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From Shane Curcuru <...@shanecurcuru.org>
Subject Re: Trademark policy about software plugin names
Date Mon, 31 Jan 2011 18:00:09 GMT
Mark Thomas wrote:
> On 31/01/2011 17:31, Shane Curcuru wrote:
>> An existing example is the "Tomcat Maven Plugin" here:
>>   http://mojo.codehaus.org/tomcat-maven-plugin/
>> 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.
> I see where you are going but when the first part of the name is also an
> Apache trademark how do you avoid the confusion that this particular
> plug-in has/has not been produced by the Apache Tomcat project?
> Mark

Indeed!  That's one of the things I'm wondering about:

- What's in a name?  Is there any specific legal distinction about the 
publicly displayed *name* of the product, versus it's other attributes?

I.e. if the Tomcat Maven Plugin's homepage (and other materials, etc.) 
clearly specified that it wasn't from Tomcat or Maven (or Apache), and 
attributed our marks, and otherwise did a great job of extolling both 
it's virtues and the virtues of the Apache Maven and Apache Tomcat 
projects, would that be OK from the legal perspective?  Is there 
something truly specific about the name that is crucial, or is it merely 
a part (if often a large one) of the whole package?

I'm imagining different parties here having a completely different view:

- A new lawyer joins the conversation, and asks how we could possibly 
have allowed this travesty of a name continue!  Sue them immediately, 
they clearly call their thing "Tomcat"!  ;-)

- An hypothetical Maven PMC member joins the conversation, and says duh, 
this is exactly how these third party plugins *should* be named - that's 
how we encourage all 800 other ones to do it!  Besides, any actual Maven 
user would clearly understand the difference between Maven itself (or 
Tomcat) and the various plugins that you stick into it.

Note that most relevant consumers (so I'm led to believe reading Maven 
lists) would obviously know to look at the groupId (org.codehaus.mojo) 
as well as the artifactId (tomcat-maven-plugin) when considering if they 
wanted to use this particular plugin.  From the experienced users' point 
of view, this is presumably some indicator as to origin of the plugin.

- Shane

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