Using the Debian trademark for good

In October 2023, the Software Freedom Institute chose to cancel our Debian trademark registration. If you have registered domain names containing the Debian trademark then we recommend that you seek advice about whether your web site content meets the criteria for legitimate interests under the UDRP or similar fair use frameworks that apply in your jurisdiction. The judgment about the domain name provides an interesting example where the right of copyright interests was deemed to be superior to the trademark rights. As all Debian Developers have copyright interests in our work, the precedent gives us a strong defence against malicious UDRP cases.

At the Software Freedom Institute, we were a little bit shocked to receive the trademark so quickly, it almost caught us off guard.

Nonetheless, after a few days careful contemplation, it became clear in my mind how I should use the powers that come with the trademark.

Using whatever legal authority this trademark gives me within the jurisdiction of Switzerland, I'm giving some clarifications and authorizations to the community:

  1. To avoid confusion with the outcome of the recent Debian elections, I will not be using the title Debian Project Leader. Jonathan Carter is permitted to use this title when he visits Switzerland. Nonetheless, Director of Debianism is reserved for future use.
  2. The Debian CoC is violating my trademark. It is a micky-mouse instrument that impersonates the codes of genuine professional bodies. Impersonating a real code of conduct is the very opposite of ethical behavior. It is hereby declared to be null and void.
  3. With the immitation CoC out of the way, it is now possible to make more substantial and positive statements. Linus Torvalds and Dr Richard Stallman are granted the title of Honorary Debian Developer.
  4. The following phrase in the Debian Diversity Statement is revised: The Debian Project welcomes and encourages participation by everyone will now become The Debian Project welcomes and encourages participation by everyone, including Linus Torvalds, Dr Richard Stallman and all the other people we gagged, banned, censored, defamed and ostracized over the years.
  5. The definition of Debian Developer includes everybody who has a copyright interest in any Debian release, past or present.
  6. Anybody who meets the above definition of Debian Developer has a right to use the name Debian in domain names.

Now that is out of the way I have some regular work to do fixing bugs.

Linus Torvalds, Daniel Pocock, Debian, DebConf