Fedora Jumps into the Trademark Guidelines Ring

Mar 10, 2009

Where Fedora is, so do they stand: shortly after openSUSE announced its own trademark guidelines, Fedora is coming up with its own variation.

Fedora project leader Paul Frields announced in a blog entry that the project was issuing trademark guidelines for Fedora. Only days ago openSUSE community manager Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier had announced his project's own guidelines from Novell. The pairing up of initiatives isn't totally coincidental in that Frields had recently met with his openSUSE "Zonker" counterpart: "He and I talked about the revision of Fedora trademark policies back in September of 2008, and in particular how those might inform work to revise those of openSUSE."

Both products agree that there should be ground rules as to use of trademarks and modifications. While the openSUSE guidelines are rather restrictive in that only unmodified versions of its software can bear the openSUSE marks and name, Fedora's guidelines are somewhat more generous and Fedora also wants to involve its Project Board in its decisions. Another alternative it proposes is "secondary trademark usage guidelines" that can apply to those using modified, enhanced or shortened Fedora code. This code should get the designation "Fedora Remix" and have the appropriate design identification.

According to Frields, the ensuing trademark guidelines have been increasingly vital since Fedora's split from Red Hat. By his account the previous guidelines "had a lot of dust on them" and "essentially copies of Red Hat’s guidelines for its trademarks, with the word 'Fedora' substituted for 'Red Hat'." He considered the previous guidelines to be inflexible and hopes to rework them together with Red Hat lawyers to "develop something that was more reflective of our community’s desire to help spread Fedora." The new regulations would allow, for example, use of the Fedora logo on social networks like LinkedIn, personal and business websites, trade shows and other community events.

Somewhat baffling is the proposed new FedoraCommunity.org domain over which international community sites should get their official sanctioning. The popular French Fedora-fr.org website was not particularly pleased about having to change its domain name, nor was Iran pleased about restricting an .ir subdomain. Frields promises answers and suggests staying calm: "Considering our guidelines were really draconian before, and I don’t remember getting sued then, I’ll try not to lose too much sleep over it."

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  • Fedora-fr.org

    Your comment about the owners of the "fedora-fr.org" domain having to change that name is incorrect -- we've not requested any such thing. In fact, we look forward to simply pointing "fr.fedoracommunity.org" to that site. I can't think of a good reason to have an established, popular community site change its already recognizable domain name, as long as it's using the Fedora trademarks in a way that's consistent with our fairly liberal guidelines.

    Establishing a specific "fr.fedoracommunity.org" domain, as I see it, is simply a smart move. If a user encounters the overall "fedoracommunity.org" domain in another context, and types in the "fr." subdomain, we want them to end up at the established "fedora-fr.org" domain as a result.
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