Brazil's New Trademark License

I'm in Brazil for a few days, having given lectures several times at the start of the week, most notably for the extraordinary Campus Party event. There have been several news items here of interest to open source followers: a decree by the new...

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LPM.png

I'm in Brazil for a few days, having given lectures several times at the start of the week, most notably for the extraordinary Campus Party event. There have been several news items here of interest to open source followers:

  • a decree by the new President of Brazil that open source software is preferred by the government,
  • controversy surrounding the expectation that the new Minister of Culture and music industry insider Ana de Hollanda will put a stop to the hard-won copyright law reform that's in progress, and
  • news that the government will be requiring submissions to its public software portal to grant broad trademark licenses in addition to open source licenses for the copyrights.
While lowest in public profile, that last item is very interesting and progressive. I discussed the idea with it's sponsor, Corinto Meffe, when we met at the FISL conference in 2009. He is the head of the Department of Logistics and Information Technology in the Brazilian Ministry of Planning, which runs a public software portal. He told me how concerned he is that control of trademarks in open source software allows companies to chill community actions and inhibit the exercise of software freedom, despite the open source license.

The License for Trademarks (Licença Pública de Marca, or LPM) adds additional rights on top of those delivered by open source. It ensures that any trademarks used in the software can be freely used by the community and means that control of trademarks can't be used to chill the ability to exercise the four freedoms.

This is creative and advanced thinking from the Brazilians. Looking at the controversy surrounding the Hudson project for example, where Oracle is using its (contested) control of the Hudson name as a way to dictate to the rest of the community, or the LibreOffice project's lack of success in using the OpenOffice.org name, maybe we need something like Brazil's LPM elsewhere too.



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