Trademark policies and licenses

Russ Nelson nelson at
Sun Aug 8 01:58:51 UTC 2010

Tony Yarusso writes:
 > Hi, I'm trying to figure out what the usual / proper way of referencing
 > a trademark policy is.  In short, we have a trademark policy similar to
 > Ubuntu or Mozilla saying that people can use the term "Nagios" for
 > add-ons built for our software and community advocacy, and a license
 > that allows people to build derivatives of part of it (we have both an
 > OSS and commercial version now), but don't want the term "Nagios" used
 > for forks resulting from that license.

Maybe we need to have an Open Source Trademark Definition?  :-)

 > The question then is, how do we tell people about that trademark
 > policy?  Should it be placed in the license itself (and would that
 > nullify the OSI approval and/or compatibilities of the license),
 > just placed online and hope that somehow people magically decide to
 > Google for it, or something else?

Oh, there's no problem putting your trademark policy into a separate
license, and there's no problem mentioning it in the preamble to your
license, or your README, or wherever it is that you tell people that
they can have a copyright license if they comply with the contents of
the file called "LICENSE".

 > Legally speaking the combination of an OSI-approved license and our
 > trademark policy appear to accomplish what we want, but we seem to
 > be having difficulty getting people to actually *read* / care about
 > our trademark policy currently.  What would you recommend?

Well, you kinda don't have to make sure that they read it.  Without
entering into a contract with you, they have no license to use your
trademark other than the usual ways in which you can use a trademark
without permission.

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