GPLv3 Appropriate Legal Notices and Restrictive Trademark Grants

Ben Tilly btilly at
Sat Jul 12 06:10:10 UTC 2008

On Fri, Jul 11, 2008 at 10:03 PM, Rick Moen <rick at> wrote:
> 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).

No, but requiring mention of a trademark and denying the use of that
trademark for certain commercial purposes would result in not meeting
OSD #6.

> 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.

Depending on how the license is written, yes.

> [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.

Ah yes.  There are the rights you have, and the rights you can
*convince* other people you have.  Personally I would like to see a
legal system where lawyers could be disbarred for trying to lead
people to believe they didn't have rights that the lawyer should have
known the person had.  I think this would result in a lot more care on
the part of lawyers and I think that would be a good thing.

Of course all of the lawyers on the list who would then face fairly
serious additional liability concerns because of it are bound to hate
the idea for fairly obvious reasons.  But it would be good for


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