[IAEP] [SLOBS] [SLOBs] Scenarios for licensing our trademarks

Sean DALY sdaly.be at gmail.com
Fri Jan 29 10:18:11 EST 2010

Fedora and Ubuntu have well-thought-out trademark policies, but their
respective brand awareness and market shares are extremely low, and I
would venture that situation has a lot do with how they have chosen
(or not) to develop their brands.

Our case is more similar to Ubuntu's in the sense that Fedora focuses
on contributor recruitment and not end users. However, we are not
focused on end users for office productivity or media consumption, but
educators and learners. What percentage of grade-school teachers are
geeky enough to try installing an alternate OS for their kids? 2%, 5%?
That leaves 95% who aren't. This means support is a vital part of
enabling Sugar to scale. And, it means we need teachers and educators
and school IT admins and buyers to trust our brand. We have to balance
an equation: encouraging the platform ecosystem, different from the
Activities ecosystem (and the OLPC ecosystem), while building
awareness of and trust in the Sugar brand.

We are faced with a feedback loop disconnect problem with Sugar
deployments, both OLPC and other hardware. Knowing who wishes to
distribute Sugar with our marks is key to solving that problem. It
can't help us if teachers start mailing feedback at sugarlabs.org with
problems concerning a distro we have never heard of - they will merely
perceive Sugar Labs to be disorganized.

The case of a modified Sugar developed with no community contact at
all remains possible, as long as our marks are not used. If our marks
are used (the preferable case), it is preferable to have at least
basic information about who is doing it and where.


On Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 12:40 AM, Chris Ball <cjb at laptop.org> wrote:
> Hi Sean,
>   > http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Trademark_case_studies
> Thanks for doing this.
>   > "approval can't be automatic for several reasons I have outlined
>   > previously, but in particular because of periodicity, renewal,
>   > and revocation if conditions not respected (e.g. the stick turns
>   > out to have proprietary software on it instead of the official SL
>   > build). Another reason is support - we need to avoid scenario of
>   > sales which imply SL community support without our even knowing
>   > about it."
> As a heads-up, at the moment I disagree with the idea that trademark
> approval can't be automatic, even within the constraints you've given.
> For example, "you can use the mark without permission as long as your
> product does not contain proprietary software" is a fine way to
> control that particular condition, if we wanted to, and similarly "if
> you are including extra software, you should prominently advertise
> that Sugar Labs does not provide support for your product, and give
> your own contact details for support instead" works for support.
> We could make it clear that adherence to these conditions is going to
> be strictly necessary, that the conditions might change in the future,
> and that we'll be communicative about what we perceive to be an
> infraction before we attempt to revoke the use of the automatic
> license due to non-compliance with the terms.
> Fedora and Ubuntu feel like the closest matches to our use case, and
> both have strong no-permission uses of trademarks available, which I'm
> sure helps to grow their ecosystems; I think people often avoid asking
> for permission, even in cases where it's clear that it will probably
> be given.
> (How do others feel about this?)
> Thanks,
> - Chris.
> --
> Chris Ball   <cjb at laptop.org>
> One Laptop Per Child

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