trademark protectin (was Re: Logo War: Red Hat Takes On DataPortability)

Karsten 'quaid' Wade kwade at
Fri Feb 22 18:20:21 UTC 2008

<disclaimer type="usual">
This is reply is entirely from me as an individual; my views are my own
and do not represent Red Hat, Inc., the Fedora Project Board, or your

On Fri, 2008-02-22 at 07:57 -0500, Duvelle Jones wrote:
> I will be quite honest here. From what I can tell I think that it is a
> little disappoint that Red Hat had to go an flex their lawyer might
> against DataPortability in what can be considered here as a coincidence.

We all agree that most of us are not lawyers, esp. not myself.  So, I
know that I am wholly unqualified to comment on ways and means of
protecting marks.  That is what the lawyers who work for Red Hat are
good at doing.  Without proof or evidence that they have actually acted
poorly or made a mistake, we have to presume they are doing the right
thing in the right way.

Many of us are familiar with the idea that trademarks must be defended
so as to not be diluted or lost to the public domain.  Perhaps there is
a clear definition of "defend", possibly based on legal precedence?
Maybe it's not possible or sensible to send a "nice letter"?  

Again, since we are not the lawyers, we have to assume the experts are
doing the right thing.  They give us the same respect when it comes to
how we build the distro and run the project.

I can guess that DataPortability did not intend to infringe on the
Fedora mark, although one can't be sure about what their designer was
influenced by.  But seeing as how DataPortability is operating in a
similar niche as Fedora (software, open access, freedom), there is a
real risk of the similar marks confusing people.

In f-ambassadors-list, fusion94 wrote:
> I'm surprised at this as the fedora logo is a color schemed version of
> the infinity symbol. Which I believe cannot be trademarked as the
> infinity symbol would definately fall under prior art.

Not only am I not a lawyer, I am not a trained designer or a PhD in
physics.  But I will say that in my experience, I have never seen the
infinity symbol canted upward at a 45' angle.  It is usually shown with
a horizontal orientation.

In addition, the Fedora symbol is not simply a "color schemed ...
infinity symbol".  The integration of the project name as a letter in
the symbol is quite evident in both the Fedora and DataPortability
logos.  The implication in the logos is clear (associating the project
name with inifinity-as-in-forever.)

When you put the Fedora and DataPortability logos side-by-side the
differences are more apparent.  But honestly, when I first saw the
DataPortability website, I thought, "Wow, looks like the Fedora logo."

> On Fri, 2008-02-22 at 10:45 +0300, John Babich wrote:
>  I understand that Red Hat must protect its logos and
> > trademarks from infringement. All major companies must do the same
> > thing.

There are two things that make Fedora what it is, in order of

1. The people who contribute to making the distribution and overall
project successful
2. The name 'Fedora' that represents those people and their hard work

So, Red Hat is working *for* us in defending the mark.  Dilution of that
mark means dilution of our work.  It's directly related to why we are so
careful about keeping non-free and encumbered software out of the
distro, as well as the many other actions that make Fedora what it is.

- Karsten
Karsten Wade, Developer Community Mgr.
Dev Fu :
Fedora :
gpg key : AD0E0C41
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