[OSGeo-Conf] OSGeo and FOSS4G as a trademark

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Fri Sep 19 14:07:23 PDT 2014

Thanks Jeroen for bringing this forward.
I've updated the foss4g cookbook to include mention of OSGeo branding.

On 18/09/2014 3:03 am, Jeroen Ticheler wrote:
> Hi all,
> In the past we have had discussions on the different mailinglists 
> about the FOSS4G trademark and if there is an owner for this or not. 
> I'd like to bring this up again since I think it is relevant in the 
> context of the discussions about e.g. a relationship / collaboration 
> between OSGeo and LocationTech. It would be good if the existing 
> disambiguates would be resolved :-)
> History has it that OSGeo takes the lead in organizing the annual 
> global event under the name FOSS4G. Local conferences can also use 
> FOSS4G in their name.
> There is not a clear event policy for the use of the FOSS4G brandname. 
> Reading the Official OSGeo Event Policy [1], you are safe to use it as 
> long as this has been approved by the OSGeo board. The OSGeo 
> Conference Policy page [2] doesn't provide much more information, 
> except that history has shown OSGeo runs the conferences according to 
> the described "vanilla" FOSS4G model. The FOSS4G Cookbook actually 
> leaves the decision to the Conference Committee [3] stating "/Use of 
> the name "FOSS4G" is managed by the OSGeo Conference Committee. As a 
> courtesy, events which wish to make use of the "FOSS4G" name should 
> request permission to do so from the conference committee. Permission 
> will be granted if the event being described is predominantly (say 
> >90%) about Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial./"
> Venka Raghavan and Shinji Masumoto agreed to donate the foss4g.org 
> <http://foss4g.org> domain name to OSGeo on 3rd October 2007 with 
> the understanding that there will be no restrictions on the free usage 
> of the FOSS4G acronym for the legitimate purpose of promoting Free and 
> Open Source Software for Geoinformatics. [4]
> So from a historical perspective OSGeo is the effective trademark 
> holder of FOSS4G and the board or conference committee votes who can 
> use it or not. Except (and this is crucial I think!) that there is an 
> understanding that "/there will be no restrictions on the free usage 
> of the FOSS4G acronym ... etc .../".
> It would really help if Venka and Shinji amend the agreement so that 
> OSGeo is the sole entity that can decide who is allowed to use the 
> FOSS4G trademark or not. This doesn't mean OSGeo should change its 
> policy, after all the foundation has as its core mandate to promote 
> FOSS for Geospatial.
> Removing this issue will help OSGeo when collaborations / MoU's are 
> discussed.
> It will also ensure that the relationship between OSGeo and a LOC is 
> clearer. The LOC should follow certain requirements OSGeo puts up 
> (such as having a booth, having a very clear OSGeo marketing strategy 
> (marketing the OSGeo brand at FOSS4G), etcetera). This has been an 
> issue with almost all conferences.
> It would also help to protect OSGeo's financial interest in the 
> conferences, ensuring the proceedings benefit the foundation as much 
> as possible. This has so far never been a real problem, we've had 
> great LOC's with fantastic, responsible teams.
> As a consequence, OSGeo could actually decide to invest let's say $15k 
> to employ a person parttime to assist the LOC and PCO. Some more 
> resources could be invested in ensuring we run a conference website 
> that is reused every year. It could take a lot of load off the LOC and 
> help continuity.
> OSGeo has a vested interest in running the annual FOSS4G event 
> effectively and ensuring LOC's won't burn out easily. And frankly, if 
> OSGeo can't have the guarantees it requires to be the sole, 
> unrestricted owner of the FOSS4G trademark, I think we shouldn't be 
> scared of using another name for the annual conference (nor local ones 
> that wish to associate themselves with OSGeo).
> Thanks,
> Jeroen
> 1[http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Official_OSGeo_Event_Policy]
> 2[http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Conference_Policy#Partnership_and_Profit]
> 3[http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/FOSS4G_Cookbook#FOSS4G_Brand]
> 4[http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/FOSS4G#History_of_foss4g.org_domain_name]
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Cameron Shorter,
Software and Data Solutions Manager
Suite 112, Jones Bay Wharf,
26 - 32 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009

P +61 2 9009 5000,  W www.lisasoft.com,  F +61 2 9009 5099

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