Monday, 15 January 2018 08:02

No respite in spat between free software bodies

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The spat that erupted between the Software Freedom Conservatory and the Software Freedom Law Centre, both of which are involved in activities around the GNU General Public Licence, shows no sign of going away, with the latter upping the ante recently.

Late last year, the SFLC amended its complaint to the US Patent and Trademark Organisation against the SFC, to include fraud. In response, the SFC filed a 168-page motion, seeking a summary judgement.

As iTWire reported in November last year, the SFLC had asked a court to cancel the trademark of the SFC due to what it claims is "priority and likelihood of confusion" to its own trademark.

The irony of the situation is that the is that the SFLC launched the SFC in 2006 to carry out enforcement of the GPL, a free software licence which was drafted by the head of the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman.

In a post responding to the amended SFLC complaint, the SFC head Bradley Kuhn said: "We still find all of this a waste of time and resources. We'll stay focused on our essential work for software freedom through our regular, important work for Conservancy, until the next round of SFLC's attacks — but we still hope SFLC will simply do the right thing and withdraw the petition."

Prior to this, the head of the SFLC Eben Moglen outlined how he saw a possible settlement to the spat, saying: "We propose a general peace, releasing all claims that the parties have against one another, in return for an iron-clad agreement for mutual non-disparagement, binding all the organisations and individuals involved, with strong safeguards against breach.

"SFLC will offer, as part of such an overall agreement, a perpetual, royalty-free trademark license for the Software Freedom Conservancy to keep and use its present name, subject to agreed measures to prevent confusion, and continued observance of the non-disparagement agreement."

This was not reflected in the amendment made to the court complaint, though, with the charge of fraud by the SFC being added.

Moglen has been accused of acting against the interests of the FSF. Both the SFC and the SFLC have been close-mouthed when approached for comment.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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