Skip to main content

Google founds Open Usage Commons to manage trademarks for open source projects

Google has announced the creation of Open Usage Commons, an organization aimed to help open source projects manage and enforce their trademarks appropriately and effectively.

Many of Google’s most important projects, including Android and Chrome, are open source, meaning their code is available to read and alter. Google’s projects are also reliant upon open source software from other companies and organizations. Because of that, Google is always looking for ways to give back to the open source community.

Their latest effort, Open Usage Commons, seeks to help establish clearer guidelines and enforcement procedures for the trademarks associated with open source projects. While the code of an open source project is freely licensed, the project’s trademarks including the name, logo, and other branding, can sometimes enter a gray area.

In joining Open Usage Commons, a project’s trademarks are then owned by Open Usage Commons, so that the organization can properly manage those important details to the fullest and serve as a “neutral, independent home.” Of course, before asking others to join the effort, Google is first committing three of their own open source projects, Gerrit, Angular, and Istio, and all of their associated trademarks — including, of all things, “Diffy the Kung Fu Review Cuckoo” — to the Open Usage Commons to test the waters.

Overall, Google’s intention is for Open Usage Commons to make it easier for companies and teams to safely use the trademarks of open source projects in a way that helps make it easy to know when two projects are related.

For example, many organizations and fan groups use a variation of the “Angular” name and/or logo to show that they’re related to the larger Angular project. Open Usage Commons could, perhaps, decide to create guidelines for how to tailor the Angular logo to other needs, ensuring consistency among those who use that trademark.

That said, things are still very early and unknown for Open Usage Commons. At the end of the announcement post, we’re told “the Commons intends to start small and walk before it runs.”

More on open source:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Google — experts who break news about Google and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Google on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel



Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

Got a tip or want to chat? Twitter or Email.

Kyle Bradshaw's favorite gear