Robert McMillan has the scoop on our scoop, that SCO has confirmed their attempt to trademark UNIX SYSTEM LABORATORIES, which Groklaw's Rand McNatt first discovered. And the Open Group has a reaction too. They will oppose it. First, here's the purpose, according to Blake Stowell:
"'The company has filed to receive that trademark because we believe there's some value in that. How we plan to use that trademark in the future has yet to be determined,' said Blake Stowell, an SCO spokesman.
"If registered, the name could be used for a variety of purposes, Stowell said. 'It could be used for our company; it could be used for an initiative within our company; it could be used in any number of areas,' he said."
"Has yet to be determined."
They say they'll tell us at SCOForum next week. I guess by then they'll have it determined. So that was the big announcement they promised? Too bad for SCO there is a Groklaw.
The PR impact will be a tad diminished by the news that the Open Group intends to fight this trademark. Altogether too many eyeballs.
The Open Group points out that they own the trademark to UNIX, so registering a trademark on UNIX SYSTEM LABORATORIES would conflict with their rights and it would also, they say, violate their license with SCO, and that license is what permits SCO to use the term UNIX. They plan to object:
"'We'll be taking the issue up with the Patent and Trademark Office and objecting strenuously, and we'll be taking the issue up with SCO because it's a breach of the license they already hold with us,' said Graham Bird, vice president of marketing with the Open Group."
So, the high priests of the Most Holy IP war have violated a sacred license?
Another Groklaw reader, Quatermass, pointed out that you can read the license (click on the Trademark Usage Guide link, a PDF, and go to page 8) for yourself, and note what appears to be a conflict, which I have marked in red:
"4. Other Conditions for Use of Trademarks
"4.1 Combination of Trademarks in Product Names
"Despite the need to protect and preserve the rights associated with its Trademarks, X/Open Company recognizes the value to Licensees of associating the UNIX Trademark with their own marks in product names.
"Licensees may combine the UNIX Trademark with their own trademarks as a product name, provided they seek prior approval by submitting the proposed combination including a sketch of the proposed use, if appropriate, to X/Open Company. X/Open Company may ask to review a proof of the final artwork.
"Licensees may use the UNIX Trademark as part of the proper name of a product.
"In making its decision, X/Open Company will take into account the following factors:
• The relative positioning of each trademark or name; having particular regard to their being no real or implied adverse connotations for either X/Open Company or UNIX and what X/Open Company, The Open Group, and the UNIX system stand for in the marketplace.
• The graphic including typographic design should ensure that the UNIX Trademark has at least equal prominence in any name combination and that there is no likelihood of confusion or compromise for the UNIX Trademark.
• ProductMark UNIX is ABC Company’s UNIX system product.
"The Trademarks 'X/Open' or 'The Open Group' may not be used in a product name.
"The License specifically prohibits Licensees of any Trademarks from registering with the relevant trademark authorities specific forms of the Trademarks including Trademarks used in combination."
Some days, it's a plum pleasin' pleasure writing Groklaw. And thank you, Rand, for noticing what was going on in the dark and letting Groklaw direct the spotlight on it. It has indubitably made a difference.