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Does Tux500 violate the Linux trademark?

Date/Time Permalink: 05/14/07 01:12:25 am
Category: General

One difference between corporate sponsorship and a... uh... crew of private individuals is that corporations have the forethought to establish that they have the legal blessings of the brand they intend to market before marketing it.

In the case of Tux500, we have a bunch of private individuals (two bloggers, a marketing firm, and all their minions) claiming to speak for the entire Linux community, and bossing us all around as if they - and they alone - owned Linux and none of us have the right to say different. They also want to do so with money collected from the Linux community (that's you and me, kiddo) - anywhere from $25,000 to $600,000.

In this Slashdot posting as of 1/19/00, Linus Torvalds stated the reasons for registering the trademark of Linux, and the need to protect the good name of Linux. I quote part of this:

"- I (and obviously a lot of other people) do not want to have "Linux" as
a name associated with unacceptable (or borderline) behaviour, and it's
important that "Linux" doesn't get a name of being associated with
scams, cybersquatting, etc etc. I'd personally hate that, for rather
obvious reasons. I _like_ being proud of Linux, and what has been
achieved. I'd rather not have to apologize for it.."

Now, at the very least, Tux500 qualifies as associating the name of Linux with "borderline behavior". We have the forum spam, the threats, the website rigging, and more. It could be possible that it's flat-out unacceptable as well.

Since individual users of the Linux operating system are being made to feel that they "must pay" to show their support of Linux, users may be confused as to who is behind the effort. Certainly, the majority of messages posted to websites asking for donations have failed to disclose that they are authored by those who would be on the receiving end of those donations.

In the end, where does the money go? It either goes to Acceleration Marketing, or to the driver and the driver's crew. So, there is a clear profit being made; as several sports websites have pointed out, money drives racing. Is it being done with the affiliation of any of the organizations which have established legal right to represent Linux? No, in fact, that's just what the Tux500 crew has been moaning about, is the lack of "official sponsors".

The Linux Foundation does have a complaint form for reporting the violation of Linux trademark usage. However, it seems to be directed at instances of "cyber-squatting", or starting businesses with "Linux" in the name which have no affiliation with Linux and misrepresent it for the purpose of making a profit.

At the very least, I'm wondering if the kernel developers have heard of this. And anyway, I'm just tossing the idea out there. I am sure that other cases of private individuals promoting a corporate trademark through questionable means which could make the promoted company look bad have been shut down before, based on similar grounds.

Once again, may we have the objective, non-biased opinions of those who would know more about the legal ins and outs of this? Meaning, not hear from another troll with his/her hand in the Tux500 till trying to obfuscate the conversation with more lies? I'll do more research on this myself later, but if anybody can cite a precedent and a link to a controlling authority, or an official place to report this and whether it qualifies, I'm especially glad to hear from you.

For one thing, that Newsforge article a while back brought up the previous lobby4linux effort to advertise a single distro on the radio in Austin. As the article says:

"But the project seemed to drop out of sight. Even the forums that Starks set up to discuss the plan were removed from archives."

It is indeed removed. Why? That's what I want to know. In light of this present fund-raiser which we have crammed into our faces, it would certainly bolster their claims of sincerity to show us the outcome of the last fund-raiser...

For another thing, part of helios' defense against charges of a scam is that he works some great job and has enough money he wouldn't dream of scooping. But here, only back in August of last year, he had become unemployed, had an illness, and was in danger of getting evicted from his home. So of course, he collected donations. Once again, in the name of Linux, because he's such a great Linux advocate.

: Let me expand that: The keywords are "Conflict of interest". If you have been part of the massive fund-raiser effort, then you have a stake in seeing public opinion swayed to support your project. Right or wrong, I can't accept your comment and have to delete it. This is not a "free speech" issue. This is a "participating in a swindle" issue. My site will not be polluted by asstroturfers. Particularly when your argument is "a marketing firm could do no wrong!" No, marketing firms get themselves busted all the time. Continue dumping your lies on your own site. Even if you are respectful and polite about it!

And by the way: yes, really. Throughout this campaign - no scratch that - throughout (what has become) this righteous crusade, I have indicated several instances in which people merely QUESTIONED the validity and effectiveness of tux500. They are flamed, harassed, vilified, and even threatened by Tux500 marketers and supporters upon doing so. On every web site that will print the story (which itself is a dwindling list), except one: mine. Mine, the opposite is the case. The whole point to the first few posts in the series was to document the massive asstroturf campaign that started on day one of Tux500's launch and the embattlement and persecution of the Linux community in the name of the Tux500 Inquisition.

When you wage war like this on the Linux community, saying that we "mostly fall into the free as in freeloader category" just because we don't fall for your scheme, expect some negative feedback. Truth is, REPUTABLE technology freedom non-profits like The Open Source Initiative, The Free Software Foundation, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Wikimedia, and the people who develop FOSS in the first place, get funding all the time - the money certainly comes from SOMEWHERE! We all damn well do our part, and nobody has to answer to Tux500!!!

More like: What has KEN STARKS done for US lately? He's said, "Gimme money gimme money gimme money gimme money..." since the day lobby4linux was registered. What for? Why must he be the middle man in every transaction? Hey, Ken? You found a new way to spend our money, fine, we'll go look at it and decide whether to give the money to THEM, NOT YOU!!!

So this is the only website on the Internet that will most determinedly support the alternative view, and give people a chance to freely discuss the issue without being pressured by a bunch of racketeers. I will have the guts to stand up to the bullying, as an example to those who have been intimidated. I've won against worse odds before.

People who don't like that I'm doing that should know that there's an area between my back and my legs that they can kiss.

NOTE: In the comments, there has already been a pretty good argument answering the question of this post, that answer being "no". Thank you, Clay Berlo, and now that I have exercised my constitutionally protected right to ask a question and seek out the fair advice of unbiased parties, the purpose of this post is complete.

Next question: If Tux500 is so on-the-level, why are its participants so insecure that they have to dive in and flame anybody who asks a question about it?

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