GPLv3 Appropriate Legal Notices and Restrictive Trademark Grants

Rick Moen rick at
Sat Jul 12 02:25:15 UTC 2008

Quoting Ben Tilly (btilly at

> But then in accord with [GPLv3 clause] 7e they may place restrictions,
> "Declining to grant rights under trademark law for use of some trade
> names, trademarks, or service marks."  So they require an author
> attribution that is a trademark that they then decline to let others
> use.  

There seems to be a persistent and widespread misconception that
trademark owners possess the power to forbid mention of those trademarks
entirely (regardless of whether such use makes it likely that competing
goods or services are likely to cause confusion in the minds of the
trademark-owning firm's customers).  They do not.

And, by the way, Coca-Cola sucks.

There was a time, some years back, when _Linux Gazette_ magazine, with whom
I'm an editor, was perforce obliged[1] to study the essentials of trademark
law, as applied by the US Federal and also Washington State courts.
Some earnest-amateur-level notes, which badly need redacting, are here:

(IANAL.  TINLA.  YADA.  Mind the gap.  Cave canem.  Post no bills.)

[1] As opposed to "git obliged", I guess.

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