The OSI/SPI situation (was Re: [DRAFT 3]: Charter for the Open Source Committee)

From: "graydon(at)pobox(dot)com" <graydon(at)pobox(dot)com>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: The OSI/SPI situation (was Re: [DRAFT 3]: Charter for the Open Source Committee)
Date: 1999-11-09 04:22:06
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As a bit of an outsider (well, not _too_ far outside) looking into
this process, it's clear to me that OSI and SPI have had some fights,
and so everyone is pissed off and accusatory, which makes any sort of
sane monitoring of what's going on a little tricky. You have to cut
through a lot of noise of people blaming each other for debacles,
crises, boondoggles, and other highly political and pointless turns of

I was wondering if everyone could chill out and forgive the past for
long enough to give precise (short; please please short) answers to
some questions:

(1) What kind of a legal entity / organization is OSI? It says on the
website that it is a nonprofit seeking 501(c)3 in California. What
does this mean, particularly outside Cali? How is it legally or
financially related to SPI?

(2) Has anyone outside OSI (who, forgive the implication, have a
vested intrest) confirmed that the "Open Source" trademark is non

(3) Has the Open Source trademark, in its legally registered form
(enforceable or not) lapsed, as in timed out, as in
no-longer-exists? Or does anyone have a piece of paper somewhere
which says "Bobo owns the trademark 'Open Source'". If so, who is
Bobo? And what is the juristiction of the trademark?

(4) whois says Darren and Martin are contacts for the domain
opensource.(org|net), whereas Bruce and Tim are contacts for
open-source.(org|net). Who is on which board, and who is trying to
hold/transfer which domain(s)? It sounds like there's some
disagreement on this too. Who here actually feels like it's
"their" domain and they should be the contacts? Everyone? Why do
they feel this way? Do they have any legal grounds for this
feeling? This probably depends a little on #1, doesn't it? Does
anyone here know enough Domain Name Law" to know which of the 2
organizations can hold claim to which names? (remember, short

(5) OSI was, by SPI's (self-interested) telling, established to
monitor the Open Source trademark, which SPI owns. OSI claims
(truthfully or not) that this trademark is defunct, and is now
certifying software using the "OSI Certified Open Source"
certification mark. At this point, is OSI effectively saying that
they (the board members) do not want to have anything to do with
the SPI board members anymore? If so, why not just say so? What is
tying the two groups together if they disagree, goodwill? In other
words, how is any of this different from me going out and making a
Funky Software Initiative, and beginning to certify things
Certifiably Funky Open Source? Certainly SPI would not have
anything to do with that -- why is OSI any different anymore? Is
is it just the domain name?

(6) out of curiosity: does SPI have any plans on forking another group
to certify things, assuming that OSI's certifications are not
agreeable? Or is OSI doing right by SPI these days? If not, is
there any legal or financial recourse?

Sorry, I know these are probably heated questions for some, but
untangling politics is excruciatingly slow going, and I'm just trying
to work out what's happening. Please don't take this as fuel for
flames. I just want to get a picture of the current situation as each
group sees it.



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