[kde-community] KDE office (was: Your KDE highlight of 2014?)

Mirko Boehm mirko at kde.org
Thu Jan 1 13:49:30 UTC 2015

Happy new year everybody!

> On 29 Dec 2014, at 16:05, Aaron J. Seigo <aseigo at kde.org> wrote:
> On Monday, December 29, 2014 13.43:44 Mirko Boehm wrote:
>> the least of our worries. If a significant portion of commits are coming
>> from that room, why wouldn’t it be a KDE office? :-)
> Two reasons:
> a) if person / company X is permitted without specific license to say they run 
> a KDE office, it becomes much harder (even impossible) to prevent person / 
> company Y from doing the same in future. We may like X and trust them and all 
> that, but the precedence of "hey, set up an office and call it a KDE office" 
> opens the door for others we may not. Trademark is predicated on active 
> protection.
> b) KDE could easily find itself liable legally, reputationally, or both for 
> any negative activity[1] that occurs in that physical location. 

Now you sound like a lawyer. The factual tone of these statements makes them sound authoritative, which they are not. I suggest to be more careful with that, as it discourages others from participating in the debate.  

About a): Protecting a trademark is not the same as preventing the trademark from being used. This has been a long-standing misinterpretation in our community. The trademark KDE is the trade name of our community as the source of our software. This understanding is what we have to protect. If it is used to represent activities of our community (as in calling a room where some of our major contributors work a KDE office), it does not dilute how the public sees the community through the trademark. Because it designates community activities with the community trademark KDE. It would only be wrong if the people there aren’t KDE contributors, which is certainly not the case.

About b): There is no legal liability that comes out of nowhere. The only civil relationship between the people in that office and KDE e.V. is that they are using the trade name. This use is on line with other uses of the trademark we allow (without an explicit trademark license) to contributors. In terms of reputation, I do not see a difference to anybody referring to KDE for the software they distribute, or by claiming to be a part of the KDE community. “Negative activity” is not limited to a physical location. 

> A "KDE office" implicitly represents KDE. It's all fun and games until someone 
> gets an eye poked out, and unfortunately for KDE it would be KDE's eye.
> Given the investment of time, effort and money that has gone into creating the 
> KDE trademark (both legally and reputationally), it would seem that showing 
> the small amount of prudence and organizational maturity to require "KDE 
> offices" to get official permission to use the trademark would not be too much 
> to expect.
> Would you be cool with someone starting a random Endocode office?

Apples and oranges, because Endocode is a specific company, not a distributed community. In our community, we allow everybody to represent KDE who contributes, and KDE e.V. is there to support. The only difference here is a physical location, while the other community activities happen in a virtual space. In terms of trademark use, I don’t see a difference. 

> For concerns about creating barriers: if someone finds it too onerous to apply 
> for such permission[2], they really can't be that serious about it. Even 
> getting a commit account for KDE requires filling out a small amount of 
> information, committing to important documents (e.g. Manifesto, CoC) and 
> otherwise demonstrating good intent.

Instead of setting up a process of asking for permission, I suggest to put creating a trademark licensing policy for KDE back on the agenda. It should provide the ground rules of trademark use, and license it on the condition that the licensee sticks to these.

> [1] "Negative activity" could be a wide spectrum of things: not paying rent 
> due; illegal activities; activities that go against KDE's Manifesto and/or 
> Code of Conduct ….

None of these become a liability of KDE e.V. If something like that happens, it would be a case for the community working group like any other violation of our community standards. Worst case, we make ask them to remove the references to KDE. However, nothing like that happened, the people working in the office in question are of the best standing in our community. The do represent our community in the best possible sense. 


Mirko Boehm | mirko at kde.org | KDE e.V.
FSFE Fellow, FSFE Team Germany
Qt Certified Specialist
Request a meeting: https://doodle.com/mirkoboehm

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