Linux Foundation rules against use of the Smeegol name

Published by David Gilson at 16:57 UTC, October 28th 2010

After its October 6th release, the Smeegol project (an openSUSE interpretation of MeeGo, which we reported on), has been told by the Linux Foundation that it must find a new name. In a reply to the project, the Linux Foundation said the project's use of the Smeegol name would not beneficial to MeeGo. Read on for more details.

Unsurprisingly, there has been some consternation among the Smeegol community about this. There is thus resistence to change the Smeegol name, which has partly been fueld by the timing of communications.

Andrew Waffa initially contacted the Linux Foundation (via the gmane.comp.handhelds.meego.devel newsgroup) on behalf of the Smeegol project on the 20th of September, 16 days ahead of Smeegol's official release.

Here's an excerpt of his query, the full message can be read here.

So my simple question is, if I use the MeeGo UX can I say "$RELEASE is
based on MeeGo's User eXperience, sitting ontop of $DISTRO.
Complimenting the other Desktop Environments that are on offer, and
offering some additional components (listing components).

On October 6th, the Smeegol project was officially announced by the openSUSE project. However, it was not until the 13th of October that Ibrahim Haddad responded with the following message (the full conversation can be read here):

Hello Andrew,

Please accept my apologies for late reply. This is regarding your request to use:

       Smeegol, an openSUSE release based on the netbook user interface that
       came from the Meego(TM)* project.
       * Meego is a trademark of the Linux Foundation. 

In order to maintain the MeeGo mark, the Linux Foundation must consistently control the use of any form of the word MeeGo and the related logos and characters to avoid confusion.

Unfortunately, from a trademark law perspective, the proposed usage above is absolutely not recommended, as such usage will weaken the MeeGo mark and make it less enforceable.

It is not in the benefit of MeeGo project to use "Smeegol". We therefore can not approve such usage of MeeGo mark in "Smeegol". We understand that you've already announced it and we will be happy to work with you to come up with a different name (for the good of the MeeGo project).

Thank you,
Ibrahim

The term that has been used in other discussions about this is that Smeegol would be a trademark dilution, thus weakening their defence against any other unauthorised use of the MeeGo name.

Subsequent to this, there has been other reactions from the community, such the following, taken from the same newsgroup (source):

Your project [MeeGo] is relying on the bright and successful projects it builds
on, which are provided by others who happen to also be helping with the
Smeegol project. We all build on the shoulders of others, and our
community has a long and deep history of "fun" names for projects
showing where the basis comes from (GNU being one such example.)

In an attempt to remedy the situation, other members of the community have suggested an alternative name. Still inspired by the Lord of the Rings, the name "Dark Rider" has been suggested (source), clearly being no play on the MeeGo name.

A final decision has still yet to be made, although the outcome of this will clearly set an important precidence for other community driven projects wanting to work with the MeeGo code, such as the MeeGolem project which is an interpretation of the MeeGo user experience built upon the Fedora Linux distribution.
   

David Gilson for All About MeeGo, 28th Octobr 2010

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