Yesterday, commenting on the news that Cuba has decided to dump its Microsoft systems in favor of Linux, analyst Rob Enderle noted that the Linux brand, as a whole, may suffer if an anti-American label is attached to the open source OS as a result. If so, who owns that brand and can or will work to protect it?
Two thoughts come to mind: First, wasn't the new Linux Foundation formed (in part, at least) to deal with the growing number of legal issues that are arising with open source use and development? The launch announcement specifically mentioned that the organization is responsible for managing the Linux trademark and the Linux Legal Defense Fund, so wouldn't this be a logical extension? (We've asked foundation representatives for their thoughts on the matter, so of course we'll post more as we get them.) As for how one would go about protecting the brand from association with Communism or terrorist groups, we have no idea, but it's food for thought at least.
Secondly, couldn't Richard Stallman's remarks to the Cuban audience, as reported in yesterday's USA Today, be perceived as spreading FUD, which is one of the things that many open sourcers don't like about Microsoft's approach to Linux? Shouldn't the decision between operating systems be made on which is the better software?
Yes, we know Stallman and company are not necessarily representative of most open source supporters. Nonetheless, if Linux truly is better, its proponents shouldn't have to resort to the competition's "dirty" tactics.