Subject: Re: SELLING support contracts
From: Bob Young <>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 13:21:16 -0400

> Phil Hughes wrote:
> > One approach that has been taken is the idea of an "official" version.
> > I don't really like this as it restricts the freedom but I haven't seen
> > a better alternative.  I guess this is what the MPL vs. NPL addresses.
> I don't see product branding through
> trademarks as necessarily contrary to the spirit of libre software, and
> I believe that the inclusion of trademark-related clauses could arguably
> be justified even in licenses like the GPL.  After all, if others are
> required to call their products by a different name and use different
> logos for icons, splash screens, etc., that doesn't really change the
> functional value of the program to the end user; thus at least to me
> such a restriction wouldn't compromise the fundamental goal of
> maximizing the functional value of software to society as a whole, which
> I see as a major principle behind the GPL and the Open Source
> Definition.

This is correct.   This is why I have no problems with the NPL or 
MPL.  Most of the variances between these and the GPL are an 
unnecessary inconvenience to Netscape, IMHO.  For example I'm not 
sure what benefit Netscape gains by forcing people to call the 
Netscape browser something other than a Netscape browser.  

There is all the legal "passing-off" tradition that protects Netscape (or 
Red Hat, or anyone else) from  having others distribute Netscape products 
and imply that they are Netscape.  It is up the customer to decide if 
he is willing to purchase Netscape products from Netscape or some 
third party.  The fact that that the Netscape product has a different 
name when sold by the third party is unlikely to have much influence 
on the customers decision.

At least that has been our experience.

> Also, trademarks and related aspects of brand identity are in a key
> sense proxies for developer and vendor reputation, and I suspect most if
> not all people involved in libre software would agree that reputation is
> a useful and legitimate way to differentiate between two entities
> offering similar goods and services. 

This is not an "also" argument, it is the essence of a branding 

It is how you can give away your intellectual property and not suffer 
all the dire consequences (of having others "steal" all your 
potential customers) that have been put forward on this list for why 
you need a more restrictive license than the GPL in order to be 
successful in the Free Software model.

> Thus you can argue that measures
> to prevent entities (individuals or organizations) from "piggybacking"
> on another entity's reputation can be justified even when they restrict
> the freedom of others to some extent.

While I don't have any problem with this strategy (after all the 
software remains Free), it is largely unnecessary, and in some cases 
can be counter-productive.

Cheers,   Bob.

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