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From Shane Curcuru <...@shanecurcuru.org>
Subject Trademark policy about software plugin names
Date Mon, 31 Jan 2011 17:31:24 GMT
How do software product trademarks apply to software plugins?  How can 
Apache write clear trademark policy that ensures protection of our 
projects' software product marks, while allowing responsible third 
parties broad latitude in naming of related software plugin, feature, or 
add-on names?

This is both the general question, as we continue to better document 
Apache brand policy, as well as a specific question coming up with one 
of our projects, where a third party may want to name their product the 
"Foo Maven Plugin".  Advice and pointers to ideas appreciated!


Here, I'm using "plugin" to denote an independently downloadable bit of 
software that does not primarily provide functionality alone, but is 
specifically meant to be used within a well-publicised plugin context of 
another "host" software product to add feature(s).  Thus, these plugins 
are well-understood to be only useful in conjunction with this specific 
kind of host.  A very close end-user example is "Add-ons" within the 
context of FireFox, or possibly "features" in the context of Eclipse.

An existing example is the "Tomcat Maven Plugin" here:


This is branded clearly as "Tomcat Maven Plugin", and is well-understood 
by relevant consumers of Maven to add funtionality to their existing 
Apache Maven product that allows them to manipulate a Tomcat server 
directly from within Maven.  Note that users of Maven would also know to 
find this under the org.codehaus.mojo.* plugin namespace, which is a key 
way that Maven finds plugins; the plugin architecture is also an 
important feature of Maven itself.

If a third party were selling an "Super Tomcat Maven" software product 
that promised faster servlet rebuilds, Apache would presumably have to 
stop them to maintain our marks.  But how do we distinguish our policy 
for software products vs. that for plugins to our software products?

In the case of Maven, this kind of plugin naming is common and is de 
facto suggested by the Maven project community.  Having a wide variety 
of plugins for Maven is generally a positive factor for the project.

Along with general advice or suggestions, I'd love to know:

- If there are any legal issues in defining what a "plugin" is vs. a 
software *product*.  I.e. is there any key legal distinction, or is it 
all the standard measure of what relevant consumers think when they come 
to the website?

- Specific naming guidelines for plugins.  I.e. should we, via brand 
policy, mandate certain naming styles or the like, or is this typically 
immaterial, and can be decided by our project communities on a technical 
or best practices basis?

- Besides the plugin name, what other typical things should we require 
by the third party?  Obviously they should attribute any of our marks 
used in their names, as well as including a disclaimer that they're not 
associated with Apache.  Are there any other topics we should ask third 
parties to cover in the case of plugins?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
- Shane

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