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Managing Community Open Source Brands

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In the modern open source world, where licenses and DVCS’ allow instant and infinite forking, the only true control point for a community-based open source project is its name, its logo, and its identity. Your brand is your identity: this is how the rest of the world sees you and your project.

How can a volunteer-led open source project control it’s own identity and brand? How do you manage your project’s brand when most of your volunteers are coders who don’t want to get involved with lawyers or deal with enforcing trademarks? How can the community keep their brand independent and free of commercial influence, so they can ensure the maximum number of people and corporations are interested in participating in their project?

Similarly, how can businesses respectfully use open source brands to their own advantage – without being seen as co-opting and independent or open community open source project solely for their own gain? The desire to control the next hot project for your profit may quickly turn on you when another company simply forks the code under a better marketed service.

Learn the basics of all these topics and more with Shane Curcuru, who volunteers as Vice President, Brand Management for The Apache Software Foundation. Over the past few years Shane has led a group of volunteer ASF Members to define and implement a consistent brand policy for all 100 Apache projects – spanning from the veritable HTTPD and Tomcat to the newest CouchDB and Hadoop.

Managing Community Open Source Brands

  1. 1. Managing Community Open Source Brands Shane Curcuru | @shanecurcuru Vice President, Brand Management#apache http://communityovercode.com/2012/07/oscon-presentation/ v 1.0
  2. 2. Introduction  Shane Curcuru –Vice President, Brand Management –The Apache Software Foundation (ASF)  Volunteer position, appointed by the ASF Board of Directors  Define and implement core branding policy for all 150+ Apache projects & podlings –http://www.apache.org/foundation/marks/  Questions? <trademarks@apache.org>  I am not a lawyer .. .. but now can play one on the Internet –
  3. 3. Topics Trademark concepts in 30 seconds –Adjectives, nominative use, consumer confusion, and registration 10 Steps to community brand management success –Governance, policies, maintenance, enforcement How your $BigCo can collaborate respectfully with the community –Give credit to the community, grow your own brand – Resources
  4. 4. Trademark Concepts In 30 Seconds#apache
  5. 5. Trademarks? I thought you said brands... A trademark is the legal instantiation of your brand Your brand includes many elements – names, logos, look and feel – that also includes specific trademarks that signify your software product or service Trademarks are about preventing consumer confusion as to the source of goods –For software, its typically specific name/logo an informed consumer (user of your software) associates with a specific downloadable software program or service Trademarks protect consumers by ensuring expectations of quality, functionality, etc. Your project name is not necessarily a trademark, although it may be a service mark
  6. 6. Trademarks: Nominative use and Infringement Nominative use for trademarks =? fair use for copyright People must be able to use your trademark to describe your goods Nominative use even allows people to post bad reviews of your software product Infringement is when a third party uses your marks in a way that may mislead consumers as to the true source of goods
  7. 7. Trademarks: used as adjectives Trademarks are best used to describe the actual goods I buy Kleenex® brand tissues We run Apache Lucene™ software and Apache Hadoop® software – – … but in common usage we just write were running Python
  8. 8. Trademarks: registered or common law In most jurisdictions, common law rights accrue from actual use of a mark to identify goods Trademarks may also be registered with the USPTO, the EU, and other individual country governments – this is not required, but improves your rights The additional protections of registration vary significantly by country: –Typically, easier standard proof for infringement, and higher potential damages in court < $500 to register online with USPTO – – Should you register? “It depends”
  9. 9. But its an open source licence! Go read your open source license again Most of them explicitly exclude any rights to trademarks
  10. 10. 10 Steps to Community Brand Management Success!#apache
  11. 11. How To: Manage your communitys brand Establish clear project Governance Define your brand Use your brand consistently Publish and enforce a policy –How do you want others to use your brand? Have a single point of contact Be professional, polite, and firm Discuss potential infringements privately Avoid legal entanglements... … But ask a lawyer if you need to
  12. 12. Governance Having clear project governance and ownership is critical: Brands are not code– Who decides what your specific brand actually is?–Human judgement is required to define your bikesheds image and how it should be used– Who owns your brand?–Specific ownership improves your ability to defend your brand––
  13. 13. What is your brand? The specific name of your software product? The specific name of your software project? Do you have common abbreviations or other names? Logos? –For the product? For the community? For partners? – – You dont need a full style guide and logo use requirements You should have a consistent definition of your primary brand
  14. 14. Use your brand consistently Your use of your brand is the reference implementation Be consistent – especially in first and most prominent uses Attribute your own trademarks with TM or ® to make their status clear to others Ensure consistency in your website … in your documentation … on your download page … in publicly visible parts of your product UI – Trademark law is not a compiler: the general consumer perception is what counts
  15. 15. Create a brand use policy Describe clearly up front how you wish your brand to be treated by others Most people (who read it) will follow it Helps show your seriousness if legal issues do arise Dont try to define every use case: just general ones Include examples of appropriate and inappropriate uses Allows many questions to be answered by a link to the policy
  16. 16. Respect other brands Ensure you treat other organizations trademarks respectfully Charitable or community-based projects have no business infringing on others trademarks Be liberal in attribution and giving credit to other communities or companies Respond calmly and professionally if a third party asks/demands for changes
  17. 17. Policing your brands use Legal expectation that you will defend your brand – or you may lose it Provide a simple and documented method for your community – and third parties – to report potential infringements to you directly Third party uses that may confuse consumers as to the source of goods are important to review and respond to Personal blogs, press articles, software reviews, benchmark reports, forum discussions, emails on dev@... are all places that are unlikely to be infringing uses Your brand use policy may choose to allow greater third party use than traditional trademark law might suggest
  18. 18. Have a single point of contact Include a single point of contact in your brand use policy Do not encourage community members to independently approach potential infringers Have a single person handle contact with each potential infringer Ensure consistency in your communication
  19. 19. Contact third parties privately Assume ignorance rather than malice Private, direct contact allows all parties to save face Public confrontations often escalate, potentially damaging everyones reputation
  20. 20. Be professional, polite, firm, and specific Be professional – make them understand you are serious and understand the issue Be polite – many cases are resolved through simple discussion and negotiations Be firm – state your clear ownership of the marks Be specific – quote specific uses that you request to be changed Most potential infringements cases are resolved through discussion Using official titles often helps your cause
  21. 21. Wed like to avoid any legal entanglements Trademark litigation is expensive A Cease & Desist (C&D) is never the right place to start –Consider the public image of “attacking” a third party Most issues can be resolved with polite, firm, and private discussion Some issues end up being resolved by making a public case
  22. 22. Never play a lawyer yourself Dont be afraid to seek legal advice Do ask counsel if you receive a specific legal threat Do consult with counsel before considering sending a Cease & Desist or any legal action – – Pro bono counsel is out there for non-profits
  23. 23. How Your Company Can Help The Community#apache
  24. 24. Respect the community Its the communitys brand – not yours When in doubt, ask first! –Give plenty of lead time for volunteer or community-governed projects to respond. Ensure your marketing department is aware of your strategic goals –Short-term “wins” of implying ownership in community brands leads to long-term backlash
  25. 25. Create your own brand Its the communitys brand – not yours Develop your own, separate brand –BigCo SuperThing, Powered By Apache Foo is probably OK –BigCo FooThing is not –BigCos Apache Foo is not –The Best Foo is not Different communities may have partner, affiliate, or similar programs that allow a stronger coupling of brands – but on the communitys terms
  26. 26. Give credit to the community Celebrate the project community Be liberal with praise and attributions Focus on competing higher up the value chain The community is not your competitor: those other BigCos are – The most important asset to any community project are its individual contributors
  27. 27. Volunteer other resources for the community Sponsor website designers, editors, logo contests for the community –But: its the communitys decision to define the brand – not yours Assist with organizational tasks, like finding pro bono legal counsel
  28. 28. Thank You & Resources#apache
  29. 29. Thank You! Many thanks to many Apache Members and committers who have worked on our brands Thanks to the Software Freedom Law Center & DLA Piper, pro bono counsel for the ASF Thank you to all those contributing to Apache projects and other open source projects – – Questions? –Join me for Office Hours next @ 5pm on the Expo floor!
  30. 30. Resources Resources – Trademark Law Basics –https://www.softwarefreedom.org/resources/2008/foss-primer.html –http://www.ifosslr.org/ifosslr/article/view/11/38 Resources – Pro Bono Counsel –https://www.softwarefreedom.org/services/ Resources – Open Source Brand Use Policies –The Apache Trademark Policy covers all 150+ Apache projects: –http://www.apache.org/foundation/marks/ –Mozilla explains the reasons for their policy in very approachble terms: –https://www.mozilla.org/foundation/trademarks/policy.html – These slides: http://communityovercode.com/2012/07/oscon-presentation/
  31. 31. Thank You! Shane Curcuru | @shanecurcuru Vice President, Brand Management#apache http://communityovercode.com/2012/07/oscon-presentation/
  • ricaspbr

    Feb. 8, 2020
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    Nov. 15, 2013
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    Nov. 14, 2013
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    Nov. 11, 2013
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    Nov. 11, 2013
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    Nov. 11, 2013

In the modern open source world, where licenses and DVCS’ allow instant and infinite forking, the only true control point for a community-based open source project is its name, its logo, and its identity. Your brand is your identity: this is how the rest of the world sees you and your project. How can a volunteer-led open source project control it’s own identity and brand? How do you manage your project’s brand when most of your volunteers are coders who don’t want to get involved with lawyers or deal with enforcing trademarks? How can the community keep their brand independent and free of commercial influence, so they can ensure the maximum number of people and corporations are interested in participating in their project? Similarly, how can businesses respectfully use open source brands to their own advantage – without being seen as co-opting and independent or open community open source project solely for their own gain? The desire to control the next hot project for your profit may quickly turn on you when another company simply forks the code under a better marketed service. Learn the basics of all these topics and more with Shane Curcuru, who volunteers as Vice President, Brand Management for The Apache Software Foundation. Over the past few years Shane has led a group of volunteer ASF Members to define and implement a consistent brand policy for all 100 Apache projects – spanning from the veritable HTTPD and Tomcat to the newest CouchDB and Hadoop.

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