[openbeos] Re: Please stop this nonsense.

  • From: "Michael Phipps" <mphipps1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2002 14:32:25 -0400

I am pretty sure that I have said this before, but maybe not...

The project needs a name. Like Linux has a name. Linux itself doesn't do 
distributions. But it has a name. And so do we. "I work on a project without a 
name" doesn't sound too good. ;-)

Whether we do distros (and we are are not), we need to be called something. I 
appreciate your perspective that we should use a name that plays on Be's. Many 
people felt that way, judging by the entries that we had. Unfortunately, it is 
somewhat questionable, legally. Remember that we are cloning an API and a "look 
and feel". Not that either of those things are illegal, mind you. But they 
certainly do make a difference when a judge is determining things like "Does 
this name intend to create confusion in the marketplace?". Very much so. 
OpenBeOS is just such a name. I (and my lawyer) feel that OpenBeOS would be 
ruled as a name created to "link" us to them. Which is questionable, legally. 
People could easily be confused between OpenBeOS and BeOS. Lindows (which is 
often brought up to me as a counterpoint) would very much have this issue, 
***IF*** Microsoft hadn't chosen a name that is very commonly associated with 
what their product does. You can not name a product "Spreadsheet!
" and then accuse all others of impinging on your trademark. In the same way, 
Microsoft's choice of a highly generic term caused them to lose in the Lindows 
case. BeOS is not generic. It is very specific. 

Your allusion to OpenOffice is the same situation - a generic term. Microsoft 
is going to be bitten by their naming more and more. I can't believe they chose 
.Net as a name. I could see a competitor with a .net URL saying "we are .net. 
Foo.net." And get away with it. Because they chose a (stupid) generic name.

As far as unelected selections, I am not sure why you would say that. They were 
elected. By the admin team. Because I was not about to put 3300 names up on the 
website for people to vote on. That is a waste of everyone's time. Stuart and I 
chose about 100 names (weeding out BAnything, fake entries, ridiculous names, 
legally unusable names, etc). We put them up to the admin team. These are the 
15 that they/we chose. I am sorry if you (and others) don't like them. I really 
am. We worked really hard on this, believe it or not. And, to be honest, *NOT 
ONE* of the "you should have picked this name: foo" ideas has made everyone 
jump up and say "Ah - yes - the Grail has been found". Why is that? Well, 
because everyone has a different idea and vision for what the name should be. 
Half of the people think that anything ending in OS is played out and dumb. 
Others (like yourself) like it. Some people don't like bugs or feminine words 
or english or whatever. And that is fine. Everyone is!
 entitled to their opinion. But, unless we want a Tower of Babel, we can't all 
pick our own pet name. We have to pick one common name. What I have learned 
from this exercise is that you can't please all of the people all of the time 
and, generally, you can't even please many more than 1/2. I am sure that many 
people will not like whatever is chosen. I really do regret that. But OpenBeOS 
and OBOS are not viable. This is not just random opinion - I spoke with a 
highly experiences law professional who does this for a living. His 
professional opinion is that any name that incorporates Be, Inc or BeOS is not 
viable. Any obvious connection in the name is not viable. They would leave the 
project open for a law suit. If I (personally) get really lucky, they might 
choose to not press for damages, so it would be a simple cease and desist. If I 
personally do not get really lucky, they could sue me personally for damaging 
their trademark and, if they win, be awarded damages 3X the asses!
sed damage. Plus their court costs and mine. Oh - and the cost to fly to 
California to defend myself. If that is not enough reason to change our name, I 
don't think that I could ever justify it to anyone. :-)

>What, exactly, is the purpose of setting a new name, if we're not even
>doing distributions?  Won't that really confuse people?  Someone might as
>well take WalterOS (or whatever stupid name we put on it) and make a
>distro called "OpenBeOS".  I'll bet you whoever does that will have the
>most popular distro.
>Unless we really have a good name.
>Ultimately, we should play on the trope that BeOS had, by using a
>super-common grammatical construct.  That's why I suggested "IsOS" --
>conjugating 'Be' into the present tense -- the subjunctive nature of the
>verb form 'Be' -- might have forshadowed its demise.
>TheOS (though I think there already is one)
>Or, play off of them in other language, maybe?  (weaker)
>KonOS (Japanese)
>CetOS (French)
>You're losing something real behind the personality of BeOS choices, with
>those unelected selections.  They would make great codenames (a la BeOS
>Genki-4.5) but in my opinion, not the official name.
>It's really really hard to beat OpenBeOS (look at OpenOffice.org)

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