Bruce Perens & Debian public domain trademark promise

Bruce Perens, Debian

The volunteer response to the Debian trademark case at WIPO contains some stunning revelations. We will serialize them over the next couple of weeks. One of the most fascinating revelations is that Debian went broke in 1998. Bruce Perens promised to put the trademark into the public domain, in other words, giving it to the real community. Who is the real community?

Normally a dispute like this would be resolved by private discussions between grown ups and these emails would never see the light of day. Jonathan Carter has told us that he can just give a whole lot of money to a lawyer and get whatever he wants. Those are the words of a bully who doesn't look volunteers in the eye, much like his predecessor Chris Lamb.

Any volunteer who saw this promise and made contributions of code to Debian is entitled to enforce this commitment through an application to cancel the Debian trademark at the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Subject: RE: Are we in this for ourselves?
Date: 18 Mar 1998 00:37:44 -0000

No, Craig, it's not good for Debian or me. While I have a lot of respect
for individual developers, I can't put the same trust in the team that
I once did. I'm convinced the goals I wanted to achieve for free software
can no longer be achieved with Debian, and Red Hat is a good substutute
because they have a good free software policy and they understand the
meaning of marketing instead of having paroxisms when the word is mentioned.

I have been accepted to give 6 or 7 talks in the near future. Each
of the conferences I've submitted to has had a choice of several talks
from me, and _not_one_ of them chose the Debian talk. Nobody's interested.
I can talk about Linux and free software without Debian, no problem.

It sounds as if SPI might go out of business. I'm currently owed $500
for two checks that I used to pay for trademarks, and we owe some money
to the GNOME project. The remaining funds can be contributed to FSF or
some other worthy cause. We can give the Open Source trademark to Eric
Raymond, and we can place the Debian trademark in the public domain.



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