UbuntuOne trademark- well, duh

Usually, I’m above saying ‘I told you so’, but sometimes… well, lets just say that it is clear that most of the people commenting in this bug about the ‘confusion’ caused by the Ubuntu One mark didn’t read my old posts on trusting open source companies or my (old, not terribly good) trademark paper. To paraphrase the paper:

Trademark licensing centralizes control with the mark “owner” instead of decentralizing control with direct contributors- i.e., the copyright holders. Th[is breaks] the community’s implicit social contract, formalized in the source’s copyright license, that control is to be decentralized…

As the paper describes in more depth, unfortunately, unlike copyright, where the default is that you have to do an assignment to lose control of your contribution, in trademark, the default is that you never have control- some central ‘source’ body does. And as a result, you get situations like this one.

Moral of the story, short version: don’t get too attached to the purity and value of a mark which neither you nor representatives you elect have control of.

[Added a few minutes later: I should point out, by the way, that Ubuntu probably has the best trademark policy of any open source project that I’m aware of- it is far and away the most respectful of fair use and non-commercial use. But at the end of the day, because the mark is owned by a body which isn’t legally controlled by the community, things like this can happen, and probably should be expected to happen.]