Friday, January 07, 2011

» Review of openSUSE Trademark Guidelines

Bryen just opened an interesting feature request about a review of the current openSUSE trademark guidelines (#311039).

The current state of things is that Novell owns the openSUSE and openSUSE related trademarks (which include things like the openSUSE name and the openSUSE branding). While at some point I would love to see those trademarks go into the ownership of the openSUSE foundation (but let's first actually have that foundation ;)), it is better to keep them with Novell until we have a properly working and funded foundation, because owning trademarks is also an obligation to enforce them. And that potentially means legal enforcement as well.

As the trademarks are owned and enforced by Novell, permissions to use trademarked material must be sent to Novell (, actually), but in practice, Novell's legal team has been delegating the responsibility of evaluating such requests to the openSUSE board.

Nevertheless, the board has to take decisions within a certain framework. Part of that framework, obviously, are a few legal aspects, but more prominently, it is what is currently defined in the openSUSE Trademark Guidelines document.

Bryen's feature request (which is essentially filed as such because openFATE gives us a good tool for transparency and collecting feedback) is precisely about that point: let's take a step back and rethink our trademark guidelines.

The task isn't as simple as it might sound, of course, as we have to find a good balance between a few, most probably contradictory things:

  1. make the rules short and simple: the simpler they are, the easier to grasp and the less daunting to approach
  2. enable derivatives of openSUSE: yes, we'd love to see more and more derivative works based on openSUSE (but the current guidelines, which the board has to abide by, do not really reflect that)
  3. prevent abuse

Which is why we'd love to hear from YOU what you believe are genuinely good use cases that we want to enable and support and what you believe would be cases of abuse, especially if you have been involved or have been pondering about making a derivative of openSUSE or, more generally, use the openSUSE trademarks in one way or another.

To do so, just click here, log in with your openSUSE account, and give us constructive feedback. Thanks !



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