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Robert Burrell Donkin wrote on 2011-06-09 12.22:

In addition, such topics could be covered by a contract. I can imagine,
without speaking officially for the German association here, that there
would have been no problem in signing a contract that sets certain
limitations on what could be done with the assets. Like "You have to keep
the assets, do not sell them, and do not make closed source out of things.
If you cannot manage them at some point in the future, you have to hand them
over to another entity taking care of that.".

True but requires a level of trust in the corporate counter-party (for
anything more than a simple and clean contract). Too often, just
nothing more than a move in the game...

I guess a slight risk that needs to be taken care of exists in all constellations. In the worst (!) situation, Apache could die as foundation, so could TDF. For TDF, it is rather unlikely, as German foundations are built in a way they can not vanish that easily. That's why the incorporation takes so long, and that's exactly why we've voted for Germany. Once you're established, you are approved that your budgets and statutes are safe that a long-lasting foundation is nearly guaranteed.

The question is similar to "What would be if Apache Foundation stopped to
exist tomorrow?".

(Each member has the information required to quickly reboot an ASF clone)

Sure, but what would happen to the assets, as the "reboot" would a different legal entity?

What I want to say: I guess the theoretical risks are as high for Apache than for any other foundation, including TDF.

Will TDF be in a position to easily clone and reboot without serious
damage to the wider ecosystem?

Well, normally, it is not needed, as - see above - German foundations are built in a very stable way. However, in the worst case, I think the situation would be similar to other foundations. The knowledge is public, so anyone could do what we have done. The only question is the legal assets, but that would happen to every entity and foundation. Apache would have the same struggles we would have in the very unlikely event of closing the foundation.

I guess it depends on the type of the exact license. An asset transfer is
"more" than a license, and gives more safety and stability,

IMHO the choice between licensing and ownership is not so simple, and
there are times when licensing has advantages...

Sure. The transfer of ownership in the letter of intent was one option, but for sure a license, if crafted carefully, could serve similar options.

If a legal dispute bankrupted TDF, what would prevent assets
transferred being sold?

The law. Even with the currently existing association there are rules for what the existing property has to be used, in our case public, chartibable purposes, that serve similar purposes as we do. So, selling them to a corporation would be *not* possible when the association gets bankrupt. I guess that it's even more strict for foundations what you can do with your assets.

Could you expand on the precise meaning of "relicensing" in this case?

Basically, what you received from Oracle:
Instead of LGPLv3, the code you have been granted has been (re)licensed unter the Apache license. We asked for having it (re)licensed under the LGPLv3+/MPL. So, we didn't ask for an exclusive license, nor a copyright transfer, but rather for having the existing code licensed under a different license, just as it happened with you afterwards.

AIUI Trademarks have to be defended and maintained. A transfer
therefore implies costs (above an unlimited license, say) but allows
tighter control.

I know, but we have the legal options of maintaining and defeating trademarks. Actually, if that side-note is allowed, I am the one who started approaching the download fraud sites back in 2008 or 2009, in my role as Marketing Project (back then) Co-Lead. So, I am not totally unexperienced in this area. ;-)

Does TDF own rights to the LibreOffice brand?

Yes. "LibreOffice" and "The Document Foundation" are registered trademarks in the EU, other applications pending:

(It still speaks of " Deutschland e.V." as the name change is pending at the registry court; afterwards, the trademark application will read "Freies Office Deutschland e.V.")


Florian Effenberger <>
Steering Committee and Founding Member of The Document Foundation
Tel: +49 8341 99660880 | Mobile: +49 151 14424108
Skype: floeff | Twitter/ @floeff

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