Interesting Trademark news today. I’ve been trying out CentOS 4.1 on one of our production servers as a possible replacement for Red Hat Linux. CentOS is a compiled from Red Hat Enterprise source RPMs, patched to remove any Red Hat logos. I ran into some problems with CentOS related to selinux and posted an email to the selinux mailing asking about it. Someone from Red Hat answered my question and helped me out. In my email I said, “I’m running a CentOS 4.1 (Red Hat EL) box with an Apache…” Today, I got this email from Red Hat regarding my post on the selinux mailing list:
From: Trademark Enforcement, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr. Rainwater:
Red Hat appreciates your interest in supporting and providing open
source technology. We recently became aware of your email below in
which you state that CentOS 4.1=Red Hat. Of course this is not true
since CentOS does not provide the stability, security and manageability
that Red Hat provides, CentOS is not equal to Red Hat. Red Hat would
appreciate in the future that you please refrain from equating CentOS to
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and your support in open
Red Hat, Inc.
It then quoted the body of my post to the selinux mailing list. Weird. I guess I need to be careful to say CentOS 4.1 is compiled from the same source as Red Hat Enterprise Linux instead of saying it’s “the same as” Red Hat Enterprise linux. I’m curious if there are any real legal implications to this? Can I get into legal trouble for saying “kleenex” instead of “facial tissue” in an email when refering to a brand that doesn’t use the Kleenex trademark? Isn’t this the same thing? I’m even more curious about the really weird sentence structure used in the third sentence of their email. Somehow I think they meant that to be two sentences.
Apparently, the CentOS folks heard from Red Hat’s legal department earlier this year.