KDE Apps name trademarks

Cornelius Schumacher schumacher at kde.org
Mon Jul 20 00:17:20 BST 2020

On Sonntag, 12. Juli 2020 22:45:17 CEST Jonathan Riddell wrote:
> My proposal would be to trademark all app names since they are all liable
> to be hijacked by third parties for whatever purposes.  It would mean
> adding a ™ symbol on web pages where we promote those apps.  They would be
> owned by KDE e.v.  Other apps like KOffice have done this in the past as I
> say.  However it seems nobody is very much in suppose of the idea so we'll
> just have to live with third parties living off our good names.

I think this needs some clarification.

First of all, a trademark is established by starting to use it. We own the 
trademarks of KDE application names, because we use them to designate our 
applications. Adding a TM symbol might have informational value, but is has no 
direct legal consequences. It's not necessary to trademark our apps by adding 
some symbol. We already have done that by giving them the names they have and 
using them as our marks.

The missing piece here is a trademark policy. We need to define how and under 
which circumstances our trademarks can be used. This is a balance act as we 
want them to be used widely, but we also need to defend them to prevent abuse. 
This is a bit tricky as trademark law is not made for openly used marks. 
Still, by defining clear conditions we can set out how we want them to be 
One critical part of this trademark policy would be what "we" actually means. 
Who owns the trademarks? By default, the people who start using them, own 
them. In our case we want this to be owned by the community, so we need to 
establish a process to make KDE e.V. the owner of the KDE trademarks. In some 
cases, such as KOffice, this has happened in the past in a somewhat informal 
way, but to have clarity, it probably would be best to have a formal process.

Then, as an additional step, there is registration of trademarks. This 
actually makes a difference from a legal point of view. It makes the mark more 
defendable. It is some paperwork and costs some money, and it has done 
separately for different regions of the world. In short, it is significant 

We have done this for KDE as a general mark. We haven't done it for app names. 
Which is probably ok, because we do own the trademarks we use, also without 

So I don't think we should add the TM symbol everywhere. This would be quite 
some effort, and it might even be counter-productive if not done consistently.

But if there are situations where third parties are living off our good name, 
we should fight this. We already have the rights to do so.

The most important thing, though, would be to formulate our trademark policy 
so we have a clear base to operate from for now and the future. We should look 
at the trademark policies of other projects and use them as inspiration and 
maybe something like a template.

Cornelius Schumacher <schumacher at kde.org>

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