[foundation-board] MOTION: Trademarks for the OKF

Laura James laura.james at okfn.org
Wed Mar 20 10:31:08 UTC 2013

On 19 March 2013 22:07, Ben Laurie <ben at links.org> wrote:

> Speaking as someone who was on the receiving end of attempts to co-opt
> "Open Source" I am not so keen on us holding a trademark on such an
> open-ended term. Unless, that is, the purpose was to allow anyone to
> use it for whatever they felt like.

I think we are in different territory here. The Open Definition refers, not
to a set of items such as software, but to a specific
document/website/standard, which sets out the definition of what it means
to be truly open.

The reason to protect this is to ensure that the community has a single
point of reference which is sound and proven.  As openwashing becomes more
common, and the term "open" is attached to many products and services which
are not freely usable, and other organisations start to offer their own
ideas of what open means, the definition becomes increasingly important.
 To further our goals, then, we need to reinforce the gold standard of
openness and to ensure that newcomers to the open data and open knowledge
space are not mislead by other "open" concepts

Having the trademark would enable us to take action if others are marketing
different open definitions, and therefore to reduce community confusion
around the standard. "Open definition compliant" would mean something very
specific, and could not be repurposed to other less- or non-open ends. The
term "open definition compliant" sees quite a bit of use in the community,
and we would not in any way restrict this or limit people referring to
'our' open definition, but we could be more certain that this phrase meant
a certain thing and wasn't being misused.

I should add that Francis as our legal council recommended that we register
Open Definition; it is one of our best known and furthest disseminated
outputs, and yet isn't always understood to have come from the OKF.

Best regards,



Dr Laura James

Open Knowledge Foundation
*Promoting Open Knowledge in a Digital Age*
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.okfn.org/mailman/private/foundation-board/attachments/20130320/415e10ac/attachment.html>

More information about the foundation-board mailing list