Action Taken on Linux Trademark

by Phil Hughes

Members of the LINUX community have been up in arms during the past six months over the efforts on an individual named William R. Della Croce, Jr. from the Boston area to collect 10% royalties on sales from businesses marketing Linux products. He bases his written demands on a US trademark which he claims to hold on the name “LINUX” for a computer operating system. He, in fact, holds such a registered trademark, based on his claim made under penalty of perjury that he is the owner and first user of the mark for operating systems, and that he was not aware in 1994 or 1995 of any other person who might claim or be using this name and mark for an operating system. This claim is absurd on its face.

A group of companies (Workgroup Solutions, Inc, a Colorado corporation; Yggdrasil Computing, Inc., a California corporation; Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc., doing business as Linux Journal, a Washington corporation; Linux International, a New Hampshire unincoroprated association, and Linus Torvalds, have retained an internationally known software industry attorney, G. Gervaise Davis III, of the Davis & Schroeder law firm in Monterey, CA to seek cancellation of this registration on the grounds that it is fraudulent and obtained under false pretenses. Mr. Davis and his firm are handling the case on a vastly reduced fee basis, because of their long standing relationship with the U.S. software industry. Davis was the original attorney for Gary Kildall and Digital Research of CP/M fame in the 1980s.

A Petition to Cancel was in fact filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board in Washinton, DC. on November 27, 1996, detailing the improper actions of Della Croce and setting out the true facts with a number of exhibits and attachments. Mr. Davis advises us that we can expect to have further steps taken by TTAB, under their complex procedural rules over the next few months. TTAB will first notify Della Croce of the filing and permit him time to respond, then evidence can be collected and depositions taken, and then the parties can file briefs and other responses. Often these cases take more than a year to be resolved by a TTAB decision.

All of our industry is fully aware that Linus Torvalds developed Linux and that it has become one of the world's most popular operating systems during the past six years. The participants in this proceeding expect the TTAB to cancel the registration, after hearing and seeing the massive evidence demonstrating that Della Croce had no conceiveable legal basis for his claim to the mark.

The petition itself is available on SSC's web site and Mr. Davis' law firm at We urge that interested persons read it, and distribute it and this message to all members of the LINUX community so that they will be aware of what is being done about this outrageous trademark claim. We will try to keep everyone posted on developments in the case through user groups and webpages.

We will continue to keep you updated on the happenings in this action. Check out the Hot Linux News button at for the latest updates.

Linus 2.0 released

[I will let this posting by Linus stand on its own]

From: [email protected] (Linus Torvalds)
Date: 1996/12/09
Organization: University of Helsinki
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.announce

AP/STT. Helsinki, Dec 5th, 6:22 AM. For immediate release.

In order to allay fears about the continuity of the Linux project, Linus Torvalds together with his manager Tove Monni have released “Linus v2.0”, affectionately known as “Kernel Hacker—The Next Generation”.

Linux stock prices on Wall Street rose sharply after the announcement; as one well-known analyst who wishes to remain anonymous says—“It shows a long-term commitment, and while we expect a short-term decrease in productivity, we feel that this solidifies the development in the long run”.

Other analysts downplay the importance of the event, and claim that just about anybody could have done it. “I'm glad somebody finally told them about the birds and the bees" one sceptic comments cryptically. But even the skeptics agree that it is an interesting turn of events.

Others bring up other issues with the new version—“I'm especially intrigued by the fact that the new version is female, and look forward to seeing what the impact of that will be on future development. Will Red Hat Linux change to Pink Hat Linux, for example?”

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