Linus Torvald has trademarked the name Linux and has moved forward to ask companies using the name to pay a trademark fee.
Late last week, an Australian company started pursuing companies using the name with the demand that they pay a $5,000 fee to use it.
The problem is, trademarks are not designed to protect companies. Trademarks exist to protect consumers from confusion. In this way, they are different from patents. One cannot treat a trademark the same as a patent.
At this stage, Linux has an uphill battle as a mark because it's been so widely used for something that is, after all, advocated for its freeness. Instead, the strategy should be to look to those who have a vested interest in in Linux meaning something definitive to contribute to a legal defense fund for the mark. Trademark enforcement is very expensive and because of how long the name has been floating around in use, it could be expensive to protect it.
A Linux mark institute has been set up to try to coordinate efforts on the mark. The question is, is it too little too late or can Linux, as a name, be effectively protected at this stage?
View: Linux Mark Institute