[OSGeo-Conf] [Board] OSGeo and FOSS4G as a trademark

Eli Adam eadam at co.lincoln.or.us
Sat Sep 20 15:09:30 PDT 2014

I agree with Steven and Jeroen and others who have raised this over
the years.  There are similar organizations [1], [2], [3] that provide
an example.  Some with CC0 licensed policies to adapt or to ask

If all parties are agreeable, I think that Venka and Shinji and Markus
and Jeff should make a proposal to the Board to have OSGeo trademark
FOSS4G.  Then the Board might delegate that to a handful of people
from various parts of the world to work with a contracted trademark

While visiting the topic of trademark, OSGeo might want to make sure
OSGeo and the OSGeo logo are trademarked and if so in a manner
appropriate for the scope.

Best regards, Eli

[1] http://www.linuxfoundation.org/programs/legal/trademark
[2] https://www.python.org/psf/committees/#trademarks-committee-tmc
[3] https://www.python.org/psf/trademarks/

On Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 10:06 AM, Jeroen Ticheler
<jeroen.ticheler at geocat.net> wrote:
> Thanks Dan and Steven,
> Yes, I agree and that's also the exact reason why I specifically asked Venka
> and Shinji to amend the agreement. From that point onwards we have a common
> understanding within OSGeo and can move on from there.
> Thanks again,
> Jeroen
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> Op 18 sep. 2014 om 17:43 heeft Dan Ames <dan.ames at byu.edu> het volgende
> geschreven:
> Just watching from the sidelines here, and having worked on various
> trademarks, I think it would be very difficult and perhaps impossible to
> secure a U.S. Trademark on "FOSS4G" since it has become a widely used term.
> Having said that, there's no reason that the community of OSGeo can't come
> up with a policy for members on how and when to use "FOSS4G". And since all
> respectable FOSS4G enthusiasts are members of OSGeo - well then such a
> policy would be as effective as a trademark. - Dan
> **********************************************************************
> Daniel P. Ames, Ph.D., P.E.
> Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
> Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA
> http://ceen.et.byu.edu/content/dan-ames
> http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Ames
> http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=S0GUCeUAAAAJ
> **********************************************************************
> On Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 2:51 AM, Steven Feldman <shfeldman at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I agree with Jeroen. FOSS4G is and is seen as the brand mark of OSGeo even
>> if it was ‘donated’ 7 years ago by Venka and Shinji (thanks to you both).
>> Our annual international event and more recently several regional events
>> have benefited from this strongly recognised branding. Many people describe
>> our software and community as FOSS4G which I think is a really great trend
>> (it could conceivably allow more than one organisation to be part of or
>> affiliated to the FOSS4G movement/community).
>> FOSS4G, the event/s, is/are OSGeo’s principal source of income at the
>> moment - last year the UK event returned over $150k to OSGeo. I think it is
>> essential that we protect the branding and connection between OSGeo and
>> FOSS4G - if someone wants to run an open source geo something event they are
>> free to do so, if they want to brand it FOSS4G then there should be some
>> relationship (ideally financial but not essentially) with OSGeo.
>> If we can’t own and control our principal brand then we should consider
>> creating an alternative rather than investing more energy in creating
>> momentum around a brand that could be misappropriated.
>> ______
>> Steven
>> On 17 Sep 2014, at 18:03, Jeroen Ticheler <jeroen.ticheler at geocat.net>
>> 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 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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