GPLv3 Appropriate Legal Notices and Restrictive Trademark Grants

Ben Tilly btilly at
Sat Jul 12 04:02:46 UTC 2008

On Fri, Jul 11, 2008 at 7:25 PM, Rick Moen <rick at> wrote:
> 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.

I read the original post more carefully.  I had misread it at first.
They are requiring their trademarked link and then grant a reasonably
generous license to use it for that purpose.  Which makes some sense,
they want their trademark out there and have to be seen defending
their trademark.

However that said, it would be well within the rights of a company to
release their software with a requirement to maintain their trademark
and a restriction that you could not use it for certain commercial
purposes.  Which would be more troublesome.

> And, by the way, Coca-Cola sucks.

Plus it rots your teeth.

> 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.

Glancing at those that truly seems to be an annoying situation to have been in.


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