From: s...@spi-inc.org (Software in the Public Interest) Subject: Future of the `Open Source' trademark Date: 1998/11/24 Message-ID: <email@example.com> X-Deja-AN: 415399108 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Approved: p...@taronga.com Sender: dae...@taronga.com Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Organization: FreeBSD Project Mime-Version: 1.0 Newsgroups: comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.announce Software in the Public Interest, Inc. Statement, and Request for Comments, regarding the Future of the `Open Source' trademark There is currently some dispute about the status of the `Open Source' trademark. The SPI board feel that it is important that the future of the mark be decided in an open and transparent manner. Therefore, we are making this announcement, which has three purposes: 1. To explain our view of the current situation. 2. To explain some of the background as we see it. 3. To consult the wider free software community about the future of the `Open Source' trademark. The rest of this announcement will go into these areas in more detail. 1. THE CURRENT SITUATION Software in the Public Interest, Inc (SPI) is a non-profit organisation whose aims are to help the development and distribution of open software and hardware. Currently SPI's associated projects include the Debian GNU/Linux distribution, the Berlin windowing system, the Gnome desktop, and others. The SPI board believes that the Open Source trademark is currently owned by SPI; however, Bruce Perens and other former board members of SPI are in the process of setting up another organisation, the Open Source Initiative, and claim that they own the mark (while repeatedly demanding of the SPI board that they immediately transfer ownership of the mark to OSI). The SPI board feels that the Open Source trademark is an important public asset which should be owned and managed for the benefit of the free software community. We feel that the mark should be owned by an open and accountable organisation, preferably an organisation controlled by a membership consisting of free software developers. Furthermore, we feel that any transfer of the mark to another organisation should be carried out with due care and thoughtfulness, and after a public consultation. An online discussion between the SPI and OSI boards has failed to reach consensus. The OSI board continues to demand immediate transfer of the mark, and has stated to us an intent to take immediate and we believe possibly fraudulent unilateral action with the trademark office to achieve this. The SPI board continues to maintain that any transfer should take place with due consideration, and in particular, that a public consultation should take place before any transfer. Relations having broken down, we are now therefore acting unilaterally in distributing this announcement and request for comments. Furthermore, the SPI board hopes that the community will give due consideration to their belief that the mark should be managed by an open and transparent organisation. 2. BACKGROUND AND HISTORY - GORY DETAILS (a) SOFTWARE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST http://www.spi-inc.org/ SPI was incorporated in June 1997 by Bruce Perens, Ian Murdock and Tim Sailer, originally as a legal vehicle for the Debian project. Ian Jackson was appointed to the board shortly thereafter. Following various discussions about the subject amongst board members and members of the Debian Project, by mid-March 1998 the board members had all agreed that SPI should broaden its scope to more than just Debian; since then, various other projects have become associated with SPI as it continues to broaden its scope. The new SPI board are anxious to continue this process. Up until August 1998, there had been continuous rumblings about lack of openness on the part of SPI. (Ian Jackson had attempted to improve matters, for example by scanning in and publishing the bylaws, which had previously not even been available to the supposed members of the organisation.) On the 4th and 5th of August, matters came to a head, and the three board members apart from Ian Jackson resigned simultaneously, apparently due to criticism about the closed nature of the organisation. As required by the bylaws, Ian Jackson appointed a new board, including Dale Scheetz, Nils Lohner and Martin Schulze. Since then the new board has been working to put the affairs of the organisation in order. For example, there do not appear to be any board meeting minutes, resolution minutes or membership records, and we believe that some trademark documents (including some for the Open Source trademark) are still with former board members. The new board have set up the SPI web site, giving details of the organisation's bylaws and articles of incorporation, board meeting minutes and resolutions, and so forth. We have just approved two key resolutions regarding our relationship with our associated projects and assets we hold - the Framework for Associated Projects, and the Statement and Promises on Intellectual Property, and these are now published on our site. The board plan to revise the bylaws appropriate to the wider role for the organisation which was agreed informally by the previous board. In particular, the board will establish new rules for membership which will allow free software developers to become members of the organisation. (b) THE `OPEN SOURCE' TRADEMARK The `Open Source' trademark was registered in SPI's name by Bruce Perens in February 1998, anticipating the wider role that would be agreed for SPI. Since then the mark has been managed by Eric Raymond. According to Bruce and Eric, on the 20th of March 1998 Bruce sent Eric an email which claimed that `SPI hereby transfers' all interest in the Open Source trademark to Eric. This message did not follow a board resolution to this effect, and indeed at least one other board member was not aware of its existence until it was forwarded back to the current board by Eric during the current dispute ! It is not the view of the current board that this email has any legal validity, as it was sent without approval of the board. Shortly following their resignation from the board of SPI, the former board members moved to set up a new organisation, the `Open Source Initiative', which they are currently in the process of incorporating. Since this time Bruce Perens has repeatedly demanded the immediate transfer of the Open Source trademark to this new organisation. The SPI board engaged in discussions with Eric Raymond regarding the future of the mark. After some discussion, during which the new SPI board stated that we don't believe we have all the paperwork, and expressed our reservations about the new OSI organisation, Eric became convinced that SPI was failing to honour its promise (as evidenced by Bruce's 20th of March email) to transfer the mark to him, and also demanded its immediate transfer to OSI. The SPI and OSI boards met online to discuss the matter. There was much discussion of procedural niceities. When substantive matters were reached, Bruce Perens and Eric Raymond insisted that OSI or Eric already own the mark; Eric Raymond expressed the view that he personally should decide on the mark's future, and denied that there was such a thing as a `public asset'; the OSI board members present accused SPI of footdragging. The SPI board maintained that an open and accountable organisation, preferably a membership organisation, should manage the mark. We stated that we wished to consult a public consultation exercise regarding the mark's future. We expressed a willingness to transfer the mark to another open organisation. We expressed reservations about certain current OSI board members, Bruce Perens in particular. The SPI board maintained that at least at the moment, SPI is a more open, accountable and transparent organisation than OSI. 3. PUBLIC CONSULTATION In accordance with SPI's Statement and Promises about Intellectual Property, the SPI board are conducting a public consultation exercise to determine the future of the Open Source trademark. Broadly speaking, we can see four options: (a) Retain the mark, managed by Eric Raymond if he is willing. (b) Turn the mark over to another free software organisation. Which one ? (c) Turn the mark over to the Open Source Initiative, which is in the process of being set up by Bruce Perens and others. (d) Retain the mark, and appoint new manager(s). Who ? We would be grateful if members of the free software development community would let us know their thoughts on the matters we've raised here. Please mail us at
, giving your views and reasoning. If you feel we might not know who you are, please also state your association with, and contribution to, the free software community. The consultation period will end at midnight at the end of the calendar year 1998, UTC. All consultation responses will be made public by SPI after the consultation period has closed, unless the respondent specifically requests otherwise. 4. CONTACTING AND PARTICIPATING IN SPI For general information about SPI, please see our web site, at www.spi-inc.org. General enquiries should go to s...@spi-inc.org. Press enquiries to p...@spi-inc.org, please. Thank you. If you want to discuss matters relating to SPI, please use our mailing lists - details on our web site. Please use the `spi-general' list for discussion of the Open Source trademark.
Return-Path: < owner-freebsd-advocacy@FreeBSD.ORG> Received: (from majordom@localhost) by hub.freebsd.org (8.8.8/8.8.8) id TAA19304 for freebsd-advocacy-outgoing; Tue, 24 Nov 1998 19:59:31 -0800 (PST) (envelope-from owner-freebsd-advocacy@FreeBSD.ORG) Received: from zippy.cdrom.com (zippy.cdrom.com [220.127.116.11]) by hub.freebsd.org (8.8.8/8.8.8) with ESMTP id TAA19297 for < firstname.lastname@example.org>; Tue, 24 Nov 1998 19:59:30 -0800 (PST) (envelope-from email@example.com) Received: from zippy.cdrom.com (firstname.lastname@example.org [127.0.0.1]) by zippy.cdrom.com (8.9.1/8.9.1) with ESMTP id UAA49191 for < email@example.com>; Tue, 24 Nov 1998 20:00:41 -0800 (PST) Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 20:00:39 -0800 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: "Jordan K. Hubbard" < email@example.com> Subject: Re: Future of the `Open Source' trademark MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/digest; boundary="----- =_aaaaaaaaaa" Content-Description: Blind Carbon Copy Sender: owner-freebsd-advocacy@FreeBSD.ORG Precedence: bulk X-Loop: FreeBSD.ORG To: undisclosed-recipients:; To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Software in the Public Interest) cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com (Software in the Public Interest), firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Future of the `Open Source' trademark In-reply-to: Your message of "Tue, 24 Nov 1998 20:07:59 GMT." <email@example.com> Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 20:00:39 -0800 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: "Jordan K. Hubbard" < email@example.com> > I hereby respectfully submit the attached statement for publication via > netbsd-annnounce and comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.announce, if you feel it > appropriate. > > [ .. position statement on ongoing conflict between SPI and OSI groups > over ``Open Source'' trademark elided .. ] I have approved the posting to comp.unix.bsd.freebsd.announce, but with significant reservations. I won't comment on these proceedings in any depth since I believe your posting already coveys a picture of sufficient grimness that anything negative I might have to say about it would be merely gratuitous, but I will say that this kind of in-fighting isn't doing the cause any good. You know it, I know it, the readers are going to know it when they see this and the only real remaining question will be how long the war is going to waged in spite of such knowledge. Everyone concerned here, from Eric on down, is in serious need of a reality-check if they think that the trademark on the term "Open Source" is worth so much that the work of months needs to be undone over it. People in both the Linux and FreeBSD advocacy camps have invested a lot of time and effort in trying to get the Open Source community taken seriously by business and the mainstream press and the last thing they need is for prominent portions of that community to start hoisting their soiled underwear on flagpoles for all to see and enjoy, right? This may not really be my fight, and I'll make no claims to that effect, but it would nonetheless make me happy to ultimately hear that everyone involved in the two battling groups of peace marchers quickly decided that maybe this wasn't the kind of public spectacle that either group really had in mind and that things needed to just get settled now... quietly... I know that all of you are ultimately on the same side here, you just can't currently work out which group is the Judean People's Front and which is the People's front of Judea. Remember what happened to them in that movie. Work this out, please! :-) - Jordan