[OSM-talk] Draft Trademark Policy

Jochen Topf jochen at remote.org
Fri Aug 4 13:12:58 UTC 2017

On Thu, Aug 03, 2017 at 11:07:44PM +0200, Simon Poole wrote:
> The LWG would like to start a period of public review and consultation
> on our draft trademark policy, that we intend to bring forward to the
> OSMF board for adoption as a formal policy, please see the text here:
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Trademark_Policy#OpenStreetMap_Trademark_Policy

This is a very well-written document and the will to create a fair
policy is clearly visible. But it immediately opens a whole slew of
questions for me, many of them concerning my own projects.

* Section 2.1 forbids anything called something like "OpenThingMap".
  This form of name is very popular, there are numerous existing
  examples (OpenPOIMap, OpenTopoMap, OpenSeaMap, ...) Do all of these
  have to change their names?
* I have a written an open source software called "OSMCoastline" (among
  many others), this clearly contains the "OSM" abbreviation. The use
  of this software is very specific to OSM data. It doesn't make sense
  for this software not to have OSM in its name really so much is it
  tied to the OSM data. Can it keep this name? There is no mentioning
  of software in the policy at all.
* I am running the website openstreetmapdata.com where people can download
  OSM-derived data and only OSM-derived data. Currently all services
  there are free, we are only asking for donations (and receive almost
  none). But I want to reserve the right to charge for services there.
  The character of this site is in between a community site and
  something commercial. It comes out of my engagement for OSM and the
  OSM community, but it is not something run by the OSMF or so. It is
  run by me and Christoph personally and we might want to move it more
  into the direction of a commercial enterprise in the future. I know
  I am not alone with this, there are many sites that are half-open,
  half-community, half-commercial. And that is, in my opinion a good
  thing, because it is a way for OSM enthusiasts to move to something
  where they can make some money with what they are doing and sustain
  their services. But it raises the question of where community ends
  and trademark licenses are needed. It is quite clear from the policy
  that I can not keep using that domain name. What is not clear to me
  is how I have to do the wording on that site to keep within the
  Trademark Policy? Lets say I changed the site name to
  megaawesomedownloads.com, what else would I have to do? All the
  data on there is 100% derived from OSM data. I don't want to invent
  any bugus "product names", when I offer "OSM coastline data" for
  download, that describes best what you can download. Is a website
  a "Publication" in the sense of the section 4.3?

If such a policy is introduced, I would hope that the OSMF provides some
proactive guidance to the many many people already doing good things
based on OSM and help them get into compliance. I fear many people will
rather stop offering their services instead of understanding the legal
issues involved. This is especially important, because - from my limited
understanding of trademark law - it is necessary to actually defend your
trademarks if you want to keep them. So unlike the data license
violations which the OSMF can ignore as much as it wants to without
limiting what they can do in the future, the OSMF has to actually
defend its trademark. So if the OSMF says that, say "OpenSeaMap" is not
according to our policy, it HAS to fight it (even if nobody really minds
them using this name) to make this stick. So just ignoring some
violations and fighting others isn't possible. Which opens the whole
question of whether the OSMF is organizationally and financially in a
position to actually do this fighting? If not, why have this policy?

Jochen Topf  jochen at remote.org  https://www.jochentopf.com/  +49-351-31778688

More information about the talk mailing list