Open Source Projects gain valuable property rights through the proper and continuous use of the Project’s name, logo, or badge (the “Project Trademarks”). As a trademark owner, the Project has a duty to protect its Project Trademarks from improper use. If a Project Trademark is improperly used, its value can become diluted or generic and lead to confusion as to the source or quality of the software. To bring transparency and clarity, Section 3 below addresses “when” Project Trademarks can be used, and Section 4 addresses “how” Project Trademarks can be used. These Guidelines have been developed for any Open Source Project to ensure the proper legal usage of its Project Trademarks.

1. Purpose – Why an Open Source Trademark Policy?

We believe that the principles of open source – free and fair use – should be embodied in everything that a Project does and seeks to do. Just as software code is governed by open source principles, we think that a Project’s trademarks should be too. Names, logos, and designs embody a Project and its community just as much as its shared code and should be useable to the same extent.

These guidelines are designed to create a practical framework that allows trademarks to be used openly and freely while still protecting the community and its trademarks. We believe that shared usage of trademarks according to these guidelines will help Projects identify themselves to other communities and the world while curtailing fraudulent or predatory use.

2. Use of the Guidelines

  • Any OSS Project can use these Guidelines.

  • These Guidelines were developed primarily for compatibility with the Open Source Definition and for use by projects using OSI-approved open source licenses.

3. Authorized Uses of the Project Trademarks

The following categories demonstrate various authorized uses (not ownership guidelines) of Project Trademarks. Please note that these uses do not extend to applications to register or registrations for the Project Trademarks. Only the Project can apply for registration or register the Project Trademarks.

A Project may withdraw its authorization if the Project determines that use of the Project Trademark is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace or if the use is in violation of these Guidelines or the Project’s Code of Conduct. Accordingly, the Project Trademarks may not inaccurately suggest affiliation or endorsement or mislead as to the source.

3.A. Authorized Uses

Authorized Use: Nominative Fair Use

  • In order to accurately identify OSS Projects, it may be necessary to call them by name. In many cases, the name also functions as a source identifier. Below are the basic rules for nominative fair use of these such Project Trademarks.

    • Only use the Project Trademarks in word mark form. Do not use as a stylized form or any of the Project Trademark’s design elements such as a logo.

    • Only use the Project Trademarks as much as is necessary. Use should be limited to matter-of-fact statements.

      • Do not use the Project Trademarks in any way that suggests or implies affiliation with or endorsement from the Project Trademark owner.
    • Nominative or descriptive uses in fair use may arise in an educational context or in books or blogs about the Project and any Derivative Works (defined below).

Authorized Use: Unmodified Distributions

  • The Project Trademark can generally be retained in unaltered versions of the Project. If the Project Trademark is used with any additional elements, such use must follow the Naming Convention rules outlined in Section 4 of these Guidelines.

Authorized Use: Substantially Unmodified Distributions

  • While the Open Usage Commons recommends conformance testing as a method for determining trademark use in Derivative Works, if the Project does not use conformance testing, then substantially unmodified distributions may use the Project Trademarks if the Derivative Work complies with the terms of the Project’s open source license and is made in a good faith attempt to replicate the quality and substance of the original OSS Project.

  • Examples of modifications that would not be considered substantial include: language translation and localization, bug and security patches, and necessary modifications for interoperability, compatibility, or to support additional hardware architectures.

  • The Project Trademark may be used in connection with such substantially unmodified distributions. If the Project Trademark is used with any additional elements, such use must follow the Naming Convention rules outlined in Section 4 of these Guidelines. Distributions with more substantial modifications should request a review, as outlined in Section 3(B) of these Guidelines.

Authorized Use: Conformance Tested Uses

  • The Open Usage Commons recommends conformance testing as a method for determining trademark use in forks, distributions, commercial products and other such “Derivative Works.” If submitted Derivative Works pass the conformance test and comply with the terms of the Project’s open source license, the Project Trademark may be used following the Naming Convention rules outlined in Section 4 these Guidelines.

  • When conformance testing is utilized, the following points should be kept in mind.

    • Conformance testing should be available for different versions.

    • The conformance suite tested against must match the version used in the derivative work (for example, if a derivative product uses 2.0.0, it must be tested against the 2.0.0 suite to use the trademark; it may not test against the 1.0.0 suite and use the trademark).

    • Trademark permission should be perpetual as much as possible, within the bounds of maintaining quality standards for trademark use. For example, if a third party project still passes conformance tests of its corresponding version, the trademark owner should not enforce against the conformant project simply because that version is not the most current version of the official project.

    • Trademark licensees should not imply ownership of the Project or the Project Trademark. Conformance tested uses should also avoid implying that its Derivative Work is approved, endorsed, or sponsored by the Project.

Authorized Use: Use for Events and Community Groups

  • The Project Trademark may be used referentially in events, community groups, or other gatherings related to the Project, but it may not be used in a manner that implies official status or endorsement. For example, “The [Project] Conf.” is unacceptable as it may imply that it is the sole conference and thus lends to an understanding it has an official status or endorsement from the Project when it does not.

  • Events and community groups must follow the Naming Conventions outlined in Section 4 of these Guidelines.

  • Events and community groups may be subject to the Project’s Code of Conduct, and violations of the Project’s Code of Conduct may be deemed incompatible with use of the Project Trademark.

    • The Code of Conduct should be compatible with the Open Source Definition.

Authorized Use: Swag

  • The trademark may be used to produce swag such as t-shirts, pens, or hats for both commercial and non-commercial purposes in accordance with the Naming Convention Guidelines in Section 4.

  • Swag should never be advertised as “official” swag or swag endorsed for use or purchase by the Project.

  • There are no other restrictions on generating revenue through swag that use the Project Trademark. However, we encourage sellers to consider the ethos of the Open Source Definition and open source movement in this decision.

    • Sellers must truthfully advertise to consumers how much of the selling price, if any, will be donated to the Project.

3.B. Uses Requiring the Project’s Review and Approval

In the limited situations below, authorization should be requested and formal approval granted before making use of a Project Trademark.

Requires Approval: Substantially Modified Distributions

  • In the absence of conformance testing, substantially modified distributions require Project review and approval before the Project Trademark can be used.

  • Substantially modified distributions may include explicit changes to functionality, interfaces, or features.

  • If the substantially modified distribution is approved, the Project Trademark may be used in connection with such substantially modified distributions following the Naming Convention rules outlined in Section 4 of these Guidelines.

3.C. Unauthorized Uses of Project Trademarks

As a trademark owner, the Project has a responsibility to control the use of the Project Trademark to prevent confusion.

While each Project strives to make its Project Trademarks as usable as possible, some uses are prohibited to protect the integrity of the Project, its trademarks, and the Project community.

Unauthorized Use: Disparaging Modifications

  • Modifications that disparage the Project or its reputation without qualifying as fair use are not compatible with use of the Project Trademark. For example, the introduction of malicious code.

Unauthorized Use: Violations of Project’s Code of Conduct

  • The Project Trademark may never be used in a way that violates the Project’s code of conduct or in a connection with an activity violating the Project’s code of conduct.

Unauthorized Use: Domain Names and Social Media Accounts

  • The Project Trademark should not be used, in whole or part, as or within any domain names and social media account names or handles.

    • For example, ProjectTrademark.com, ProjectTrademarkHosting.com, and ProjectTrademarkSouthwest.com are prohibited.
  • Domain names that look or sound similar to the Project name or wordmark (or include typos) are also prohibited.

    • For example, Pr0jectTrademark.com and ProjectTradenark.com are prohibited.

Unauthorized Use: Use in a Company Name, Trade Name, Product Name or Service Name

  • The Project Trademarks may not be used as or combined with all or part of a company name, trade name, product name, or service name.

4. Naming Conventions for Authorized Uses

Once a particular use falls within an Authorized Use category as outlined in Section 3(A) or is authorized pursuant to Section 3(B), the Project Trademark can be used subject to the following Naming Conventions. These Naming Conventions seek to avoid implying sponsorship, approval, or endorsement, which may result in confusion as to the source of the underlying goods or services. Again, these authorized Naming Conventions do not apply to applications to register or registrations for the Project Trademarks. Only the Project can apply for registration or register the Project Trademarks.

4.A. Authorized Naming Conventions

  • [New Name/Company] Managed [Project Trademark]
  • [New Name], a fork of [Project Trademark]

4.B. Naming Conventions Requiring the Project’s Review and Approval for Authorization

  • Any Naming Convention not following the Authorized Naming Convention phrasing in Section 4(A) must be approved.

4.C. Unauthorized Naming Conventions

  • Naming Conventions that disparage the Project or the Project Trademark, if not permitted as fair use. For example, the following are unauthorized Naming Conventions:

    • Improved [Project Trademark]
    • The Better [Project Trademark]
  • Any Naming Convention violating the Project’s Code of Conduct (e.g., use of non-inclusive language.)

  • Any Naming Convention modifying the Project Trademark, including by creating compound words or portmanteaus.

5. Other Project Trademark Considerations

5.A. Use of a Project Logo, Badge, or Stylized Project Trademark

In addition to the applicable rules outlined above applying to Project Trademarks in standard character or word form, the following rules apply to the use of a Project Logo, Badge, or Stylized Project Trademark.

  • Project Logo, Badge, or Stylized Project Trademark may be used in the following manners only with review and approval from the Project:

    • used in the logo for a commercial product;

    • modified in any form; or

    • used in close proximity to, within, or encompassing another logo, badge, or stylized trademark.

5.B. Project Trademark Enforcement

While only the Project, not authorized users, can enforce the Project Trademark, the community is encouraged to make the Project aware of any actual or suspected infringement of the Project Trademark, violations of these Guidelines, or any use that is otherwise inappropriate.

5.C. No Project Trademark Inheritance

  • Authorization to use the Project Trademark cannot be inherited through project dependencies; every use of the Project Trademark must comply with the applicable guidelines or have explicit prior written permission from the Project.

  • Authorized Users under these Guidelines may not authorize any third-party use and may not transfer or sublicense any of the user’s authorizations or permissions to use the Project Trademark.

6. Use of the Project Trademark

Below are guidelines to ensure proper use of the Project Trademark.

6.A. Trademarks are adjectives used to modify nouns.

  • Keep each trademark as a distinct, static word or phrase.

  • An appropriate and approved noun must accompany the trademark. Do not use a trademark as a noun or as a verb.

6.B. Trademarks should only be used in the approved manner.

  • Do not alter or edit the trademark words, logo, or design.

    • Alterations or edits include: shortening, abbreviating, adding words, or changing the color, font, style, or background of a trademark.

    • Do not use the trademark in the plural form unless the trademark itself is in the plural form.

6.C Trademarks should be accompanied by appropriate acknowledgement of the Project’s ownership.

  • Always acknowledge trademark ownership by identifying the trademark as being owned by the Project.

    • For example: [PROJECT TRADEMARK™] is a trademark of [Project]. This [publication/product/service/event] is not endorsed or approved by the [Project].
  • Pay attention to the trademark symbols utilized by the Project and mimic the same in your efforts. For instance, check to see if the symbol ® or ™ is used and then use the same symbol in your materials.

7. Guideline Version

These Trademark Guidelines are version 0.1.0 and may be followed by subsequent versions. These Guidelines may be edited for clarity; the Guideline version will be increased when it introduces new requirements, defines new criteria, or presents a backwards incompatible change.

Download trademark-guidelines-0.1.0.txt