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I feel like the best way to avoid a disaster like this is for developers to avoid using registered brand names when they write their packages.

It's not difficult, since there are all sorts of rights brand owners can't get you on.

1. You don't really need a catchy name for an open source project, since you're not in competition for funds. Call it something descriptive. Descriptive words can't usually be protected, so you should be fine.

2. In most countries, using your personal name is fine irrespective of any IP rights.

3. If you want to use a catchy name anyway, check on the USPTO TESS database for registered rights. If any are live, choose another name.

Remember when Groupon tried to register Gnome for software applications[0], and the open source community (rightly) came out in force supporting the Gnome foundation? But when it's the other way round, it makes no difference.

The problem isn't IP law, it's just bias.

[0] http://www.pcworld.com/article/2846632/groupon-decides-to-le...

...and do the same for the 200+ or so independent countries in the world with their own databases?

You, my friend, are being US biased.

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