What is the Open Usage Commons?

The Open Usage Commons is an organization created to help project maintainers and open source consumers have peace of mind that projects will be free and fair to use. The mission of the Open Usage Commons is to help projects assert and manage their project identity, including their identity as an open source-licensed project, through programs like conformance testing and trademark management. To accomplish this mission, it will take a new way of thinking about how we support open source projects, but we’re excited for the challenge.

What is the difference between owning source code IP and owning a trademark? Who owns the IP of the projects?

There are several types of intellectual property (IP) involved in an open source project. While source code, and other contributions may be protected by copyrights and patents, the trademark speaks to the identity of the project itself.

Open source licenses enable free, fair, and neutral use and development of copyrighted materials. Joining the Open Usage Commons does not change a project’s open source license.

Trademarks can be names, logos, or badges, and they serve to identify a project for downstream users and developers. Trademarks are handled differently from copyrights and patents and this can cause a lot of confusion. The Open Usage Commons provides an opportunity to license trademarks consistent with the spirit of the Open Source Definition: freely and fairly. To be able to provide the management and support services that are part of the Open Usage Commons, the trademarks that join the Commons will be owned by the Open Usage Commons.

What does the Open Usage Commons provide? What does it not?

The Open Usage Commons gives open source projects a neutral, independent home for their project trademarks, and provides assistance with conformance testing, establishing mark usage guidelines, and handling issues around trademark usage that projects encounter.

The Open Usage Commons does not provide services that are outside the realm of usage, such as technical mentorship, community management, project events, or project marketing.

What is the benefit of the Open Usage Commons?

The Open Usage Commons is specifically focused on addressing project trademark use – not governance structures (such as user input on a technical roadmap), or source code licenses (although we are only taking projects that already have OSS licenses). For projects, the Open Usage Commons gives them support with trademark management, and gives their users peace of mind about trademark usage through neutral ownership. For most end users that are just consuming the source code, this doesn’t directly, immediately change their experience.

Who it does impact are the companies that want to offer managed versions of these projects, or who have the project as part of their service and want to use the project brand to demonstrate quality/innovation/etc. Applying OSS principles and neutral ownership of the trademark means that these companies can invest in offering “Project as a Service” because it’s a guarantee that they can use that mark; it won’t be suddenly taken away on a whim after they’ve built up an offering around it.

Eventually for end users, this ideally leads to more services, more integrations, and more tooling around projects they use, because vendors and developers can confidently invest in building something that relies on the brand of the project.

There are many open source organizations, why was a new one created?

The Open Usage Commons intends to serve independent projects as well as projects working with any open source foundation. This intention was best served by creating a new organization that had neutral foundation affiliation.

Who is involved in the Open Usage Commons?

The Open Usage Commons consists of a Board of Directors. It will soon have a Legal Committee that advises the board and the projects, as well as advisory members – individuals selected by the projects to guide the trademark usage policies.

The Board of Directors makes decisions about budget, membership, additional trademarks, and sets the strategy for the Open Usage Commons. The Legal Committee will advise the board, help projects determine their usage guidelines and conformance programs, and support trademark issues for the Open Usage Commons projects.

The board of directors is Allison Randal (Open source developer and researcher), Charles Isbell (Georgia Institute of Technology), Chris DiBona (Google), Cliff Lampe (University of Michigan), Miles Ward (SADA), and Jen Phillips (Google). They were selected based on a number of factors including being long time open source contributors and community members, independent voices in computer science and the future of computing, as well as leaders with enterprise open source experience.

Can other projects join the Open Usage Commons?

Yes. The Board will shortly publish consideration criteria for projects who want to join the Open Usage Commons, but projects are welcome to express their interest right away.

Project-specific Questions

I am currently using the Angular logo or name for my meetup and or product, can I continue to use it?

Project trademarks managed by the Open Usage Commons can be used–and should be used!–under the project’s current usage guidelines. Please refer to the Angular usage guidelines for using the Angular trademark in your meetup, product, project, or otherwise.

What will happen to existing uses of the Angular trademark? (eg. Angular Colombia, AngularConnect)

Existing uses will continue as is, following the current Angular usage guidelines.

Does this affect the use of the ng prefix? (ng-bootstrap, ng-admin, etc)

Nope; use away!

I am currently using the Gerrit logo; can I continue to use it?

Project trademarks managed by the Open Usage Commons can be used–and should be used!–following any current guidance from the project.

I currently use Diffy the Kung Fu Review Cuckoo; can I continue to use it?

You can continue to use Diffy following any current guidance from the creator; Diffy is licensed under CC3.0-BY.

I use the Istio word or logomark now; can I continue to use it?

As a project of the Open Usage Commons, Istio’s trademarks will be owned by a neutral, independent organization. The Istio project will continue contributing to the Istio trademark use guidelines as the trademark moves to its new home. There will be no immediate changes to the Istio usage guidelines, and the Open Usage Commons will respect existing Istio trademark licenses and permissions to use the Istio name.