When choosing a name for a new Apache project, or for a new downloadable
software product within an existing Apache project, we need to ensure the
new name will be suitable. We want to ensure that the new name
won't infringe on or unduly conflict with any existing software products
that already exist, and to understand how well the ASF and
the project will be able to defend our use of the name going forward.
These are general guidelines for considering new names, either for podlings
undergoing Incubation, or existing projects creating new software products
or subprojects. PPMC/PMC members must read the detailed name search process so they can properly conduct a search.
"Apache" is our main trademark, or "house mark" for our overall software
development process, all Apache projects and podlings share it.
All top level projects must use the format Apache Foo for their branding. However, people in informal conversation will refer to your project as just "Foo". So choose the name carefully.
Use internet search tools to be sure that there is no "similar" product,
i.e. software for a specific purpose.
When people conduct an internet search after hearing about an ASF
project, they will use some technical terms and a name. We want to appear
near the top of the search results and not get confused with someone else in the same technical
Potential search confusion is important for another reason. Apache
projects are often very quickly highly ranked. An Apache project with a
similar name to another application in the same technical space may quickly come
to dominate searches in that space. If someone else holds a related
trademark, this may lead to a legal dispute. As a non-profit organization,
the ASF and Apache projects have no business conflicting with an existing
trademark for software products or related services.
Even if a product name cannot be found via a search, if you are aware
that it, or one very like it, is being used for a similar product then we cannot use it.
You may want to choose a name that is easily remembered, is not too long, and is not
difficult to spell.
Be culturally sensitive and avoid names that might offend.
Consider using functional names, especially for products of existing
projects, e.g. for an "Apache Foo" project, the product name "Apache Foo
Be good citizens, i.e. do unto others as you would expect that they
should do unto you. For example, treat the product names of others with
respect: do not try a twist that is close to the name of a similar
Choose a sensible name early in the product's development, before you develop
mailing lists, package names, logos, and other marketing collateral. Better to spend time now - your project
will not want to change its product's name later.
See this as an important marketing opportunity, rather than a bother.
By carefully validating the uniqueness of our chosen names and clearly
establishing first use in the field, we reduce the chances of future
The purpose of trademarks is to reduce the likelihood of confusion for users
attempting to find our software - to distinguish our software from software coming
from some other organization or individual.
Trademarks exist by virtue of use, not just registration. Once we publicly
release a downloadable software product called Apache Foo, and refer to it with
that name consistently, then Apache Foo is our common law trademark for that software.
The fact that a word or phrase is not registered as a trademark does not
necessarily indicate that it is available for our use. If the mark is used by others
in commerce but not registered, then we still cannot copy it for our goods.
Trademarks only apply within a specific class of goods - software products -
and to a degree, only with products of similar functionalities.