Tag Archives: Trademarks

Renaming Ubuntu derivatives

Working together with the Ubuntu trademarks team we renamed our Ubuntu derivatives:

Following up the distrowatch’s story about Ubuntu trademarks, as the first Italian Ubuntu affiliate we (CreaLabs) are trying to be a good example of how FLOSS projects should respect trademark policies living in the FLOSS ecosystem.

I encourage all *buntu derivatives to take the good move and do what we did.

iloveubuntu.com: this is trademark violation

Ubuntu trademark is clear, and the iloveubuntu.com website (intentionally not linked) is violating it, hope Canonical will make that great joke stop.

UPDATE: this post would be a provocation, ’cause you know I’m a bit sceptic about free software and trademarks. I also know about ie7.com and many others, same story here and there. :)

Ubuntu delusion: BuildYourUbuntu.com won’t come to life, trademarks win, ideas lose

Introduction:

We (CreaLabs) are Ubuntu affiliate because of:

  1. some Ubuntu promotion/spreading activities
  2. 2 ubuntu derivative distros: ubuntu italian iso, ufficio zero
  3. Ubuntu Customization Kit

We constantly and actively support open source and free software with many projects (check crealabs.it for the list).

All of these projects were created and are maintained for free.

The new condition

Ubuntu affiliate program changed, actually some points of the new programs are not clear to me but I read

The other tracks have distinct revenue requirements for progression through them. These numbers are not being made public, but will help you understand the reasons for the tiers.

[cut]

The figures are the revenue that flows to Canonical from sales that you make. These sales can be made up from the range of Canonical services and future product offerings.
These may look initially high, but we have set the bar for the highest level quite high intentionally. Any partner that reaches gold tier has really earned it.

We have based the tiers on revenue to alleviate any potential entry fee to the programme.

I can’t really understand if we’ll have to pay to remain affiliate or not… anyway I hope more info will be given us.

The idea

We said “hey, if we’ll have to pay, let’s try building some real business on Ubuntu, so we can remain affiliate”.
Working on UCK the idea was easy, build a website where people can customize their Ubuntu adding software, language support and many other things and get their brand new shining DVD at home for a price.

I wanted to call that buildyourubuntu.com. It seem to us that’s really a good name, you can understand what the service do and that’s what we want.

A good business must have a good name, a good business would bring us revenue and we would give part of them to Canonical (we haven’t decided prices and revenues yet) for the affiliate program and would keep alive our free projects and maybe build other new free services.

The problem

Ubuntu is a trademark, we can’t use that name without a license.
We write to Canonical trademarks team.

The answer

After 3 weeks we get a “NO, you can’t use that name for your business, you could for a free service but not for a business one”.
Why? Because it could seem too “official” meaning “related to Canonical”.

Our delusion

How would you call a service that build a custom Ubuntu for you? Oh I don’t want to hear flickr/scriptaculous clones please.

The point is, I think I can say we do fair play with free software, it’s not right to avoid us the possibility to create a new original service that would also bring money to Ubuntu itself.

Sure we can call that service “BuildYourOs.com” or “BuildYourDistro.com” or “BuildYourLinux.com” but:

  1. it’s not clear: you can’t understand we’re ONLY talking about Ubuntu
  2. it’s simply ugly, if you work in marketing tell me if I’m wrong
  3. Linux is a trademark too thus you must gain a license to use the Linux name

Is my love for Ubuntu ruined?

Actually I don’t know, I’m feeling really sad right now.

Are trademarks compatible with free software philosophy? A real story about Ubuntu and me.

You want to start a commercial website, you want to spread the the Ubuntu word and you’re already involved in some Ubuntu related free initiatives (let’s say you’re also an Ubuntu affiliate).

You’ve to decide the name of your business (and the website domain too) and we all know how much relevance this task has in the future success of the business itself.

You and your marketing team decide that “hey-you-have-ubuntu-we-can-do-things-for-you.com” (it’s just an example :P) it’s the right one, but… hey Ubuntu is a trademark, we can’t use that name!

So what? Let’s take a look at the Ubuntu trademark policy, it’s a long text but we’ve to read it all but we note:

it is very unlikely that we will approve Trademark use in the following cases:
– Use of a Trademark in a company name
– Use of a Trademark in a domain name which has a commercial intent

But you think “Hey I’m not going to steal Ubuntu identity or capitalize on Ubuntu name, I’m just building an Ubuntu based service” so any marketer would never suggest you a different name (for your website, you can change the company name, that’s not the problem) because it’s too effective and any alternative won’t work.

So you write to the Ubuntu trademarks team asking if you can use the name, Ubuntu knows you’re in good faith cause they know your free projects and Ubuntu advocancy but… I still haven’t got back a complete answer to my mail thus… updates will come (I hope soon!).

OK I know that the title of the post has “free software” but a commercial service promoting a free project (support or anything else) it’s always a good thing for the project, or am I wrong? Thus my question is “trademarks and free software can live together?” It could be good to protect a fraud service using the protected name but it also is a limitation for an enterprise level growth of services.

PS: Remember that Ubuntu and Canonical are registered trademarks of Canonical Ltd.