should be free as well, don't you think?

    It's like saying "We support freedom and are against copyright, but only as long as it doesn't affect us".

    Do you think this is a hypocritical behaviour?

    I certainly do.
    I disagree. If I may make an historical analogy, copyrighted imagery serves the same purpose as battle standards did in the American Civil War. Both are designed to visually represent ideas, people, places or goals and need to be clear lest they cause confusion or disaster (see First Manassas, or the case of Apple records and Apple computers).

    When I see the Debian logo, for example, on the aforesaid website, I know that the work and subsequent information contained therein are all from an official entity. The projects may be open-source, but they gather around a single image (or, to reference the Civil War, a battle standard) as a statement of literal/figurative ownership, respectively.
    Linux systems are like LEGOs :
    they are infinitely customizable
    and limited only by a user's imagination.


  3. #73
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    Re: Is trademarking logos consistent with open sourcing software?

    Quote Originally Posted by staf0048 View Post
    Well, one of these companies has decided it would be a good idea to name a beer after the college, I believe it's called Sun Devil Ale. Apparently the college is upset about this and has threatened to sue the company producing the beer because it infringes on their trademark...but no one else is even though (from what I understand) all these other companies have not asked for permission. The college can be selective (as is it's right) on who it does or does not allow to ride on it's coat tails, so to speak.

    Which brings up am important point. Trademark owners are required to actively protect their trademark in order too keep it. That is why companies like Xerox and Hoover actively pursue people who use their names as generic terms (for photocopiers and vacuum cleaners) in print. If they start letting people use them willy-nilly, then it lessens the brand value and it can be argued that anyone can use the term, as the company was not interested in keeping it as a trademark. It sounds like the Sun Devil Ale company may be able to try this defence if they get sued.

    Anyway, that is why some companies go after people who abuse their trademark.

    (Disclaimer: I got this information documentory discussing this principle in which an evil American clothing chain attempted to prevent Australian companies selling sheepskin boots using the term "Ugg", despite this being a generic term since WW2. It seems someone "registered" the trademark some time in the 1970s and sold it to the American company in the 2000s. Because the guy who registered it did not actuvely try to protect the trademark over the interviening 30 years, it was deemed to have lapsed)

    P.S. Typed this in a real hurry, sorry if it doesn't read well.

  4. #74
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    Re: Is trademarking logos consistent with open sourcing software?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chilli Bob View Post
    It sounds like the Sun Devil Ale company may be able to try this defence if they get sued.
    Yes, this was actually one of the points brought up in the report. The term "Sun Devil" is so widely used throughout the community that this company may have a case, even though the term is trademarked.

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