Shades of Gray Turn Geeko Green: openSUSE Trademark Guidelines Released

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 04, 2009

In November, openSUSE implemented some significant changes to its licensing model, with the aim of making the distribution easier to remaster, re-work, and redistribute. At that time, openSUSE community manager, Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, said that work was also underway to clarify openSUSE's trademark guidelines.

This week, the openSUSE Project released the newly re-examined trademark guidelines. The guidelines, available in PDF format, are designed to complement the new, easier to customize and redistribute openSUSE releases by explaining how to handle branding in different situations.

The openSUSE trademark guidelines were influenced by the OpenSolaris, Ubuntu, and Mozilla trademark guidelines. In addition to discussing trademark use for software derived from openSUSE and the whys and wherefores of redistribution, the use of openSUSE trademarks for advocacy groups, merchandise, events, and compatible software products is also covered.

In general, if an openSUSE release is modified and redistributed (for instance, SUSEStudio is used to create a project-based distribution using an openSUSE core), all openSUSE trademarks and logos must be removed from the derivative image, but combining the logo of the project-based effort with a tag-line such as "powered by openSUSE" is permitted. The overall gist of the document is simple and consistent: It's well within your rights to state that your project is compatible with openSUSE, or is derived from openSUSE, so long as no claims of personal ownership (or official endorsement) of the openSUSE Project or its trademarks are implied.

The guidelines are pleasantly light on the legalese, but it's a foregone conclusion that certain circumstances will call for further clarification. It's also possible, Brockmeier says, to get special permission to use official trademarks even when a project falls outside of the guidelines. In those cases, it is recommended to contact with your contact information and the details surrounding your situation.