Trademarks, patents and copyrights in free, libre software

There is the on-going question how trademarks, patents and copyrights can bring free, libre software into trouble and issues. So first to summarize the worst points:

  • trademarks could affect the redistribution freedom
  • patents can affect to write compatible code, especially aggressive stated ones in regards of reverse engineering

Hyperbola as system is oriented to make true free, libre software possible and included. Following up the definitions:

  • free patents (eg. non imposition of forbid inverse enginerring)
  • free copyright
  • free trademark (eg. non imposition of permission for redistribution)

Especially trademarked programming languages leaving no other option as to rebrand and indirect or direct fork them are here major issues. But also patented algorithms that make it impossible to recreate or modify them, leaving critical parts of a system only perhaps some very small number of possible ways to implement or even worse with no other concurrent option for interfaces, drivers or relevant parts. Examples of problematic projects are Rust, Java / OpenJDK and PHP named for programming languages.

We know about assumptions and statements it would be possible to rebrand for example Rust. But in fact this is beyond what is really needed and impossible for any user to do alone: All references, source-code, further needed documentation and more. Also to point out that projects like Debian asked for approval and permission to patch, as an example here for Mozilla Firefox. But this was only approved for Debian, not any other system and possible derivates.


Mozilla recognizes that patches applied to Iceweasel/Firefox don't
impact the quality of the product.
Patches which should be reported upstream to improve the product always
have been forward upstream by the Debian packagers. Mozilla agrees about
specific patches to facilitate the support of Iceweasel on architecture
supported by Debian or Debian-specific patches.

More generally, Mozilla trusts the Debian packagers to use their best
judgment to achieve the same quality as the official Firefox binaries.

In case of derivatives of Debian, Firefox branding can be used as long
as the patches applied are in the same category as described above.
Ubuntu having a different packaging, this does not apply to that


Hyperbola does not accept those questions for permission and therefore also rejects integration of software-projects following those methods. We see also possible further risks as this is not finally cleared up and only referenced towards “rebranding”, ending again in the already explained problems.

Are there really no solutions?

As more than once underlined full rebranding for the system is no solution. It is a complete fork in work, not a script, not a command. And it could be told multiple times that this would be somewhat possible, it stays an illusion. Even rebranding and reworking smaller applications can be a massive amount of work. We don't and can't take this work!

Generic a fork is surely helping, when it includes also rebranding and changing the licensing to a really free, libre and permissive model. Relying just on top of projects to grant some rights without respecting all freedoms of the users and developers is not an option for Hyperbola. Others may see and handle that different!