These Apache Trademark Reporting Guidelines provide best practices for managing Apache™ projects' brands and trademarks, and how to ensure we treat other third parties trademarks with respect.
- Apache Trademark Reporting Guidelines
- What Kinds Of Uses Might Be Infringing?
- Checklist Of Issues To Consider First
- Reporting Potential Misuses Of Apache Marks - Guidelines For Users
- Reporting Potential Misuses Of Apache Marks - Guidelines For PMCs
- Reporting Improper Use Of Third Party Marks By Apache Projects
- Other Trademark Guidelines
- Important Note
Apache Trademark Reporting Guidelines
The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) strives to promote appropriate uses of all Apache marks for the benefit of our project communities and for the ASF as a whole. The mission of the ASF is to provide software for the public good, and the way we accomplish that is through our community and consensus based projects. Having clear marks that identify our projects and products is important to the health of our communities, both to encourage the sense of community, to ensure that our projects may be run independently of outside or commercial influence, and to allow new consumers to discover our many freely available products and services.
Likewise, our project communities bear responsibility for managing their own
brands and marks, as well as treating trademarks of third parties with respect.
The VP, Brand Management relies on each PMC to understand its own brand, and monitor the use of their brand by third parties. We also welcome assistance from the many users of our software in respectfully promoting our software.
Our best practices for using trademarks properly are below, along with suggestions for how to report potentially improper use of our marks.
Reminder: This document should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. If you have a legal question, you should contact your own lawyer. Apache committers may contact the private legal-internal@ mailing list with any specific legal questions about Apache projects.
What Kinds Of Uses Might Be Infringing?
So you're browsing a website with "Hadoop" plastered all over their marketing materials, and there's no mention of Apache anywhere on the page - what should you do? The first thing is to actually ask: is this actually a problem, or is it really nominative use, and it's just fine?
Trademarks exist to prevent customer confusion about the source of goods or services. When you buy an HP printer, you know what kind of quality and service to expect, because you know it came from HP. Likewise when you order a Coke beverage, you'll expect that particular tartly sweet flavor, instead of the more brightly sweet flavor of Pepsi beverages. The name - and logo, and other branding - are a clear association of that product with it's manufacturer in the mind of the consumer buying the product.
The majority of times we use trademarks like Hadoop are just fine, because
we're talking about the trademarked product. Often, the only way to refer
to the Apache Hadoop™ product is to use it's name. Discussing how great
Hadoop software is, or how slow it can be, is typically not an infringing use,
because it is not likely to confuse consumers as to the source of Hadoop software.
The problem comes when trademarks are used in an infringing manner: when a third party's use of a trademark would confuse a reasonable consumer about where the product comes from. For example, it's just fine to write about how well BMWs handle or drive; it's probably not OK to start a website to sell BMW Cars that you make in your own shop. It may or may not be OK to start a business called The Best BMW Service; that depends on how it's marketed (i.e. presented to consumers), and how BMW as the owner of the trademark decides to license (or not) its trademark.
Checklist Of Issues To Consider First
It helps to think through the context of a third party's use of Apache marks:
What is the specific mark being used? Is it the name of an Apache product or project, or is it a logo from our website? Or is it an obviously derived word or logo, like "Hadooper" or a blue elephant?
Where is the mark being used? On a website (provide URL), on marketing materials, on a business card?
What is the immediate context to the use? Think about the paragraph that Hadoop is being discussed in, or think about where the elephant logo is positioned in relation to other text or graphic elements on the page.
What is the larger context to the use? This may be harder to evaluate, because there are cases where a website may discuss Hadoop at length, where the individual uses do not appear to be infringing, but that the overall appearance in the entire website does lead to consumer confusion.
Is the use commercial/by an organization, or is it personal/by an individual?
Is the use related to a software product that does *not come from Apache? Uses of Apache marks in direct conjunction with third party software products are generally not OK, and require investigation unless they are already following the Powered By guideline.
Is the use in a domain name? See Domain Name Branding.
Is the use in conjunction with an event or conference? See Event Name Branding.
Reporting Potential Misuses Of Apache Marks - Guidelines For Users
If any user or other person (i.e. not a committer on any Apache project) is aware of potentially improper third party uses of any Apache marks, we request that you inform the relevant Project Management Committee, or PMC. Email that project's PMC at email@example.com and inform them of the third party and its use of Apache marks. Please include a URL link to the specific page that shows the Apache mark being used, and a brief description of the situation.
The project's PMC will then examine the third party use of their mark, and take appropriate action if needed as described below. In general, we prefer if a member of a project's PMC contacts any third party that may be improperly using that project's marks, rather than having non-PMC members contacting them.
Reporting Potential Misuses Of Apache Marks - Guidelines For PMCs
A project's PMC (or podling's PPMC) is responsible for being aware of
significant third party uses of their project's marks.
PMCs are also responsible for managing the process of contacting any third parties that may be infringing on their project's brand.
When discussing reports or reporting a potential infringement on by a third party, it is a best practice to use the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list. Many potential cases are either shown to not be a trademark issue at all, or are resolved by a friendly email to the third party reminding them of our trademarks.
PMCs should contact third parties believed to be infringing on their marks in most cases. When the PMC believes it's likely to be an unintentional infringement, or if PMC members are personally familiar with the third party potentially infringing, then any PMC member may contact the third party using one of the Brand template letters available in the committers Subversion® repository:
The intent is to send a polite, non-confrontational email to the infringing party, reminding them of the proper treatment of our trademarks. Do not imply any legal action, and do not issue any official endorsement of any third party uses of any Apache marks. In many cases, the third party may not be aware that it's a trademark of Apache, or of specific trademark law, and will happily comply.
HOWEVER if the third party use seems to be either a serious infringement, or is obviously intentional then the PMC should work with trademarks@ to craft an official request to the third party. Trademarks@ will investigate if this is an actual infringement, and then will lead the process with the PMC of working with the third party to correct improper uses of Apache marks.
If there is a question of if something is infringing or not then PMC members should email trademarks@, and cc: private@pmc for further investigation and understanding of proper trademark use. If necessary, after discussion on trademarks@, someone from trademarks@ or the PMC chair may take a specific question to legal-internal@ to get a specific response from ASF counsel.
Reporting Improper Use Of Third Party Marks By Apache Projects
Apache projects strive to always be respectful of other organization's trademarks. If you see any questionable uses of trademarks on any .apache.org website - either of third party marks or of Apache marks - please contact the relevant project's PMC through their private@projectname*.apache.org mailing list.
If you are a third party with a serious concern about potential misuse of your trademarks, and the relevant PMC is not responding to your official requests in a timely manner, please contact the official trademarks@ mailing list.
Other Trademark Guidelines
Nothing in this ASF policy statement shall be interpreted to allow any third party to claim any association with the Apache Software Foundation or any of its projects or to imply any approval or support by ASF for any third party products, services, or events.