FUDCon Tempe: Fedora Trademarks

During FUDCon Tempe, I managed to “Live IRC” a couple of the sessions I assisted. Throughout the week, I intend to publish a summary + pictures of the talks I assisted. The following is a paraphrasis of the talk. Quotes may not be 100% accurate.The pictures (CC-By) were taken by myself by a Nexus One cellphone, while attempting to transcribe. Excuse the blurriness. Missed Part 1? Click here.

Pam Chestek talked about Fedora Trademarks: Red Hat, What have you done for me Lately?

One of the things I do different from Richard is that I’m more about protecting the brand, not so much about dealing with risks. Clearance is the one time I’m doing risk assessments, for release names. I have to deal with the names that you pick, and Erin and I check which ones can Fedora use to prevent Cease and Desist letters.

Fedora does a great job sending us names that are available, and the Board also does a great job knocking down some of the bad names and legally risky names.

The next topic is Registration. This fiscal year, we filed 104 trademark registrations in 14 countries, for the Fedora logo, in black and white and in color, as well as the word ‘Fedora’.

The expense was over $35,000 USD.

What we do is called “Trademark Watch”.

We have to watch about 220 trademark registries.

  • We watch for domain names, about 7-8 domains pop up per week containing the word ‘fedora’ in them. We have to watch that they’re selling hats and not software.
  • The Fedora infinity design averages about 2 per week.
  • The Fedora Trademark comes up about once every 3 weeks.

What we do in this case is file oppositions. When we see someone else use something similar to Fedora, we have to oppose this. We’ve filed oppositions in Brazil, as well as in India and China.

There’s brand dilution like Kleenex and stuff, and we have to prevent Fedora from becoming diluted.

Believe it or not, China filed for this Trademark

It’s important for us to have ‘Fedora’ as unique. If you saw the ‘Plead for Help’ emails, we asked for proof that Fedora used the trademark before. We received over 56 pieces of evidence from over 30 people.

Finally, we also deal with Infringements.We work with the Fedora Project Leader to see what the best approach is, when there’s an infringement.

In some cases, it’s people trying to rip off Fedora, and if Red Hat Legal needs to come in, we send the nasty letter so you don’t have to.

Finally, we get to a Q&A section for both Richard and Pam. They’ve stated they can’t answer certain questions due to confidentiality reasons.

Q: If we, as a community, have a legal question… How do we ask it?
A: (From Tom ‘spot’ Callaway) If its something private, send it to legal at fedoraproject.org and it’ll get forwarded to the right people.
If it’s something that merits a wide exposure, legal at lists.fedoraproject.org is great. You do have to get subscribed to post on it, but it will eventually get posted on it. And if its not, ask spot, he’ll get it sorted out.

Q: Can we get some updates on the Chinese Trademark case?
A: (Pam) As soon as we have a concrete answer, we’ll pass it onto you.

Q: Open Suse became a foundation, could we do the same?
A: (Richard) It’s a topic that comes out regularly, but its something we’re not planning to.
A: (Pam) From my perspective, it currently works. We need balance, It’s still in open conversation, but its not an active issue.
It’s something that’s brought up constantly. We don’t dismiss the idea of having Fedora becoming entirely independent, but we’re still reexamining it. We don’t know how well this would work. There are other projects that have done it, but they’re still experimental. It’s something we’re watching.

Q: What are the criteria which are being evaluated? At which point do they tip the scales?
A: (Pam) It’s not my area of expertise.
A: (Max Spevack) There was a letter written previously about this, but wasn’t written by a lawyer. There’s a lot of laws and taxes for non-profits that have to be dealed with. It’s something insanely complicated.

Q: {I apologize, I couldn’t write down the exact question, but It’s about Fedora EMEA}
A: (Richard)European Law is very different from US Law. Red Hat would have to follow both.
A: (Pam) Fedora is a global community, we have to obey all laws. We have to follow the lowest common denominator. European law is the strictest one, and we have to follow all of them. In case of conflicts, when we can’t follow all jurisdictions at once, we look at the issue closely.
A: (spot) If there’s any legal issues or questions, you’re free to bring them up to me.

The talk’s over and everyone’s leaving. Thanks for reading!

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  1. [...] up, Pam Chestek’s Fedora Trademark Talk. Fedora fedora, FUDCon, FUDCon Tempe, Lawyers, Legal, LiveIRC, Red [...]

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