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Debian's new draft trademark policy

From:  Stefano Zacchiroli <>
Subject:  trademark policy draft
Date:  Tue, 31 Jul 2012 18:07:17 +0200
Message-ID:  <>
Archive-link:  Article

If you've ever stumbled upon , you might
be aware that, as a project, we've been working on a proper trademark
policy since quite a while.

I'm happy to attach a first complete draft of such a policy, and I'm
looking for comment on it.

The ideal goal is reaching consensus on some version of the policy
document and then ask SPI (as the trademark owner) to ratify it as the
trademark policy associated to Debian trademarks.

A few notes that might be helpful in going through the text:

- we've asked for advice in producing a policy that is "as free as
  possible", but still capable of defending Debian identity, which is
  what trademark protection is about (a nice read on the matter is [1],
  with early/ancient thoughts by Mako on the matter)

- it should be compatible with the result of our past discussions [2] on
  how to handle trademarks in the Debian archive in general


- there is a potential exception to the "as free as possible" principle,
  though, in the following provision:

    You can also make merchandise with DEBIAN trademarks for commercial
    usage provided that, in addition to following the guidelines listed
    below, you truthfully advertise to customers which part of the
    selling price will be donated to the DEBIAN project.

  I've proposed the above, mainly as a thought experiment on how to
  solve a problem that I think we have with many offerings of Debian
  merchandise out there, including our some of our conference booths. I
  think the principle contained therein is a sane one, but I understand
  that it will limit usage of Debian trademarks, stepping out of mere
  identity integrity.

  I'd like to hear opinions on this provision. I'd personally have no
  problem if people prefer to take it back. As a middle ground, we might
  demote the "provided that" to a "you should", which have no binding
  force, but helps in conveying the message that we appreciate clarity
  on where the money goes, when selling something with "Debian" on it.

- the part on the logo is currently bogus, as we haven't trademarked our
  logos, yet. SPI lawyers recommend that we do so, which is why I'm
  sharing the policy text about it: in case we eventually decide to do


Many thanks for their help in preparing this draft goes to SPI's lawyers
at SFLC (in particular: Mishi Choudhary) and to Benjamin Mako Hill.

Comments welcome,
Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{,,} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on   .......    o o o
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

\section{DRAFT Debian Trademark Policy DRAFT}

SPI, INC. owns a number of trademarks in both word and logo form including
brands, slogans, styles. This policy encompasses all marks, in word and logo
form, collectively referred to as ``DEBIAN trademarks''.

The objective of this trademark policy is to encourage widespread use and
adoption of the DEBIAN trademarks, styles, and logos (hereinafter
``trademarks'') while ensuring consistent usage which avoids any confusion in
the mind of the users. The goal of this policy is to encourage use of the
DEBIAN mark in commercial or non-commercial activity based around DEBIAN.

Following are the guidelines for the proper use of DEBIAN trademarks by
publishers and other third parties. Any use of or reference to DEBIAN
trademarks that is inconsistent with these guidelines, or other unauthorized
use of or reference to DEBIAN trademarks, or marks that are confusingly similar
to DEBIAN trademarks, is prohibited and may violate DEBIAN trademark rights.

Any use of DEBIAN trademarks in a misleading and false manner or in a manner
that disparages DEBIAN, such as untruthful advertising, is always prohibited.

\subsection{When to Use the DEBIAN Trademarks}


\item You can use DEBIAN trademarks to make true factual statements about
  DEBIAN or communicate compatibility with your product truthfully.

\item You can use DEBIAN trademarks to describe or advertise your services or
  products relating to DEBIAN in a way that is not misleading.

\item You can use DEBIAN trademarks to describe DEBIAN in articles, titles or
  blog posts.

\item You can make t-shirts, desktop wallpapers, caps, or other merchandise
  with DEBIAN trademarks for \emph{non-commercial usage}. You can also make
  merchandise with DEBIAN trademarks for \emph{commercial usage} provided that,
  in addition to following the guidelines listed below, you truthfully
  advertise to customers which part of the selling price will be donated to the
  DEBIAN project. See \texttt{} for more
  information on how to donate to the DEBIAN project.


\subsection{When You Can NEVER Use the DEBIAN Trademarks Without Permission}


\item You cannot use DEBIAN trademarks in any way that suggests an affiliation
  with or endorsement by the DEBIAN project or community.

\item You cannot use DEBIAN trademarks in a company or organization name or as
  the name of a product or service.

\item You cannot use name that is confusingly similar to DEBIAN.

\item You cannot use DEBIAN trademarks in a domain name, with or without
  commercial intent.

\item You cannot alter the DEBIAN trademarks in any way.


\subsection{How to Use the DEBIAN Trademarks}


\item Use it in a manner that makes it clear that your project is related to
  the DEBIAN project, but that it is not part of DEBIAN, produced by the DEBIAN
  project, or endorsed by the DEBIAN project.

\item Acknowledge of SPI's ownership of the DEBIAN trademark prominently.

\item Include a disclaimer of sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement by
  DEBIAN on your website and on all related printed materials.


  X PROJECT is not affiliated with DEBIAN. DEBIAN is a registered trademark
  owned by SPI, INC.

\item Distinguish the DEBIAN trademarks from the surrounding words by
  italicizing, bolding or underlining it.

\item Use the DEBIAN trademarks in their exact form, neither abbreviated or
  hyphenated, nor combined with any other word or words.

\item Do not create acronyms using the DEBIAN trademarks.


\subsection{Permission To Use}

To obtain permission to use the DEBIAN trademarks send an email to

\subsection{Newer Versions of this Policy}

This policy may be revised from time to time and updated versions shall be
available at \texttt{}

\subsection{Guidelines for Using Logos}


\item Any scaling must retain the original proportions of the logo.

\item Logo should only use ``official'' logo colors.

\item Do not use the DEBIAN logo as part of your company logo or product logo
  or branding itself. It can be used as part of a page describing your products
  or services.

\item You need not ask us for permission to use logos on your own website
  solely as a hyperlink to the DEBIAN project website.


For any queries with respect to these guidelines, please send an email to
Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (GNU/Linux)


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Debian's new draft trademark policy

Posted Aug 1, 2012 16:44 UTC (Wed) by scientes (guest, #83068) [Link]

Can someone post a pdf rendering of the TeX please, to make it easier to view?

Debian's new draft trademark policy

Posted Aug 1, 2012 18:17 UTC (Wed) by theophrastus (guest, #80847) [Link]

I can (la)tex->pdf it (and have done so (and it's not super pretty)). but where would i 'post' it?

Debian's new draft trademark policy

Posted Aug 4, 2012 23:30 UTC (Sat) by mathstuf (subscriber, #69389) [Link]

Hmm, I'm getting the feeling that there should be an ASCII art output format for graphviz.

XHTML and PDF renderings.

Posted Aug 5, 2012 13:32 UTC (Sun) by gmatht (subscriber, #58961) [Link]

Here it is as XHTML and PDF.

Debian's new draft trademark policy

Posted Aug 6, 2012 2:03 UTC (Mon) by rich0 (guest, #55509) [Link]

One thing that this policy doesn't seem to cover is proper use of the trademarks by the project itself. Who can use the logo within the project, and how, and so on? How about fan sites, or local user groups, and other loosely-affiliated organizations?

We've been debating updating the Gentoo logo/trademark policy for a while now for similar reasons. Debian has been one of the projects we've been looking at as an example of how to try to balance community with protecting the mark.

Another element of policy is the interaction between trademark and copyright, as the logo at least would be protected by both. Could somebody incorporate the Debian logo into a desktop wallpaper that was CC Share-alike/etc?

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