For protection of the Wikimedia brands and trademarks, names of user groups must be approved before recognition, and any groups that wish to use “Wikimedia” trademarks in their names must receive approval before broadly using the name.
Permission to use a name is provided through a group's agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation. Before signing an agreement, a group must have their name approved by the Affiliations Committee with Wikimedia Foundation's Legal and Community Advocacy team input and assistance. After considering your group's suggestions, the naming scheme of other organizations, the composition and goals of your group, the Affiliations Committee might suggest a different name from that in your original proposal. Once an affiliate is approved through the Affiliations Committee, a group will receive an agreement that explains the roles and responsibilities as a user group, thematic organization, or chapter. You can see a sample Wikimedia User Group Agreement, Thematic Organization Agreement, and Chapter Agreement.If the affiliate has any special legal needs pertaining to the name, the affiliate should bring this issue up with the Affiliations Committee during the recognition process. The affiliate should then at least use the name that falls within guidelines as an operating name for all ventures connected with Wikimedia.
These guidelines have been developed based, in large part, based on the four criteria suggested by the Wikimedia Foundation's Legal and Community Advocacy team:
- Avoidance of Confusion -- This approach helps to protect the Organizations from legal actions which are actually intended to target the Wikimedia Foundation. In the past, due to confusion by plaintiffs, Chapters have mistakenly received legal complaints and have been forced to defend (successfully) against costly lawsuits for content on Wikimedia projects in their languages. The media has had similar difficulty differentiating between the Wikimedia Foundation, Chapters, and the Wikimedia movement in general. The Wikimedia Foundation believes that this naming policy helps to avoid the potential (and wrong) misperception that movement affiliates are somehow legally responsible for the content that appears on a Wikimedia project.
- Accuracy -- A descriptive name may more accurately reflect the focus of an affiliate. Using “Wikimedia” in the name may lead to confusion when multiple affiliates wish to focus on the same topic area within different Wikimedia projects (e.g. “Wikipedia Editors for Military History” vs. “WikiSource Editors for Military History”).
- Avoidance of Brand Dilution -- The Wikimedia brand is valuable, and represents the tremendous amount of hard work and goodwill created by Wikimedia community. Therefore, we should fully and carefully consider the nature and purpose of each group that operates under the “Wikimedia” trademark on a case-by-case basis.
- Avoidance of Exclusivity (Not applicable to chapters) -- This approach helps to avoid the appearance that a particular thematic organization or user group exclusively represents the entire topic area throughout the movement. Thematic organizations and user groups may overlap with another group (e.g., History vs. Scandinavian History vs. Military History), and a user is not obligated to join an affiliate if she or he wants to edit an article within that affiliate's focus area. The Wikimedia Foundation encourages names that allow a multiplicity of groups to pursue our shared mission.
As outlined in the user group creation guide, creative and descriptive names are encouraged with Wikimedia user groups. They should be descriptive and include wording specific to its status as a Wikimedia user group.
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