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Apache PMC Branding Responsibilities

Apache Project Management Committees (PMCs) are directly responsible for promoting and protecting their project's brand and trademarks while following Apache Trademark policies. This document is an overview of PMC responsibilities, with pointers to specific policies or procedures PMCs must follow.

These responsibilities are in addition to the Project Website Branding Requirements document, which primarily focuses on website display, and to the Apache Trademark Reporting Guidelines, which detail how users and committers may report issues involving Apache brand uses.

Podling (PPMCs) must liaise with the Incubator PMC prior to taking any external action (such as emailing an external party). The Incubator PMC should loop in trademarks@ if there are any questions.



This document defines the board's expectation that PMCs manage their own project's brand: how the project displays its own brand in public; how the project responds to obvious uses of the project's brand by third parties; and how the PMC is to comply with the Apache Trademark Policy and the Project Website Branding Requirements. The Apache Software Foundation owns all Apache® marks, and administers them on behalf of all Apache projects. PMCs are expected to actively manage their project's brand, and to ask for assistance from Brand Management or Legal Affairs when necessary.

Questions? Please contact the Trademarks committee with general questions. This document is for members of Apache PMCs, and is probably best read in conjunction with the Apache Project Branding Requirements, which define how projects should treat and display trademarks; and with the PMC Guide, which covers other, non-brand-related responsibilities and procedures related to PMC membership.

PMCs are responsible for their brand

Much as PMCs are stewards of their communities and their project code, PMCs are also responsible for managing their own project's brand. This includes all the obvious aspects of a brand: the project's name and logo, the display of the main project website, and the appearance and functionality of their product. Much of the work that PMC members do improving code, updating the website, and promoting their product to help bring more users and developers into their community also helps to maintain the brand, and overall public expectation of the quality and functionality of the software products that this project provides for download.

While the Apache License encourages third parties to use our code, it does not permit third parties to use any Apache trademarks in ways that would harm any Apache projects or communities or that would confuse consumers as to the true source of Apache software. In particular, section 6 of the Apache License 2.0 notes:

  1. Trademarks. This License does not grant permission to use the trade names, trademarks, service marks, or product names of the Licensor, except as required for reasonable and customary use in describing the origin of the Work and reproducing the content of the NOTICE file.

PMCs need to be aware of their brand and its use in the broader world, and should work to ensure that when the public hears about their project - for example, Hadoop - the main association is to the actual Apache Hadoop project itself, and not to a third party or other organization besides Apache.

Managing your brand requires a little extra thought than most activities at Apache. When managing your code and supporting your community, you are primarily focused inwards; i.e. on people who are already aware of and participating in your project. Managing a brand is about working to ensure that people who are outside of your community associate your brand and name with the project itself. Take a minute to think about how a newcomer sees your project when they view the homepage for the very first time. The next time you read news coverage of your project or of the technology behind it, consider how a newcomer will see your project's name, and its relationship both to the ASF and to other companies and technologies.

Ensure project websites treat trademarks appropriately

PMCs are directly responsible for ensuring all of their project's web content complies with the Apache Project Branding Requirements. It is important to ensure that Apache displays its project names and logos properly as trademarks, so that third parties will know our brands are important to us. It's also important to treat other organization's trademarks or service marks with respect, and attribute them if you use them on an Apache project website.

The "Apache®" trademark as a symbol of our high quality, community built software is an important one to all Apache projects, and to the Foundation itself. Be sure to use it properly on websites, especially in relation to Apache projects and products.

Present an independent face to your project

Part of the Apache Way is the concept of hats - when PMC members do work on Apache lists, they are expected to act as individuals, wearing their PMC hat; i.e. on behalf of their PMC's project, and not influenced by other parties. Likewise, it is important that your project as a whole is run independently of commercial influence, and presents the public perception that the project is run independently. There should be no question in the minds of average users on the website or the mailing lists that the PMC solely runs the project, and not any other organizations.

Projects must ensure that their average user can find all information and code necessary to use the product in its common use cases solely on the project's own website. A normal user should be able to learn about the product from the project's own materials, and must be able to use the product solely under the Apache License or other Apache Legal Affairs approved licenses in software that is distributed from this or other Apache projects.

Projects must not endorse or promote the work of third parties, nor allow third party influence to affect the future of the project for specific outside organizations.

Note that per-project Thanks and Support pages are allowed to recognize specific vendors that have donated services or licenses to the project, or that are well-known vendors that provide outside support for the project. However, these must be factual entries, not advertisements, and must not show favoritism to any particular vendor(s). Recommended best practices for Thanks and Support pages are provided.

Address improper third-party uses of Apache marks

PMCs are responsible for evaluating and if needed addressing any infringing use of their project's marks by third parties that come to their attention. The PMC must work to contact potentially infringing parties to ask them to respect Apache marks and attribute them to the ASF. In many cases, a friendly note reminding a third party that Apache project names are our trademarks and that they are important to us is sufficient to get third parties to respect our marks. PMCs and committers should use the Apache Trademark Use Reporting Guidelines in deciding how to contact third parties.

Contact trademarks@ for suggested email templates to use in first contacting third parties, or if there is any difficulty in having the PMC make the first contact. Templates are available at

PMCs are expected to manage this process. If a third party does not respond favorably to the PMC's requests, or responds in a hostile or legalistic manner, report to Brand Management.

As stewards of their project and the group most familiar with their technology, PMCs are best-positioned to understand their brand's uses within the greater marketplace. However, PMCs are not authorized to license infringing uses of their brand(s) to third parties without explicit approval from the VP, Brand Management.

Report trademark issues to Brand Management

Detailed reporting procedures are in the Apache Trademark Reporting Guidelines.

If there is a significant legal issue, or where the efforts of the PMC (and especially the project chair and VP, as an officer of the ASF) are not successful, the PMC should work with VP, Brand Management to get assistance. Address trademark and legal questions to the correct lists:

Reminder: if a third-party's legal counsel contacts a PMC, ensure the PMC works with legal-internal@ to get advice from ASF Counsel before making any response.

Comply with Apache brand policy

All PMCs must to comply with the Apache Project Branding Requirements. If your project does not comply, or is having issues in determining compliance, including a recognition of this set of PMC responsibilities to handle brand issues, work with trademarks@ to resolve the issue.

Much as complying with Apache legal policy to ensure that our software is safely covered under our license, projects must follow the branding requirements to ensure that we maintain our projects' brands and the Apache brand - and public reputations - for the future benefit of all of Apache projects.

Other trademark guidelines

For more information about Apache marks, see our formal Trademark Policy.

Important note

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.

Policy version

This is version 1.1 of this Apache policy document, published in May 2011 November 2013. Significant changes will be marked with a new version number.

For 1.1 in November 2013 clarifications were added, including a link to and a note that project website branding compliance should be dealt with on trademarks@ and not board@.