Red Hat clamps down on trademark use

Red Hat has asked Linux distributors to remove all its trademarks - including names and meta tags - from their websites.

Red Hat has asked Linux distributors to remove all its trademarks - including names and meta tags - from their websites.

However, the Red Hat distribution, which is under the GNU Public licence (GPL), can still be copied. It cannot be called "Red Hat Linux" any play on the name, such as "Sombrero Rojo" or "Green Hat Linux", is forbidden

One Linux seller thought the move was a sign of Red Hat’s "evolution from the grass roots to the corporate desktop".

"I feel it is doing more harm than good; it has every right to protect its trademarks and I have no problems modifying my website to suit," he said.

"I fail to see how people can get confused with the download edition and boxed CD sets. We clearly inform our customers of what they are getting."

At least one supplier suspected the tightened trademark use rules were the "logical first step" for Red Hat to become a "buy-only" distribution, shedding its "geek/hobbyist image" and to moving into the corporate world.

Peter Harrison of the New Zealand Open Source Society said Red Hat’s move "doesn’t look good", although he could understand its need to protect its revenue streams, even though he thought the new rules are, at least, a violation of the spirit of the GPL.

"More analysis is needed," Harrison added, "but if Red Hat releases its Linux distribution under the GPL, including logos and trademarks, it can’t then ban copying of these." In doing so, Harrison felt Red Hat "is violating the GPL".

Red Hat could not be reached for comment.

Juha Saarinen writes for Computerworld New Zealand Online

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