Practical Trademark AMA

Practical Trademark AMA For FOSS Projects | FOSS Backstage | Slides | Video | Newer Version Of This Talk

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about how trademarks work with open source software - or, indeed, how trademarks work in technology. The best way to learn is to bring your questions and Ask Me Anything!


Are you trying to build the brand of your community-led project? Is your community struggling to keep vendor marketing teams out of your project’s governance? Do you need a lawyer before you can “trademark” something, or can you do it yourself? (Tip: you can do it yourself!)

This AMA is here to help answer basic trademark law questions in practical, everyday terms for FOSS projects and the companies that contribute to them. Legal advice can only come from your own lawyer - but most community questions have practical answers that can get you started without a lawyer. Trademarks are all about the public’s association of a brand with a product - and most of that happens in the real world, not a lawyer’s office.

Bring your simple community questions about how trademarks work, and we’ll try to get you some practical advice on what to do. Similarly, corporate questions are welcome - for how you can effectively partner with a Foundation or community-led project without stepping on toes.

Key resource links included, to get you started with actionable and practical information for FOSS.

Trademark education for engineers and community members.

Originally published March 17, 2022 | View revision history

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 speaks at open source conferences like ApacheCon, OSCON, All Things Open, Community Leadership Summit, and Ignite. More about the author →

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