Protecting our Brand - What, how, where to trademark

(related but different thread here)

Moving this conversation from various Slack threads. The genesis of this conversation was the implementation of an OFN instance by Microsoft for Purdue University in Indiana, USA, in June, 2020. This implementation was virtually indistinguishable from an OFN affiliate instance, with OFN verbiage, “basket” logo, Wordpress there, links to terms of service, presentation, user guide, and more.

There are at least two issues here, but the one that can be addressed by trademarking and other protections of intellectual property, is that it would be easy for any user to confuse this implementation - which is not connected to the global commmunity for software updates and bug fixes, training, tech support, vision, values, or topology - with a community sponsored OFN instance (for example in the US). This damages our reputation and effectiveness, and harms users who think they are joining the OFN community but are not.

1 Like

Relevant discussions, questions, brainstorming on Slack in channel #ofn-trademark, tagging others who have commented there: @Thomas @NickWeir @filipefurtado @luisramos0 @Kirsten @Erioldoesdesign - it was noted today that this Discourse format is a less transient and more accesible platform for longer-term or more involved discussions (that is, stuff gets lost on Slack).


I synthesise here Slack contributions:

OFN does not own a trademark, resulting in a lake of protection in the case @lauriewayne1 mentioned.
To me, we need to achieve two main things to clear that issue.

1. Define what is protected by the Trademark
Logo, name… need to be clarified
As some of these elements are today inside the codebase of the software, we have to find a way to enable there (non)use without OFN clear approval.
@luisramos0 mention a possible solution in [this post]. (

2. Register a trademark
a. we think the USA is the right place to start, as the issue is located there
b. the process of registering a trademark is the US, in dedicated to US citizens. I suggest we enrol a trusted middleman from the community to be our banner in the USA
c. legal support
after reading that link. I think it is a good idea to find legal support. Maybe we can find in our relationships to avoid a cost?
d. define how will own the trademark.
I suggest we use the same as for the software licence to centralize our legal assets.
So, I guess the Autralian Fondation … @Kirsten can you please confirm?
e. registering a trademark is well explained here
The trademark process is clear to me here

Regarding the fee: $225 with the online process. Must be done by a US citizen.
I think we can have someone start the process to see what is required after the first registration step.

f. extend the trademark to the world
this is not a complex process, thanks to international trade and the BOIP, I quote “An international trademark registration gives you relatively inexpensive protection quite easily in over 110 countries, both within Europe and elsewhere. It is up to you which countries you choose.”
But I’m not sure regarding the fees, the official simulator is not clear to me.


Here are the other relevant material I found regarding the subject.