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RFC 354 (v2) A Trademark on Perl Should be Acquired in Larry Wall's Name

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October 1, 2000 17:51
RFC 354 (v2) A Trademark on Perl Should be Acquired in Larry Wall's Name
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=head1 TITLE

A Trademark on Perl Should be Acquired in Larry Wall's Name

=head1 VERSION

  Maintainer: Bradley M. Kuhn <>
  Date: 30 Sep 2000
  Last Modified: 1 Oct 2000
  Mailing List:
  Number: 354
  Version: 2
  Status: Frozen
  Suggests: RFC 346: Perl6's License Should be (GPL|Artistic-2.0)


Larry Wall should trademark the term "Perl" in the area of Computer
Software, and license the use of the term "Perl" freely for use only when
referring to the Standard Version of the Perl language and its
implementation, perl.


No one objected to this, and those on the list who
did speak up seemed to feel that this was a good idea.


One of the goals stated in the Preamble of the Artistic License was to grant
the author (i.e., Larry Wall) some artistic control over what happens to
things that are called "Perl".  This is a reasonable goal, and L<RFC346>
proposes some changes to the Artistic License that will enforce this is much
as possible with copyright law while keeping the Artistic license an open
source and free software license.

Sadly, copyright law only covers copying, modifying, and distributing copies
of an item.  It is difficult to permit these activities in the spirit of
open source and free software, while still holding complete artistic
control.  My reading of the the license of Perl is that it attempts to
handle this problem by requiring redistributors to I<either>:

=over 8

=item (a)

rename the Package completely so it's not called "Perl" or "perl', or

=item (b)

make the modified version available as open source and free software.


And, the license proposed in L<RFC346> attempts to require this much in a
legally sound way.

However, more can be done.  

Copyright law is limited in this area, because it isn't designed to control
the names of things.  That issue is covered by trademark and service mark
law.  Thus, we can ensure that things called "Perl" are really Perl by
obtaining a trademark on Perl, and licensing that trademark in a way that
allows only those distributing the Standard Version of Perl to use the name


This RFC proposes the following two measures:

=over 8

=item (1)

Larry Wall obtains a trademark on the word "Perl" when used to refer to
computer software.

=item (2)

Larry Wall licenses the use of his trademark freely to anyone who is
distributing software or documentation that contains or describes the
Standard Version of perl, as made available by the original authors and
copyright holders of perl.  Modified versions of perl and the documentation
thereof are prohibited from having the term "Perl" in their name.


This trademark, combined with the (GPL|Artistic-2.0), will together ensure
that things that are called "Perl" really are Perl.


The Artistic License

RFC 346: Perl6's License Should be (GPL|Artistic-2.0) Perl Programming lists via nntp and http.
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