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Apple Sued Over Unix Trademark 881

Posted by simoniker
from the god-sued-over-apple-trademark dept.
Jerrry writes "CNET News reports The Open Group is suing Apple over unlicensed use of the Unix trademark, after Apple used the term in conjunction with its Mac OS X marketing. Apple, meanwhile, is countersuing to have the Unix trademark declared invalid because the term has become generic."
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Apple Sued Over Unix Trademark

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  • Go, go, Apple, go! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:15PM (#6176429)
    Unix has become a generic term. Removing trademark status would benefit not only Apple, but the free Unixes, Linux and the BSDs.
    • by Aneurysm (680045) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:19PM (#6176477)
      This is true. The underlying technology should be taken into account, rather than just the name used to describe it. Unix is a generic term now, and trying to sue people over a name that describes a large and diverse base of technology is just silly.
    • Unix has become a generic term. Removing trademark status would benefit not only Apple, but the free Unixes, Linux and the BSDs.

      But it would severely hurt the GNU movement. ["it's not unix? Why isn't it unix? Does that mean it isn't free software?"]
    • by keyslammer (240231) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:40PM (#6176640) Homepage Journal
      Unix has become a generic term. Removing trademark status would benefit not only Apple, but the free Unixes, Linux and the BSDs.

      I think there might be a little more to it than that. Just got done reading ESR's OSI Position on the SCO-vs-IBM suit [opensource.org] paper, and it looks like the right to use the Unix trademark is conferred upon vendors who go through a certification process to confirm compliance to Unix standards.

      So it's sort of like if somebody slaps the famous "compact disc" logo on a copy-protected disc - you're advertising conformance to a standard that you don't conform to. That's not to say that apple is necessarily out of compliance with the standard, the point is that the "Unix" trademark is the TOG's "seal of approval".
      • by watchful.babbler (621535) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @09:32AM (#6181053) Homepage Journal
        Unfortunately for the Open Group, their failure to strongly police casual trade use of the term Unix tends to militate against their claim. BSD, for example, is not a licensed Unix (though some BSDs are licensed), but the Bach book certainly considers it so (c. 1986), calling it a Unix "variant." Indeed, were I to purchase a Unix book -- say, the Big Red Book -- and it didn't cover BSD and BSD-derived Unices, regardless of whether they're Open Group certified or not, I'd be much put out indeed, and I think most people would as well.

        A longstanding failure to vigorously ensure that those third-party products only cover licensed Unices or otherwise make clear that unlicensed products are not Unix makes the Open Group's case a tough one to win. Just like asprin, kerosene and the thermos, Unix has arguably long been a generic term for a specific class of operating systems.

        To put it another way, when you hear that an OS is Unix, do you immediately think, "Ah-hah, it's passed the UNIX 93, 95, 98 or Base conformance criteria administered by the Open Group! I can now use the T_TCO_TRANSFAILPROB QoS flag without fear!"

        In any case, nothing can be more ironic than the X/Open version of the famous license plate [unix.org]: "Live Free Or Die: UNIX. (UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group.)"

    • by cait56 (677299) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:45PM (#6177106) Homepage

      Agreed. None of the classic purposes of trademarks apply.

      Apple's labeling of Darwin as "Unix" is neither:

      • misleads consumers.
      • creates confusion with other products
      • impairs the ability of anyone else's product to be recognized.

      Apple's use of the term "Unix" is clearly descriptive. The Open Group is merely seeking testing fees.

      If they have a complaint that Darwin somehow deviates wildly from other "official" Unixes in a way that discourages development of Unix applications I'd love to hear it. As it stands, Darwin is the single largest reminder to developers that Linux is not Unix.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 12, 2003 @02:12AM (#6179076)
        Apple's labeling of Darwin as "Unix" is neither:

        misleads consumers.
        creates confusion with other products


        I have to disagree with you. Although I think Apple has a fabulous product, it clearly is not "Unix". Products that are "Unix" pretty much have one of two characteristics:

        1. Built from a cut of the original Unix code base.
        2. Pass the Single Unix Specification (1170) or a newer incarnation.

        As far as I know, MacOS X qualifies under neither standard.

        MacOS X is a great product, but it is clearly "Unix like" as opposed to A/UX, Apple's System V R2.2 Unix with BSD extensions, may it rest is peace.

        Mislabeling MacOS X, or any other operating system, as Unix clearly confuses issues, such as how easy it will be to move applications from one platform to another, and the way the operating system behaves.

        Commercial "Unix" has by and large been System V since the 80s. The BSD derivatives (like MacOS X) are at a disadvantage in meeting the current Single Unix Specification given the divergence between BSD and SysV. This issue goes back for quite a ways since the power over the licensing of the Unix code and the Unix name have followed the System V code, not BSD.

        The current definition of Unix is in a sense both more strict and more flexible. Since a cut of the Unix source originating from AT&T is no longer necessary, more operating systems could qualify as "Unix", but the Single Unix Specification is fairly detailed so it wouldn't be trivial to pass the test. The Single Unix Specification has been a good thing since it is working to make the commercial System V unixes (AIX, HP/UX, Solaris, Digital Unix, etc.) more compatible.

        As far as qualifying for the "Unix" label goes, Linux is considerably better off from a starting position if Linus wanted it to be "Unix". Unfortunately for Linux, Linus believes that certain POSIX standards are stupid [lwn.net] and doesn't feel bound to stay compatible.

        Although the standards for Unix are clearly defined and available, GNU, the Linux community, and the BSDs often feel no need to converge on the standard. To my mind a fair amount of the work of the Linux Standards Base is pointless. The Linux community could just adopt the 1170 specifications, but instead, like so many things, the Linux community is rolling its own instead of going with an established standard when one exists.

        There is a trade-off between standards and massive innovation. Linux, *BSD, and MacOS are nothing if not innovative. But if the builders of these systems don't want to adhere existing standards then they shouldn't be whining when they are properly referred to as "Unix like" instead of Unix.

        Frankly, if being called Unix is important to the "Unix like" communities, then they should consider doing what Sun does with Solaris. The behavior of a Sun in userland is highly variable depending upon your path. It can behave with: traditional Sun SystemV behavior, BSD behavior, GNU behavior, or POSIX/1170 behavior.

        Frankly, I think it would be a hoot if Apple dusted off the source code for A/UX and layered appropriate parts of it on top of MacOS X.

        New and improved MacOS X!! Now with improved POSIX & System V personalities!!

    • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @09:01PM (#6177265) Homepage Journal
      You're right and wrong. From a technical point of view, it doesn't make any sense to deny that Linux or BSD is a flavor of Unix. But I don't see any logic to the claim that the Unix trademark has gone generic. I've never seen it used in official documents by anybody who hadn't licensed it. (Sun, HP, and all the other Unix biggies have licenses.) Even the online community usually avoids the issue by saying "*nix" or "Unix-like" instead of "Unix". (I don't, because terms like *nix offend my tech-writer's compulsive nitpickiness. But I'm definitely in a tiny minority.) As far as I can see, the Unix trademark is better enforced than such common trademarks as "Kleenex" and "Xerox", and there's no sign that they're in trouble.

      On the other hand, it's not clear to me that Apple has violated the trademark. They are a little sloppy when they talk about OS X's Unix origins [apple.com] -- they really should make it clear that they have no license for the Unix trademark -- but it's perfectly legitimate for them to claim that OS X is derived from Unix.

      Really this is about the Open Group struggling to hang onto the shreds of its dwinding relevence. Sun and HP still go through the motions of certifying their right to use the Unix trademark, but they don't make a big thing about it. And Linux continues to eat into the Unix marketplace, even though it isn't certified as compliant with any Unix specification. It probably could be, if anybody were willing to spend the money. But nobody is, and nobody cares -- which is bad for Open Group.

  • by Davak (526912) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:16PM (#6176433) Homepage
    Yes, in other news the FGA (Fruit Growers of America) is filing suit against Apple.

    "Apple" is pretty damn generic term... get off soapbox!

    Davak
  • Apple should pay up. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sebby (238625) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:16PM (#6176435)
    As much as an Apple fan I am, I think they should pay up; a license is a license, and the Open Group clearly have a trademark of 'Unix'.

    After all, Apple has trademarks of their own, how would they like it if MS or some other company started using them without a license?

  • by puto (533470) <theflatline@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:16PM (#6176436) Homepage
    You know I love Apple as much as the next guy in many respects, although not one of the fanatics who have fallen into the apple marketing hype or a part of the cult(As I love my windows 2000 box as well) and Linux. Well, I love computers.

    Anyway, Apple is getting a little taste of it's own medicine. Didn't they sue somone over them copying, or making a similar color scheme on a pc case?

    And haven't they sued before for things just a frivilous. Apple is fanatic about protecting their ip.

    But maybe they are wrong here.

    Puto
    • by EggMan2000 (308859) * on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:23PM (#6176494) Homepage Journal
      They have also "threatened" to sue mfg'rs of toasters, PC accessories, and other computer mfg'rs for using pastel and bright color schemes on their products.

      They really work to protect their brand more than anything else. I saw a cease and desist they sent to wincustomize.com for somebody emulating the OSX desktop look and feel on a PC.

      Protecting IP is one thing, but Apple is tops when it comes to protecting their brand.

      Personally, I think Apple is in the wrong here. I have seen some of these ads for OSX that basically say "It's just like UNIX" -I mean come-on, at least put a bullet next to the word or something.
      • False (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @09:25PM (#6177449) Homepage Journal
        They have also "threatened" to sue mfg'rs of toasters, PC accessories, and other computer mfg'rs for using pastel and bright color schemes on their products.
        Cite that.

        Seriously.

        Apple has sued other PC makers for too closely copying the iMac. That's their trade dress and they've every right to it.

        However Apple hasn't sued any toaster manufacturers unless you're referring to some of the really bad Compaq designs that ran really hot. Nor blender makers, vacuum manufacturers, not even the George Foreman Grill folks.

        Just PC and OS folks too closely infringing on the iMac's trade dress.

        Go ahead, rebut me. Find a citation where Apple has sued a non-computer related company for infringing. Apple iMac-identical items aside Apple has and can lay no claim to products with swoopy translucent plastic casings in bright colors. Rowenta irons, vTech phones, PaperMate ballpoint pens, all can be as harmonious as they wish with apple's iMac and remain unharassed.

        If you've got a problem with a company go ahead and express it but don't go making things up.

  • by RLiegh (247921) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:16PM (#6176437) Homepage Journal
    I thought that apple paid the Open Group to certify themselves as a Unix, around the time that OS X came out.

    What am I missing here?
    • by Arker (91948) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:16PM (#6176882) Homepage Journal

      I thought that apple paid the Open Group to certify themselves as a Unix, around the time that OS X came out.

      What am I missing here?

      One simple thing. They didn't. Their OS is based on Unix code for certain, it's pretty close to BSD compatible, but it's not Unix(tm) and, as your post shows, they've been marketing it in a way that can be argued to be misleading in that sense.

      There's a big difference between Unix-like (Linux), genetic-unix (BSD) and branded Unix(tm) that's been thoroughly tested and certified by the Open Group. The trademark can't stop people from using the word unix in association with the first two, but it is illegal to use it in a way that implies or misleads that something is in the third category when it's not.

      I don't know all the details here, but it's entirely possible that Apple has crossed that legal line.

      • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:35PM (#6177023) Homepage Journal
        I thought that apple paid the Open Group to certify themselves as a Unix, around the time that OS X came out. What am I missing here?
        One simple thing. They didn't. Their OS is based on Unix code for certain, it's pretty close to BSD compatible, but it's not Unix(tm) and, as your post shows, they've been marketing it in a way that can be argued to be misleading in that sense.

        From The Open Group's own website:

        Acer; Amdahl; Apple; AT&T GIS; Bull; Convex; Cray; Data General; Compaq; Encore; 88 Open; Fuji Xerox; Fujitsu Ossi; Hal; Hewlett-Packard; Hitachi; IBM; ICL; Matsushita; Mips ABI; Mitsubishi; Motorola; NEC; Novell/USL; Oki; Olivetti; OSF; PowerOpen; Precision RISC; Pyramid; SCO; Sequent; Sequoia; Sharp; Siemens-Nixdorf; Silicon Graphics; Sony; Sparc International; Stratus; Sun Microsystems; Tadpole; Tandem; Thompson/Cetia; Toshiba; Unisys; Wang Labs.

        Here's also an osOpinion piece [osopinion.com] from May '01 questioning MacOS X's certification as Unix and at the bottom is an update noting:

        Since osOpinion's publishing of this piece, the Open Group has updated their web site to include Apple into its list of vendors that support the single Unix specification.
        • by Arker (91948) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:57PM (#6177237) Homepage Journal

          Are you sure that doesn't refer to A/UX?

          If I'm not mistaken it is Unix(tm).

        • by Laika (32687) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @09:25PM (#6177445)
          You most certainly should have included the foot note to that list.


          Platform Vendors Supporting the Single UNIX Specification:1

          Acer; Amdahl; Apple; AT&T GIS; Bull; Convex; Cray; Data General; Compaq; Encore; 88 Open; Fuji Xerox; Fujitsu Ossi; Hal; Hewlett-Packard; Hitachi; IBM; ICL; Matsushita; Mips ABI; Mitsubishi; Motorola; NEC; Novell/USL; Oki; Olivetti; OSF; PowerOpen; Precision RISC; Pyramid; SCO; Sequent; Sequoia; Sharp; Siemens-Nixdorf; Silicon Graphics; Sony; Sparc International; Stratus; Sun Microsystems; Tadpole; Tandem; Thompson/Cetia; Toshiba; Unisys; Wang Labs.
          ...


          Footnote 1: This is a list of vendors who have expressed support for the specification and does not constitute any endorsement by The Open Group of the company or their products.

  • by crmartin (98227) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:16PM (#6176439)
    ... because if you took this stuff any more seriously, you'd have to cry.

    SCO suing IBM
    Open Group suing Apple
    Apple suing Open Group

    It's starting to sound like a game of "Six Degrees".
  • MAC OSX is unix (Score:5, Informative)

    by rkz (667993) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:17PM (#6176447) Homepage Journal
    A/UX was Apple's first try at a Unix operating system and was based on System V Release 2.2. But that wasn't where Apple stopped. They added custom extensions from Releases 3 and 4, and the networking and filesystem were from 4.2/4.3BSD. The GUI was System 7.0.1 (for A/UX 3.0.1, the version I use) and Apple's own version of the X Window System called MacX. I would say that this is Unix.

    Another example (closer to Mac OS X) is NEXTSTEP/OPENSTEP. This OS uses the Mach kernel developed at Carnegie Mellon University with major contributions from Avie Tevanian. This Kernel had no natural interface, so to stay with standards, BSD was used as an interface layer (specifically 4.3BSD was licensed to be used). For a GUI, NeXT developed their own application environment (that would one day become Cocoa) and used Adobe's Display Postscript as the display engine (which Apple would replace after Rhapsody with Quartz, which used Apple's Display PDF in place of Display Postscript). There was no version of X Windows shipped with NeXT systems, but a number of people made versions for NeXT systems (much like people are doing today for Mac OS X). I would say that this is Unix.

    I, personally, have a hard time not considering anything that uses either System V or BSD to be Unix. These have been the pillars of this OS, and when not used have been the models for other operating systems. I would not consider POSIX to be a good way to judge a system as being Unix because Windows NT 4.0 was POSIX compliant and it is not Unix.
    • Some history .... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by taniwha (70410) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @01:18AM (#6178793) Homepage Journal
      I worked on the original A/UX kernel (the port wasn't done by Apple, they bought it) - it was V.2.2 (not V.3 or .4), licensed (via UniSoft) from AT&T (so you can't legally make a copy for your friend). It also had BSD 4.2/3 networking added to it.

      Apple added to this a MacOS layer (all of the MacOS ran in a single A/UX process) - I was really impressed with the nifty job they did - if you look at the later A/UX releases when you walk up to a screen you have to look hard to figure out it's not a native MacOS box.

      It only ran on 68k Macs, they let it die when they went to PPC - I still have a copy that boots, rumor is that there's an AUX DNS server still running somewhere in Europe. And of course I go to the A/UX user's group dinner at MacWorld every Jan.

  • It's about time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Space Coyote (413320) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:18PM (#6176454) Homepage
    Apple, meanwhile, is countersuing to have the Unix trademark declared invalid because the term has become generic. Thank the great good lord someone with clout is finally going to push this position. Incidentally I've only ever seen Apple use the phrase 'Unix-based' or 'unix-like' in their advertising literature, but I haven't been exhaustive by any means. It's good to see them at least put up a good fight in the name of the greater good (i.e., stopping Unix snobs from weilding that particular sledgehammer against Linux) rather than just capitulating and signing a cheque, which they're certainly able to do.
  • Next on /. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Sketch (111112) * <mister.sketch@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:19PM (#6176471)
    SCO sues Open Group for illegal suing over the Unix trademark.

    Followed by:
    SCO sues Mr. Sketch for using the term 'Unix' in a public discussion forum without their prior permissions.
  • by eet23 (563082) <eet23@nOSpAM.cam.ac.uk> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:19PM (#6176472) Journal
    If you say "Unix" to me I don't think of the Open Group. I think of things like BSD, or (partially) MacOS X, and Linux is Unix-like.

    If most people look on it that way, the trademark is probably generic.

  • OPEN Group? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LamerX (164968) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:19PM (#6176473) Journal
    Guess they're not so Open about things after all?

    Where do they come up with these names?
    • Re:OPEN Group? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Otter (3800) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:30PM (#6176557) Journal
      The use of the word "open" in the systems world (referring to standards-based systems, in contrast to heavily proprietary minicomputer systems like Prime and VMS) long predates "open source".

      Eric Raymond doesn't own the word "open" any more than Richard Stallman has the right to go around insisting that people are using the word "free" incorrectly. Let them invent their own words.

  • *nix (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rfsayre (255559) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:20PM (#6176483) Homepage
    the use of "*nix" should pretty much prove their point.
  • by qortra (591818) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:21PM (#6176485)
    I have no idea who the "Open Group" is, but it sounds like they pretend to support GNU/Linux. Suing for things like the name "Unix" however seems to me to be very much against the ideals of GNU and the FSF. I'd keep a close eye on this organization; they sound like posers.
    • Sir, inform thyself. The Open Group has no relationship at all to Linux. In fact, at one point they were the proprietors of the X source code, and they were going to close that code, leaving only XFree86 to maintain an open X Window System codebase. (Thankfully, that didn't happen.) They're no special friends of the Linux or *BSD communities, suffice to say. They own the UNIX trademark, and they'll beat you bloody with it.

      That said, I'm surprised I hadn't heard something about this earlier. I wondered many
    • Er, well. Silly as the name `Open Group' is, it follows in the grand late-'80s/early-'90s computing industry tradition of prepending the word `open' to just about anything, regardless of actual openness -- hence `OpenGL,' `Open Software Foundation,' `OpenVMS.'

      In some cases, like OpenGL, it followed an attempt to create an industry standard, and was in some sense actually sort of open, but most of the time it really seemed to mean something like `open to everybody that pays us ten million dollars.'

      Nothing
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:22PM (#6176491) Homepage
    Apple has countersued, asking a judge to declare that the trademark is invalid, because the term Unix has become generic.

    And it has. So many companies have been marketing and otherwise throwing around the name "UNIX" for so long now -- what do you think the chances are that The Open Group formally licensed their trademark to each and every one of them?

    The timing and selection of this lawsuit reeks of convenience.
  • by Vicegrip (82853) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:23PM (#6176500) Journal
    The day just isn't the same without a UNIX related lawsuit.... lately I've been thinking the medieval witch test (the water drowning one) could easily find itself a new vocation in detecting corrupt lawyers.
  • Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by n.wegner (613340) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:24PM (#6176508)
    According to their web pages, NetBSD and OpenBSD are "UNIX-like operating system[s]", and FreeBSD is "derived from BSD UNIX". Since parts of OSX are from FreeBSD, I could see why they can say Unix-based.

    I commend them for taking it to court instead of settling, but surely they should have known that the *BSDs started because of these same issues with the Unix owners. I wonder why they stepped into this minefield.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:24PM (#6176509)
    (http://catb.org/~esr/writings/unix-koans/unix-nat ure.html)

    Master Foo discourses on the Unix Nature

    A student said to Master Foo: âoeWe are told that the firm called SCO holds true dominion over Unix.â

    Master Foo nodded.

    The student continued, âoeYet we are also told that the firm called OpenGroup also holds true dominion over Unix.â

    Master Foo nodded.

    âoeHow can this be?â asked the student.

    Master Foo replied:

    âoeSCO indeed has dominion over the code of Unix, but the code of Unix is not Unix. OpenGroup indeed has dominion over the name of Unix, but the name of Unix is not Unix.â

    âoeWhat, then, is the Unix-nature?â asked the student.

    Master Foo replied:

    âoeNot code. Not name. Not mind. Not things. Always changing, yet never changing.â

    âoeThe Unix-nature is simple and empty. Because it is simple and empty, it is more powerful than a typhoon.â

    âoeMoving in accordance with the law of nature, it unfolds inexorably in the minds of programmers, assimilating designs to its own nature. All software that would compete with it must become like to it; empty, empty, profoundly empty, perfectly void, hail!.â

    Upon hearing this, the student was enlightened.
  • Unix is generic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NavelFozz (33778) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:25PM (#6176516) Homepage Journal
    It has definitely become a generic term. I'd like to see the courts support Apple so that we can all use "Unix" without fear.
    e a generic term. Removing trademark status would benefit not only Apple, but the free Unixes, Linux and the BSDs.
    When was the last time that some company came out with Unix v9.0 or whatever?
  • Making a stand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrekkieGod (627867) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:26PM (#6176525) Homepage Journal
    I'm not an apple fanatic. But I think this demonstrates the character of the company. From the article:

    In any case, no company is required to pay more than $110,000, said Graham Bird, vice president of marketing for The Open Group.

    You know the legal battle will cost much, much more than that...but instead of doing what makes economic sense, they're doing what's right, and taking the burden off the rest of us. Because you know that if the Open Group succeeds, they're probably going to start suing red-hat and other linux distros for explaining that linux is "unix based" in their FAQ.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:27PM (#6176540)
    When someone asks you about "UNIX," what's the first thing that comes to mind? BSD? A Class of Operating Systems? Linux? SCO? Sun? IBM? Apple? DOS?

    I'll tell you what the answer is NOT: The OPEN GROUP. I don't even have a clue what they do. Most people have never heard of them, even most people who know what unix is.

    Also, Apple is accurately describing their OS when they say it is Unix-Based.

    The mark should be generic.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:31PM (#6176564) Homepage Journal
    The goal of the lawsuit is to maintain the Unix Standard. Not a bad thing. The Open Group owns the definition of Unix and the test suite, and of course the trademark. Things that don't certify to the standard can call themselves anything but "Unix". This sort of certification bound with a trademark is compatible with Open Source, and is a way that Open Source proponents have generally recommended that business people protect their brand and trademark.

    Neither Linux nor the BSDs infringe upon this trademark, and of course the Open Group has made significant contributions to the Linux Standard Base (about 95% of the test-suite software, I'm told) and has been working on an Open Source Strategy with me since last year. You'll like it. It's in internal review now.

    If you would like to send a message to the Open Group, I would not be a bad intermediary to use. Please write to me at bruce @ perens.com . I am on the road right now and will not be able to engage in a long debate on Slashdot, so email will be best.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • by Sophrosyne (630428) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:37PM (#6176610) Homepage
    I woke up this morning and ate my Unix brand cereal, talked on the Unix for a while, and then Unixed my car to work.. How can anyone say Unix is not generic!!?
    Apple has a rock solid case, the Opengroup can go Unix themselves
  • by crmartin (98227) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:37PM (#6176615)
    The OpenGroup (which used to be X/Open) is a nonprofit, like the FSF, which owns the trademark and licenses it when a system has successfully passed a compatibility test. The notion is that any UNIX should be (at least approximately) compatible. I'm not at all sure if Linux could pass, since it has, eg, a rename(2) system call in place of unlink. The money that OpenGroup gets is used to continue their standards operation. See

    This press release on the UNIX trademark and SCO [opengroup.org]

    this one on testing and certification. [opengroup.org]

    What the OpenGroup doesn't do is support open source per se -- unlike GPL'ed code, you can be OpenGroup certified and still be closed source. Bad bad OpenGroup, they're not RMS-correct.
  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:38PM (#6176616) Homepage
    Apple, meanwhile, is countersuing to have the Unix trademark declared invalid because the term has become generic.

    Based on what? Are we to understand that frequent use of a trademark renders it generic? That is utterly preposterous. The Unix trademark is as zealously defended as the law requires, and beyond any reasonable doubt it is most certainly not generic. Is "Volkswagen" generic? How about "Coke" when referring to a beverage? Try it out in the marketplace and see how far you get.

    Get real, folks.

    • by realdpk (116490) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:11PM (#6176857) Homepage Journal
      It's quite generic. With regard to your "Coke" example - it's actually "Coca-Cola" - Cola is the generic part there, and anyone can (and do) use it.

      When someone says Unix to me, in my mind, I do not think "Officially Licensed Solaris UNIX", I think, "oh, what flavor?" Is it Coca-Unix, or Pepsi Unix? FreeBSD Unix, or Linux Unix*?

      (Demonstrating, of course, that Coke > Pepsi)
  • Poorly Reported (Score:5, Informative)

    by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:39PM (#6176620) Homepage Journal
    At one point Apple was listed by The Open Group as a fully compliant Unix certified by them. Since then either Apple hasn't continued to pay some sort of licensing fee (yearly?) or each new version of MacOS X must be re-licensed.

    The story really is poorly reported by not including this information, and the rabid /.'ers posting would do well to have done the minimal amount of research before expressing strong opinions (this is the www...)

    In any case the "Unix" certification is one of those check-off items that get used in evaluations so whether or not there's any real value to it there is an effective value. "Unix", "Posix", this-book/that-book compliance; they're common evaluation criteria and having or not having them is very important.

    Of course the question is has "Unix" become a generic word like "Crayon" became or is it still specific to a vendor like "Xerox" or "Kleenex". YMMV but it looks like to me T.O.G. may have a point and paying through the nose may be one of Apples costs for the best selling Unix distribution out there.

  • by post_toastie (649723) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:40PM (#6176631)
    "It's a UNIX system! I know this!!!"

    Did Crichton and Spielberg pay a license for that?

  • strangely amusing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:40PM (#6176637) Homepage

    find the marketing genius that came up with this.

    Apple used the term in conjunction with its Mac OS X marketing

    have the Unix trademark declared invalid because the term has become generic

    At least it seems that apple has now realized its product is generic and is using terms to describe it that way. So much for brand recognition. I find it amusing that the suit and tie crowd in advertising is getting PAID to declare their product generic.

  • by Dagum (26380) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:48PM (#6176715)
    It seems to me that everyone (and I mean absolutely everyone) who has so far posted here is missing one important aspect of this licensing/evaluation issue.

    Unix is a standard. As I understand it, Linux is referred to as "*nix" because it hasn't passed the Open group's Unix standards evaluation. Just as companies are ISO-certified when they meet certain workflow, structural, managerial, and who-knows-what standards according to a very expensive evaluation, an OS will be certified as "Unix" once having been evaluated as specifically matching those standards.

    Investors and entities considering contracting a company's services will use the "ISO-whatever" certification as an indicator that that company has been evaluated to have a certain set of qualities, just as those evaluating operating systems for a project will use the "Unix" certification as an indication of the OS's having met a certain set of standards.

    Now, I'll have to leave the value and full meaning of the "Unix" standard up to someone else to define for us, but the point is that it is not the simple purchase of the right to use a trademark name.

    Starting with Windows NT, there was a "POSIX compatibility layer" in Windows, but I don't believe that Microsoft ever claimed to be offering "Unix." However, if Apple were to win this suit, it is conceivable that the precedent would be set that would allow Microsoft - and anyone else producing an operating system - to claim that their operating systems wer "Unix."

    If the term "Unix" is judged to have become as generic as "Kleenex," then there might well be a need to come up with another name, so that there can be a standard for future reference.

    Personally, I suspect that Apple is not "upholding a principle" by not paying for a name that should be available to all breeds of "*nix," but rather that they know of something or many somethings that would prevent OS X from meeting the Open Group's Unix standard.
    • by shylock0 (561559) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:16PM (#6176883)
      You raise a good issue. However, it's worth pointing out that Kleenex -- and other generic terms like "Xerox," and even "Xerographic" -- are still trademarked and cannot be used by competitors in marketing.

      Still, I believe that Apple has a legitimate claim to the Unix name, and that, contrary to what you say, OS X probably qualifies as a UNIX; at least as much as, say, Solaris does. Furthermore, I think that the case you bring up concerning Microsoft is probably trivial. Microsoft would open itself up to lawsuits based on false advertising, or false representation of goods or services.

      I think legally the "UNIX" label carries with it a set of generic expectations on behalf of the general public, and nothing more. The public would clearly feel misled if Microsoft started marketing Windows as "Unix," as you suggest -- it clearly does not meet the generally accepted definition of what a "Unix" is. Apple's OS X, on the other hand, from any reasonably technical standpoint, clearly meets that definition. This definition is left intentionally vauge by this post, as I firmly believe the defition of a "unix" is vauge indeed.

  • Lawyers (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tsugumi (553059) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @07:49PM (#6176721)
    Is there a special offer on suing technology firms at the moment? "Shopper, head to aisle 5, where you will find a team of lawyers armed with TLA's, right by canned goods"

    Well, I'm suing Apple, Open, SCO, IBM, all you lot, and cowboy neal's mama. Hell, I'm suing my mom too, she uses computers, I betcha she's up to no good.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:11PM (#6176858) Homepage Journal
    As enumerated here [sfvba.org], there are plenty of ways to lose a trademark.

    "Once a trademark is selected, it is important to use it properly. Failure to use a trademark properly can result in loss of the trademark. Ways to lose trademark rights generally fall into three categories. Abandonment occurs when one stops using the mark and has no intent to resume using it. A mark will be lost by actions or failures to take action, that cause the mark to lose its significance. Also, a mark can be lost by becoming *generic* if the public comes to think of a mark as the identity of a particular brand of a product. This is really a subset of actions or inaction causing a mark to lose its significance. For example, some people think that Kleenex brand of facial tissue, Xerox brand photocopy machines, and Band-Aid brand adhesive strips are in danger of falling into this category. "

  • by ziegast (168305) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @08:55PM (#6177204) Homepage
    When BSDI's BSD/386 was first released, they advertised their phone number - 800-ITS-UNIX - implying indirectly that the operating system was a UNIX derivative. Lawsuits ensued, and instead of trying to prove that UNIX was generic, BSDI just changed the phone number to settle on that count. USL defended the trademark.

    That round of lawsuits, though, paved the way for freeing the BSD 4.4 Lite code base to be used by *BSD and Linux operating systems to build their products. Acknowledge the efforts of those people (BSDI and the University of California) when you run your free operating system today.

    The trademark had been defended in the past, and Apple can either try to defend their use of "Unix" (like it seems they're doing) or side-step the issue (like BSDI). Sure, there's alot of pollution in the press where journalists mistake a free operating systems for a "Unix-based" operating system or use the term "unix" generically, but the current trademark owners might have a leg to stand upon when it comes to corporate advertising of a product. I can't think of any company that advertised an operating system as "Unix" and got away with it.

    Frankly, the term "Unix" has as much stigma to it (expensive, incompatable, hard to administer, not Microsoft) as it does positive (stability, scalability, not Microsoft). Apple could do without using "Unix" in its advertising and continue to market the operating system on its own merits. To fight for use of the "Unix" trademark seems to me to be waste of shareholder money. Is the benefit to Apple worth the expense of fighting the lawsuit?

    IANAL; YMMV; yadda yadda yadda

    -ez

    (*) "Unix" is a trademark of <insert company du jour>.
  • by wondercat2 (544298) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @09:28PM (#6177475)
    Slashdot needs a +1, Eloquent moderation for those posts that are, well, eloquent. You know the ones i mean.
  • by bmckeever (224043) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @09:49PM (#6177620)
    Help me remember:
    Monday is patch your windows server day
    Tuesday is patch your Linux box day
    Wednesday is file a Unix lawsuit day?
  • by io333 (574963) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:25PM (#6177867)
    In my mind at least, linux is unix, bsd is unix, and unix is unix. I bet it is for lots of you too. Here is why:

    Say I'm facing a prompt. It could be anything:

    > or

    %a

    or

    whatever>

    So what OS is is it. Let's see:

    ls

    Did ls work? Yes. Ah OK, unix. I know what I'm doing.

    Did it not work. Sh*t. What is it. Is it Prime, VMS, AppleDos, DOS, CPM, etc etc etc.

    Basically. If it has ls built in, it's unix.

    For me anyway.
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:39PM (#6177965) Homepage Journal
    First, as can be seen from the following quote, Open Group sued Apple in 2001 and the issue has been on going from then on:
    The Open Group, also known as X/Open, sued Apple in December 2001 alleging, among other things, that Apple had infringed on its trademark.
    The Open Group also seems to be wanting to get Apple to certify themselves Unix 'compliant':
    The Open Group wants Apple to have Mac OS X undergo testing to certify that it complies with its standards for software bearing the Unix name; it also wants Apple to pay a fee. The Open Group says the costs to license the name are reasonable, based on the size of the company and the rough number of copies of the software Apple sells. In any case, no company is required to pay more than $110,000, said Graham Bird, vice president of marketing for The Open Group.
    $110,000 isn't much for a company like Apple. I am not really sure whether Apple is counter suing because they want to save face or because there is a real feeling that Unix really has become a generic term. I for one never applied it to any one product and think of it more as a general design philosphy

    While thinking about it, I would guess that Apple wants to be to able to use freely the Unix in its marketing, yet also have the freedom to build a system that is based currently on the Unix 'approach' and then branch as they feel necessary. Having to conform to Unix certification would probably prevent the system from evolving as it needs to.

    What is going to be interesting is between this and the SCO vs IBM issue, Unix may just as well be in the public domain. There is so much of the basic workings that is public knowledge and has found itself into numerous computer science text books, I wonder whether anybody can lay a claim to Unix, either as intellectual property or as a trademark.

  • by NickV (30252) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:24PM (#6178232)
    Now I know this post will not be read by many because it's a late one in 500+ comments, and lemme preface by sayign I love Apple... but...

    Why does apple license some ridiculous "technologies and patents" like 1-click shopping from Amazon and then at the same time not bother to plunk down the small amount (i'm sure it is for a company the size of apple) of change to officially get their OS UNIX certified?

    I mean, it should meet the open group's standards, right? My concern is apple might not think it will meet TOG's standards and they'd rather not risk it. (eitherwise, they'd just pay for it like they did with 1-click)
  • by mnmn (145599) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @12:13AM (#6178501) Homepage
    UNIX means all the operating systems certified to be Unix, even in common use of the word. This includes AIX, Solaris, IRIX and HP-UX and excludes BSD, Linux, OSX, minix and Xenix.

    No go about the net looking for software ports. Some are available for UNIX ports, most frequently Solaris on sparc. In many places youd see Unix parallel to Linux as a selection, and you will rarely hear a geek say hes using Unix at home, while hes using FreeBSD or Gentoo.

    Apple is in the wrong and might lose the case. OSX, like BeOS has great merits and has stood under its own name well. Theres a whole community of Darwin users, feeding on the leftovers of OSX, so OS-X is a known and used term. Forcing Unix's meaning here will result in failure, regardless of what we believe Unix SHOULD mean.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Thursday June 12, 2003 @07:38AM (#6180355)
    OG owns the name but not the stuff... SCO owns the stuff but not the name... Apple can't call it by its name but can use the stuff... AH! Yes! Mr. Carroll, care to comment?:

    Alice could only look puzzled: she was thinking of the pudding.
    `You are sad,' the Knight said in an anxious tone: `let me sing you a song to comfort you.'
    `Is it very long?' Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
    `It's long,' said the Knight, `but it's very, very beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it -- either it brings the tears into their eyes, or else --'
    `Or else what?' said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.
    `Or else it doesn't, you know. The name of the song is called "Haddocks' Eyes".'
    `Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested.
    `No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. `That's what the name is called. The name really is "The Aged Aged Man".'
    `Then I ought to have said "That's what the song is called"?' Alice corrected herself.
    `No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The song is called "Ways and Means": but that's only what it's called, you know!'
    `Well, what is the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
    `I was coming to that,' the Knight said. `The song really is "A-sitting On a Gate": and the tune's my own invention.'

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