[consulting] Trademark policy

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Tue Aug 11 22:31:55 UTC 2009

George D. DeMet wrote:
> Also, at least here in the United States, the fact that "Drupal" is a
> registered trademark means that no one is allowed to use the word in a
> way that could lead to a likelihood of consumer confusion as to source
> or sponsorship, even in the absence of any formal trademark usage
> policy from either Dries or the Drupal Association.

First off, IANAL. But I did oversee LPI's successful trademark
applications in the US (Reg #2820115 and 2838910), Canada and the EU and
was the main liaison with the lawyers.

First off, having the trademark means having to defend it. Unlike
patents or copyrights, trademarks work on a "use 'em or lose 'em" basis.
And if you're TOO successful, you risk your trademark becoming a generic
word over which the original owners have no control (see

Also, owning the trademark does not immediately allow Dries or the DA to
universally limit the word's use. Someone can write a book about Drupal
without permission to use the word, so long as they recognize the
ownership and provide ample disclaimer that their book is not endorsed
by the mark's owners. After all, the trademark is about reducing
consumer confusion, not blanket control of a term's use.

In other words, it's unlikely that (assuming the word Drupal as
trademarked) a third party could call their certification "Drupal®
Certification by XXX", because that implies official approval. However,
it would be hard to stop someone from creating "XXXCertification (about
Drupal®)". Everyone knows that Red Hat's certifications are about Linux®
(which is a registered trademark) but Red Hat didn't need permission to
do that. So long as they make it clear that what they do is not in any
way connected to the brand owners, it's hard to go after them.

(Of course, you could try anyway -- and you might even succeed -- but
I'm going under the assumption that the DA's legal budget is not
bottomless. What is not permissible, and what you can afford to take to
court, may be two different things.)

- Evan
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