[consulting] Trademark policy

George D. DeMet demet at palantir.net
Wed Aug 12 20:30:03 UTC 2009

That's exactly correct, in order for the word Drupal to lose its 
trademark protection through becoming genericized, the word would need 
to become so widely used that people no longer recognized it as only 
referring to a specific product, but as a common term for any similar 
product.  Some examples of words that have become genericized in this 
way and lost their trademark protection include Aspirin (still a 
trademark in Canada and many European countries, but not the U.S.), 
escalator, pilates, yo-yo, and Zipper.

The biggest concern about allowing too many folks to use the word Drupal 
in the absence of any established trademark policy is that it could lead 
to the dilution of the mark, i.e., so many people are using it for so 
many things that the mark loses some of its distinctiveness, increasing 
the likelihood of consumer confusion.  This is primarily a concern for 
nationally well-known or "famous" marks, like Coca-Cola; while the 
Drupal name is not (yet) well-known among the general populace, arguably 
it is a famous mark among those who are familar with content management 
systems and Web software in general.  So while I suppose one technically 
could try to use the word "Drupal" to refer to something completely 
unrelated to Web software or communications like, say, a brand of 
kitchen sink, I still wouldn't recommend it. ;-)

Bottom line is that trademark law exists to protect the consumer.  If 
someone uses the word "Drupal" in a way that could confuse consumers 
about the origin of the product or service being offered, then they 
should be asked to stop doing so.

- George

Tom Geller wrote:
> "George D. DeMet" <demet at palantir.net> writes:
>> The existence of .com domains that have the word "Drupal" in them 
>> does not
>> mean that the Drupal trademark has not been defended; the relevant
>> question is whether any of those domains are being used in a way that
>> could lead to consumer confusion
> Thanks for the clarification. I should have written that I "wonder" 
> (rather than "doubt") the trademark's defensibility. I trust your 
> experience more than mine in this matter.
> Wandering thought... Here's a good sign of whether "Drupal"'s become 
> genericized: If common usage became, "I had a lot of stuff to get 
> online, so I put it in a Drupal" -- meaning, put it in some kind of 
> CMS, not necessarily Drupal. Or, more pointedly, "SharePoint is the 
> best Drupal around!" ;)
> Cheers,
> ---
>           Tom Geller  *  Oberlin, Ohio  *  415-317-1805
>              Writer/Editor * http://www.tomgeller.com
>     articles, marketing, training materials, user guides, books
> _______________________________________________
> consulting mailing list
> consulting at drupal.org
> http://lists.drupal.org/mailman/listinfo/consulting

George D. DeMet
2211 North Elston Suite 202
Chicago IL 60614
p 773.645.4100 x306
f 773.645.4105 

More information about the consulting mailing list