SSC is censoring its forums; claiming trademark
Posted Nov 6, 2003 0:19 UTC (Thu) by rickmoen
Parent article: The Linux Gazette forks
SSC just now summarily deleted the approx. 1/2 to 1/3 of all posts to its Web forum that in any way mentioned the departure of Linux Gazette to http://linuxgazette.net/. There is no explanation of this in the forum proper, but SSC publisher Phil Hughes has addressed it his Publisher's Corner weblog. In it, he says SSC has been "advised" (impliedly, by legal counsel) to delete all posts that mention the editors' new site, as trespassing against what he calls "our Linux Gazette trademark".
As part of the discussion process that went into the staff's (unanimous) decision to leave, the editors attempted due diligence to prevent transgressing anyone's copyrights and trademarks. We found that no trademarks for Linux Gazette had ever been registered — and moreover that, by law, trademark coverage is available only for marks used on an ongoing basis for branding purposes on products sold in commerce. LG has always been explictly non-commercial. Remember, too, that the Gazette had already established its name and identity on its own, long before accepting SSC's kind offer of help in 1996.
So I am mystified about the trademark claim, and cannot help thinking it inherently bogus. At the minimum, it will take a great deal of explaining. Also, isn't he implicitly claiming ownership of our volunteer Linux-community magazine's name as a commercial property? Is this going to become the new pattern for SSC's approach to volunteer-run, non-commercial Linux community projects? Offer to help them out, and then convert them against the volunteers' wishes to commercial corporate assets?
I hope Mr. Hughes's advisors can convince him that the above honestly is not the precedent he wants for his company's relations with the volunteer Linux community, and will help him turn back from this course of action, before the damage can no longer be repaired. We've been trying to take the high road, and hope everyone else will, too.
Last, my thanks to LWN for offering this feedback forum, and for carrying the story.
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