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Eclipse Project Branding and Trademarks

Thursday, June 30, 2016 - 16:31 by Wayne Beaton

As part of the project creation process, the Eclipse Foundation assumes ownership of the project’s name.  As a legal entity, the Eclipse Foundation owns all Eclipse project and corresponding product trademarks on behalf of the the Eclipse community. This prevents companies and others from misusing or misrepresenting their products as being the projects.

For a trademark assertion to hold any value, an organisation must take steps to protect that trademark. That means that care must be taken in the manner with which the name is used by the owners themselves and the community. Generally, the steps taken to protect a trademark are concerned with avoiding confusion in the community and ecosystem. The Eclipse Foundation’s publishes guidelines for the use of our logos and trademarks. This is, of course, not unique to the Eclipse Foundation: many organisations, including open source organisations, publish guidelines describing how their trademarks may be used.

A big part of the value of a project moving to the Eclipse Foundation is the Eclipse name. The value of the Eclipse name, of course, comes from the value provided by the projects. The relationship is circular: one props up the other. With this in mind, I’ve added a new Branding section to the Eclipse Project Handbook which describes the sorts of things that project teams should do to prop up their own individual brand along with the Eclipse brand (I’ll publish updates the LocationTech and PolarSys Project Handbooks shortly).

I don’t think that there is anything particularly controversial in this document. For many of our projects, there is very little (if any) additional work that needs to be done. For most projects, the full extent of the work that needs to be done will be to consistently prefix their project name with “Eclipse”. The document also attempts to provide some guidance for community websites that aren’t hosted using resources approved by the Eclipse Foundation (to conform to our Freedom of Action rule of engagement, official project websites must be hosted on EF-supported infrastructure).

Starting in July 2016, the EMO will—as part of all release and graduation reviews—review the project’s use of trademarks and help project teams conform to the guidelines.