How to Use The Guide

Your Guide to Trademarks for your Free or Open Source Software Project

What is this all about?

This site serves as your guide from the basics of what a trademark is, to tips on choosing a name for your project, to registering a name, and what to do if someone uses your name without permission. This resource is design to be useful to both those just starting out, as well as more mature projects.

Trademarks and Free & Open Source Software (or “FOSS”) are not incompatible; instead, trademarks are legal tools strongly aligned with FOSS principles.

Why do we use the term FOSS? Good question, read more about it.

Foundation in Trademarks

A trademark is an assurance that the recipient of the goods or services is receiving a product of known source and qualities.

Controlling how a FOSS project trademark is used protects the community and its software, by preventing use of the trademark in ways that are harmful to the reputation of the community or the software. This isn’t a theoretical problem, it happens fairly often.

For example, it may be the case that confusion between two products with similar or identical trademarks isn’t intentional wrongdoing, but rather a matter of differing views on a project’s direction, sometimes resulting in a fork. But if both forks use the same trademark, users won’t be able to distinguish them.

How to Use this Guide

Simple, navigate over to The Guide and imagine you’ve created a project and are hoping to attract contributors and followers. If you’ve already done that, great, you can skip the imagining part.

You’ll want to choose a name or logo that sets your project apart from other projects. Ideally, you want users to know they are using your project when they see your name or logo, and not some other software or another version of your software.

Let’s get started, head over to The Guide.