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SubjectRe: [QUESTION] Microsoft, WSL, and the Linux trademark
On Wed, Nov 07, 2018 at 05:06:08PM -0800, Vito Caputo wrote:
> In reading the news today, I stumbled across an article talking about a
> $20 "linux-based distro" app for Windows 10.
>
> This is just a bundled userspace for WSL, there is no actual Linux in
> this thing, yet the trademarked Linux name is used throughout.
>
> Did Microsoft license the trademark or something? Did I miss a memo?
> Does their joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member two years
> ago include such use of the trademark?
>
> I'm confused by what seems to be total silence about what _appears_ to
> be an obvious large-scale trademark abuse in everything WSL-related.
>
> Could somebody informed please shed some light on this?

For information about for the Linux Trademark, please see:

https://www.linuxmark.org/

I'll note that while Microsoft's Subsystem for Linux does not
*contain* Linux, it certainly can run Linux binaries. WSL is not
unique in that regard. Google's gVisor, which is used[1] in Google
Compute Engine's App Engine is implemented in Go and is a Userspace
Kernel, that can also run Linux binaries.

[1] https://cloud.google.com/blog/products/gcp/introducing-app-engine-second-generation-runtimes-and-python-3-7

I can't speak to whether Microsoft registered and received a
sublicense for WSL, or not. Per the FAQ[2] on the Linux Mark
Institute's web site, it would appear that anyone who wants to use
Linux in a product name, whether it's "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" or
"SuSE Linux Enterprise Server" must request a free sublicense and
agree to the terms of the Sublicense Agreement[3]. Technically,
"Windows Subsystem for Linux" is not product name, but a feature. I'm
not a trademark lawyer, so I can't speak to whether this would be
required or whether it would fall under Fair Use of a trademark. For
certain, it would appear to me that "WLinux", Microsoft's distribution
derived from Debian, would be much like "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" as
requiring a trademark sublicense.

If you have further questions that are not answered by the FAQ, the
web site directs people to send inquiries to
trademarks@linuxfoundation.org.

[2] https://www.linuxmark.org/programs/legal/trademark/faq
[3] https://www.linuxmark.org/programs/legal/trademark/sublicense-agreement

Cheers,

- Ted

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