Torvalds weighs in on Linux trademark row

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Linux

Torvalds denied on Saturday that he or anyone else is making money from sublicensing the Linux trademark, as the legal costs are higher than the license fees.

"Not only do I not get a cent of the trademark money, but even (the Linux Mark Institute, which actually administers the trademark) has so far historically always lost money on it," Torvalds said in a posting to the Linux Kernel Mailing List.

He explained that the "cease-and-desist or sublicense the mark" letters are a requirement of maintaining a trademark. He highlighted a posting made to the mailing list in 2000, which explained why such letters are necessary.

"Trademark law requires that the trademark owner police the use of the trademark," Torvalds said in the earlier posting. "This is nasty, because it means, for example, that a trademark owner has to be shown as caring about even small infringements, because otherwise the really bad guys can use as their defense that 'Hey, we may have misused it, but look at those other cases that they didn't go after, they obviously don't care.'"

Torvalds has also recently been accused of hypocrisy, with some in the open-source community claiming that his criticism of software patents is contradictory to his enforcement of trademarks. Torvalds did not comment on this issue in his new posting to the mailing list, but the founder of a prominent anti-software-patent site defended Torvalds on the issue.

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