GPLv3 Appropriate Legal Notices and Restrictive Trademark Grants

Rick Moen rick at
Sat Jul 12 05:03:59 UTC 2008

Quoting Ben Tilly (btilly at

> 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.

Mentioning a trademark as required by licence does not constitute
using it in commerce (let alone in a fashion that makes it likely that
competing goods or services are likely to cause confusion in the minds
of the trademark-owning firm's customers).

We went through this regarding the first-generation badgeward licences,
didn't we?  It's often (as per the wording of such agreements)
misleading and annoying, but not a bar to lawful commercial use of
derivative works.

[A past incident:]

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

As it turned out:  1. The other guy brandished a sabre.  2.  We said, to
paraphrase, "Lo!  Note yonder imaginary sabre."  3.  The other guy
quietly went away.  Naturally, it is not always thus.  Browsing the
Berkman Center's trademark topic database at is useful.

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