License Approval Process

Seth David Schoen schoen at
Tue Feb 15 21:24:19 UTC 2000

Rob Edgeworth writes:

> <snip>
> >
> >The only other reason I can think of to get OSI approval for your
> >license is for advertising purposes.  In that case, I guess you'll
> >just have to wait until somebody from the OSI speaks up.  I'm no
> >expert, but, personally, I don't think it's worth the trouble.  So you
> >can't put ``open source'' on your ads.  Just say ``source code
> >available'' instead.  Big deal.
> >
> >Ian
> >
> </snip>
> I'm not certain this is the case.  I recall something a few months ago
> suggesting the application for a trademark on open source was rejected.  Can
> anyone confirm this?  If so it would certainly explain the lack of
> certifications.

"Open Source" was not accepted as a registered trademark.

Because there is an Open Source Definition, and for other historical reasons,
it is still in most cases meaningful to say that it's factually correct that
a particular license (and distribution practice!) "is Open Source" or "is
not Open Source".

When someone says "I have an Open Source license", that claim can be _false_
(and people can point out that it's false), but it can't be a trademark

The OSI's new trademark is "OSI Certified Open Source".  OSI certification
is not necessarily important to everyone, and there are other ways to
have an open source license.  I don't believe that OSI certification is
_necessary_ to anyone (it's _always_ been possible to use an existing open
source license, including traditional and useful ones from long before the
term "Open Source" existed; and goodness knows that all sorts of people
have written Open Source licenses or attempts at Open Source licenses
without any comment from the OSI).  I do believe that OSI certification can
be, and has been, useful in many cases.  Among other things, the OSI
certification process has helped identify and eliminate problems in some
proposed licenses before projects were released under them.

This is not to say, of course, that the certification process is free of
problems, including most obviously significant delays.

I'm going to be talking to the OSI Board about some of the problems which
people have for some time identified in the OSI's certification process.

Seth David Schoen <schoen at>  | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp.  | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down:   (CAF)  | not have leisure.  -- Pirke Avot 2:5

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