Recommended Reading: Pamela Chestek, "The Uneasy Role of Trademarks in Free and Open Source Software"
Pamela Chestek, already famous for her blog Property, Intangible , has penned a helpful and timely article entitled "The Uneasy Role of Trademarks in Free and Open Source Software; You Can Share My Code, But You Can't Share My Brand," 102 Trademark Reporter 1024 (July-August 2012). [pdf here].
At first blush, a trademark for free and open source software is no different from any other trademark. A trademark for open source software can be misused like any other trademark and enforcement against infringers is a necessary task.1 What is different, however, is the reaction of those against whom enforcement might be sought. Because of the collaborative nature of much open source software development and its culture of sharing, efforts to restrict how a trademark may be used can meet with resistance, sometimes even challenged on the basis that trademark enforcement is contrary to the open source license under which the software is distributed. This article will discuss enforcement of free and open source software trademarks, examining both open source copyright licenses and trademark law principles.
TTABlog note: Thanks again to the Trademark Reporter and to Oxford University Press for allowing me to publish a link to this article. Copyright © 2012 Oxford University Press. First published at 7 JIPLP 126 (2012). Reprinted at 102 TMR 1028 (2012) with permission.