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GNU, the "UNIX" trademark, and legal control over language

From: mike3
Subject: GNU, the "UNIX" trademark, and legal control over language
Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2008 23:52:38 -0800 (PST)
User-agent: G2/1.0


(Sorry if this is xposted to too many groups, I didn't know which ones
were most suitable :( Please tell me which ones are if I got any of
these wrong.)

Why can't GNU systems, BSD systems, etc. be called "unix systems" in
everyday conversational language? How does The Open Group's ownership
of the UNIX(R) trademark trample on our ability to use "unix systems"
in everyday conversational English? It may trample on the ability to
sell or advertise such systems as "Unix systems", but that's not the
point, I'm talking about conversational English here -- UNofficial
names, not official branding. Is the US Government, and perhaps those
of other countries, (maybe even international treaty!) actually
capable of regulating the language like that? Although GNU stands for
"GNU's Not Unix", which it isn't as in it's not officially UNIX(R) as
certified by The Open Group, why can't I throw it under the envelope
of "unix systems" in common speech? Why do we have to use contrivances
like "Unix-like", "*nix", "UN*X", "*N*X*", "u*x" or whatever, like
just lumping it all under the simple term "unix systems" is going to
get one into trouble? I, personally, do not think a government should
be able to control the language in this way. "Unix" is not some dirty
word -- yes it has four letters, but that shouldn't make it dirty, and
trademarking has to do, or at least _should_ have to do, with the
names one markets a product under, not what names we should choose to
use to refer to something in our everyday speech.

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