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Hardware Hacking Linux Business

Bluetooth SIG Attacks Linux Bluetooth List 127

Posted by Hemos
from the battle-royale dept.
Karma Sucks writes "As reported in the latest free edition of LWN the Bluetooth Qualification Administrator has demanded that the Linux BlueZ project take down the highly-useful Bluetooth hardware compatibility list for Linux with the intimation that 'As neither of these products have been qualified using Linux it is illegal to make them available for public use'. This was apparently done at the request of a registered member of the Bluetooth SIG. Anyone know who this member was?"
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Bluetooth SIG Attacks Linux Bluetooth List

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  • Old news (Score:2, Informative)

    by kappa (104316)
    This issue is almost one year old. The page under link was last modified in April.
  • by keraneuology (760918) on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:36AM (#14339639) Journal
    The Bluetooth SIG has established its global headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, USA.

    Who hangs out near Belelvue, WA and would object to anything linux-related?

  • Illegal...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:39AM (#14339646)
    In what way exactly is it illegal to post a list of information like this, even with all the dumb laws the USA is passing these days...?
    • by RedLaggedTeut (216304) on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:54AM (#14339697) Homepage Journal
      Bluetooth products have to pass a test-suite. Not all of the software might have been tested or be able to pass the test.

      I believe they still should be able to publish the list, they just should must avoid somehow to carry the "Bluetooth"-tag. Maybe Linux should just make up a fancy new protocol name like "Redbeard" or so for the protocol :-P
      • "Bluetooth products have to pass a test-suite."

        Did Congress pass a law stating that? I'm guessing not.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I agree with your point, but "Bluetooth" is probably a registered trademark and in order to use it on anything you need to comply with the terms of the trademark owner, which in this case probably includes passing a test suite and sending them $x.

          So it's not *directly* illegal, you just run the risk of a trademark violation lawsuit, unless you call it something else.
          • It still doesn't make sense though. You refered to Bluetooth in your post and I'm guessing you didn't ask Bluetooth for permission to do that.

            I don't think that they have the right to stop people from using the term. This is simply a case where the BT doesn't like certain information and is throwing around their weight to stop it from being published.
            • by LDoggg_ (659725) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:46PM (#14339846) Homepage
              It still doesn't make sense though. You refered to Bluetooth in your post and I'm guessing you didn't ask Bluetooth for permission to do that.

              He isn't trying to sell his post.
              • It still doesn't make sense though. You refered to Bluetooth in your post and I'm guessing you didn't ask Bluetooth for permission to do that.

                He isn't trying to sell his post.


                The Linux BlueZ site wasn't selling anything either.

                • by LDoggg_ (659725)
                  The Linux BlueZ site wasn't selling anything either.

                  Probably not, but companies with products listed with the bluetooth logo are very likely trying to make a profit.
                • The Linux BlueZ site wasn't selling anything either.

                  Not entirely true, they was "selling" the fact of which devices having support/works with Bluez/Bluethooth under Linux. They where not charging any money for it, but does not matter. Non-profit organizations are not exempt form trademark law either.
                  • Whether or not anything is be sold is irrelevant. A trademark owner can prevent others from use his mark to label their products or in ways that might confuse the public as to what is being sold, but he cannot prevent them from using it to refer to his products. Nominative use is not restricted. The list was stating simple facts about Bluetooth products. This is entirely legal, no matter how much the trademark owner may dislike it.

                    • Exactly.

                      Datel, MadCatz, Recoton, etc., have referred to the Playstation 2, Gamecube, and Xbox by name on the packaging and in the documentation and software for their unlicensed console accessories for years. Sony, Nintendo, and MS hate them for it, but there's nothing they can do.
                    • BlueZ's use of the word bluetooth was in no way diluting the trademark of bluetooth, bluetooth is the factual name of an underlying technology. Saying 'bluetooth compatible' is like saying 'ibm compatible'.

                      Cheers.
        • by Quarters (18322) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:54PM (#14339866)
          It's called trademark. Congress passed laws protecting registered trademarks quite a long time ago. The owner of the Bluetooth trademark is legally obligated to protect their mark. If they don't the mark can be considered as falling into general use and then they will lose any legal protections the trademark currently gives them.
          • It's called trademark. Congress passed laws protecting registered trademarks ...

            My understanding was that this is a patent issue, not a trademark issue. If the Bluetooth protocol is patented technology, then isn't it true that you can't market products that use it without permission from the patent holders?

            I have always thought that this is what the SIG was created to do.

          • A trademark is not a copyright. A trademark owner has no power over nominative uses of the mark such as the subject list (or this discussion, for that matter). The list is entirely legal and need not have been removed.
            • A trademark owner has no power over nominative uses of the mark such as the subject list (or this discussion, for that matter).

              A judge decides whether or not a use is nominative, and when you bring in judges, you bring in trademark attorneys, whose services tend to run too expensive for individuals to afford.

            • You're very correct. Moreover, the fact that this guy caved without even so much as a whiff of any sort of threat of legal action, just because someone said the magic word "illegal" is utterly horrifying. It's like paying cash for hostages. The result is just more kidnapping. Don't bend over for idle threats, people!
          • The owner of the Bluetooth trademark is legally obligated to protect their mark.

            As in, no one else can trade under that name without their permission, or confuse and mislead people into thinking that a product is a "Bluetooth" product when it's not. PERIOD. You can say "Bluetooth" until you are blue in the face, so long as it's established that the mark is not yours. You CANNOT prevent someone from saying or printing "Bluetooth".

            Personally I think Bluetooth sucks,
      • by standbypowerguy (698339) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:29PM (#14339796) Homepage
        The list is still there. From http://www.holtmann.org/linux/bluetooth/devices.ht ml [holtmann.org]:

        "I am keeping the features document, because it has nothing to do with Linux. These products are available on the market and thus all of them should be qualified. If the HCI Version field is filled in this table, then this device should also work perfect with Linux."

        The "features document" can be accessed at http://www.holtmann.org/linux/bluetooth/features.h tml [holtmann.org]. Just look for an entry in the "HCI Version" field to verify the device works with Linux.

      • > I believe they still should be able to publish the list, they just
        > should must avoid somehow to carry the "Bluetooth"-tag.

        Nonsense. Publishing a list does not infringe a trademark. No one owns the word "Bluetooth". Trademarks are not copyrights.
        • No one owns the word "Bluetooth". Trademarks are not copyrights.

          Maybe I should have made myself more clear what I meant by "tag".

          It would infringe for any product listed that named itself "Bluetooth something". Then there would be some grey area for products that had to do with bluetooth, but were somewhat remote from the actual device, in this case it would be fair use to call it e.g. "protocol adapter for bluetooth".

          IMHO, this is not a situation were intellectual property is claimed too unfairly, since

      • How about "Chilldent", blue=cold=chilled, teeth are replaced with dentures...there for "Chilldent", and the first part also has a double meaning refering to "chilling" of free speech...

        ttyl
                  Farrell
      • As far as I know you can't hunt down and kill individuals for using your trademark in discussion of your product. If you could then life would be crazy.

        "What'd you have for lunch today."
        "A burger and fries."
        "Where from?"
        "I can't tell you."
        "What?"
        "They have spies everywhere. Keep an eye out for guys in clown suits."

        It really wouldn't work. So unless you're selling their product or had signed some sort of agreement I don't think they could do much about non-commercial use of their trademark. Hell if anyone wa
      • Maybe Linux should just make up a fancy new protocol name like "Redbeard" or so for the protocol :-P

        Or just simply call it "notBlueTooth"
        or the short !BlueTooth
        There... no product or name confusion possible. Not ever trademark infringment either :)

    • by aminorex (141494)
      It's illegal in the sense that Microsoft makes the laws.

      You are so fucked.
    • In what way exactly is it illegal to post a list of information like this, even with all the dumb laws the USA is passing these days...?

      It's just like the GPL, you only have the right to distribute if you comply with certain terms. If I make an appliance that uses Linux internally and I refuse to provide the source code to the kernel isn't that illegal also? Still a dumb law in your mind?
      • It's just like the GPL, you only have the right to distribute if you comply with certain terms. If I make an appliance that uses Linux internally and I refuse to provide the source code to the kernel isn't that illegal also? Still a dumb law in your mind?

        In what way is your example anything at all like publishing a list of compatible hardware?

    • It's probably 'illegal' because the dude didn't pony up money to the bluetooth cabal.
    • The fact that this guy actually bent to their will and took the information down is the worst part.

      He should have either:

      1. Stood up to them and demanded an explanation that *wasn't* vague and disengenuous.

      2. Arranged for the information to be hosted in a part of the world that respects free speech. (Assuming such places actually exist any more).

      3. (If 2 isn't possible) Arranged for the server to be moved to a basement belonging to some militia group in Wisconsin (for example) who would only be told that it
    • One possibility would be using the "Bluetooth" trademark without permission. But as far as I know, that would only apply when selling something (i.e., a non-commercial list is no more illegal than this Slashdot posting.)
  • Erm (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChrisJones (23624) <cmsj-slashdot&tenshu,net> on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:41AM (#14339655) Homepage Journal
    This happened back in March. it still sucks though.

    The list is available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20050310010832/http://w ww.holtmann.org/linux/bluetooth/devices.html [archive.org]
    • It's the end of the year, and /. is reposting its best dupes from 2005 (and 2004 and...)

      the AC
    • From where I've just downloaded it so that I can mirror it (but not until the Slashdot feeding frenzy has died down, I don't want to slaughter my own servers).

      As I am not and never have been a party to the 'Bluetooth License Agreement', and since the list is copyright Marcel Holtmann, not the Bluetooth SIG, I think they can go whistle about asking me to take it down.

      Why don't you

      • by Simon Brooke (45012) *

        Which I've now done, and the location should be obvious to any moderately sentient being. However, please be kind and get your copy from archive.org [archive.org], because they've got shedloads more bandwidth than I have.

        To those people who say 'there's no point' for one reason and another, the point is that if people get used to the idea that the only thing you achieve by taking down something like this is a whole raft of mirrors, we'll see far fewer such takedowns.

  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cinquero (174242) on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:42AM (#14339657)
    I don't care. If there is no open-source driver for Linux, I simply won't buy the product. If they can live with that, I can do so too.
    • Actually, it happens that if you install the BlueZ stack, you can access bluetooth devices without any special drivers. I went out and picked up a Linksys USB bluetooth key and it fired right up and works without a hitch. There are a bunch of standard tools used to perform discovery of other devices and establish connections, and various programs to implement the protocols needed to talk to specific features on these devices.
    • Re:So what? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If I find a product in a Linux-compatible list, I'm much more likely to buy the product. The harder it is to confirm something works under Linux, the greater the chance that I'll buy something else which I can confirm more easily. And if something doesn't work with Linux then someone gets to process a returned item; that has some effect on future sales.
  • Ok, maybe my English isn't as good as I thought.
    But wtf is the problem anyway?
  • "unofficial" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 198TFour (201363) on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:52AM (#14339691)
    easy - cant they just rename it the "unofficial compatibility list" and put in some "this is nto official bla bla bla in small print" or better yet - tell the bluetooth peopel to get lost
  • Please note that the use and distribution of non-qualified products is a violation of the Bluetooth License Agreement. As neither of these products have been qualified using Linux it is illegal to make them available for public use. The products haven't been "qualified" so why is everyone bitching and moaning. Instead wasting time and resources crying foul, why not take that same effort and qualify them. I'm sure if MS went and used some source code without posting INSERT_LICENSE_SCHEMA_HERE the community
    • If you click through to the original comment by the administrator who removed the list, he didn't have any clue what the hell their point was either - this is just a damn compatibility list, they're not distributing anything other than a list of names - but removed it anyway just in case.
  • License Agreement? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) on Monday December 26, 2005 @11:54AM (#14339700)
    The rest of the quote from LWN states:


    Please note that the use and distribution of non-qualified products is a violation of the Bluetooth License Agreement.


    What I'm curious about is what is this license agreement and did the guy running this list agree to it?

    • Against an agreement != illegal, dammit.

      •   Against an agreement != illegal, dammit.


        Well, if he agreed to it, then yes it would be illegal. They're called contracts. However if it is just the usual kind of license "agreement" as the software industry usually uses that term then sure, those aren't worth the paper they're printed on. But we don't know what kind this is...

      • Against an agreement != illegal, dammit.

              Hey it worked for Hollywood, it might work for software too if they whine loud enough and bribe the right politicians...
    • Bluetooth is a propietary technology; standardisation is being worked upon (IEEE 801.15). There are several patents involved on the technology, therefore companies that wish to use it sign a licensing agreement. I can't get a hand on the exact terms, though I read that it's royalty free.
      • by Danse (1026) on Monday December 26, 2005 @01:03PM (#14339892)

        Bluetooth is a propietary technology; standardisation is being worked upon (IEEE 801.15). There are several patents involved on the technology, therefore companies that wish to use it sign a licensing agreement. I can't get a hand on the exact terms, though I read that it's royalty free.

        AFAIK, you don't need a license to talk about something on your website, even if it's patented or trademarked or what have you. I think the complaint was a bunch of hand-waving threats that unfortunately had the intended effect without having any legal weight behind it.


      • Bluetooth is a propietary technology; standardisation is being worked upon (IEEE 801.15). There are several patents involved on the technology, therefore companies that wish to use it sign a licensing agreement


        But he wasn't using any patent, just distributing factual information about some products out there...

  • Of course (Score:2, Funny)

    by Lipsius (880028)
    Anyone know who this member was?

    CowboyNeal, of course. Any doubts?
  • Fair Use (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Since when do you have to agree to a license to provide a commentary? I believe this to be fair use. Since when did we agree to waive our free speech rights?
  • by PSaltyDS (467134) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:29PM (#14339794) Journal
    I may be missing something obvious, as I never used this list before seeing this article, but I didn't understand the statement:

    "...a registered member of the Bluetooth SIG complained about the non-qualified use of Bluetooth products on this page..."

    The cynic in me ASSUMES "member" is Microsoft, but my inner cynic is sometimes wrong. My question is what "Bluetooth products" were on that page? To be "on the page" implies text or a list, not a device. Did the BlueZ page copy some table or something from a Bluetooth source? It might have helped if he had posted the whole complaint, not just this statement, but maybe he lawyer-beaten into only posting that much.

    "Whether or not you're selling them makes no difference."

    Selling what? As I understand it, this was just a compatibility list. What might they have been selling-yet weren't.

    "The problem is due to the distribution of them from your Web site."

    Again, what are "them" that they are distributing, but not selling?

    "Please note that the use and distribution of non-qualified products is a violation of the Bluetooth License Agreement."

    Once more, what products? This hints at calling things "Bluetoth" that are not, which would be a trademark issue, I guess. But what product are they talking about?

    "As neither of these products have been qualified using Linux it is illegal to make them available for public use."

    'Neither' means two 'products' have not been 'qualified' (by Bluetooth SIG, I gather), but what products and how are they illegal? I was looking for something like a claim to be "Bluetooth" without permission, but is that what the BlueZ list did? If so, how does that become a takedown instead of a rewording? For example, if they had said "The following devices are Bluetooth certified on Linux", they could just say "The following devices, which are Bluetooth certified under other operating systems, work under Linux too, though that is not certified by the Bluetooth SIG."

  • I wonder if the author of the list contacted EFF for some legal assistance? It would appear to me that listing consumer opinions of how one product works with another can not be illegal.

    Granted, saying the list is a BlueZ Bluetooth(tm) Hardware Support List when the BlueZ stack is an officially tested stack seems reasonable if the Bluetooth "standard" is well defined. But even then, if their issue is that the hardware was not tested on BlueZ on GNU/Linux, then change the list title, don't remove the list. A
  • by Anonymous Coward
    His name was "Anonymous Coward"

    No, not me. Wrong Anonymous Coward. One of the other ones.
    • Was it the Next Guy? That man is just such a seething touchstone of hatred! (Oh sure, a few people like things as much as the Next Guy but it's always followed with a "but".) Everyone hates some things as much as the Next Guy, but he seems to hate everything!
  • It never ceases to amaze me how so many organizations and their lawyers think they can stifle free speech on the internet. The internet just doesn't respond that way. They're only highlighting the obvious need for this information. I wonder how many people didn't know about this before their action who now do and will simply google their way to it...
    • We need MUCH stronger SLAPP laws. I'd like to see filing a SLAPP suit made a federal crime, with jail time and HUGE fines behind it. Possibly even severe punishment for any lawyer involved in such a thing. Perhaps we should all write our Congressmen and bring the issue up. I tend to be pretty cynical about them, but it can't hurt to ask.
  • an apparent update from the situation in March, from TFA:

    "Since April, 11th 2005 the BlueZ protocol stack is qualified as a Bluetooth subsystem. Companies can now use this listing to qualify their adapters with Linux support."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this now render the issue moot? The reason the SIG was interested in taking the list down was because BlueZ wasn't qualified. Now it is (or rather, back in April it became) qualified, so what is the issue here?


    The list still does not seem to be up, although I didn't look very hard for it. So is there something still blocking it?

  • Here is the page as it used to look before it was brought down:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20050310010832/http://w ww.holtmann.org/linux/bluetooth/devices.html [archive.org]
  • The issue (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gladmac (729908)

    I think the issue is this. There is a rigorous framework in place for how to qualify your devices, and the Bluetooth interest group is making a lot money conducting that qualification. In fact, it might be their main source of income. It's not necessarily a bad thing either if the testing is good and helpful, and the price for it is fair (I assume it's not, but anyway).

    Having third party compatibility lists cropping up undermines the power the group has to force hardware vendors to pay for qualification.

    • Also, I guess the "illegal" part is bogus as far as the site owner goes.
      You could be right — but you still need to qualify such a statement with IANAL. Ideally, one should never make decisions about how to respond to this kind of demand without talking to a lawyer. Then again, if you can't afford a lawyer, it makes sense to comply even if you think the demand is bogus. Which is what seems to have happened with the site in question.
      • You're right, IANAL. And I would probably also have complied. Getting the story posted on /. is a smart move though:)
      • You could be right -- but you still need to qualify such a statement with IANAL.

        Rubbish. This attitude is what has us in this mess in the first place. He doesn't have to qualify ANYTHING. He might be a lawyer, and he might not. Who cares? You should take EVERYTHING you read (even (or I daresay, ESPECIALLY) from a "real" lawyer) with a strong dose of critical thinking anyway... The problem nowadays is people try to blame the person who makes a mistake instead of blaming themselves for
        • Re:The issue (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fm6 (162816)

          He might be a lawyer, and he might not. Who cares?

          Somebody who takes his advice and gets in trouble because of it. Sure, lawyers are fallible — but they still know a lot of shit.

          You're on some kind "personal responsibility" bandwagon that I'm not going to try to decipher, because it's not relevant to the topic at hand. Which is: You've gotten a cease and desist letter, what should you do? Whatever you do, it better not be based on the opinion of somebody who knows just enough law to get you in t

          • You've gotten a cease and desist letter, what should you do?

                  Laugh, because I live in the 3rd world...and we don't support the DMCA...
  • We're a mafia? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mnmn (145599) on Monday December 26, 2005 @02:17PM (#14340249) Homepage
    "Anyone know who this member was?"

    What? Now we're a mafia?

    Should someone do anything against us OSS/slashdot crowd, do we find the person's name and attack humiliate him/her? Think of the SCO guy. His name is associated with evil throughout the IT world now, thanks to sites like slashdot. He might deserve it, but most people dont follow up and check whether he's actually as wrong as we're made to think (slashdot articles have been wrong/exaggerating on more than one occasion).

    A recent artice accused Rogers execs of having links to terrorists. This is an extremely baseless accusation based on phone calls to somewhere in the middle east. But this shows we're turning from being a bazaar to a bit like a mafia. (Open your sources.... or else). Do article moderators and editors know how much personal damage can they cause?

  • Quick Legal Analysis (Score:5, Informative)

    by EconomyGuy (179008) on Monday December 26, 2005 @04:04PM (#14340846) Homepage
    In response to this story I did a little research and sent a letter to the website's author with some quick legal analysis and a suggestion to seek actual legal counsel. For those who are interested, here is the quick and dirty part of the letter:

    It would be helpful to get a copy of the full letter from SIG, but I gather their central claim is a trademark violation. On this issue you have several possible defenses. First, I suggest your strongest argument is based on the unavailability of a generic term by which to describe Bluetooth technology. This is similar to the situation Kleenex found it self many years ago... by using the term Kleenex to describe their product and never using the generic term (tissue), they destroyed their own mark. A company who owns a mark, even a patented mark, MUST provide a term that can be used to describe their product by the competition. I reviewed the entire SIG site and could find no generic term to describe Bluetooth.

    Second you have an arguable fair use defense. Your site is making commentary on the products in question, noting that these devices will work in Linux. That is classified as criticism and protected under the First Amendment.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, there is a generic term: "Bluetooth Wireless Technology". This is why, for example, the JSR82 expert group ended up with the legally-correct mouthful of Java APIs for Bluetooth Wireless Technology (JABWT) instead of just Bluetooth for Java.

      You're probably right that it's a trademark violation, but the bigger issue is that the maintainer of BlueZ is a member of the Bluetooth SIG, or he wouldn't have the right to use the intellectual property (technical specifications etc.) developed and owned by

    • So it sounds like the Linux Bluetooth stack (and all references on the page) just need to be replaced with "IEEE 801.15" (or ieee80115 or whatever).
  • Let me get this straight, some guy posted a list of bluetooth devices that work on linux. Basically he stated that device X works on linux, which is just a fact. How is he breaking any laws?
    • Well maybe for fun eveyone one can put this list on their webistes,blogs etc etc. blatantly stating here is my linux blootooth copmpatability list. Put it everywhere like we did with dvdcss
  • IANAL, but as most of the comments here imply, this looks like a heinously bogus legal threat. There's got to be some money out there to defend this guy. He isn't selling products, he isn't selling information, and I bet he'd be willing to take the word "Bluetooth" off his page and describe it as "popular short range wireless technology" or something if it really mattered. I can't imagine it would cost much to defend this: it gets to court, judge throws it out as ridiculous, game over. I don't blame him for
  • While I am definately interested in Linux HCL lists for any device, I really wouldnt sweat the bluetooth ones.

    Bluetooth is over-controlled and it is not (yet) an ISO standard. It is fairly shortrange, it has a very expensive barrier to entry, low bandwidth. It is complicated and limited to develop for.

    As a hardware developer and robot builder I looked at bluetooth, and categorically decided we will not be using it. It is just not worth it. WiFi is actually cheaper, and you can do so much more with it. I do

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