Dries Buytaert

Drupal trademark policy: update after 11 months

The Drupal trademark policy was launched officially about 11 months ago. As explained in my blog post on the Drupal trademark policy, the purpose of the policy is to create a level playing field for all. It allows everyone to use the trademark without administrative hassle, while at the same time keeping some control and oversight to avoid dilution and misuse. For example, we all know the scarcity of cool domain names, and how frustrating it can be for a local Drupal user group to find that their domain name has already been taken by a commercial entity. The trademark policy seeks to resolve this problem.

Now one year later, there have been some interesting results from the trademark policy. So far, I have received 89 serious trademark queries. Twenty-three of these resulted in a license being granted because the requested use was intended completely to foster Drupal software. For example, there was a request for the name Drupal to be used in the title of a Drupal camp. There were other requests for the name to be include in non-commercial modules. These are all acceptable and good uses of the trademark.

In 32 other trademark usage requests, a formal license contract was required. Among the formal licenses, so far only four contracts have actually resulted in the payment of the administrative license fee. Although the fee is quite reasonable (i.e., 600 euros for clearly commercial use; 300 euros for mixed use), many correspondents ultimately changed their plan in order to avoid the administrative fee. In quite a few other cases where a formal contract was imposed but the intended use was clearly not commercial, no administrative fee was requested. These were typically requests from local Drupal groups.

Finally, there were several trademark usage requests that were rejected simply because they would endanger the level playing field due to their monopolizing nature. Examples of this include domain names like drupalhosting.xyz or drupalthemes.xyz.

I hope everyone can see that the trademark policy is not a money printing machine for me. In fact, it's the opposite. I have paid personally for the creation of the policy and the cost of responding to trademark usage requests. The balance between costs and income is quite skewed out of my favor, although the amount of payments seems to be increasing.

Nevertheless, I am happy with the results so far. I've learned a great deal in the process, and, despite a few unsupportive comments from some, the reactions I have received overall have been positive. In fact, the most common reaction is that, although they understand why they need to pay the administrative fee and why they cannot use a monopolizing domain name, they cannot understand why numerous websites seem to get away with trademark infringements.

This reaction is understandable, of course. Remember, though, that the trademark policy is still quite new. I trust that most members of the Drupal community will comply voluntarily with the policy. So far there hasn't been a need to be a lot more vigorous in ensuring compliance with the trademark policy. There have only been a few difficult people or organizations that have attempted to infringe on the policy, requiring me to become more stern at times.

As expected when we first announced this policy, there were some comments on the actual content of the policy. My lawyers are now in the process of preparing a slightly updated version of the policy. So if you have any suggestions on improvements, please share them with us. For now, though, I'm quite pleased at the results of our first 11 months of having a trademark policy.

— Dries Buytaert

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