TrademarkGuidelines

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  *** This is a draft of a proposal to be sent to the Board.  This is not yet formal OSGeo policy. ***
  *** We need to decide ASAP what words and logos are to be (R) or (TM) or (none) ***
  *** Does our formal name include the "THE", e.g. is it "Open Source Geospatial Foundation" or "The Open Source Geospatial Foundation"? ***


Forward

The Foundation is trying to build a market presence through its name, projects, and offerings. As such, it is important that our "brand" is associated only with activities and products that are in keeping with the Foundation's goals of open access, quality, etc. This means that the Board, and indeed all Foundation members, have an obligation to oversee and control the symbols of the Foundation -- that is, our trademarks.

As an open, collaborative organization, we might often prefer that such legal controls not be necessary; as such, we will try to strike an appopriate balance between control and openness. It is our intent that our guidelines be similar in spirit to those of other, similar organizations, e.g. Apache Foundation and Mozilla. Indeed, the following trademark and logo policies are taken almost verbatim from [the Mozilla policies].


Introduction

This document outlines the policy of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation ("OSGeo" or "the Foundation" for short) regarding the use of its trademarks. Any use of any OSGeo trademark must be in accordance with this policy. As used in this memo, "trademarks" means not just OSGeo's logos, but also the names of its various products, as well as the names OSGeo and OSGeo.org.

OSGeo's trademark policy attempts to balance two competing interests: OSGeo's need to ensure that its trademarks remain reliable indicators of quality and security; and OSGeo's desire to permit community members, software distributors and others that OSGeo works with to discuss OSGeo's products and to accurately describe their affiliation with OSGeo. Striking a proper balance is a tricky situation that many organizations -- in particular those whose products are distributed electronically -- wrestle with every day.

Underlying OSGeo's trademark policy is the general law of trademarks. Trademarks exist to help consumers identify, and organizations publicize, the source of products. Some organizations make better products than others; over time, consumers begin to associate those organizations (and their trademarks) with quality. When such organizations permit others to place their trademarks on goods of lesser quality, they find that consumer trust evaporates quickly. That's the precise situation that OSGeo seeks to avoid -- especially since, when it comes to intangible products like software, trust is all consumers have to decide on.

Although OSGeo's trademark policy is composed of a number of specific rules, most reflect the overarching requirement that your use of OSGeo's trademarks be non-confusing and non-disparaging. By non-confusing, OSGeo means that people should always know who they are dealing with, and where the software they are downloading came from. Websites and software that are not produced by the Foundation shouldn't imply, either directly or by omission, that they are. By non-disparaging, we mean that, outside the bounds of fair use, you can't use our trademarks as vehicles for defaming us or sullying our reputation. These basic requirements can serve as a guide as you work your way through the policy.

OSGeo's trademark policy begins by outlining some overall guidelines for the use of OSGeo's trademarks -- including the names the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, OSGeo, OSGeo.org, and the compass logo -- in printed materials. It then addresses a series of more specific topics, including linking to OSGeo's website and the use of OSGeo trademarks in domain names.

OSGeo also has a trademark policy FAQ as a companion document to this policy, posted at TrademarkFAQ.


Overall Guidelines for Printed Materials and Web Sites

OSGeo encourages the use of its trademarks in marketing, fundraising and other publicity-related materials. That includes advertising stating that a person or organization is shipping or selling OSGeo products. Of course, any use of a OSGeo trademark is subject to the overarching requirement that its use be non-confusing. Thus, you can't say you're raising money for OSGeo when you're actually raising it for a local chapter or development project; say that you're selling or reviewing OSGeo software when you're actually referring to a forked version not under OSGeo's purview or control; or use the OSGeo logos on the cover of your book or on your product packaging.

Although many uses of OSGeo's trademarks are governed by more specific rules, which appear below, the following basic guidelines apply to almost any use of OSGeo's trademarks in printed materials, including marketing, fundraising and other publicity-related materials, and websites:

  • Proper Form - OSGeo's trademarks should be used in their exact form, including capitalization -- neither abbreviated nor combined with any other word or words (e.g. "OSGeo" rather than "osgeo" or "OS GEO", "Open Source Geospatial Foundation" rather than "OSGeo Foundation", etc);
  • Accompanying Symbol - The first or most prominent mention of an OSGeo trademark should be accompanied by a symbol indicating whether the mark is a registered trademark ("®") or an unregistered trademark ("™"). The OSGeo trademarks include, among others (need to insert ® or ™ on these):
    • the name The Open Source Geospatial Foundation
    • the name OSGeo
    • the name OSGeo.org
    • the OSGeo compass logo

As OSGeo registers others, it will update this policy;

  • Notice - The following notice should appear somewhere nearby (at least on the same page) the first use of an OSGeo trademark: "[TRADEMARK] is a ["registered", if applicable] trademark of The Open Source Geospatial Foundation";
  • Distinguishable - In at least the first reference, the Trademark should be set apart from surrounding text, either by capitalizing it or by italicizing, bolding or underlining it.


Software Distributions

[We have excluded this section from the original Mozilla document, because it was pretty specific to the kind of software Mozilla produces and OSGeo itself isn't really distributing binaries yet anyway. This issue should be revisited at some point in the future.]


Linking

So long as you don't do anything that might confuse visitors to your website, or that might violate the Overall Guidelines for Printed Materials, above, OSGeo invites you to link to OSGeo's website.


Domain Names

If you want to include all or part of an OSGeo trademark in a domain name, you have to receive written permission from OSGeo. People naturally associate domain names with organizations whose names sound similar. Almost any use of an OSGeo trademark in a domain name is likely to confuse consumers, thus running afoul of the overarching requirement that any use of an OSGeo trademark be non-confusing.


Services Related to OSGeo Software

If you offer services related to OSGeo software, you may use OSGeo's trademarks in describing and advertising your services, so long as you don't violate these overall guidelines for the use of OSGeo's trademarks or do anything that might mislead customers into thinking that OSGeo has any direct relationship with your organization. For example, it's OK if your website says, "GIS software customization services for OSGeo software available here." It's not OK, though if it says, "OSGeo customization services sold here," or "custom OSGeo software available here," since the first suggests that OSGeo is related to your business, and the second is confusing as to who -- you or OSGeo -- performed the customization. When in doubt, err on the side of providing more, rather than less, explanation and information.


Logos and Merchandise

[Note I substantially changed this section from Mozilla's policy, as I felt theirs did not adequately address our needs and desires. -mpg]

The OSGeo compass logo is a trademarked expression, just like the name of the Foundation itself, and as such your use of the logo must follow the same rules as described above. For example, you may not use the logo in a way that might mislead customers into thinking OSGeo has any direct relationship with a product you are offering; you may, however, use the OSGeo logo (or name) to indicate affiliation.

You may not produce modified versions of the logos. OSGeo provides a full set of logo variations and a branding manual describing their usage [link forthcoming]; if you believe your needs go beyond those offerings, please contact us.

You can't put the OSGeo logo on anything that you produce commercially or for other public distribution -- at least not without receiving OSGeo's permission. This specifically includes selling or giving away your own OSGeo-branded merchandise at tradeshows, conferences, local user group meetings, etc. OSGeo owns and operates the OSGeo Store [link], which sells a wide range of OSGeo merchandise intended to be used for this very purpose; that's how we make some of the money that keeps us around.


Questions

OSGeo has tried to make its trademark policy as comprehensive as possible. If you're considering a use of an OSGeo trademark that's not covered by the policy, and you're unsure whether that use would run afoul of OSGeo's guidelines, feel free to contact us and ask. [link to trademarks@osgeo.org address] Please keep in mind that OSGeo receives lots and lots of similar questions, so please review this document carefully and the associated TrademarkFAQ before contacting us.