[Python-Dev] Someons's put a "Python 2.8" on GitHub

Stephen J. Turnbull turnbull.stephen.fw at u.tsukuba.ac.jp
Mon Dec 12 03:40:37 EST 2016

Wes Turner writes:

 > So forks with modules added or removed cannot be called Python? 
 > Forks without the blessing of the PSF cannot be called Python? 
 > That's really not open source.

Of course it is.  The source is open and free.

But that's not what is in play here.  The legal theory is that the
name "Python" is reserved so that users can know that Python-Dev's
strict (or not so, YMMV) QA policies have been applied and promises
(or lack thereof) of support are valid, and to avoid gratuitous claims
against the PSF by people who take use of the trademark to mean that
it's PSF-sponsored or at least PSF-sanctioned.  That is a perfectly
reasonable way for third parties to behave, since it's the PSF's
responsibility to defend its trademark.

Note that trademark is unlike patent and copyright, which are
unconditional whether or not infringers have been punished before.
OTOH, trademark must be defended, because when the reputational
capital depreciates too much US courts will refuse to enforce
trademark.  We say trademark protection is "use it or lose it".

It's a moot point here because Guido and Van are satisfied with the
response of the author so far.  But I fear that since Guido declared
that no "Python 2.8" will ever exist, failure to object to that name
would be all the evidence a court would need to decide that we don't
care enough about the trademark, making it that much more difficult to
enforce in the future.  (IANAL and it's been ~15 years since I've
looked at law or cases on trademark, but I suppose it's still true.)

Exactly how lenient an open source project can be with naming of
forks, I don't know.  I would hope that courts would not look amiss at
the common practice of letting distros that patch Python or break out
the stdlib or docs into a separate package call their package
"python".  But you'd have to ask a real lawyer and maybe find a court
case on that.


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