Who Owns That Open Source Brand?

You know your organization runs open source - everywhere. Do you know who truly controls the governance and brands of these open source projects? Understanding the Three Levels Of Open can help you evaluate which open source projects you invest in.

Who Owns That Open Source Brand?


Do you know who runs the projects behind the code you run – or contribute to? It’s not always obvious, and while you can always try forking the code, successfully attracting contributors to your fork is hard.

You don’t have to get involved in branding: but you do need to know who truly controls the direction of the open source technologies that you rely on every day. Far too many individual developers and companies rely on a wide variety of open source tools that come from different projects. How do you accurately evaluate the security, stability, and potential for future support around an open source project? How can you find if your chief competitor truly has a lock on a project’s governance and future direction?

The power behind a project’s brand is not always obvious. Come discover who governs some key open source project brands, and what might happen to governance when someone goes IPO or gets bought out. Learn how to keep governance of the project truly independent and welcoming – or how to properly own and run your own open source brand. Understand how the Three Levels Of Open help you understand open source projects.

Note that while specific references in these slides are to US trademark law, in general the same concepts apply to trademarks and brands in every country and/or in the EU as a whole. While there are some details of first-to-file or first-to-use that differ, the core importance of who owns the trademark remains the same.

Surprises guaranteed!


Shane is founder of Punderthings℠ LLC consultancy, helping organizations find better ways to engage with the critical open source projects that power modern technology and business. He blogs and tweets about open source governance and trademark issues, and has spoken at major technology conferences like ApacheCon, OSCON, All Things Open, Community Leadership Summit, and Ignite.
More about the author →