Trademark policy frequently asked questions
These FAQs are not part of the trademark policy. They are not even a legal document. But we hope that you find them helpful.:)
0 Trademark policy Introduction
0.1 What is "trademark protection"?
Trademark law protects the association between a mark and the work, such as goods or services, that it represents. It's intended to protect users from confusion as to the source of certain work. Also, users who see a trademark rely on that association and will have expectations about the reputation and level of quality and level of service comparable to what they have come to expect from the other work provided under the marks. Therefore, trademarks are very powerful and valuable tools that embody the Wikimedia Foundation and its community members' reputation and serve as a "shorthand" way for users to recognize a work, product, or service.
0.2 What are the "Wikimedia sites"?
The Wikimedia Foundation runs several free software and free content sites, some of which are listed here: Our projects.
1 What does this policy apply to?
1.1 What is a "wordmark"?
It's a trademark that is a text-only word (like "Wikipedia" or "Wikimedia") that is used in connection with the work that it represents to identify the source. In addition, a wordmark includes all official translated and transliterated marks (e.g. "Vikipedi").
1.2 What is a "non-stylized wordmark"?
Non-stylized wordmarks are simply words like "Wikimedia" and the project names, like "Wikipedia," "Wiktionary," and so on. In comparison, the stylized wordmarks are these names in their special formats, such as with certain fonts. For example, the special format for the "Wikipedia" wordmark looks like this: . Both stylized and non-stylized wordmarks are trademarks of the Wikimedia Foundation.
1.3 What is "trade dress"?
For our purposes, trade dress is the design of a website or article that identifies the source of the website or online material. Think of it as the "look and feel" of a site. One example is the specific design and appearance of a Wikipedia article, or the Wikipedia main page. The trade dress of any Wikimedia site is also a trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation. Trademark laws also protect trade dress.
Back to The "Wikimedia marks."
Everyone who contributes to a Wikimedia site. It also includes staff and members of chapters, thematic organizations, user groups, and the Wikimedia Foundation.
Back to Community members
1.5 Why can't a movement organization just freely use the trademarks?
As the legal holder of the trademarks, we need to control their use to preserve the trademark protections for the community. You can read more about that here.
1.6 What is the relationship between this trademark policy and a chapter, user group, or thematic organization agreement?
Chapters, user groups, and thematic organizations must comply both with this trademark policy and their respective agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation. If there are inconsistencies between this trademark policy and a chapter, user group, or a thematic organization agreement, the organization should follow their agreement.
Back to Chapters, User Groups and Thematic Organizations
2 How to use the Wikimedia marks
2.1 Can my logo, name, or company name be smaller than the Wikimedia mark if it is really obvious that my products and services are not offered by the Wikimedia Foundation?
No. We need to make sure it is extremely clear that the Wikimedia Foundation is not providing your products or services. This is a simple, consistent way of doing that.
2.2 What if I clearly state that the products or services are provided by me?
Sorry, your logo, name, or company name must still be bigger than any Wikimedia marks and reasonably separated from Wikimedia's marks. People do not always read the fine print (shocking, I know!). So, we need to make it as clear as possible that your products or services are not provided by the Wikimedia Foundation.
2.3 What do you mean by "outside the Wikimedia sites"?
Uses of the trademarks that are not on the Wikimedia sites, such as Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Wiktionary, Wikidata, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikivoyage, or Wikimedia Meta-Wiki. For the purposes of this trademark policy, the use of trademarks on Wikimedia Labs will be considered a Wikimedia site. Accordingly, you use the marks outside the sites when you place them on flyers for an edit-a-thon.
2.4 Can I still create terms that combine Wikimedia trademarks with other words like "Wikipedian in Residence"?
Yes. This provision is not meant to stop community members from creatively combining the marks with other words to create new terms for the Wikimedia movement as long as they do it on the Wikimedia sites.
2.6 Can I add graphic elements to, for example, celebrate a special event?
You can create remixes for special on-site purposes, but please don't change the logos outside our sites. These and many, many other questions are answered in the Visual Identity Guidelines.
2.7 What types of remixes of Wikimedia logos may be used outside of Wikimedia sites?
Certain remixes of Wikimedia logos may be used outside of Wikimedia sites as long as the remix does not look too similar to any of the Wikimedia marks. Please make sure that the remix will not be confused with the original Wikimedia logo.
2.8 May I use high-resolution versions of the logos?
Yes! Here you go.
2.9 Where do I place a trademark notice?
Just treat the notice as a footnote. A person reading your document, looking at your website, or watching your film should be able to easily find the notice. Good examples are: at the end of the (same) page of a document, in the imprint of a book, at the bottom of a webpage, and in the credits of a video.
2.10 What if I do not have enough space to include a notice?
Don't worry! If the mark is going to be seen on a mobile or other medium with little space, you can simply use the trademark symbol (™) for any Wikimedia trademark you use.
2.11 How should I refer to the trademark in the notice?
Wordmarks can be referenced verbatim (i.e. "Wikimedia Commons"). Logos should be described according to the Visual Identity Guidelines. Examples include the "Wikipedia Puzzle Globe" and the "'W' icon."
2.12 What if I use more than one trademark?
Make sure to describe all the trademarks in the notice, like this:
"The Wikidata wordmark and logo are the trademarks of the Wikimedia Foundation."
2.13 When do I have to use the trademark symbol?
You only need to use the trademark symbol when you do not have enough space to write the entire notice, like when you are using a trademark on a mobile screen.
2.14 Can you give some examples of how to use the trademark symbol?
Here is an example:
"Wikimedia Commons™ is one of the wonderful Wikimedia projects our community has developed to make media files, such as images, sounds, and video clips, publicly available to everyone!"
2.15 What size does the symbol have to be?
When you use a wordmark (like "Wikipedia"), you should use the same font size for the trademark symbol as the wordmark itself. In this context, superscript formatting is encouraged for the symbol. When the mark is an image (like the puzzle globe), you should select a font size for the symbol that matches the size of the image and place the symbol so that it is clearly visible and close enough to the upper right corner of the image without touching it.
2.16 But I want my website to look really pretty! Can I make the symbol smaller or put it somewhere else?
Unfortunately, no. Remember, you only need to put the symbol next to the first or most prominent use of the mark.
Back to Notice or Trademark Symbol
2.17 What does "no endorsement by or affiliation with the Wikimedia Foundation" mean?
You need to make sure that people do not mistakenly think that you may speak on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation or one of its sites. For instance, you need to make sure that no one thinks you work for the Wikimedia Foundation.
3 Using the Wikimedia Marks without asking permission
An event that includes mostly people who are not community members is not a community-focused event. (Please see the FAQ on events in general.) This does not mean that you cannot have guests at your meetup!
Community-focused events are those events that are primarily open to community members and promote the mission. They tend to be related to improving the overall quality of the Wikimedia sites. Examples include conferences and monthly meetups hosted by community members, as well as other specific events like the "London Wikipedians regular's table," Wiki-Conference in Russia, and Wikipedia Workshop Köln (DE).
Back to Community-focused events
First, all Wikimedia community-focused events can bear a trademarked name. You may also use the Wikimedia logos to decorate your venue, but only to the extent they are relevant. For example, you cannot use the Wikisource logo for a Wikimedia Commons-only event. However, keep in mind that the 'Wikimania' name and logo are reserved for the yearly Wikimania conference.
3.9 What does fair use mean?
In U.S. trademark law, the concept of fair use allows you to use any trademark as long as your usage fulfills certain conditions. This policy cannot restrict your fair use rights. We added Sections 3.5 and 3.6 to make your rights easier to understand.
For jurisdictions that do not recognize fair and nominative use as set out under U.S. law, these sections provide permission to do this.
3.10 Can you give me more examples of fair use?
This category of fair use is tricky in our case because our wordmarks were not real words before our projects were created, unlike "apple" or "facebook." But we would consider it fair use if you were to write a book in the Wiki software and refer to it as a "wiki book," even though Wikibooks is a distinctive trademark. If you are using the wordmarks to describe our projects, that is also a type of fair use (nominative use). You can read more about nominative use here.
3.11 Can you give me some examples of uses that are not fair use?
- Using a Wikimedia mark to advertise your book.
- Selling t-shirts with the Wikimedia Foundation logo.
- Creating your own encyclopedia and labeling it with a Wikipedia Puzzle Globe.
- Using the Wikimedia Foundation logo to fundraise for unrelated projects.
- Claiming that content is "derived from Wikipedia" when in fact it's not.
Back to Discussing something other then Wikimedia sites (fair use).
3.12 Can you give me examples of nominative use?
Here are some examples:
- Describing a Wikimedia site:
- In a presentation that describes how Wikipedia works, using the wordmarks in slides in your bullet points would be a nominative use. The same also applies for a blog post that describes Wikidata. If you want to "illustrate" your slides or your blog post with any of the image marks, please refer to artistic, literary, and other non-commercial uses.
- However, you cannot use a trademark as a generic term. For example, you cannot set up a wiki on motorcycles and refer to it as "a wikipedia for motorcycles."
- Making true factual statements:
- "Wikipedia is the world's largest online encyclopedia. But Wikipedia is only one of the many sites created by the thousands of volunteers that make up the Wikimedia movement."
- "I have been a Wikipedia editor since 2009" (on your personal website).
- Describing derivative work:
- "Source: Wikipedia"
- "This artwork was created using images from Wikimedia Commons."
- "The encyclopedic content on this site is derived from Wikipedia."
- "From Wikipedia" or "to the Wikipedia article" (as used by a QR code project)
- More specific examples:
Back to Refer to Wikimedia sites (nominative use).
3.13 Can I use a logo or a screenshot in my news or magazine article or news on TV?
Yes, as long as the image illustrates the discussion in the article. Do not use our trademark just to attract attention to your work. That will confuse your readers or viewers, and ours!
Back to News reporting
3.14 Can I include a logo or a screenshot in a blog post or a status update?
Yes, as long as the image illustrates the discussion in your post. Do not use trademarked images just to attract attention to your page. Viewers of your blog or your user page should not be confused and think that your page is endorsed by the Wikimedia Foundation or any of its sites.
3.15 Can I use a trademark in my username, avatar, or icon?
Unfortunately, no. We appreciate that you feel a connection to the Wikimedia sites. The Wikimedia community is very welcoming! However, we don't want people to think you can speak on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation. You can still use the Community logo in your username, avatar, or icon.
Back to Personal blogs and social media
3.16 Can you give me some examples of artistic, literary, and other non-commercial uses?
- Using the trademarks to discuss a scientific thesis in an academic paper.
- Illustrating a point in the slides for an educational presentation with a screenshot of a Wikimedia site.
- Using the marks in an art project.
- Creating a parody for the purposes of conveying a political message.
- Writing a book in which a character reads a Wikipedia article.
Back to Artistic, literary, and other non-commercial uses.
3.17 Can you give me examples of linking to Wikimedia sites?
Yes, you can find sample link templates here.
3.18 Can I use the marks to link to Wikimedia sites using QR codes?
No. This permission to use the logos to link without a license applies to online links. To use QR codes you need to use the non-stylized Wikipedia wordmark. You can read more about that in the FAQs for nominative use.
Back to Links to Wikimedia sites.
3.19 What kind of stuff can I make?
You can make shirts, hats, bags, mugs, pins, pens, stickers, posters, desktop wallpapers, and even cakes. Pretty much anything as long as you don't sell it.
Here are some examples.
3.20 Can I sell merchandise as long as I don't make any profit?
No, you cannot sell merchandise without a license. For more information on this see the section on commercial merchandise.
3.21 Can I make stuff for others?
Yes, as long as you give it away for free.
3.23 Can I ask commercial vendors to create custom items for me that use Wikimedia marks?
Of course! You may ask vendors like bakers and t-shirt sellers to create items with Wikimedia marks especially for you or your friends. This is okay because it is for your own personal use and no one is creating a business surrounding the sale of items with Wikimedia trademarks. And don't worry, vendors will not be required to strictly follow the Visual Identity Guidelines when it's not possible on items like cakes. For example, all these cakes are fine.
3.24 Is it okay to commission someone else to create lots of items with the Wikimedia marks for meet-ups and similar events?
Yes! As long as the items are not sold to participants, it's okay to ask a vendor to create multiple items with the Wikimedia marks for community-focused parties and gatherings like edit-a-thons under Section 3.2 of the policy.
3.25 Can I use high-resolution logos on commercial merchandise?
Yes! While our previous trademark policy did not permit the use of high-resolution logos, we have removed that restriction from the new policy.
Back to Make your own branded stuff.
4 Special uses that require permission
4.1 If I need permission, will I have to pay for a license?
Usually, there is no license fee. However, we want to keep track of how our trademarks are used. Also, we want to make sure every use complies with our mission and standards. This is why we require a formal license in certain cases.
Back to Special uses that require permission.
4.2 Do I need permission for every photo contest?
You only need to get a license if you advertise the photo contest outside a Wikimedia site. This includes posters, social media, and blogs. You can freely use the marks for community-focused events. Community-focused events are those that are intended to be predominantly attended by Wikimedia community members. They do not include events open to the general public.
Back to Photo contests.
4.3 Can I print out t-shirts with the Wikimedia logo to give out as prizes for the photo contest?
Yes. You can always make t-shirts with the Wikimedia logos and give them away as long as you are not selling them.
Back to Make your own branded stuff
4.4 How can I use the marks as a Wikipedian in Residence?
The marks may be used in any way that identifies you as a Wikipedian in Residence. Please avoid confusion about official endorsement. You should clarify that you are not a representative of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Back to GLAM-WIKI initiatives.
4.5 Can you give an example of cybersquatting?
In the past, someone registered the domain wikkipedia.org to attract traffic to their own site. This is called cybersquatting or typosquatting that infringes our trademark. We strictly enforce our policy against confusing domain names. Please tell us if you see an infringing domain name.
4.6 Can I use a Wikimedia mark as part of my domain?
Unfortunately, no. If you do, there is a risk that you will confuse readers that are looking for Wikimedia content or other material related to Wikimedia. Movement organizations may be permitted to use the Wikimedia mark as part of their domain, but only after receiving special permission.
4.7 Can I use a Wikimedia mark if I use a different top-level domain?
You cannot register a Wikimedia mark as a domain, no matter the top-level domain, including country code top-level domains. For example, you may not register "wikipedia.jobs" even though it uses ".jobs", a different top-level domain, because "wikipedia" is a Wikimedia mark.
4.9 What does "public event" mean?
A public event is an event that is not predominantly attended by community members. An event is also public when it is announced to the public with signs or advertisements or in an event schedule. Hence, this rule does not apply to community-focused meetups and conferences.
4.10 What event uses require permission?
Using a trademark for an event includes naming the event or using a Wikimedia logo on advertisements, leaflets, signage or a website.
4.11 Are there any exceptions to when events require permission?
If the name of the event uses a mark just to describe its content, that might fall under nominative use. An example for this would be announcing a course called 'Editing Wikipedia for Beginners' or 'Using Wikimedia Commons as an Amateur Photographer'. However, always include a notice that explains that your use is with permission from the Wikimedia Foundation and that you are not affiliated with the Foundation. Also, events hosted by a local Wikimedia chapter, thematic organization, or user group can use the marks subject to their respective agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation.
Back to Events and conferences.
4.12 What is a "publication"?
Publications include books, other print media, and web pages. They also mean audiovisual media like music, and other recordings, film and online video. See Outreach and recruiting new editors for materials that provide education about a Wikimedia site. See Section 4.5 for trademark uses in films.
4.13 Can I write a book about Wikipedia?
Of course you can, and we would be happy to hear about it! But you shouldn't display the Wikimedia Marks on the cover of your book or on your product packaging without asking for permission. This is because it could look like endorsement from Wikimedia Foundation and mislead users. You are of course free to use the non-stylized Wikimedia wordmarks in a book title but remember to ask for permission.
4.14 Does this also apply to handbooks, like "A beginner's guide to Wikipedia", aimed at community members?
Yes. But, please send us a request and we will give prompt permission when appropriate. We love Wikipedia guides!
4.15 Does it make a difference if the book is being published by an educational publisher?
No, you will need permission as well, because even educational publishers are commercial entities.
Back to Publications.
4.16 Do I need permission to show the Wikipedia marks in a film I am making for my school project?
If you are showing your film to the public, or at your school or workplace, you need permission. But we will make sure to make the permission process as easy and fast as possible.
Back to Movies and TV shows.
4.17 Will I have to donate a portion of the retail price for commercial merchandise?
No. But you will have to tell your customers if you don't donate your profits.
4.18 What do I have to say if I am donating a portion of my proceeds to the Wikimedia Foundation?
Just clearly state what portion of your proceeds will be given to the Wikimedia Foundation. You can, for example, say: "X% of your purchase will be donated to the Wikimedia Foundation."
4.19 Where should I state how much of my proceeds will be donated?
We recommend placing the notice right next to the purchase price, where it will be clearly visible to all buyers.
4.20 Do I need to mention donations to the Wikimedia Foundation if I don't donate anything at all?
Yes. You should state that 0% of your profits will go to the Wikimedia Foundation. Otherwise, users may mistakenly believe that you're doing fundraising for the Foundation.
Back to Commercial merchandise.
5 Prohibited uses
5.1 Can I make a fake Wikipedia article if it is intended as a joke?
There are exceptions where this is permissible, but they are very limited. You will likely not fall under such an exception if your mimicking site has any commercial background. Please refer to the section on Parodies. Most importantly, you must make sure that no one (really no one!) could confuse your site with any part of a Wikimedia site.
5.2 How do I distinguish between a prohibited mimicking site and a parody site?
Here is an example of a mimicking site: Contrary to the Wikipedia guidelines, you create an article on Wikipedia about yourself or your organization. For unknown reasons, "your" article is deleted. This makes you mad. You register the domain "businesspedia.org" and design a website that looks just like the Wikipedia article that just got deleted, including a link to your own website. You are happy to attract more traffic to it by confusing internet users. Booo!
An example of parody site: Imagine you have a great friend called Rory and his birthday is coming up. You register the domain "rorypedia.org" and design a website that looks just like a humorous Wikipedia biography on your friend Rory. Since you don't want anyone to confuse "Rorypedia" and Wikipedia, you put a bright colored bar on the top of your site saying, "This page is a present for Rory from his awesome friends and not affiliated with Wikipedia. Happy birthday, Rory!" And you take down the site once the birthday party is over. Yaaay!
5.3 How do I avoid mimicking Wikimedia sites when I use the Mediawiki software?
All wikis using Mediawiki do in fact share certain graphic elements under the default theme, but the Wikimedia sites have certain visual features that distinguish them. Do not imitate these distinguishing features. For example, you should not use logos that are confusingly similar to the Wikimedia marks or name your site something that sounds like a Wikimedia site. But you can use the "Powered by MediaWiki" button as that button simply describes that the wiki is powered by MediaWiki.
Back to mimicking sites.
5.4 Can I use the marks to link to a mirror of a Wikimedia site?
No. The Wikimedia marks can only be used for linking to a real Wikimedia site. By that, we mean those sites that are run by the Wikimedia community.
Also, if you want to set up a mirror of a Wikimedia site, please refer to the section on mirrors.
Back to Linking to non-Wikimedia sites.
5.5 Can you give me some examples of misrepresentation with respect to the marks?
A misrepresentative use can be something that represents yourself. That includes using a Wikimedia logo in your logo, letterhead, or the name of your organization. Online examples are your social media avatar, favicon, and website domain.
Back to Misrepresentation.
6 Reporting Trademark Misuse
6.1 How do you fight trademark infringement?
Each year, we receive over 100 reports of trademark violations from community members. We also employ outside contractors and legal counsel to help protect our trademark portfolio globally. Within our resource constraints, our legal team pursues misuses of our marks to ensure that the Wikimedia logos remain distinctively associated with the Wikimedia community. After careful and sensitive evaluation, we send out cease-and-desist letters, which are usually effective. In the few instances that cannot be resolved by other means, we consider litigation to protect the marks.
6.2 Who is responsible for enforcing Wikimedia’s trademarks?
Trademark enforcement is currently handled by the WMF legal team to ensure consistency and compliance with trademark law. But we rely on the Wikimedia community to help us identify potential trademark infringements.
6.3 What happens when you receive a report of a potential trademark infringement?
When we receive a complaint that our trademarks are being misused, we first send a confirmation to the person submitting the complaint. Potential infringements are then logged into our system. The legal team then combs through each of those complaints to investigate the alleged infringement. We visit the site personally to make sure the complaint has merit. Then we apply US trademark law in assessing whether there is actual “misuse” and it is a valid infringement of the trademark. In general, the standard of “misuse” in US law is whether the use of the trademark is “confusingly similar” to WMF’s use of the trademark. In other words, will the potential infringers use of the trademark confuse users into thinking their site is sponsored by or hosted by WMF? We always contact the potential infringer first to see if they will voluntarily stop using our marks or work with us to make their use less confusing. If we are unable to work things out informally, and they refuse to comply with a cease and desist letter, we decide whether to move forward with litigation to stop the infringement.
6.4 Can I send a cease and desist letter on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation when I find misuse?
Please don't. We really appreciate your help with trademark enforcement, but please report any misuses to us so that we can determine what action is appropriate.
Back to Reporting Trademark Misuse.
7 Revision of the trademark policy
7.1 Why can you just change the FAQ section?
The FAQs are not part of the trademark policy. We created them to help you understand the policy. We want to add new questions from the community in the future and to clarify any answers users may find confusing. That is why we want to be able to update the FAQs easily.
7.2 What if I do not agree with the changes to the policy?
We encourage you to share your comments and concerns with us during the community feedback period following any announced changes. We will take all comments under careful advisement and ensure that any changes to our policy are consistent with our mission.
Back to Revision of the trademark policy.
8 Other questions
8.1 What is "naked licensing"?
Failure to exercise quality control in trademark licensing is referred to as "naked licensing," and can sometimes result in loss of trademark rights.
8.2 What are the Visual Identity Guidelines?
They are a set of guidelines you should follow when using any of the Wikimedia marks. These guidelines ensure that the marks always look their best and are not distorted in any way.
8.3 How do the Visual Identity Guidelines relate to the trademark policy?
The Visual Identity Guidelines are a separate document from the trademark policy and can be revised without notice. These guidelines help to make sure the Wikimedia marks are always used consistently with the same level of quality. Consistent use is important in order for us to maintain protection over the Wikimedia marks. It helps avoid confusion among users that may view marks similar to the Wikimedia marks. If Wikimedia marks are displayed consistently, users can be sure when they are viewing actual Wikimedia content instead of an imposter site.
8.4 What if I have more questions?
If you have any other questions that are not addressed here, please post them on the discussion page. We will try to expand and improve our FAQs over time.