[% setvar title A Trademark on Perl Should be Acquired in Larry Wall's Name %]

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


  Maintainer: Bradley M. Kuhn <bkuhn@ebb.org>
  Date: 30 Sep 2000
  Last Modified: 1 Oct 2000
  Mailing List: perl6-licenses@perl.org
  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 perl6-licenses@perl.org 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 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 either:

And, the license proposed in 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 "Perl".


This RFC proposes the following two measures:

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)