Ownership of Linux Trademark Resolved

by Marjorie Richardson

After one year of work the trademark dispute with William R. Della Croce, Jr. was finally resolved. Everyone at Linux Journal is pleased that this troublesome issue has come to a satisfactory close. We feel that this most happy result is due to the hard work of Mr. Jerry Davis and the overwhelming support given by the Linux Community. The only thing that could have made this announcement better is if we had been able to make it back in January.

By this time many of you have probably read the official press release. For those who have not, it is printed below.

Press Release

Monterey, California, August 20, 1997—A long standing dispute over ownership of the Linux operating system trademark has just been resolved. As a result of litigation brought by a group of five Linux companies and individuals against William R. Della Croce, Jr. of Boston, Massachusetts, Della Croce has assigned ownership for the registered mark to Linux Torvalds, the original author of Linux, as part of the a settlement agreement.

The plaintiffs in the suit were Linus Torvalds; Specialized Systems Systems Consultants, Inc. (Linux Journal) of Seattle; Yggdrasil computing, Inc. in San Jose; Linux International, Amherst, NH; and Work Group Solutions of Aurora, CO. Non-plaintiffs Red Hat Software, Inc., Metro Link Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation supported the litigation and contributed to the cost of the litigation.

The five plaintiffs brought suit against Della Croce in the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeals Board, in November 1996. Della Croce had obtained registration of the Linux mark in September 1995, which created a storm of protests by the Linux community, who felt the mark belonged to Torvalds or the Linux community and not to any individual. In an attempt to correct the situation, the plaintiffs retained the internationally known intellectual property law firm of Davis & Schroeder of Monterey, California, who handled the case on a greatly reduced fee bases, as a service to the Linux community.

The five plaintiffs, through their attorneys, announced today that (1) the matter has been settled by the assignment of the mark to Linus Torvalds, on behalf of all Petitioners and Linux users, and the dismissal with prejudice of the pending PTO Cancellation Proceeding; and (2) that Respondent was reimbursed for his trademark filing fees and costs by Petitioners. The other terms of the Settlement Agreement are confidential.

All inquiries should be referred to Petitioners' law firm, Davis & Schroeder at 408-649-1122 or by email at ggd@iplawyers.com. A copy of the original Cancellation Petition filed in the TTAB, can be found at http://www.iplawyers.com/text/linux.htm.

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