Use of the Drupal Trademark and Drupal Association

fizk's picture

Today I received a very polite email via my Drupal.org contact page from a member of the Drupal Association requesting that I remove the Drupal Association from the list of clients on my company website, as they have no record of doing business with us. That is correct - we were hoping to build the Drupal TV website, but that didn't happen.

The strange part was that I was also asked not to use the phrase "Drupal Support" on our website, but instead use something like "Company X support for Drupal". The D.A. member acknowledged that I mentioned that Drupal is a trademark registered to Dries Buytaert, but apparently that isn't enough.

I did a quick Google search for "Drupal Support" and found many "offenders", as you might expect. The first offender was Acquia, the company created by Dries Buytaert. Does this mean that Acquia is the only company that should be able to use the phrase "Drupal Support", because Dries owns the trademark?

Has anyone else received a similar email from the Drupal Association, or am I being singled-out?

Is the Drupal Association conducting Internet sweeps for copyright infringement? I'm not even sure how the Drupal Association noticed this today - the D.A. logo has been on our site for the past two years.

Comments

Howdy! Just to reiterate a

holly.ross.drupal's picture

Howdy!

Just to reiterate a couple of key points that you and I discussed over email:

We are definitely not proactively looking for issues, but they do get reported to us intermittently by the community, and we are definitely not looking to single folks out - just respond to issues we receive. As I mentioned I am really happy to discuss this in any more detail.

Best,
Holly

I would like to understand

redndahead's picture

I would like to understand why the DA feels that having the term Drupal support on a website is considered a violation of the trademark?

You bet - and thanks for

holly.ross.drupal's picture

You bet - and thanks for asking. So here's the basis, the explanation of the trademark:

https://association.drupal.org/about/copyright

"Drupal" is trademarked by Dries. So, if we want to get super technical, You can say "Drupal (TM) Support," and the safest way to express it under the trademark is "Support for Drupal (TM)." Like I said, we're definitely not a crusade to hunt these down, but if I get a report, it's my job to follow up on it. As the copyright & trademark explanation spells out, the Association can only use the trademark if we act as the arm of enforcement. So I am trying to strike a balance between allowing the community to spread the Drupal (TM!) love, and protecting that trademark,

Thanks Holly! I'd like to

fizk's picture

Thanks Holly!

I'd like to know why "Support for Drupal (TM)" is considered by the Drupal Association to be the safest way to express "Drupal (TM) Support".

Did this come through consulting from a lawyer?

The reason I'm curious about this is because I would prefer the Drupal Association not to take this stance on the this phrase. I'm 100% for protecting the Drupal trademark, but I honestly don't see how this would protect the Drupal trademark at all.

I think it does more damage than good, by portraying the Drupal Association as too "lawyer-ish", even though I know, as you've said earlier, that the Drupal Association is simply trying to strike a balance between spreading the Drupal love and protected the trademark.

Yes - that's what the lawyers

holly.ross.drupal's picture

Yes - that's what the lawyers say. So let me put it this way. I am going to suggest that phrasing to you, because it was brought to our attention. However, I have no bandwidth for monitoring this kind of suggestion once it's been made. It's not at the level of transgression that we would consider serious. ;) You catching the wink in there?

I 100% agree that we don't want to turn the DA into a legal monolith overlord of the Drupal Trademark. That would not be good for anyone!

Thanks Holly. I caught the

fizk's picture

Thanks Holly. I caught the wink :)

The thought that the Drupal Association will continue to make this suggestion to other people still bothers me. I strongly encourage the Drupal Association to completely stop making the suggestion.

Since it's not at the level of transgression that the Drupal Association would consider serious, and you don't have any bandwidth for monitoring this kind of suggestion once it's been made, making the suggestion amounts to a kind of empty scare tactic. Please don't take from that that I personally believe you're trying to scare people, because I know you are not. But that's not what comes across to someone receiving the email, and hasn't had the chance to discuss in more detail, like we are here, what this actually means.

Regarding the validity of the lawyer's recommendation, I took a look at Adam's link to Nominative Use, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_use, and, although I'm not a lawyer, it would seem his point deserves to be brought up by the Drupal Association to its legal counsel. Could you please report back to us the outcome of that discussion?

In the end, following this particular legal advice is doing much more harm than good for the Drupal Association, and for everyone, like me, who wants to support all of the interactions that the Drupal Assocation has with the Drupal community.

It is my understanding that

redndahead's picture

It is my understanding that this would fall under nominative use and thus doesn't apply to your enforcement efforts. Hopefully the DA doesn't have to do extra unnecessary work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_use This is a good blog post on when Canonical wanted to protect it's trademark. https://micahflee.com/2013/11/canonical-shouldnt-abuse-trademark-law-to-...

Not that I think they should change it, now that you have been notified that it exists on acquia if you don't send them the same letter it just looks bad.

"As the copyright & trademark

redndahead's picture

"As the copyright & trademark explanation spells out, the Association can only use the trademark if we act as the arm of enforcement. "

I can't remember right now where I read this, but this statement is only true in very limited cases. If I can find it I will paste it here, but I would find out if you really need to be doing this to protect the trademark.

I would like to understand

redndahead's picture

dupe

Thanks for clearing that up

fizk's picture

Thanks for clearing that up Holly!

I think this would be a great opportunity to discuss with the community why the phrase "Drupal Support" is seen by the Drupal Association as copyright infringement. The reasoning might be clear to D.A. members, but it's not immediately clear to some folks like Redndahead and I.

As I mentioned in email, IMHO, I really doubt anyone would get confused about where the support is coming from if they saw "Drupal Support", as oppose to "Company X support for Drupal". I did a quick Google search for "Drupal Support" and there are many other companies using this phrase, so it seems to be the norm, as I would expect. Also, it opens an issue about fair competition with Acquia. Will Acquia be the only company allowed to use the phrase "Drupal Support" because Dries owns the copyright and works at Acquia?

Cheers,
Yonas

Thanks Yonas! See my reply

holly.ross.drupal's picture

Thanks Yonas! See my reply above. Let me know what you think!

Someone may have just reported the use fizk

Riaan Burger's picture

We have a situation in our own country where a commercial entity registered and own the actual Drupal domain names. It kinda blew up in a topic on GDo a while ago, but all parties discontent with the situation, which turned out to be most of the community here, so far decided to try to sole this amicably and over time rather than ask the Drupal Association to intervene.

Over time we hope to simply create a situation where the domain names can be signed over to Dries, the DA or the community here (in order of preference, I guess). We were just sure that we'd rather enter the realm of DA/Drupal involvement as contributors rather than with a need at first and still hope to do so.

In this case someone may simply have noticed the use of the trade mark on your website and did not feel empowered enough to deal with it him-/herself. So asked for a bit of help.

If I think back to the early years (for me) of Drupal 4, I'm sure I also quite probably trespassed with something like "Drupal Support" on my site. I think as Drupal grows as a brand, it will become move valuable to actively abuse or unconsciously do so, and also more important for us to keep it meaningful and representative of the Drupal project and community as a whole.

Is this still the governing

pwolanin's picture

Is this still the governing policy?

http://drupal.com/trademark

Yes. Holly earlier linked to

greggles's picture

Yes. Holly earlier linked to https://association.drupal.org/about/copyright which (eventually) links to that.

Thanks Peter and Greg!

holly.ross.drupal's picture

Thanks Peter and Greg!

Dupe

holly.ross.drupal's picture

Dupe

Trademark violation

stevepurkiss's picture

I notice the OP has the domain:

http://www.drupal-paid-services.com/

Is this what this issue is about? I don't understand the issue with saying "We provide Drupal support", and although it is the 'official' way of saying it, or as most do put a note at the bottom of a site saying Drupal is a trademark of xxx etc., I would've thought the 'generic domain' issue was more important to tackle at this current time, for example drupal.pl which I understand caused and is causing local issues and something I did report to the DA a while back but heard nothing since.

Hi Steve, The domain name

fizk's picture

Hi Steve,

The domain name itself wasn't brought up as an issue.

Cheers,
Yonas

Interesting

stevepurkiss's picture

Interesting, cos that's where I see the TM violation is because it's such a generic domain name!

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