Bonum Certa Men Certa

Ean Schuessler & Debian SPI OSI trademark disputes

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Apr 23, 2024

[Article 1 year old]

Reprinted with permission from

In our last blog, we looked at Bruce Perens' attempt to covertly ferret away the Open Source trademark.

Now we will look at how the community felt about that. The full thread is available in the debian-private leaks

Many people had put time and effort into creating Debian, the SPI structure, raising funds and generally creating goodwill towards these trademarks.

If Bruce Perens went into a restaurant and walked out without paying the bill we would all agree that was wrong. Therefore, how could he simply walk away with the Open Source trademark and put it into another organization?

Subject: SPI is Debian
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 10:59:41 -0600
From: Ean Schuessler <>

This is not intended to be a flame.
I just want to try and get some things straight and on the level.
I was hoping to delay these discussions until the freeze was over and 2.0 was out. Highly visible public statements that Bruce continues to make preclude that option.
1. SPI was originally formed to service the Debian project and its donations. This was the reason for its inception. Creating SPI was a time consuming and difficult process that consumed money that was donated to the Debian project. The resulting artifact is valuable and belongs to the citizens of the Debian group.
2. In addition to its monetary value as a piece of equipment SPI is the caretaker of several valuable trademarks including: "Debian", "The Debian Penguin", "OpenSource", "Open Hardware" and others. These marks are of special value to Debian and the Open Source movement in general and a private individual or a private group of individuals has no place controlling these marks.
3. SPI has represented itself publicly as being synonymous with Debian and has taken money as Debian ( This would seem to create a precedent for any understanding that SPI is an infrastructure belonging to Debian and answerable to Debian.
4. Posts from Ian Jackson indicated to me that the current board is a temporary "representative democracy" to rule and govern until more formal, rigid and democratic policies, checks and balances can be developed but that it's task was strictly to represent the interests of the Debian group.
5. It is true that SPI may have interests outside of the Debian packaging system. This is true mostly because everything that gets packaged by the Debian packaging system is of interest to the Debian developers and therefore to SPI. These external interests are not separate or distinct from Debian, but supplementary.
I would not be so egotistical as to speak for the Debian group at large. I will speak as a Debian user, advocate and contributor and urge those who agree or disagree to take your usual actions. Therefore, as a Debian user and participant I demand the following:
1. The SPI charter be made publicly available and any other legal documentation concerning its ownership, behavior and responsibilities that is not currently publicly available. (And I would note that its a thin bit of material indeed that is publicly available).
2. The position of the board as to whether they do or do not represent the interests of the Debian group and their responsibilities to us as representatives.
3. A promise from Bruce that he will not publicly represent the orientation, beliefs or direction of the Debian group as anything other than his own opinion effective immediately.
4. Bruce must reverse his confrontational position towards the Debian group and their work or otherwise be removed as a representative of SPI and therefore Debian.
5. A promise towards a time-line or links to developmental documents from Ian Jackson as to future plans for more rigid and democratic rules for the governing of Debian and SPI's actions.
That concludes my remarks. On a personal note I would like to say that I have had numerous enjoyable discussions with Bruce and have found him to be an interesting and charming person. I am frustrated and confused by his recent actions and feel genuinely bad that they have put me in a position to post this confrontational statement. I think that his contributions to the Debian project have been legion and that without his help we would be short of the mark we occupy today. His actions and the issues at stake with the control of the SPI organization require me to speak in good faith.
To Ian Jackson, Ian Murdock, Tim Sailer and other SPI board members I encourage you to consider my remarks carefully and take my assurance that it is the most sincere belief in cooperation and group spirit that motivates me to make this stand. To my fellow developers and participants I charge you to think carefully on these issues and make the decisions that are most compatible with the goals and intentions of Debian and the Open Source movement at large.
Respectfully if not cheerfully, E.Schuessler -- ___________________________________________________________________ Ean Schuessler As above Novare International Inc. so below *** WARNING: This signature may contain jokes.

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