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I've recently read the trademark policy by Ubuntu.

It mainly states that versions of the OS can be shipped by third-parties (e.g. a company) only under one of the following options:

  • a commercial agreement with Canonical, or
  • removing all references to Ubuntu and recompiling the packages from sources.

Since Linux Mint installs and uses the very same binary packages from the Ubuntu repository, I wonder if they have such an agreement and if the Ubuntu's trademark policy also affects the Linux Mint distribution.

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Trademark policy cannot override trademark law. Trademark law specifically allows nominative use. You may use the name "Ubuntu" to refer to "Ubuntu". That sounds obvious, but it's good to remember that this is a legal right.

Having said that, there are far more serious problems with the Canonical policy. For instance, both its claims that "Canonical IP is the exclusive property of Canonical and can only be used with Canonical’s permission" and that it "can be revoked at any time" are in direct contradiction with the GPL (both v2 and v3), yet Canonical obviously distributes binaries built from GPL-licensed sources - Ubuntu is a GNU/Linux distribution.

So, I'm confident to say that Mint knows how weak Canonical's policy is. We can't of course know for certain which commercial agreements are in place between two commercial parties; most contracts are not public.

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