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Subject: Re: Rockbox trademark?

Re: Rockbox trademark?

From: David Hooper via rockbox-dev <>
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 2021 19:16:51 +0100

I had a quick look and I couldn't see a reference to Rockbox there

On Sat, 24 Apr 2021, 17:42 Solomon Peachy via rockbox-dev, <> wrote:

> First, the background:
> There's a Chinese DAP maker advertsing Rockbox support for one of their
> DAPs. Which is great, except.. they provide a binary build, and nothing
> else.
> This is a variation of a platform I've seen before (STM32 + CPLD +
> high-end DAC), but instead of the signature five-button control layout
> and a small OLED screen they went with a large resisitive touch screen.
> Given the major limitations of this platform, they would have had do
> some heavy hacking on our codebase to get this usable.
> This hacking may have some significant value, and could be a useful
> foundation/reference for future ports. If nothing else it's a new CPU &
> SoC family (STM32, ARM Cortex-M3/4/7), and that SoC family is something
> I've personally wanted to port for a while. But that's moot since no
> sources are provided.
> Now I know that given that it's a Chinese company with no US/EU presence
> there's fuck-all I or anyone else here can directly do about GPL
> violations, but this is something different -- Zishan is using the
> rockbox name _for commercial purposes_, listing it as a feature in their
> advertising copy, and at least some folks are purchasing it due to that.
> On one hand I'm glad to see that someone thinks this matters, but on the
> other hand, if they're going to take our name in vain, they need to at
> least respect the terms of our license!
> With a (US) trademark, we can go after US folks importing and reselling
> these devices. On one hand it's not the resellers' fault, but on the
> other hand, money talks, and pushback from folks buying in bulk is the
> only way I can see to put some pressure on Zishan and others like it.
> So. That's the short summary. This leads to some questions, naturally:
> 1) Putting aside the question of ownership, is having a trademark a good
> idea? Why or Why Not? (In other words, is this really a problem,
> and even if it is, would a TM actually make things _worse_?)
> (Every other question assumes the answer is "yes")
> 2) Who should nominally own this trademark?
> This one's a doozey, and is the real reason behind this email.
> I'm in favor of a neutral third-party foundation (eg the SFC) but
> that's not something that can happen quickly. Until then IMO it
> should be the same folks who own the domain name, as "the Rockbox
> name" is about the only actual asset of "the project" has. (ie every
> contributor retains their own copyrights)
> 3) When/how should we assert this trademark, keeping in mind the
> letter and spirit of our code license? (ie GPLv2+)
> At the very minimum, anyone using our name commercially [*] needs to
> comply with the source requirements of the GPL. I'd prefer to take it
> a step further and require them to get advance permission, unless
> they are redistributing _unmodified_ versions.
> [*] "commercially" is a broad term, but in this context I consider it
> to be selling something containing rockbox code and/or listing
> rockbox in their promotional materials.
> 4) Who gets to decide what is or isn't acceptable?
> Ultimately it's up to the "Owner". But back in the day there was a
> Rockbox Steering board. But even that implies a higher level of
> active participation than we've had since.. back in the day. :D
> 5) How much will this cost? How do we pay for it?
> We've been relying on donations up to this point, and since we don't
> pay for hosting we don't have meaningful ongoing costs, but we will
> have to fork over money to both register a trademark and keep it
> alive. Assuming nobody contests the filng, we're probably looking at
> about $500 up front, and about $250 every 5-10 years to keep it.
> Keep in mind that the over-broad definition of "commercial" works in
> our favor here, simply maintaining the web site (and ongoing
> development) is sufficient to show that we are still using rockbox
> "commercially" -- we don't actually have to be selling anything.
> I think it's reasonable to ask someone seeking to use our code
> commercially to contribute _something_ monetarily but getting that
> right will involve lawyers and cost even more money.
> 6) What about actual _enforcement_?
> Sending nastygram C&Ds is easy and cheap, and works surprisingly
> well, but following that up with action (filing for an
> injunction/import ban/etc) is likely to require actual lawyers and be
> anything but cheap. IMO this is where being under a foundation like
> the SFC really helps.
> 7) So why go through with any of this?
> In the short term, ultimately all I really care about is gaining a
> little bit of leverage to help us obtain the complete corresponding
> source code that the GPL requires.
> Looking down the line, should we ever produce our own hardware, IMO a
> trademark is necessary because that implies a considerable monetary
> investment. But even putting aside that pipe dream, what are we to do
> if Zishan (or whomever) does more than distribute a hacky, buggy,
> binary-only build of rockbox? What's to stop anyone from selling a
> "Rockbox DAP" that doesn't actually contain any rockbox code?
> Maybe I'm overthinking this, but maybe not. Either way, I'd like to
> hear everyone else's thoughts on this, especially from the original
> Rockbox crew if they're still occasionally listening...
> BTW, I recommend reading this, and the comments:
> - Solomon
> --
> Solomon Peachy pizza at shaftnet dot org
> (email&xmpp)
> _at_pizza:shaftnet dot org (matrix)
> High Springs, FL speachy (freenode)
Received on 2021-04-24

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