Olmy's Jart writes: "Tatu Ylonen has just posted the following message to the Openssh developers mailing list, email@example.com. He is claiming OpenSSH, http://www.openssh.com, is infringing on his trademark on the terms "SSH" and "Secure Shell" and demanding that the OpenSSH project change their name." Thanks to Olmy's Jart for attaching the message - I've included it in the text below. The e-mail provides the background and thinking behind the letter.This has not yet shown up on the OpenSSH mailing list archives, http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=openssh-unix-dev&r=1&w=2, although some replies are already there.
From: Tatu Ylonen
Subject: SSH trademarks and the OpenSSH product name
Organization: SSH Communications Security, Finland
Sorry to write this to a developer mailing list. I have already
approached some OpenSSH/OpenBSD core members on this, including Markus
Friedl, Theo de Raadt, and Niels Provos, but they have chosen not to
bring the issue up on the mailing list. I am not aware of any other
forum where I would reach the OpenSSH developers, so I will post this
As you know, I have been using the SSH trademark as the brand name of
my SSH (Secure Shell) secure remote login product and related
technology ever since I released the first version in July 1995. I
have explicitly claimed them as trademarks at least from early 1996.
In December 1995, I started SSH Communications Security Corp to
support and further develop the SSH (Secure Shell) secure remote login
products and to develop other network security solutions (especially
in the IPSEC and PKI areas). SSH Communications Security Corp is now
publicly listed in the Helsinki Exchange, employs 180 people working
in various areas of cryptographic network security, and our products
are distributed directly and indirectly by hundreds of licensed
distributors and OEMs worldwide using the SSH brand name. There are
several million users of products that we have licensed under the
To protect the SSH trademark I (or SSH Communications Security Corp.,
to be more accurate) registered the SSH mark in the United States and
European Union in 1996 (others pending). We also have a registration
pending on the Secure Shell mark.
The SSH mark is a significant asset of SSH Communications Security and
the company strives to protect its valuable rights in the SSH® name
and mark. SSH Communications Security has made a substantial
investment in time and money in its SSH mark, such that end users have
come to recognize that the mark represents SSH Communications Security
as the source of the high quality products offered under the mark.
This resulting goodwill is of vital importance to SSH Communications
We have also been distributing free versions of SSH Secure Shell under
the SSH brand since 1995. The latest version, ssh-2.4.0, is free for
any use on the Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD operating systems,
as well as for universities and charity organizations, and for
personal hobby/recreational use by individuals.
We have been including trademark markings in SSH distributions, on the
www.ssh.fi, www.ssh.com, and www.ssh.org web sites, IETF standards
documents, license/readme files and product packaging long before the
OpenSSH group was formed. Accordingly, we would like you to
understand the importance of the SSH mark to us, and, by necessity,
our need to protect the trademark against the unauthorized use by
Many of you are (and the initiators of the OpenSSH group certainly
should have been) well aware of the existence of the trademark. Some
of the OpenBSD/OpenSSH developers/sponsors have also received a formal
legal notice about the infringement earlier.
I have started receiving a significant amount of e-mail where people
are confusing OpenSSH as either my product or my company's product, or
are confusing or misrepresenting the meaning of the SSH and Secure
Shell trademarks. I have also been informed of several recent press
articles and outright advertisements that are further confusing the
origin and meaning of the trademark.
The confusion is made even worse by the fact that OpenSSH is also a
derivative of my original SSH Secure Shell product, and it still looks
very much like my product (without my approval for any of it, by the
way). The old SSH1 protocol and implementation are known to have
fundamental security problems, some of which have been described in
recent CERT vulnerability notices and various conference papers.
OpenSSH is doing a disservice to the whole Internet security community
by lengthening the life cycle of the fundamentally broken SSH1
The use of the SSH trademark by OpenSSH is in violation of my
company's intellectual property rights, and is causing me, my company,
our licensees, and our products considerable financial and other
I would thus like to ask you to change the name OpenSSH to something
else that doesn't infringe the SSH or Secure Shell trademarks,
basically to something that is clearly different and doesn't cause
Also, please understand that I have nothing against independent
implementations of the SSH Secure Shell protocols. I started and
fully support the IETF SECSH working group in its standardization
efforts, and we have offered certain licenses to use the SSH mark to
refer to the protocol and to indicate that a product complies with the
standard. Anyone can implement the IETF SECSH working group standard
without requiring any special licenses from us. It is the use of the
"SSH" and "Secure Shell" trademarks in product names or in otherwise
confusing manner that we wish to prevent.
Please also try to look at this from my viewpoint. I developed SSH
(Secure Shell), started using the name for it, established a company
using the name, all of our products are marketed using the SSH brand,
and we have created a fairly widely known global brand using the name.
Unauthorized use of the SSH mark by the OpenSSH group is threathening
to destroy everything I have built on it during the last several
years. I want to be able to continue using the SSH and Secure Shell
names as identifying my own and my company's products and
technologies, which the unlawful use of the SSH name by OpenSSH is
making very hard.
Therefore, I am asking you to please choose another name for the
OpenSSH product and stop using the SSH mark in your product name and
in otherwise confusing manner.
SSH Communications Security http://www.ssh.com/
SSH IPSEC Toolkit http://www.ipsec.com/
SSH(R) Secure Shell(TM) http://www.ssh.com/products/ssh
Update: 02/14 02:44 PM by CT : I just wanted to insert my 2 bits into this story. This is a problem close to my heart: I hate getting tech support for PHPSlash. I don't care that it exists, in fact, I'm happy that it does, it fills a need and a lot of people like it. But there is no doubt that this is confusing to people, I get the bug reports to prove it. (My other peeve examples are Linux Mandrake taking a certain Linux developer's name even though they knew better, and the K5 guys naming their project 'Scoop' even tho another major Web site was created by a guy with the same name). I have no problem with any of these projects: I think all 3 of them are great projects, but if they were just a little more original there would be no confusion. Now I'd personally never go so far as to call copyright infringement, I shouldn't have to. We're all nice people here. Maybe I'm just a bit idealistic on this one.