Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (325 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-project] Project name and logo discussion
  • From: Richard Brown <RBrownCCB@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2019 14:06:08 +0200
  • Message-id: <>
On Tue, 11 Jun 2019 at 10:23, Richard Brown <RBrownCCB@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

- If we continue using the name openSUSE in any way, manner, or form,
SUSE will be duty bound to ensure that openSUSE does not conduct any
actions which hurts its brand or trademark. This will mean that,
alongside any agreement the Project has to use the name "openSUSE",
there will be strings attached. Such restrictions could be in the form
of the status quo - currently SUSE have a veto right over any actions
in the openSUSE community, a power trusted into it's Chairman, me.
This is a right I am on the record of being uncomfortable with, and
thankfully have never needed to use, but I totally understand the need
of it from a corporate perspective - openSUSE can't be allowed to go
making deals that undermines SUSE's business, gives it a bad name in
public, or otherwise makes things more complicated for either
organisation. SUSE's Veto right also means that we have been able to
forgo having long detailed lists of restrictions on what openSUSE can
do. However, if SUSEs veto right is lost in the Project's transition
to a Foundation (and that might be necessary to ensure the Foundation
is seen as a clearly separate legal entity), I would expect SUSE will
require a significant amount of detailed restrictions on the
activities the Foundation will be able to conduct. Negotiating and
finding a mutually satisfactory set of terms and conditions will take
a lot of time and effort, and such restrictions will limit the scope
and extent of the Foundation to receive sponsorships, money, services,

Also consider this (theoretical but based on past reality) example

Imagine a company or umbrella foundation that wants to start some new
open source project and wants to involve openSUSE in that effort.

The project is starting up and wants to keep things private until the
initial partnerships are established and can be launched properly as a
cohesive new thing.

Therefore initial discussions are likely to be done under the terms
and conditions of non-disclosure agreements.

Currently, any such NDA can only be signed by SUSE, as openSUSE's
defacto legal entity.
Even if SUSE were to sign the NDA on behalf of openSUSE, SUSE will in
practice be accepting liability for the actions of openSUSE at large,
which may expose SUSE to significant risk.
Can SUSE trust the openSUSE community to upheld it's obligations to an
NDA SUSE signed on its behalf?
I think it's fair to expect SUSE to be a little nervous about such arrangements.
Therefore its my experience that SUSE are only going to sign NDAs
which are also in their business interest, which may not be aligned
with the interest to the openSUSE community at large.

I feel this means openSUSE potentially misses out on some of the more
interesting aspects of the open source world when companies and larger
open source federations are involved.

If our Project forms a foundation, any only uses trademarks, that
don't have "SUSE" in the name, then the Foundation will likely be in a
much more free place to involve itself in such opportunities.

If we continue to use the name "SUSE" in any significant way, the
Project likely to retain at least some complications and/or
limitations in this area, as SUSE will have grounds for ensuring
their/our shared trademarks are only used in ways they are

Do I think such an arrangement would the end of the world? Nope
Do I think it's possible we could find compromises that makes almost
everyone happy? Absolutely

But I do think this example illustrates some of the factors we need to
consider on this topic besides the emotive "but we like the current
name" feeling :)


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