Talk:Trademark practices discussion

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
The following request for comments is closed.

This discussion has been closed, and the new Trademark policy draft has been posted. Please comment there. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 23:20, 19 November 2013 (UTC)


The Wikimedia trademarks signify the high quality, integrity, and openness of the Wikimedia movement projects and prevent deceptive, harmful, and confusing activities that could hurt our mission. The Foundation acts as a steward on behalf of the community of volunteers who work every day to build the reputation that the marks represent. We are legally responsible for maintaining and protecting the trademark rights through our policy and practice. We also want to make it as easy as possible for community members to use the marks to advance our mission.

We want to discuss updating our trademark policy and practice. We would like your thoughts on how we should employ our trademarks for community members, movement organizations, and third parties. Our plan is to gather your feedback over the next few months, prepare a draft revision of the trademark policy based on that feedback, and then engage in a community consultation on that draft policy as we did for the Terms of Use.

In this document, we outline some practices that we believe are going relatively well. After that, we provide some considerations for reflection. Finally, we list a few specific questions to open the conversation. If you don’t want to read all this, you can just give us your comments here.


This contains translator-unfriendly markup[edit]

I'll see if I can fix it. PiRSquared17 (talk) 01:17, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Thank you! Your help is much appreciated. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 01:24, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
This is too long to fix, basically just think of what you would like to see as a translator. For example, why do we ask for translations of a bunch of links? Do we expect people to link to translated documents, if they exist, or to just copy the links? Meh. PiRSquared17 (talk) 03:36, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
I was not aware that you could turn the translate extension on and off within the document. Alas, I haven't much experience with it. :) Seeing how you and User:Kaganer have done that will be helpful for next time I am required to try. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 10:41, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

What is the policy about use in News reports[edit]

Sorry if I have missed the point while reading.I have seen occurances of Wikipedia logos being used in news reports specially print media and also at times news report prepared by community.What is or what should be the policy ?

Mahitgar (He who knows ,wants to know and and loves to keep others informed) (talk) 03:15, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for your comment. The use of logos in news reports is generally fair use and our current trademark policy and practice do not interfere with it. However, given that this is a very important fair use, we would like to clarify our policy on this.
[As always, our comments are not legal advice. We explain why they aren't here.] YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 18:26, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

What is the policy on use in personal blogs,facebook pages etc ?[edit]

Sorry if it is already discussed and mentioned.What is the policy on use in personal blogs,facebook pages etc. by community members ?

Mahitgar (He who knows ,wants to know and and loves to keep others informed) (talk) 03:18, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

This is another point that could be clarified in our policy. We would love to get the community’s thoughts on this. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 19:07, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
This is an important question (and a good question), yes it should be clarified.
My opinion is that logo usage on user’s blogs, even "unknown users" (such as which is on should be OK, but that we should limit that. --ArséniureDeGallium (talk) 20:02, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
  • More specifically than "use in" such media, what about use as an online identity in such media, i.e. use of a Wikimedia wordmark/trademark as the name/icon that identifies/signifies a person or account? I think it is problematic when someone thereby effectively says "I am <name of Wikimedia project> and this is what I think"; moreso when ubiquitous features such as "like", "friend", etc. effectively say <name of Wikimedia project> endorses something. (Cf. discussion at English Wikiquote of some well-intentioned uses of the Wikiquote name and logo on GoodReads™ and aNobii™.) ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:15, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Pretty much any use in such media that I can think of, will qualify as fair use. So WMF can't regulate these usages anyway and shouldn't try to. rgds --h-stt !? 14:26, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your comment. We would certainly never try to regulate fair use, but we can provide more guidance on what constitutes fair use in these instances to help community members.YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 17:49, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Use in violating community policy[edit]

The use of Wikimedia trademarks in a manner that violates, or encourages violation of, community policy should be disallowed. I'm thinking of a company that links to a spam Wikipedia page they created, passing it off as their e.g. "Wikipedia profile". MER-C (talk) 04:04, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Copyright vs. trademark[edit]

One of my main concerns is that Wikimedia should stop using copyright law in addition to trademark law for its logos. An organization whose mission is to encourage production of free content should not make its own logos nonfree; this seems a bit hypocritical. Commons could get rid of its only allowed nonfree files. I don't think most organizations with logos tagged as PD-textlogo on Commons have enormous problems enforcing their trademarks, just because they aren't copyrighted - and in the case of many Wikimedia logos, it would be possible to license them under a Creative Commons by(-sa) or GFDL or Free Art license, which is still more restrictive than the public domain. Darkweasel94 (talk) 06:29, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

I concur with this. It's difficult to explain why there are non-free medias on commons while we ask people to upload only free medias ; even more when these non-free medias are those of the foundation.
Best regards — Arkanosis 10:14, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
Although trademark and copyright cover different interests, both can be used to prevent the theft of the same intellectual property, if it meets the requirements of both regimes. It is like having both a bolt and a chain on the door in a high-crime neighborhood. When scam artists sell phony Wikipedia-branded products, both trademark and copyright registrations, can be employed to prevent them from fooling a trusting public. BD2412 T 19:02, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
"Intellectual property"? That term mixes up different laws with different purposes (copyrights, patents, trademarks), so it is essentially meaningless; I don't think an argument using it can be very valid. And as I said - does e.g. Microsoft, whose logo is below the threshold of originality, have the problems you describe? BTW, I doubt "scam artists" are going to obey the terms of licenses such as the CC-BY-SA, so in 99% of cases, they will still be infringing the copyright. Darkweasel94 (talk) 04:26, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
The term respiratory infection mixes up different infections with different causes (tuberculosis, influenza, common cold...). Is the term respiratory infection "essentially meaningless" to you? The term motor vehicle mixes up different types of vehicles, from luxury sportscars to cheap Tato Nanos to tractors to tanks. Is the term motor vehicle "essentially meaningless" to you? Or do you agree with me that a term for a broad category might be meaningful? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:51, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
That does not seem like a useful comparison; abstraction can be useful in some cases but not in others. In any case, let's not turn this into an offtopic discussion of terminology: my point is that an organization whose mission is to spread free cultural works should start by making its own cultural works free - after all, many Wikimedia projects such as Commons also insist that all logos of other organizations need to be free. Seems hypocritical not to do so oneself. Darkweasel94 (talk) 14:28, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
Well said. This is a major inconsistency in Commons' licensing policy, which is quite difficult for established Commons users and administrators to explain or defend, especially since it is an externally imposed exception with no real support in the Commons community. LX (talk, contribs) 13:40, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
I also aggree our logos should be under a free licence. This should not be a big jump in our current practice given they would be still protected by the trademark law (or this can be discussed like in the other section, but at least the questions of copyright and trademark are quite independant). Here are some points in favor of a free licence for our logos.
1. This would make uniform the licencing policy on Commons, and Wikimedia logos would have the same banners as the other logos.
2. Additionally, by checking some of the files on Commons, some are under a CC-BY-SA licence (current Wikivoyage logo), some are tagged PD-ineligible (Wikimedia-logo.svg), some are Foundation-copyrighted (Wmf logo vert pms.svg). This is not uniform and gives the feeling the situation is quite unclear. On the Foundation-copyrighted logos, the banner says "This logo is copyrighted by WMF. Use is subject to the Wikimedia trademark policy": this banner mixes copyright and trademark laws, and is phrased as if the copyright implies the trademark.
3. Additionally, by making logos copyrighted by WMF, this theoretically forces any reuser to seek at least a permission from the WMF for the copyright layer (independently of the trademark), which is quite absurd for a lot of derivatives (example 1, example 2, example 3, and theoretically the whole category on Commons). From the strict point of view of the copyright law, WMF is shown as very liberal on its (non-)request of copyright protection (some could say it is encouraging copyright infringement :). Even, WMF reserves the right of suing a reuser on the basis of the copyright law; this creates a small legal uncertainty for the editors (although given the current practice, I doubt a judge would be in favor of the WMF in the case of a legal action, at least on the sole basis of the copyright).
4. Finally, for our movement who developed a strong competency in the intellectual property laws and particularly in the copyright laws, I find it is quite unfair the WMF considers itself as copyright holder/owner of some of the logos instead of clearly giving attribution to the true authors (individuals, which may possibly include some WMF staff, and possibly community in the case of the redesign of the WP logo). I develop this point on the theoretical basis I understand of the situation, given the attribution of logos on Commons is very diverse, and it is even hard to draw some rule only on observing logos on Commons. It is even a bit paradoxal if one considers we (Wikimedia movement) promote the attribution of the copyright to the authors instead of the organisation the author belongs) [I aggree everybody in the movement could not aggree with this statement, but I know there are supporters of this idea].
By beginning my comment, I only thought to the first point, and then I saw there are other problems implied by copyrighted logos. On the counterpart of licencing under a free licence, one could argue WMF/Wikimedia should have a perpetual property on the logos to avoid a change of logo in the case the copyright holders do not more aggree at some point to let WMF/Wikimedia use their creation (this can be circumvented for logos in the public domain or CC0 or WTFPL), and WMF/Wikimedia should probably also seek some exclusivity on the logos to avoid other people use the logos (and this point joins the trademark law).
~ Seb35 [^_^] 11:33, 5 July 2013 (UTC) (updated 11:54, 5 July 2013 (UTC))

High-resolution copies of Wikimedia Marks[edit]


The current policy states that “you cannot have or use [high-resolution copies of Wikimedia Marks]. If you've a very good reason to seek an exception to the rule against having and using high-resolution copies of Wikimedia Marks please contact the Wikimedia Foundation for permission to use those logos”.

I don't see the point of this restriction and I wonder if it's still relevant anyway now that we're using SVG everywhere…

Best regards — Arkanosis 10:03, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

I am also very much opposed to this policy. In particular, I would like for the Autodesk Maya source files for the Wikipedia logo to be released. This would allow community members to propose improvements to them. -- Tim Starling (talk) 23:57, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

We can go without trademark[edit]

Can't we say that trademark is based on the completly irrelevant and irrealistic willing to have an unilateral despotic control on some symbol, a concept branded as "image protection", using ego/narcissistic fallacies to argue, and threat/coercion to impose its observance?

As far as I know, the widest used symbols, like yin and yang, various crosses, the peace symbol[1], etc., have no trademark, and still communicate a clear message. Sure you can have ambiguities with several meaning branded with the same symbol, but this is resolved with context as easily as it is with any homonymous.

Of course some people may try to abuse others using well known symbols, but this is not something trademark will prevent efficiently. One may go as far as using a "close but not the same" symbol, computing how much that may cost to go in court and how much profit this may generate and go with it as long as chances are great to end with a positive financial state through usurpation.

You don't protect people and social movements by inforcing brand. Maybe inforcing production standards can help. But definitively what people need is ways to make accurate interpretation by themselves. They don't need to be infantilized with "real source of truth" that they may blindly trust just because there's some logo on it.

Oh, well, I guess I'm just losing my time throwing words that will have no significant impact, but as this thread become longer and longer, I can't resist anymore to give my (probably uninteresting) point of view.

People should always remain free to use the symbols and words that they want to express themselves, as well as the next personn should be able to criticise how they use it. Asking to be able to control symbols/words usage, is implicitely sending the message that you agree with some kind of censorship practices. You may think that all that is pure theorical misbehaviour, but trademark is already actively used as a censorship tool, here are some relevant link on the topic:

Just like with copyright and patents, the free/libre culture faces the problematic of living in a society where the monopoly paradigm is the legal foundation which need to be hacked in order to grow. Copyright is a bit less problematic in the sense that you don't need to pay a tithe to obtain it, but patent and trademark are more vicious as you can't protect from them without feeding its institutions, which thus reinforce their credibility and power, a banal vicious circle.

So maybe we have no other choice no better choice than trademark to avoid someone else making the trademark and sue the foundation, but let's not fall in a control freak behaviour, for the sake of free/libre arts and cultures.

  1. And you may know that the peace symbol is historically as recent as the yin and yang is ancient: a non-trademarked symbol can rest for long, and you can still make some of them nowadays

Psychoslave (talk) 10:20, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Salut Psychoslave. Tu as complètement tort. Amitiés. --ArséniureDeGallium (talk) 20:19, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
Bah, je dis mon ressenti, après je me doute qu’il ne fera pas l’unanimité, loin de là. Aller, je retourne à des contributions plus intéressantes. :) --Psychoslave (talk) 14:42, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Unlike copyrights and patents, trademarks are not a bad thing in any way. They serve to prevent confusion, not to restrict people from creating and innovating. All that could result from someone else calling their own non-Wikimedia site "Wikipedia" is confusion - that has no good effects at all. Darkweasel94 (talk) 13:37, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't agree, but won't waste time complaining. Read the pointed articles, make your opinion. No one may agree, it's still my feelings. Feedback was asked, I gave some. Now I will just move along, there are plenty of useful contributions waiting for me. --Psychoslave (talk) 14:42, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
"the widest used symbols, like yin and yang, various crosses, the peace symbol [...] still communicate a clear message". I wonder how the Buddhists whose imagery include the Swastika would feel about that assertion post-1934 or so. (Hi, Mike!) — Coren (talk) / (en-wiki) 20:56, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
You example proof that :
  • there's no need for trademark to allow people to make disambigous interpretation through context, as you know that this symbol have several alleged meanings.
  • no virtual control on symbol use will prevent you from malevolent uses, especialy when you have to deal with powerful groups. Would Swastika have been trademarked, I doubt nazis would have care to respect it.
So that's all there is to know about trademark, FUD to make people pay for a protection which will be effecitive only in cases of absuses by powerless groups. --Psychoslave (talk) 10:49, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Comment on some points from the "front page"[edit]

On my first skimming of the main page here, I think part of a solution may be to delegate to local Chapters the right to give their local partners (GLAM & the likes) user-rights for WMF- trademarks ( I Will use the word "Logo" ). It will not simplify the English language group's work completely, but take off some of the load. If legally neccesary, someone(s) on the Chapter-boards may be earmarked to be "Logo-protectors".
In Norway this practise works reasonably well from government down (although politicians seem to have a heavy hand in the appointments of members), so at least here it is a legally accepted way of handling quite big money.
Of course the rules governing use logos must be as clear as possible before delegating. One probably needs a popular version as first defense, with a legalese addendum so as to cover both sides of the coin.
Periodical reports and available lists of who/who-why not and "What to do if you suspect abuse" ought to be available for anyone in an easy way. WP is a croud-source-project and can make use of such factors - only it must be made known in places to be of use. Maybe it could be part of the bottom lines under the "Edit-box"? Just something like: Found someone misrepresening us? Click here.
Best regards from --Bjørn som tegner (talk) 11:13, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

PS. I think the logos are worth defending, even if I have some sympathy for the above points of view. Bst

We are very keen to engage community members in the trademark enforcement process to the extent that their participation doesn't compromise the legal protection of the marks. Community members are currently able to report trademark violations by emailing us at But there may be a way to make the reporting easier. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 22:28, 13 June 2013 (UTC)


"my project"- posted in DC
not mine- posted in Baltimore

I've done a QRcode project at the en:Congressional Cemetery and plan to do a couple similar things and very much like the idea of a low-key friction-free way to do this. The inclusion of "from Wikipedia" on the codes satisfies almost everything I want. It is just the polite thing to do for the reader, seems to be legally pristine, and is fairly explicitly allowed under the current rules. I hope any changes in the rules would not in any way make this more complicated. Still I checked with WMF legal (and got a pretty quick positive response-thanks); and I would have liked a typeface or some other way that would more directly say "This is from Wikipedia" (still "from Wikipedia" is pretty direct!).

I've seen a couple of bigger QRpedia projects wrestle with this problem at length and wondered why. Probably with a bigger project you need a sponsor who wants something fancier and "more solid." A couple of suggestions:

  • QRcodes have redundancy built-in, which means you can print something over them, e.g. a stylized W. (this would take some work). It's likely that the overlay could be trademarked.
  • A low-friction version of the WikipediA wordmark on the side would be nice, perhaps with a small "from" above or "content" below. This could be something slightly different that the current wordmark, e.g in Italics or with a white W in a black box to start it off.
  • "from Wikipedia" or "Wikipedia content" might add to the legal protection of the trademark - we'd only likely object to the use if it wasn't linked to Wikipedia content, so I'd guess that if the poster is lying they'd have a harder time in court.
  • "Low-friction" could mean something as simple as having a page on meta or en:WP, where a few rules are stated, e.g. the proposer/editor must have more than 1,000 edits and declare any conflict of interest, and then have another qualified editor sign off on it.

Please, just keep it simple.

Smallbones (talk) 14:33, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

BTW - do we have one of those "follow me boxes" used by facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc. see example that offer quick links from very many webpages? I've never seen a Wikipedia one, and would think it would be a useful way for a site to quickly link to an article on them. Is there a copyright or trademark issue with these? Smallbones (talk) 15:25, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
Hi Smallbones,
Thanks for your comments on QR codes. I’m glad that you’re finding the current solution helpful. We definitely do not intend to do this any more complicated in the new trademark policy. To the contrary, we are looking to make [the policy as low-friction as possible]. This will partly be achieved by making the policy clearer so that community members could easily see what they may do without asking for permission. For example, we plan to include an FAQ to specifically explain how trademarks may be used with QR codes.
As for the social media buttons, they do implicate trademark and copyright issues. When they are used, it is usually because the social media sites in question have permitted their logos to be used in this manner. Our current trademark policy permits the use of trademarks to link to Wikimedia projects. We hope to make this clearer in our new trademark policy. I look forward to your comments on that and other portions of the policy, once we post a draft for community discussion. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 22:31, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Concerns regarding the current trademark policy and practice[edit]

I support the idea of specifically adding guidance for the new types of organizations and clarifying certain use-cases in general. I would like the policy to have clear guidance on some typical use cases as presentations (e.g. teaching what Wikipedia is, or an editing event with Powerpoint slides), meetups and celebrations (e.g. use on leaflets, cakes, banners in sitenotice) or conferences.

I fear that the low number of community requests from licencing may be caused by either the fact that the policy is not well known, or that those who know about it are afraid to use the trademarks but for some reason do not approach the legal team for clarification. The new policy should be made in a way to cover concisely and in an easy to understand manner the common use cases, and encourage the readers to get in touch with the legal team - perhaps by providing a sample letter of request or a template letter with the appropriate language and some space for the details of the proposed use. –Bence (talk) 21:10, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

These are all excellent examples of use cases that we would like our policy to anticipate. We are also thinking about how we can make the trademark request process as frictionless as possible. A template letter may be one solution. It could also be an online form for requests. We really appreciate your thoughts on this. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 17:44, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Whoops! Now that I really read the trademark policy I see I've been violating pretty serious regulations when I did a Wikipedia presentation during my university classes while acting on my own behalf, and not as a chapter member. Which suggests to me that there is something seriously wrong with either myself or the policy. odder (talk) 23:35, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

How do we further our movement values with free use of our trademarks in the community while avoiding real naked licensing risks, costly mistakes, and friction-filled process?[edit]

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. I think it would be helpful to have a lot of examples on a FAQ indicating when it's ok to use a trademarked symbol, when it's clearly not ok, and when it's questionable (and what can be done to make sure the use does not go over the fence to clearly not ok). For example, I'm giving a PowerPower presentation about Wikipedia in a few weeks and I'd like to use the symbol in a slide or two. But then I'd like to make the presentation available to all. What about other kinds of dissemination: dissertations, posters, flyers, publicity for a local chapter, articles in various kinds of periodicals (i.e. for-profit or academic or other). Perhaps the circumstances are too broad but it would be helpful to have some examples to know when use of the symbols is ok or problematic. -- Kosboot (talk) 22:16, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Some of these dissemination types will be covered by fair use while others may require prior trademark approval. You can read more about fair use under trademark law here. Specifying this in FAQs is a great idea. We would love to hear more examples of specific use cases that we could cover in FAQs. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 17:41, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

How do you feel about pursuing a community logo that does not share the same colors and symbols with established Wikimedia logos, in order to permit frictionless use by and with community projects?[edit]

I am quite fond of the current Meta logo and the idea that it represents the community in a detached way from the Wikimedia logo which is understandably well protected. In that regard, I find it unfortunate if it is prevented serving this purpose for its similarity in colour to the Wikimedia logo. The current use of the logo and its many variants suggest that people are quite attached to the colour scheme, but less so with the globe in the middle, and these colors seem to have grown to represent the movement. Not sure if there is any good solution consistent with trademark law, but I would be sad to give up the current logo.--Bence (talk) 21:23, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Oppose I am wary of creating another logo. We already have a community logo - it's the jigsaw globe. It was created by the community and has become famous due to the efforts of the community. We don't need another 'community' logo; WMF legal need to figure a way to enable frictionless use of this logo. Filceolaire (talk) 14:41, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

The Jigsaw globe only represents the Wikipedia community. The Meta logo represents the Wikimedia community, the WMF logo represents their organization. (all trademarked, of course) PiRSquared17 (talk) 15:11, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

What exactly is a "community project" in this context? Can you give me a concrete example of what you'd like to do (or to do more easily) that you can't do now? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:52, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

Community projects in this context would be projects that are initiated by community members and are consistent with our mission, as opposed to the use of our marks by third parties, such as movie studios. But this is something that we would like to get your input on. If we were to establish a distinct mark that is more leniently licensed to allow more frictionless use, for what sort of uses would the community want the mark to be available? Likewise, it would be helpful to get more examples of uses that community members find unacceptable, like the examples you describe below.YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 21:47, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

I would like to be able to put the jigsaw globe trademark on all kinds of projects that use wikipedia together with a simple (TM) mark or a simple attribution and not need to ask permission from WMF legal each time. Filceolaire (talk) 14:01, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Imagine that I decide to make an ad-infested mirror or POV fork of Wikipedia. That's a "kind of project that uses Wikipedia". Should I get to use the Wikipedia logo on that website? WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:41, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
We should have a simple one page policy advising what you can do and what you can't and provided people follow that they should not need to permission in advance. We could for instance require any use of the logo to link back to the wikimedia main page for instance to make it easy to track compliant and non-compliant users. Filceolaire (talk) 20:50, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
So you would like to post a list of requirements. Your requirements will include a statement that ad-infested mirrors are unacceptable. Then I get to use my own self-interested judgment, with no input in advance from anyone who isn't hoping to get rich quick, to decide that my website meets the requirements, because it's merely "monetized" rather than "ad-infested". Now what do you do? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:23, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

I, too, oppose the idea. A logo that does not share the same colors and symbols with established Wikimedia logos is useless for all purposes where the point of using a logo is to symbolize the Wikimedia project in question. If we carry out, say, a Wikipedia community project, we need to use the official Wikipedia logo. Any other logo will be irrecognizable and good for nothing. --Neitram (talk) 14:23, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

I really appreciate your input on this. We understand your concern and are trying to think of alternative ways we can make the use of certain logos more frictionless.YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 17:56, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Use of the trademark[edit]

I have not found this to be true "We are liberal in approving trademark uses that support our mission". When I was involved in organizing this event [1] permission for using the logo was not given. And after the fact legal appeared unhappy with its use in this situation. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:13, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

We want to make it easy for community members to use logos in events that support our mission. In your case, I believe that your request was on behalf of an organization and the legal team encouraged you to get the organization approved by AffCom. We really do strive to be liberal in approving trademark uses and we have a track record that supports it. We would, however, like to further improve our trademark policy and welcome your thoughts on that. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 20:00, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
Not the whole story and I guess we have more or less agreed to disagree. Basically members of Wiki Project Med were invited to give talks at UCSF about Wikipedia and medicine as well as teach people there how to edit Wikipedia. We wished to use the logo in a poster to promote the event.
Now of course Wiki Project Med is not an official thematic group. Aff com does not seem interested in recognising the organization for whatever reason. Something about them not being convinced that the organization has broad community involvement.
If the WMF wishes to try to hinder volunteers from doing outreach to other organizations that share Wikipedia's mission, those of us who are both dedicated and able will simply find our way around the foundation. I am not really interested in playing political games with either affcom or the Wikimedia Foundation. I am simply here to improve Wikipedia's medical content in all languages to the best of my ability.
With respect to "We want to make it easy for community members to use logos in events that support our mission." I have not found this to be true, but agree that it sounds like a good idea. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:02, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
These things can be complicated. The WMF has an interest in letting editors use the logo: if you, as an individual, want to put up a poster saying "Free class on using Wikipedia, taught by a guy whose hobby is writing Wikipedia articles, in the Library Computer Room, Tuesday at noon", then they'd probably be happy. But it also has a reasonable interest in preventing other organizations from using or even being associated with their logo: if you, as a board member for an unrelated organization, wanted to put up a poster saying "Free class on using Wikipedia, taught by an organization whose name is suspiciously similar to the real one's", then they have to consider whether that particular poster is likely to be misinterpreted as meaning that the unrelated organization is official. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:23, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
This was never mentioned as the concern and the other option you mentioned was never put forwards as a possibility. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:04, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

In defense it has to be said that I found that previously we gave out the use of the logo much too easily. Where we are allowing third parties to use the logo then we should set the price high. Its not just about getting the legal stuff right but making sure that we are not selling ourselves light. If we do a deal with a museum, a council or a government then we need to ensure that Wikipedians are involved. We need to ensure that we don't have our logo sitting on a pay wall or being associated with an organisation who do not move in the direction of our values. Where we are offering our time, our ideas, our novel management (oh and some IPR) then we need to ensure that there is quid pro quo. On the other hand we should not create the situation where we refuse to brand our own product. If we have a url/nfc chip/Qr code/android beam service that is giving access to Wikipedia then we should label it as such - or we create a vacuum for someone elses brand. Victuallers (talk) 08:27, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

This is not about allowing a third party to use the logo, this is about allowing those within the movement to use the logo. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:03, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

What is the policy on use in derivative works on the commons ?[edit]

is prior approval required for use in derivative work on commons?
is it preferred to host on English wikipedia with an NC fair use license?
is it required to use an OTRS process to confirm approved useage? Slowking4 (talk) 22:53, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

What is the trademark policy for the Free Software projects ?[edit]

Hi all ! We are part of the Free Culture, which is born itself from the Free Software movement. My feeling is that we just have to follow their rules related to trademarks. I'm not a lawyer but I think there is two models here, the Mozilla policy, and the Linux kernel one. The former looks like to the present proposal, and has really bad consequences, for example, Iceweasel, the firefox version of Debian. The later is more valuable for the community as a whole, Linus Torvalds is the owner of the Linux trademark, which doesn't prevent the community to use his logo for their website, etc. OK, this could sometimes lead to conflict, i.e. Misusing the name for example, but there is no need to add more rules, we already have the trademark laws. And problems on this issue are not really important, I am thinking of gnuplot that is using the name GNU despite some queries of the GNU project...

My belief is that we don't need to spend energy and money on this issue, it's why I support the second model I talked about ;) (genium ) 13:39, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

I do not understand this. You argue against enforcing the trademark (e.g., publishing a statement that we refuse to permit its use on ad-filled commercial mirrors of Wikipedia), and then you say that we do not need to enforce the trademark because we can use trademark laws to enforce the trademark.
This is an either-or situation: either we enforce the trademark or we do not. Which do you want? WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:50, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
In my understanding, only the former model (the Mozilla policy) is an either-or situation, not the later. Linus had to own the Linux trademark in the aim to prevent potential misuse, e.g. someone that could claim building his soul thanks to the Linux kernel, or in other stupid situations like that... Not in the aim to prevent other uses defined by the community, outside his project...
You talk about ad-filled commercial mirrors of Wikipedia... it's interesting because this was one of the arguments of Mozilla to change their trademark policy, but ultimately, this has lead to bad results for the community as a whole. Preserving the freedom to reuse content is more important. So my feeling is that there is no need to change the rules, the wikimedia foundation can enforce its trademarks in US federal court, or elsewhere in the world, in case for example if someone is using the Wikipedia name to sell drugs, or weapons of mass destruction... Everybody know what are mirrors nowadays... So my point is : "no need to change anything" ;) (genium ) 18:06, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
Does Torvalds ever enforce the trademark? If I put it on a non-Linux commercial product, will I receive a complaint from him? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:25, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
He never did I think ? At least to my knowledge. The Linux kernel is free software distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. Meaning that it can't be distributed with a non-free system. This issue is related to copyright, not to trademark laws. Distributing copies of an operating system for a fee, with Linux added, is allowed, typically GNU/Linux (e.g. Mandriva to governments). Using the Linux trademark outside his project is a well known practice, even if it's more accurate to say GNU/Linux for the whole system.... As I said, and I read something like that, I can't remember where, he had to own the Linux trademark to prevent its uses on fields not related to his project, etc. (genium ) 20:39, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
Linus (or more specifically the Linux Mark Institute and the Linux Foundation) have enforced the trademark, and have done so for many years, dating all the way back to at least 1997. Linus laid out guidelines for use at least as early as 2000, and in that same email mentions enforcing the mark in order to fight domain squatters (also one of the ways that we use our mark). The current rules are published by the Linux Foundation, which also publishes a FAQ. --LVilla (WMF) (talk) 07:53, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, you probably mean using the Linux name on non-free systems? (meaning without the Linux kernel since it is free software) Hum, I can't believe something like that could happen, but I know that Microsoft wanted to call their new text editor Emacs.Net a few years ago, but they didn't, probably by the fact that Emacs is so well-known that reusing its name this way looks like a suicide... (genium ) 20:59, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I am talking about non-free, non-Linux software, but the same thing is true for Linux software. Linus Torvalds requires software people to apply in advance for permission to use the trademark for Linux-based software (read the FAQ), so why shouldn't we do the same for Wikipedia's contents? WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:18, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you are right, this applies also to the GNU system. I'm not a lawyer, sorry for my misunderstanding. This subject is quite complex! So I am changing my view, I do not support neither the Mozilla trademark policy, nor the Linux kernel one, mostly because I don't know what the later really implies. The Linux Foundation has nothing to do with the free software philosophy, its goal is doing business. Doing business and enforcing trademarks are rights, I have nothing against that. My concern is elsewhere in fact. The goal is to preserve the free culture values, the freedom to reuse our contents. This is extremely important. If any trademark policy does not prevent the mission to spread knowledge, it can't either help to achieve this goal. This is my feeling. I didn't find any policy on the FSF website related to trademarks. But I agree with the GNU project statement :
« Trademark acknowledgements are the statements that such-and-such is a trademark of so-and-so. The GNU Project has no objection to the basic idea of trademarks, but these acknowledgements feel like kowtowing, and there is no legal requirement for them, so we don’t use them.  » [see online] ; genium 22:42, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

¿Qué tipo de uso de nuestras marcas se podría considerar mal uso, por lo que sería deseable que la Fundación ayude a evitar?[edit]

Es claro que por un lado, conviene ser lo más permisivo posible en el uso de estas marcas a los grupos que trabajan bien, pero por otro lado, todos debemos esforzarnos porque las marcas registradas de la Fundación Wikimedia no se asocien con proyectos o iniciativas poco serias o de baja calidad.

¿Y cómo hacer esto de una manera práctica?

Bueno, Wikipedia tiene un sistema de borrado de artículos basado en votación, que en la práctica no ha funcionado del todo mal. Tal vez se podría implementar algo similar en las distintas iniciativas de uso de un logo de la Fundación, y que, si su resultado es de apoyo se permita continuar con la iniciativa, pero que si su resultado es de rechazo, se incluyan antecedentes en algún lado, indicando que esa iniciativa en particular no cuenta con el aval ni de Wikipedia ni de los grupos locales correspondientes.

--Sol de Mayo de la Libertad.gif AnselmiJuan (discusión) 16:21, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

Es posible, pero discusión o "votar" en la comunidad pueden ser lentos o injusto. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:24, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. While I cannot respond as I do not speak Spanish, I just wanted to let you know that I am following a translation of this thread. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 19:29, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
En resumen: Estoy de acuerdo con WhatamIdoing y el proceso también puede ser secuestrado (por intereses especiales). / In short: I agree with WhatamIdoing and the process can also be hijacked (by special interests).
El argumento de Anselmi Juan en Inglés / non-literal translation of AnselmiJuan's argument in English: "On one hand it is clear that we should be as liberal as possible in using (or granting use of) these trademarks. However, on the other hand we all ought to strive not to associate the WMF trademarks with less than serious or low quality projects.
And how to strike the balance in practice?
Wikipedia uses an article deletion system based on voting, which has been working not too badly in practice. Maybe something similar could be implemented for the various initiatives using a logo of the Foundation, and that, if the result of the respective process is supportive (of the respective initiative) it can continue to be supported. If, however, the vote rejects the initiative this can be taken as indication that the particular initiative lacks backing on Wikipedia and / or among the corresponding local groups (offline)."
--Jan (WMF) (talk) 20:48, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm quite skeptical of the ability of an RfC system to do the required job here. RfCs can take forever, get highjacked by special interests (e.g. if perhaps 5% of editors support a specific position strongly, and 55% oppose but it's not critical to them and they have limited time to argue on Wikipedia, then the 5% can easily win), and RfCs do not offer an guarantees - they can be revisited and change prior results. RfCs can make dealing with lawyers look easy and simple (no disrespect to lawyers intended). An RfC system would likely end up being the most restrictive system we can imagine.
I'd think with affiliated organizations a simple review and sign-off system should work easily. The review could be as simple as having only qualified users (perhaps 1,000 edits, or maybe only admins or affiliate officers) be able to propose the use of trademarks, and another qualified user sign-off. RfCs could then be used to remove permission for future uses or reprints of old uses. Perhaps a WMF lawyer could revoke permission if abuses have been noticed.
For non-affiliates or informal (non-registered, non-corporate) organizations you'd have to consider why they want to use the trademarks and why they want some sort of agreement.
I suspect that corporate-type non-affiliates really want to have some formal agreement and guarantee for the long-term to establish a formal relationship. They want lawyers to be involved and an RfC won't satisfy them. I also suspect that most editors most of the time don't want that - leave that type of thing for very special cases that the lawyers can review.
An informal organization might be something like a campus "chapter" of Wikipedia editors who might only meet for 1 or 2 years a couple of times a semester and might never formally organize. They probably only want a couple of one-time permissions and are motivated to ask simply because they don't want to break any Wikipedia rules and find it difficult to get through all the Wiki-verbiage around here. A quick review by an experienced Wikipedian would probably be enough in this case. If they don't have a qualified Wikipedian to submit a proposal, they could simply ask a qualified Wikipedian to submit the proposal for them. Hopefully the qualified Wikipedian would first look at the proposal in depth before submitting it. So do please keep it simple for these types of uses. An RfC is not a simple way to do it. Smallbones (talk) 13:27, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Domain names[edit]

The current policy states that "If you want to include all or part of a Wikimedia trademark in a domain name, you have to receive written permission from the Wikimedia Foundation." But the Foundation appears to have been unwilling to enforce this legally in at least the case of the domain name A policy that is (or can be) only selectively enforced seems undesirable.

A blog posting by a representative of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with regard to, said "There is no trademark or cybersquatting issue here. First, the site is entirely noncommercial, which puts it beyond the reach of U.S. trademark law. ... Moreover, even if U.S. trademark laws somehow reached this noncommercial activity, the artists’ use of the mark is an obvious fair use. ... The disputed site ... does not use any more of the Wikipedia mark than need be; for example, it doesn’t even use the Wikipedia logo. Simply put, the site does not purport to be, nor does it look anything like, Wikipedia and the artists have done nothing to suggest Wikipedia endorses their work."

The relevant case law seems to be Bosley Medical Institute, Inc. v. Kremer. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.)

If the EFF statement above is true, then the current policy seems very problematical. Perhaps something like this would be better, though even that may still be an overreach, in light of Bosley:

"If you want to include all or part of a Wikimedia trademark in a domain name, you should contact the Wikimedia Foundation to find out whether it objects. People naturally associate domain names with organizations whose names sound similar. Any use of a Wikimedia trademark in a domain name, by other than the Wikimedia Foundation, must not confuse consumers into thinking that the domain is owned by or endorsed by the Wikimedia Foundation."

John Broughton (talk) 18:27, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for raising this question. The EFF blog post touched upon two issues that we would like to clarify by updating the trademark policy: (1) how project names can be used in domain names (see the next thread below); and (2) what uses of our marks constitute fair use. In certain cases, trademark rights cannot be enforced because of fair use. This may look like inconsistent enforcement. But we may be able to avoid this appearance by clarifying what uses would constitute fair use. As I’ve mentioned above, we hope to include more specific examples of fair use in our trademark policy and FAQs. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 23:28, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
I own several domains that include full Wikimedia trademarks in their names, as I bought them to prevent cybersquatting (and have paid for them from my own pocket). I have never asked the WMF for permission to do so, nor am I willing to take part in any authorisation process. The domains redirect to their respective projects, and I'm not planning to use them for any type of activity; I'm also willing to cover their costs until I'm not. Seeing that the trademark policy specifically requires people like me to receive written permission from the WMF to be able to buy such domains, what is the Foundation's position on the matter? (Note: I personally know several other volunteers who own domains with Wikimedia trademarks in their names, so I think it's a bigger issue than just an individual user.) odder (talk) 14:47, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
@YWelinder: given that the new draft trademark policy imposes a requirement to ask for permission from the WMF every time I recover a cyber-squatted domain, I would really like to hear an answer to this. Thanks, odder (talk) 08:46, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Chapters and the marks[edit]

If I am not mistaken, the Chapters Association newsletter reads: "Es liegen uns noch interne, aber zuverlässige Informationen vor, dass die WMF plant den Chaptern weitgehend alle Nutzungsrechte sämtlicher Wikimedia-Marken zu entziehen." This roughly translates to "We have internal but reliable information that WMF is planning to withdraw chapters' rights to use all Wikimedia marks." I am happy to report that this rumor is false. To the contrary, we are looking for ways to have clearer and maybe even more liberal use of our trademarks by our movement, including our chapters. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:30, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

Geoff has pointed out to me that there may be a misunderstanding of our communication with one chapter that we would like to make the use of domain names consistent across various groups, including chapters. We were specifically discussing domain names and not all trademark uses by chapters. I would, however, like to take this opportunity to welcome input from community members on how different movement entities, community members, and third-parties should use domain names that refer to Wikimedia or our projects going forward. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 22:24, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
Geoff, happy to hear that this is possibly developing into a more liberal use of the trademark. Just one small adjustment: the email you refer to is not a newsletter of the Chapters Association, but post on a mailing list where one member of the assocication informally talked about the meeting. You can find the official minutes about this topic here. We discussed the issue about the use of domains, and there seem to be a lot of questions. So I agree with Yana that a dialogue about these plans would be immensely useful. --Mglaser (talk) 22:10, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
Many thanks for the clarification Mglaser and your comments. Geoffbrigham (talk) 00:33, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Domain names were not a main priority in the trademark policy discussion since we had not expected to have that discussion until at least a year later. But given the recent community interest in the topic, we would like to share our initial ideas on this to get your thoughts.

At some point, with the community’s help, we would like to figure out how we can have consistency across different uses of domain names that refer to Wikimedia, its affiliated organizations, and various projects. What follows are simply some initial ideas for the sake of discussion.

  • One issue is whether chapters, thematic organization, and user groups should use domain names in a way that is perceived as fair and consistent. In our view, the domain names should accurately describe a group’s relation to the movement and not be confused with Wikimedia projects or other groups. Possible examples are:;;;; and (using .aq for Antarctica).
  • Another idea is providing domain names that individual volunteers may use in their work without creating confusion with the Wikimedia Foundation, movement organizations in the same country, or the Wikimedia projects. Here are some ideas that we brainstormed, but there are probably better options out there:,, and
  • We would also like to hear your ideas about whether using project names like wikibooks, wikinews, or wikipedia in domain names create potential confusion for users about the projects. We need to resolve whether one group in one country should have ownership of the domain name that describes the project where other editors, a chapter, thematic organizations, and user groups may also work on that project in the same country.

Again, we would love to hear your thoughts, including whether we should address consistency across domain names at this point. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 00:09, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

I doubt that the domain names will solve the issue of people from outside the movement getting confused about how the Foundation relates to the chapters and the movement and vice versa. I worked for other decentralized organizations and no matter how often you explained (through simple symbols and/or lengthy statements) how the umbrella organization relates to the other entities, it didn't really have much of an effect. For me the best way to translate "Wikimedia Austria" into a domain name is It is short and simple, that's how an E-mail adress should be - not an explanation or declaration of a legal status, that outsiders find hard to understand anyhow. As for the individual volunteers: We have to be aware that this question has to do a lot with appreciation and identification - from the discussion I had with some of our volunteers on this matter so far, I believe that etc. is nothing they can relate to - on the contrary they might even feel offended. And to partners from outside the movement this might sound like a different kind of group or organization altogether. I know that what I say represents more of a communication /marketing view than a legal outlook on this question, but I believe that both perspectives should be equally considered in such a discussion. --CDG (talk) 08:13, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I can see a point to your reasoning. Sadly, extrapolation of the same reasoning is that the next step is that the chapters are required to change names to something like Wikimedia Chapter Sweden or Local chapter of Wikimedia in Sweden (or rather Lokalföreningen av Wikimedia i Sverige) or WM Sweden. None of them have a nice ring nor are they easily understood. All of these will also make every chapter bear the overhead cost of scrapping printed materials, going through legal processes of name change and much more (although that is a one-time cost that perhaps the WMF could sponsor?). Jan Ainali (WMSE) (talk) 09:58, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Actually for us (Wikimedia Polska) the sudden change of E-mail addresses and the registered name of organistation would be a big pain as well. We are actually well recognized as "Wikimedia Polska" in Poland. We use for official corespondence e-mails "*" - so for example my personal E-mail ( tomasz.ganicz at ) is stored in hundreds of other people's mailbox databases... and the same is for many others in our chapter. I can agree that using E-mail address derived from project names' domains are potentially dangerous and misleading (such as at so we are not doing this. We also keep control of who and why is using E-mail addresses * at (see: [2]), and we have strict rules regarding who can apply for them and how they can be used. As they are operated from one server - we can suprvise them. Maybe the good solution would be to create the official WMF guidelance how such kind of addresses can be used and then ask local chapters and other affilated organisation to apply them ? Polimerek (talk) 11:56, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
I think the current or format works well for chapters, and gives a distinction between chapters which fall under geopolitical boundaries, and thematic organisations whose scope extends beyond borders. It'd be great to develop guidance for future Wikimedia affiliates, though please don't mess with established domain names - that's a solution seeking a problem. Deryck C. 16:13, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Deryck, how would you name the thematic organizations' domains? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:39, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Anyway, there are generally no top-level domain for most of the thematic/user organisations, except (at least for now, although this could change in a near future). So given this possibility is given for country-based chapters, I see no reason not to profit of this; this is generally quite intuitive for people in a country to search their wikimedia.ccTLD (in France, the .fr is reserved for France-based people or organisations and is very used). ~ Seb35 [^_^] 17:01, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Up to now I never experience confusion between "Wikimedia CH" and one of the wikimedia projects, the only thing I face is "WikMMMMedia?? who are you, I know WikiPPPedia but not WikiMMMedia".--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 16:44, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
How certain are you that there is no confusion? Consider the case of an international bank. We have "Citibank Australia" and "Citibank Canada" and "Citibank Spain". Everyone knows that all of these are part of, owned by, and controlled by, the international bank "Citibank". This is a common naming scheme; whenever you see a big name followed by a country name, you assume that it's a wholly owned subsidiary. So, given this scheme, why do you believe that people understand that Wikimedia CH is not part of, not owned by, and not controlled by the WMF? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:39, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Maybe because nobody knows the WMF in Europe? :-) Wikimedia Foundation or Wikimedia Chapters are not strong brand name, it's Wikipedia ne main Brand name. All the contact we have with journalist, politics or public end start by "what's wikimedia?", I even had "you're a competitor of Wikipedia?"--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 06:54, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
The burden of proof about whether such names cause confusion must lie with those who are making the positive claim. Anything else would leave the rest of us trying to prove a negative. The various national branches of Citibank are all subject to national banking laws. The shareholders may be entirely foreign, but the assumption that that is the case is a popular fallacy. It's no different for Wikimedia CH. To say that it is a part of, owned by, or controlled by WMF is misleading and ignores the history of why WMF came into existence. WMF exists to serve the community(ies), not the other way around. Eclecticology (talk) 08:42, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I like the "Citibank" example, since in Hungary it was not the same company as the central one. In fact they were doing lots of things quite differently (up to the point when they were closed). Still, the confusion for Citibank was probably more than between WMF and its chapters.
I have met confusion several times: between Wikimedia and Wikipedia, but so far nobody seem to have mix up Wikimedia Hungary ( and Wikimedia Foundation ( Yet to see that proven.
As for the general issue I strongly agree with the sentiments "don't try to fix what's not broken", and "try not to mess up what's working". All of this is a community project and I'd very much prefer that WMF wouldn't try to pry out parts of the project from the hands of the communities unless there's a real, existing problem. Right now this problem seems highly theoretic and artificial to me. --grin 12:45, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

We really appreciate your comments here. It is very helpful to hear chapters' perspectives on domain name use. I would like to pick up on a few comments that chapter representatives raise in this thread.

Creating official email address guidelines is a great idea. We could include a section regarding email addresses in the draft trademark policy and solicit comments from the community to ensure that the guidelines reflect community values.

We are also very mindful of the difficulty of changing domain names. If there were a decision to do this, it could be a very slow transition. Changing domain names would also not necessarily have to result in other legal formalities and, if it did, this may be something that could be financed with grants.

Confusion between the Wikimedia Foundation and chapters is problematic for several reasons. First, it creates a risk for chapters when government agencies and other parties mistakenly believe that chapters control the Wikimedia projects. Second, the confusion potentially jeopardizes the trademarks representing the community's work and, with them, our ability to protect the reputation of the Wikimedia projects and movement. While new domains names may not completely eliminate this confusion, it could be a step in the right direction. Various chapters are already trying to emphasize their independence on their websites (e.g. the French chapter clarifying that it is a "legally independent entity" and the Russian chapter referring to itself as a "legally independent organization"). Perhaps chapter representatives could brainstorm about language to include in a short and clear tagline to emphasize chapters' independence.

These are again just high-level ideas and we would love to see more discussion on this.YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 05:06, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

But the WMF do not "control the wikimedia projects", so the usage of the word is either problematic for every entities including the foundation or it's not, but it cannot be problematic for some entities and not for the other. As I point in the next session, the wikimedia projects do not use the word Wikimedia, it's the best solution to avoid confusion between any entities of the wikimedia movement and the projects itself. Taking away the word wikimedia from all actors of the Wikimedia movement except the foundation will just create the impression that the foundation controle everything...--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 06:54, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

A few more comments:

  • firsly, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I haven't seen any real sign of confusion between the WMF and chapters in my 8 years within the Swiss chapter -- but I'm interested in hearing about anything major that happenend. Yes, people (including journalists) confuse many things (starting with "Wikipedia vs Wikimedia", of course). When they talk to a person (e.g. me, when a journalist wants to speak about Wikipeida), they sometimes assume that I work "for Wikipedia" -- but at this point, they don't know about Wikimedia CH or even the WMF (so that it is not the name that causes any confusion). When mentioning the existence of our association, people immediately understand that we are a separate entity. On the other hand, the name Wikimedia has openend *many* doors for us; the domain name "" itself has been instrumental in getting many photo accreditations at events, because it provides instant credibility (compared to an email address from a local ISP or a free email service; would clearly not provide the same impact).
  • With regards to the risk for chapters: it makes sense for the WMF to point out the possible problems, but only the chapters can (and should) assess these risks in their jurisdiction. Having a "one size fits all" policy in this regard is probably not the best solution. The evidence I have seen so far shows that the names are not a problem. For example, the incident with the French intelligence agency earlier this year was one of the worst we've ever had; but it did not even have anything to do with the chapter (regardless of its name): the government targetted an high-profile volunteer who had particular rights. I don't know any major such prothblems that was linked to a confusion of name, was there any ? Within Wikimedia CH, we were contacted a few times (but that was easily solved by redirecting the people to the WMF); the other person who sent us threats through a lawyer was threatening everyone under the sun, regardless of name: chapters, individuals, etc.
  • With regards to the "reputation of the Wikimedia projects and movement": of course, there is a risk there (however small), and the only way to avoid it would be to avoid using the trademark altogether. But chapters (and other entities) are part of the movement and the community, and it would make little sense to get them to stop using the Wikimedia trademark at all. Changing the names may help a little bit, but the risk already seems small enough -- in particular when compared to the benefits of using the trademark.

In summary, from what I see and know, there would be really little benefits in changing the domain names, but the inconvenients would be quite large. Schutz (talk) 21:15, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Some thougths about the topics discussed in this section.

  • About names of the entities:
    • I also find quite unuseful a change of the domain name (or even organisation name) of the chapters or affiliated orgs. Aside the point it would generate a lot of friction in the day-to-day operations of the org, I don’t see why WMF would have authority to ask chapters of changing their names (yes, it owns the international marks…). I my view, WMF is the guardian of the Wikimedia marks but should not impose excessive rules on their use inside the Wikimedia movement.
    • I love the idea expressed by Charles such that Wikimedia should designate the movement itself distinctively of the projects themselves (and it matches quite well apart for Wikimedia Commons), where WMF/chapters/orgs are all entities of the whole movement, with some meta-projects like Incubator, toolserver/labs, etc.
    • Just a small point to confirm WMCH’s feelings: as involved in WMFR, I don’t recall the strict case where someone confounded WMF and WMFR (although perhaps people mix all orgs as being one without expressing it formally); but people generally think WMFR is Wikipedia, and there are countless news articles where we are Wikipedia France (in France, people think that everything in French — and hence Wikipédia — is French). I don’t think a cosmetic change on the domain name or organisation name whould have some impact about the confusion between the entities and projects of the movement.
  • About email addresses:
    • I already saw somewhere, probably on wikitech-l, the idea of creating an email address for all WM-projects volunteers, like a Imho this type of decision should be made by the community (on Meta probably) and we should see at that time how deeling with this regarding Wikimedia marks. Just regarding to domain names I have concerns about a domain like since it is an English word and I find better if such a functionality could be language-neutral.
    • I have concerns about writing a guideline about email addresses (of WMF/chapters/orgs) in a trademark policy; this type of management of the addresses is no more than a set of intern rules/guidelines which could/should be followed by WMF/chapters/orgs but shouldn’t have a legal/paralegal strength.
  • About management of domain names and trademarks:
    • I manage since some years the WMFR domain names; I was not very experienced at the beginning. I learn with years, but I am very interested in sharing experiences with others about their practices and the coordination on the global scale of the various domain names. Some questions are: how recovering a domain name? how balance with purchasing all domain names to prevent cybersquatting and saving money? (e.g. AFNIC manages ~12 domain names and there are 13 Wikimedia projects, and 12€/domain; we bought only .fr domains) how do we manage globally with all new domain names? what about typosquatting?
    • I would be interested also in thinking about some way we could handle Wikimedia marks in a wiki-spirit way; I saw on this page some consensus-based attribution of the right of using marks, something like a FDC or a AFD dedicated for marks.

~ Seb35 [^_^] 18:12, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Marks in wikimedia project ?[edit]

I had difficulties to understand this question of possible confusion between @wikimedia.something and wikimedia projects, so I took the least of the wikimedia projects as describe in the home page of Meta:

  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Incubator
  • Wikibooks
  • Wikidata
  • Wikinews
  • Wikipedia
  • Wikiquote
  • Wikisource
  • Wikispecies
  • Wikiversity
  • Wikivoyage
  • Wiktionary
  • Wikimedia Foundation
  • Bugzilla
  • MediaWiki
  • Test Wikipedia
  • Toolserver
  • Wikimania
  • Wikimedia Tool Labs
  • Wikimedia Mailservices
  • Wikimedia Outreach
  • Wikistats
  • Wikitech

In bold, the word wikimedia, 5 occurrence in the wikimedia project names, among them commons, that IMHO is more known as "Commons" than "wikimedia commons" , the Wikimedia foundation and three "projects" we can assume the public has no idea of their existence. IMHO it's reasonable to say that the usage of the word wikimedia by chapters, thematic group or the foundation do not create a risk of confusion with a wikimedia projects.--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 16:34, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

I think the main concern is confusion between the Wikimedia Foundation (the organization) and the independent chapters, not confusion between the projects (the content-filled websites) and the independent chapters. If someone (like that French spy agency) has a problem with the projects' contents, we don't want them suing the independent chapters over it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:43, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I quote "In our view, the domain names should accurately describe a group’s relation to the movement and not be confused with Wikimedia projects or other groups", the clear indication that the real problem is confusion with the foundation was not in the initial description--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 06:54, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
The question is, whether another domain name would have helped in case of the French spy agency - from all I have heard about it so far the answer is most likely: no. --CDG (talk) 07:51, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I just want to echo the message of Claudia, the French intelligence agency did not confused WMF and Wikimedia France, their request had been declined by the WMF so they used unethical methods on a volunteer to force him to perform their request. --PierreSelim (talk) 08:37, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
In the case described at w:User:Gianfranco/Wikimedia Italia sued for 20,000,000 €, it does seem that someone mixed up the WMF with a chapter, though. --Stefan2 (talk) 15:05, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
I still doubt that other e-mail domains or the name "Wikimedia Chapter Italy" would have substantially changed the situation.--CDG (talk) 07:27, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

How about this food for the mind[edit] is a very old site in Ukraine, as far as I know Polish property at present. I'm not into discussion, so please don't address me. --Muta (talk) 10:26, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for forwarding this! We do not have a trademark in the word "meta." Unless this site uses our logos or has other content that could confuse users, it would not pose a problem. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 22:38, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Trademarks included in screen captures[edit]

In the FAQ section, the current policy states "In general, trademarks included in screen captures qualify as nominative fair use, provided that the captures are used inside a work rather than on the cover or in other promotional or commercial material." This should be stated in the policy itself, not in the FAQ section. Having a comprehensive list of what qualifies as nominative fair use would be even better.--Erasmo Barresi (talk) 16:27, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for your thoughts on this. We can include examples of nominative uses in the policy or clearly link directly to the portion of the FAQs that discusses nominative use. Generally, we would like to expand the FAQs regarding fair use. It would be helpful for us hear about specific examples that you would like us to clarify.YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 20:48, 25 July 2013 (UTC)


I've stumbled onto Talk:Wikimedia trademarks#Wikimedia Foundation trademarking 維基, the Chinese word for "wiki"?, and confirmed that this trademark is still in effect. This trademark has not been listed at wmf:Wikimedia trademarks.

(off topic: There is a Wikipedia article about the trademark at zh:維基, and I've brought this up at en:Talk:Wiki#Trademark of word 'wiki' in Chinese language too.)

The trademark means Chinese people need to use the English word 'wiki' instead of the Chinese '維基', or use another transliteration of 'wiki', if they want to create a new brand. If they use '維基', they need to follow the wmf:trademark policy, which includes the wmf:Wikimedia visual identity guidelines (See also wmf:visual guidelines).

My first impression is that conceptually this trademark is very wrong, but perhaps there is a good reason for it.

A quick google:維基 shows this trademarked Chinese word is being used for

It appears that defending this trademark will be expensive, but I am not aware of how trademark law works in the relevant countries. Would love to hear more about that. John Vandenberg (talk) 13:24, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Fascinating! I also would like to learn more. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:41, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for raising this question. We will look into it. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 16:58, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Disclaimer: I don't consider myself a Wikipedian, I'm just a random generic wiki person.
Anyways, some notes taken from another related (ancient) discussion: zh:Talk:Wiki#wiki.E4.B8.8D.E7.AD.89.E6.96.BC.E7.B6.AD.E5.9F.BA ("wiki does not equal 維基").
  • From comments dated 2005 Nov 15:
    • There isn't (wasn't) an official / globally-adopted Chinese translation for the word "wiki".
    • The Chinese term 維基 is a retro-prefix of the Chinese translation for Wikipedia ("維基百科"). The term "維基百科" was proposed and voted by Wikipedians.
      • In other words, the translation "維基百科" ("Wikipedia") was invented first, and then the term 維基 ("Wiki") was derived from the full translation.
    • Other Chinese translations for the term "wiki" that are (were) being used include: 維客, 圍紀, and 快紀.
    • In the English language, "Wiki" and "wiki" means different things.
  • From comments dated 2006 Apr 9:
    • In a meetup of Taipei Wikipedians and Jimmy, someone brought up the idea of registering (trademarking?) the term 維基, and only one person (User:台灣阿成) was against it.
Chinese-language Wikipedians feel (or felt, I don't really know the present situation) a sense of ownership towards the term 維基 because the term originated from them. In particular, the term "維基人" is used to refer to Wikipedians (the additional Chinese character means person/people). Thus "維基" as a prefix of "維基人" definitely refers to "Wikipedia" as opposed to "wiki". On the other hand, everyone else just assumes 維基 is meant to be the a translation for "wiki", and the mis-usage proliferated at a time when most of the planet barely knew the difference between wiki and Wikipedia.
-Afker (talk) 14:56, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi Afker, thanks for providing this perspective! It is very helpful for understanding the history on this. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 16:26, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

Hi User:John_Vandenberg, User:YWelinder (WMF) and all:

The word 維基 is been registered in Taiwan by Wikimedia Taiwan under the name of the Foundation in 2007, and it's valid since 2008 and will expire in 2018. WMTW also registered the following Chinese trademarks under the name of the Foundation for the same period in Taiwan:

  • 維基新聞 (WikiNews)
  • 維基字典 (Wikitionary)
  • 維基教科書 (Wikibook)
  • 維基語錄 (Wikiquote)
  • 維基百科 (Wikipedia)
  • 維基媒體 (Wikimedia)
  • 維基文庫 (Wikisource)

I'm not sure if our former chairman has notified WMF when he registered the trademarks, but these are the current states I know from Taiwan's public trademark search system.

Regards.--Ted Chien (talk) 10:12, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Ted Chien. The trademarks for the projects are sensible; I see that 'mediawiki' is not in the list, and less surprising the new projects wikidata and wikivoyage are also missing.
It is only the trademark for '維基' that is a concern, as that concept is not trademarked in other languages or regions as far as I know. Is there any benefit in keeping that trademark? In Taiwan IP law, does the WMF need to enforce the trademark? John Vandenberg (talk) 05:05, 30 October 2013 (UTC)


The official Wikimedia community logo, adopted in 2008.

Just to clarify, that I understood the idea of a new community logo correct: A new logo for the Wikipedia community shall be created to be used instead of the Wikipedia puzzle ball? (And same for other projects)

If this is the case, I do not like the idea. I am a Wikipedian, I (and all other) are creating Wikipedia (and Wikimedia Commons etc). Wikipedia === puzzle ball. Not any kind of community logo. If I organize a local event or write a blog post about my time as Wikipedian, I want to use the original Wikipedia puzzle ball, not anything else. Raymond (talk) 15:57, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Hi Raymond, thank you for raising this point. The Kurier article talks about this thread. The Wikimedia Foundation is not thinking about creating any new logos. Instead, we are working on new, wiki ways that community members can use the logos. Also, we already have a logo for the Wikimedia community. Gruß, --LMezger (WMF) (talk) 17:00, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi, thanks for clarification. Raymond (talk) 17:49, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Discussion on de:Wikipedia Diskussion:Kurier[edit]

Here goes a summary of the discussion on the talk page of the "Kurier" newspaper on German Wikipedia. It was sparked by a post from User:Kasia_Odrozek_(WMDE). Users Syrcro, Schlesinger, Aschmidt, Raymond, Achim Raschka Denis Barthel (WMDE), Emha, Alupus, Stepro, Atamari, Zietz, Sicherlich, Henriette Fiebig, Mabschaaf, Kulac, Dirk Franke, and Atlasowa participated. Here are the main points that I identified:

  • Some users pointed out that they had been 'happily ignoring' WMF's trademarks and that they want to continue doing so in their volunteer work.
  • Overall, users were wary of any new rules impeding the use of trademarks in any volunteer work in the community.
  • Such uses include making logo derivatives for use on the projects, making t-shirts and name tags, using the marks in events like WikiCons and meetups, photography excursions, and making leaflets, banners, and displays for Wikimedia community participation in public events such as street fairs, award ceremonies, and in GLAM cooperations.
  • Some users pointed out that there are in fact also some non-commercial uses, e.g. trademark use in politics, that should be discouraged.

--LMezger (WMF) (talk) 19:36, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Control in a volunteer project[edit]

I understand the wish by the WMF to keep tight control of their trademarks, as essentially the trademarks are the only asset of the WMF. But in a volunteer driven project, control is highly contested, as it implies mistrust and micromanagement. While I admit, that my understanding of US trademark law is limited, I see a number of issues with your proposed guidelines. If and when volunteers use names or logos of WM projects, they do so almost all of the time in a non commercial setting. As far as I know, US trademark law limits its application to commercial uses only, so the WMF can't step in and regulate non commercial uses based on the trademark registrations. Secondly, all legitimate uses by volunteers seem to constitute "fair use", as we use them to identify "the Wikipedia", which is a service of the trademark holder, the WMF. No such use can ever dilute the trademarks, as it refers to your services. Please do not overstep the scope of the trademark in your guidelines. We all know that commercial entities raise unsubstantiated claims in their Terms of use, copyright and trademark policies all the time. But you should not to so towards your own volunteers. rgds --h-stt !? 13:33, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

You’re absolutely right that many non-commercial volunteer uses would be considered fair use. We will in no way try to regulate those uses. To the contrary, we will as much as possible try to make it easy for community members to use the logos. Exercise of “quality control” in non-fair use and other trademark cases is a legal requirement to avoid losing trademark rights. This is necessary so that we can continue fighting abuse of the logos, like when people try to divert users to ad-infested websites that look like Wikipedia.YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 15:58, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
But you DO! Your "user group agreement" tries to limit the use of trademarks way more restrictive than the law. The Wikipedia meet-up-group in Munich, Germany was the very first group to apply for the new "user group" status. But we stopped the recognition process after the WMF sent us the contract. Last weekend we had a stand at a public event and talked to hundreds of people. For this stand we used lots of Wikiball logos, some on equipment provided by WMDE, some produced on our own. All of them legal according to German and US trademark law. Had we signed the "user group agreement" earlier this year, we had signed away the right to print out the Wikiball, unless individually approved by you guys within fifteen working days. Thanks, but no thanks. We prefer to decide on our own and just print that stuff. Oh by the way, the next public workshop in Munich will be October 19, and again we will use quite a lot stuff with Wikiballs, a presentation with the logos on each and every slide, and so on. And again we won't ask you. rgds --h-stt !? 17:19, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi H-stt, thanks for pointing this out. I think this may be a misunderstanding based on a difference between US and German trademark law, though admittedly I'm not an expert in the latter. Fair use under US trademark law does not cover all non-commercial uses of trademarks. Having said that, after discussion with the German chapter, we plan to extend the permissive uses in the new trademark policy beyond what is covered by fair use. We hope to permit the uses that you describe under the new trademark policy and I'm happy to work with you on a user agreement that reflects that. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 18:29, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Pardon? Could you clarify? Have you just said that you plan to "extend" the use allowed to chapters to something more than something less than "all non commercial uses", i.e. potentially not all non commercial uses would be allowed? If yes how do you plan to enforce such a rule conflicting with the chapter agreement? --Nemo 19:19, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi Nemo, Thanks for clarifying this discussion. We will propose extending the permitted uses beyond fair use under US law for all community members, not just chapters. It will not extend to all non-commercial uses, however. Rather it will cover particular uses that are important to community members (like the uses H-stt mentioned) and do not unduly jeopardize our trademarks. We are still working out the details of this proposal, but should have more specifics in the new trademark policy draft that we will present for community discussion. Stay tuned!  :) YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 01:01, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
This doesn't answer my question, but you don't say you are changing something for chapters so I'll assume you are not. --Nemo 06:42, 21 September 2013 (UTC)


Hello community,
this is to inform you about the (re)start of a discussion in which you, participants of this discussion, might be particularly interested. In short, myself and a few other Wikimedia editors decided to oppose the registration of the community logo as a trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The history of the logo, the intents behind our action and our hopes for the future are described in detail on this page; to keep the discussion in one place, please leave your comments on the talk page. (And if you speak a language other than English, perhaps you can translate the page and bring it to the attention of your local Wikimedia community?) I’m looking forward to hearing from you! odder (talk) 10:00, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Posting on the opposition to the European trademark registration[edit]

This is a posting on Wikimedia-l relating to an opposition to the trademark registration of the community mark (used on Meta) in Europe. We set it out below for easier reference. The response of the legal department is set out in the section afterwards.

From: Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Date: 2013/9/21
Subject: [Wikimedia-l] It's time to reclaim the community logo
Hello community,
this is to inform you that in response to the trademarking of the Wikimedia community logo[1], created in 2006 by Artur “WarX” Fijałkowski, which was discussed on this mailing list[2] as well as on Meta[3] back in March, a small group of community members—Artur, myself, Federico Leva (Nemo) and John Vandenberg—have initiated a formal process of opposition against the registration of the trademark by the Foundation in order to *reclaim the logo* for unrestricted use by the community.
We appreciate the Foundation’s protection of the other trademarks they have registered so far, including the logos of Wikipedia, Wikisource and some other sister projects. In the case of the community logo, however, it is our belief that the Foundation’s actions are exactly opposite to what the community logo stands for and contradict the purpose behind its very existence.
We would like to make it clear that it is not our intention to damage anyone; our actions are a challenge against what we perceive as unilateral declaration of ownership of an asset that has always belonged to the wider community, and not to one or another organisation that is part of the movement. By formally opposing the registration of the trademark we hope to ensure the history of this logo is not disregarded, and we wish to protect the community against unnecessary bureaucracy and, to use another quote, let “groups who do not purport to represent the WMF”[4] to continue to be able to freely associate with a logo that has been part of their identity for so long.
We also want to note that this is in no way a legal action against the Foundation, but a simple notice of opposition against the registration of the logo in the European Union. If we assume good faith, we can only be confident that the WMF, having now a formal occasion, will withdraw its registration of the logo rather than continue using movement resources to force the community into lengthy, expensive proceedings.
We invite all community members interested in this issue to express their opinions at:
If any of you would like to help us in any way (covering the costs of the opposition, promoting the discussion, etc.), please feel free to contact us off–list.
Artur Fijalkowski (WarX)
Tomasz Kozlowski (odder)
Federico Leva (Nemo)
John Vandenberg (jayvdb)

Response from the WMF legal department and request to hold off opposition[edit]

Thank you for the invitation to join this discussion. We would like to take this opportunity to let you know that, since this issue was first raised, we have been looking into formally modifying the trademark status of the Community logo (which is also used on Meta) so that it can be freely used by the community while also protecting it against third party abuse. Our research on this issue is still ongoing, but we would like to share our current thoughts with you in light of the concerns expressed above.

We respect the special history of this logo and the community’s desire to keep it as a symbol of the community members and their work. As mentioned in the trademark discussion, we therefore have been looking for creative solutions to avoid the regular trademark permission processes with respect to this logo. One potential solution that we have discussed with outside counsel is to establish the logo as a collective membership mark, which would allow community members to use the mark freely to show their connection to the Wikimedia movement, while still protecting the mark against abuse from non-community parties.

The distinctive nature of this logo may facilitate this creative solution because, as you point out, this logo has in the past been used by community members for various purposes and is not directly connected to any of the main Wikimedia projects. The collective membership mark is a very unusual category of marks that has been used by organizations like Rotary International and Toastmasters. Our hope is that this model may lend itself to our unique situation. As noted, however, our research is still ongoing in this area as we examine global laws and treaties.

Another possible approach is to support free use of the mark in the new trademark policy as long as that use is consistent with the mission of the Wikimedia movement. However, our ability to protect the mark against outside abuse may be diminished with that approach.

WMF registered the Community logo in good faith pursuant to our mandate from the Board of Trustees to protect the Wikimedia marks and prevent third party abuses. As we said before, we wish we had communicated better on this, but frankly the legal team was unaware of the unique community history of this mark at the time of the registration. That said, we still believe that it is best to maintain this trademark protected against abuse consistent with the Board’s resolution. Trademark registration requires a lot of time and resources. It can often cost tens of thousands of dollars to obtain global protection and more money and expertise if challenged by non-community entities who wish to use the mark for non-Wikimedia purposes. We rely on top law firms worldwide to register and defend our marks against non-community abuses.

We believe that our current strategy to establish this mark as a collective membership mark may serve the community better because it would also allow community members to freely use the mark pursuant to our mission, while protecting it against abuse. If we drop global trademark registrations on this mark, WMF may be less able to protect the mark if challenged by third parties outside the movement throughout the world. Given the popularity of the Wikimedia projects, misuses of our marks to divert traffic to ads or phishing sites are common, and we rely on our trademark registrations to protect our editors and readers from these abuses.

That said, we certainly don’t want any registrations to interfere with the community’s work and of course we can forego our protective measures for this mark, if necessary, though we wouldn’t advise it. Accordingly, if we get clear direction from the wider community and the Board that they do not want this mark to be registered in any form, we would drop our trademark registration and protection of this logo. We accordingly ask that the proposed opposition not be filed until we are able to finish our research and report back to both the community and Board.

We welcome your thoughts on how you would like us to proceed with this. Also, we are happy to discuss on the telephone, Skype, or hangout with the community members who are considering to file the opposition if that would be helpful.


GBrigham (WMF) & YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 18:54, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

It seems to me the registration of the mark only interferes with the community. If I sold a seltzer water and used this image, there'd be no conflict. But if I use this, or a variant based on it, to identify myself or, say, a forum for wikipedians, I would be in technical violation of the mark. There are few non-wikimedian examples I can think of which might be affected by this mark. - 19:10, 21 September 2013 (UTC)
How do you define "community"? For use by anyone who contributes to or actively supports Wikimedia projects? PiRSquared17 (talk) 19:19, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Hi all - just wanted to point folks to the discussion that is ongoing on this topic here, including further clarifications from legal and others interested in the topic:

Take care, Geoffbrigham (talk) 16:48, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

I'm going to take the liberty of posting this additional legal response here. However, you can view the complete discussion by following the above links (including any contrary and supportive views from community members). Many thanks Geoffbrigham (talk)
Hi Pundit, thanks for your comments. In my view, though others are free to disagree, of course, I would have prefered if the possibility of an opposition had not been announced on the Saturday before the anticipated Monday opposition. In the legal department, as far as I know, we have not been contacted by the individuals about this particular filing until now, even though the issues are well known and even though we are running a comprehensive ongoing discussion about improving and liberalizing our trademark practices with the community for some months now. See . If we had been contacted about this specific option, we would have made a few suggestions based on our experience in this area. Apart from reviewing some legal considerations with respect to the deadline, we would have suggested seeking global community support in a comprehensive and structured way well before the planned filing. As I see it, in the end, this is a decision for the community whether they want their mark protected, and we are willing to abandon that protection and expense if the community and Board do not want it.
For quite some time, in our trademark discussions, we have stated our position that we need to support wide community use of this mark consistent with the Wikimedia mission. Our chief concern has been to avoid abuse by outside parties with respect to the mark, especially since this mark is widely used on our Meta pages - pages that are followed extensively by the public and press. Without trademark protection, for example, we could not prevent people from creating false Meta pages with the community mark at top, pretending to be the community when they actually were not. We want to avoid our marks being used by others to promote outside commercial interests, phishing scams, misrepresentation of the movement, etc.
The research on the collective marks started some time ago, but it is a novel issue that requires quite a bit of research internally and by our outside law firms in the United States and elsewhere. We had not yet announced the specifics because we wanted to present the entire story to the community, and we are not yet ready to do so. We repeatedly have made clear however that we were looking for solutions to allow free use of the marks by the community while still safeguarding some legal protection against outside non-community third parties. Anyhow, we continue to advise against filing an opposition. In the end, we will do whatever is directed by the global community and Board on this issue, including abandoning protection of the mark (even if some deadline has passed).
I should point out that, though I disagree with the filing of the opposition for legal and other reasons, we appreciate the above statements, as expressed by odder, that they intend to proceed forward in an amicable and constructive way. We of course have the same sentiment. We all share the same commitment to doing the right thing for the community. On our side, our chief concern is to provide trademark protection to the community mark (which was released in the public domain) to avoid misuse by non-community persons and entities. We are of course open to any other suggestions that we have not considered in our ongoing discussions.
Take care and enjoy the rest of the weekend. Geoffbrigham (talk) 16:39, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

Relationship between public domain status and trademark registration[edit]

From the recent discussion of the history of the Community logo, it occurred to us that there is some confusion about the relationship between the copyright status of the Community logo and its significance under trademark law. (I apologize for the repetition to those of you who have read our previous comments on the difference between copyright and trademarks.)

Copyright and trademark protection serve very different purposes. Copyright prevents a particular design from being reused, while trademark protects the connection between a logo and the work that it represents. So while the Community logo was released into the public domain by WarX for copyright purposes, the logo was meant to represent the community’s work. For that reason, trademark registration makes sense to protect the use of the Community logo for its intended purpose. Otherwise, anyone could file a trademark registration and steal the logo. This is particularly true for well-known logos, like the Community logo. It appears on all our Meta pages, which are read by the public and press every day. Well-known marks are susceptible to abuse. For example, we spend significant time defending against copycat sites that misuse our logos in falsely depicting our activities, mission, and values. Trademark protection allows us to do that effectively.

Importantly, the trademark registration did not change the Community logo’s public domain status under copyright law. Trademark registration is not inconsistent with a public domain logo. If reasonably enforced, trademark protection does not interfere with legitimate reuse of a logo. Rather it protects a logo from abuse by outside parties.

The upshot of the difference between copyright and trademark protection is that anyone can hold a trademark in a logo, particularly if the logo designer releases it into the public domain (i.e. when copyright protection is unavailable). This means that if we drop the trademark registration of the Community logo, a third party could start using the logo and then register a trademark in it – preventing our community from using it in the future. Indeed, such a third party may well be following this debate to pounce on the opportunity. This is not a far-fetched scenario. In fact, we recently had a problem with a company that had registered a puzzle globe in China (after Wikipedia adopted the puzzle globe as its logo), preventing Wikimedia from protecting and potentially using the Wikipedia logo there. We had to spend significant resources to persuade the company to agree to our use of the logo in China. Fortunately, this company agreed to cooperate, but others may not be so accommodating. These are the sort of problems the Wikimedia community potentially could face if we drop the trademark registration. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 06:28, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

I'm afraid I have to disagree with several of the points above. Most egregious, to me, is your assumption of knowing the author's purpose for creating the logo (while simultaneously, apparently, completely misunderstanding the author's purpose for releasing it under PD.) While another person or group might similarly attempt to register the image as a trademark ("steal the logo"), it would at least equally be subject to the challenge currently raised.
One of the primary issues for me, and others I have spoken with, is the concern that this trademark seems to give the Foundation the authority to decide who may say they are wikimedians, and who may not. Most of us feel the community should determine its membership. The merits (or lack thereof) of your arguments have nothing to say to our worries; and the actions already taken strongly suggest we should not trust what arguments you may make to justify them. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 18:35, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi Amgine,
Thanks for your input! We don’t discuss the author’s subjective intent in designing the logo. After a designer applies a public domain license to his work, his original intent does not impact any subsequent trademark interest established in that design. The trademark interest represents the relationship between the design and the work that it comes to represent (which here is Wikimedia Meta-Wiki). Indeed, the designer’s intent was not raised in Nemo and Odder’s opposition, which the designer ultimately didn’t join.
I agree with you that the community should determine its membership and we do not intend to make that decision. This (and many other decisions) is something we will pose for community consultation on the trademark policy draft. In retrospect, we wish we would have consulted the community before registering this mark, but we’re trying to remedy that by seeking community input on the next steps. We also hope you will continue to participate in this trademark practices discussion and will share your input on our forthcoming trademark policy revision. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 04:57, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
When you say, "The logo was meant to represent the community’s work...", to me this means you are discussing the author's subjective intent. When you say it more than once in more than one conversation, to me this means you think it's an important argument to sway public opinion.
Bringing the discussion back to Trademark practices, can the WMF request a person or group to not use a registered trademark in public? I am not asking if they will, or do (I know, personally, that they do), but if they can. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 06:32, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Amgine,
When writing that "[t]he logo was meant to represent the community’s work," we are talking about the intention of the Wikimedia community in adopting it as the logo for Meta-Wiki.
As for whether WMF can ask a person not to use a registered trademark, it depends on the use. Individuals and groups can use our trademarks pursuant to a license, a fair use right, or another legitimate right and a trademark registration does not interfere with that. We can only enforce a trademark against misuses of the mark. Our trademark policy outlines when the community may use the marks. And we are currently preparing a new trademark policy to clarify how the community may use this and other marks.
We are working to find ways to be as liberal and open as possible, while still preserving our ability to safeguard the marks from clear cases of misuse (for example, scam sites and sites that conflict with Wikimedia’s values). Frankly, it’s not an easy balance within trademark law, but we hope our new trademark policy will be innovative and refined through a community consultation process. YWelinder (WMF) (talk) 17:42, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Well, I don't recall that being raised during the discussion; I seem to recall more that it symbolized the community's sense of freedom (or interest in defining itself as not the Foundation) but I was mostly an observer in that campaign. You've just shifted making an assumption about the motivations of the author to making an assumption about the motivations of the community, one which may have existed for some portion of that community but is not the primary recorded, expressed motivations which are right there, plain for every person to read.
I will take your response as Yes, the Foundation can ask users to not display the logo, when it feels there is a misuse of the mark.
As for your 'clear cases of misuse', the scam sites you can act against without the trademark. "sites that conflict with Wikimedia's values" sounds, to me, questionable at best *with* the trademark. Which means, for me, you have not justified the trademark. And I'll leave the closing of this thread to you. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 18:09, 2 October 2013 (UTC)