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Open-Source Movements Bicker Over Logo 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the you're-both-pretty dept.
colinneagle writes in with a story about open source organizations fighting over logos. "A gear logo proposed to represent and easily identify open-source hardware has caught the eyes of the The Open Source Initiative, which believes the logo infringes its trademark. The gear logo is backed by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA), which was formally established earlier this year to promote hardware innovation and unite the fragmented community of hackers and do-it-yourselfers. The gear mark is now being increasingly used on boards and circuits to indicate that the hardware is open-source and designs can be openly shared and modified. OSI has now informed OSHWA, which is acting on behalf of the open-source hardware community, that the logo infringes on its trademark. The issue at stake is a keyhole at the bottom of the open-source hardware logo, which resembles a keyhole at the bottom of the OSI logo. The gear logo was created as part of the contest hosted by the group that founded OSHWA, and the mark was released by its designer under a Creative Commons license, opening it up for the community to use on hardware."
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Open-Source Movements Bicker Over Logo

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  • by Maow (620678) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:51AM (#40927501) Journal

    Slashdot uses the OSI logo as seen on this very story, so I wonder what the rules are on that.

    The OSI web site FAQ [opensource.org] says:

    Can I use your corporate logo on my web page to link to you?
            Yes. You can always use a trademark in a truthful manner to refer accurately [wikipedia.org] to an entity.

    What about logo usage not linking to OSI?

    Well, I read about Nominative Use [wikipedia.org] and ... don't understand.

    The nominative use test essentially states that one party may use or refer to the trademark of another if:

            The product or service cannot be readily identified without using the trademark (e.g. trademark is descriptive of a person, place, or product attribute).
            The user only uses as much of the mark as is necessary for the identification (e.g. the words but not the font or symbol).
            The user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder. This applies even if the nominative use is commercial, and the same test applies for metatags.

    Seems like dilution to me, but IANAL, etc.

    Also, it says [opensource.org] the symbol can be used for linking to the OSI website.

    Finally, it seems that the logo is to be accompanied by the text, "We recommend using the Futura Md BT Medium fonts as complementary fonts to the OSI Logo."

    Having rambled on through all that, I have to assume Slashdot is in compliance and I'm too tired to make sense of it all.

    • by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:21AM (#40927699)
      Trademark is not copyright. It is not a right businesses have but a consumer protection and only applies when a moron in a hurry might mistake one product for the other. Is there any chance you might mistake a news for nerds site for a piece of opensource hardware?
      • by Hatta (162192)

        Trademark is not copyright. It is not a right businesses have but a consumer protection

        Phrasing it this way makes trademark reform pretty obvious. No holder of a trademark should be able to sue to protect that trademark. Only consumers who were mislead by the misuse of the trademark should be able to sue.

      • by Sun (104778)

        Trademark is not copyright. It is not a right businesses have but a consumer protection and only applies when a moron in a hurry might mistake one product for the other. Is there any chance you might mistake a news for nerds site for a piece of opensource hardware?

        While your conclusion is correct, your premise is not. Trademark is not about consumer protection, but about brand name association protection. It is, most definitely, a right a business has.

        The idea behind trademark is that, if I own one, I, and I alone, can decide what products this brand does and does not refer to. The mark owner does not have the right to limit the use to, say, only positive references. The reason that Slashdot's use of the brand is non-infringing, at least in this article, is because i

  • I can't be the only one who thinks something's seriously wrong here?
    • Re:Er... (Score:4, Informative)

      by MtHuurne (602934) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:26AM (#40927727) Homepage

      The logos look similar enough (in my opinion) that people might assume they are related. The way trademarks work is that if you let others use them without any kind of control over how they are used, you lose them. So the options the OSI has is to let go of their trademark altogether or to come to some kind of agreement with the OSHWA about the conditions under which the similar logo can be used. The problem with the former is that they would then be unable to prevent anyone from using their logo, even on software that is not open source. The article says negotiations between the two groups are in progress. I don't see anything wrong here, unless you're opposed to the concept of trademarks itself.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        or the OSI can apply the same principles to their logo as they want you to apply to your software - the gear does look similar to the OSI logo, intentionally so I should think, so the same broad design can be identifiable as an open-source-something.

        I can't really see that the OSHWA logo somehow dilutes the OSI "brand" at all. If anything, you now have 2 different-but-nicely-similar logos that enhance each other.

        The article says negotiations are still ongoing after a year, this should have been a "yay, that

  • Bickering? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Theoden (121862) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:55AM (#40927523)

    Open source groups bickering over something insignificant? Really? Better fork it!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Does OSHWA have a philosophy very different from OSI, the way FSF does? If not, egos aside, why not come together (like X-Open & OSF once did to form OpenGroup) and include hardware in Open Source coverage? At the most basic level, hardware is nowadays increasingly represented in HDL code, which makes it the hardware equivalent of software source code. So similar FOSS licenses can cover them. Unlike software, it'd be easier to make money off open hardware, since one can't just take a Verilog model of

      • The vast majority of what is being released as OSHW is most certainly not represented in HDL. As nice as they are, FPGAs are not cheap and most OSHW tends to cater to the hobbyist market (think SparkFun, Adafruit, etc), which is mostly people that do not have any formal educational background in electrical engineering, and thus have likely never heard of HDL anyways. What you're dealing with here is largely simple electrical schematics and accompanying PCB layout files (usually made in Eagle or Kicad) that

    • Re:Bickering? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:40AM (#40927809)

      Open source groups bickering over something insignificant?

      It's not insignificant, it's trademark violation.

      You may think it's insignificant, but it's the same reason why there's Debian IceWeasel, and CentOS. The former to prevent confusion with the trademark of FireFox, the latter gets rid of all RedHat references. You see, trademark law is very clear on this - use it and defend it, or lose it.

      If CentOS slapped the RedHat logo everywhere, RedHat could find themselves with a logo so devalued to the courts that we can have Microsoft RedHat Windows, Apple OS X RedHat, etc. Ditto Firefox - there's the danger that well, Microsoft could rename Internet Explorer to FireFox with impunity.

      Same as this - the OSI and OSHWA could find their logos devalued as confusing, enabling everyone to slap the OSI label on stuff NOT open-source, or the gear logo on hardware NOT open-hardware (like say, a Windows 8 RT tablet).

      It's brand preservation and recognition. There are strict rules on how you use the logos spelled out in many agreements. They may be out in the open like many open-source projects (which usually boil down to you must be using that project from that branch - forking and reusing the logo is not allowed),

      The OSI may lose their logo in the end because the OSHWA inadvertently made it a bit too close and since both are used widely. (Even the OSHWA may lose it because their logo looks too close to the similar OSI one).

      All it would take is some company with deep pockets to start slapping the logos on everything they make and arguing that the logos mean nothing.

      It's why Apple, Jack Daniels, etc. send C&D letters to the most seemingly fleeting resemblances (though with very different tones - an Apple C&D is very lawyerly, while the Jack Daniels one is more friendly, but it's still a C&D).

      • Uh... but they aren't "slapping" the OSI logo all over the place. They have their own distinct logo which *contains* a keyhole symbol. OSI is grasping here. Their brand is not in danger of being confused with the OSHWA brand in the least.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, but it could look confuse people into thinking they are affiliated or a related company.

      • Why can't they be more like Larry Ewing, author of the most famous open source logo of them all, that fat dodo that looks like Homer Simpson after eating a school of tuna? I can understand Redhat and Canonical defending their logos to prevent third parties selling Trojaned or crapwared copies, but aren't the open source and the open hard movements distributing ideas, and the more viral the logos go, the popular their ideas become?

        • The problem is that if they do not defend the trademark and resolve this issue (which a look at the article suggests both groups are committed to finding an amicable resolution to this) companies could use the logo to imply that software and/or devices that bear no resemblance to being open as defined by these groups is open in the way defined by these groups.
    • by Pivot (4465) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @02:44AM (#40928083)

      I'm surprised the logo isn't a picture of a fork!

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Open source groups bickering over something insignificant? Really? Better fork it!

      Spoon it. Knife it. Chopstick it.

      Ok, forget the spoon.

  • Jeez... (Score:1, Troll)

    by atomicxblue (1077017)
    Want to know why Free and Open Source software gets such a bad rap? It's shit like this!

    Next time you wonder why the Year of the Linux Desktop is going to be a long ways off, if ever, remember all of these petty disputes. What about all the bickering whether we should call it Linux or GNU/Linux/X11/Gnome/Mahjong? So much time is wasted over trivial things like this. Both sides should be happy they are in the Open Source movement and focus only on that.
    • Re:Jeez... (Score:4, Funny)

      by dadioflex (854298) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:26AM (#40927729)
      Somewhere between one guy coding in his bedroom to "there's a committee for that", something goes wrong. You know the definition of politics? It's what happens when more than two people gather in one place.
    • Do you really think this kind of thing doesn't go on in the corporate world, too, and nearly every day? The difference is whether it's behind a veil or out in the open. But what you can't see won't hurt you, right?

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Oh you want to watch 'em foam like rabid dogs, then talk about whether BSD should be counted like GPL under the FOSS banner and watch the fireworks!

      But lets face it, the whole FOSS movement is fractured all to hell anyway, that is why you have 50 text editors, a bazillion distros, everybody reinvents the wheel rather than learn to get along. Kinda sad really, if all that energy would have been put into say 3 distros, one for home, one for enterprise, and one for mobile? You'd probably end up with an OS so

      • Re:Jeez... (Score:5, Informative)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Thursday August 09, 2012 @04:00AM (#40928479) Journal

        Oh you want to watch 'em foam like rabid dogs,

        Yet more anti-FOSS FUD from Hairyfeet.

        Here's the reality"

        The current leadership of the Open Source Initiative (OSI, opensource.org) has brought to our attention that they feel the Open Source Hardware ‘gear’ logo infringes on their trademark.

        US Trademark law requires OSI to protect their mark and to notify potential infringers when they become aware of them. OSI has indicated that they would grant a trademark license to OSHWA. This would give OSI the means to protect their trademark.

        http://www.oshwa.org/ [oshwa.org]

      • by wermske (1781984)

        [...] the whole FOSS movement is fractured all to hell anyway, that is why you have 50 text editors, a bazillion distros, everybody reinvents the wheel rather than learn to get along. Kinda sad really, if all that energy would have been put into say 3 distros, one for home, one for enterprise, and one for mobile? [...]

        It is absurd to presume such a reduction. Your argument expects the reader to assume that being fractured is the result of not learning...or not getting along... or that the destination (and not the journey) is the objective. Further, the reader must assume that the level of effort ("energy") of a reasonable person would be preserved. Then there is the whole "lack of diversity is better" implication. Your argument discounts the potential cumulative benefit that can be leveraged from of diversity. Final

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          No I think it just shows FOSS as what it is at its heart...a bazillion hackers jerking off because they think they are smarter than everybody else. that is why you have a bazillion text editors, programmers use text editors and they all think they are better than the other guy. Ego eee-eee-eeego, ego come and it won't go away...

          But there is a REASON why they call it "re-inventing the wheel' because that is EXACTLY what it is, its wasting time and effort doing something that a billion before you have already

          • there is a REASON why they call it "re-inventing the wheel' because that is EXACTLY what it is, its wasting time and effort doing something that a billion before you have already done

            So, because the wheel has already been invented you think I should just start assembling cars and never learn about the intricacies of the wheel. The first text editor I wrote was a total mess. The second one was better. The last one I wrote was almost usable :p and all of them have given me valuable experience. Experience I hope to use for more than just text editors... Did it occur to you that those 50 text editors were also steps in a journey allong the way to more complex projects, there are plenty of l

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think they have a point. Those two logos really look quite similar. Upon first look, I`d suspect, that I am dealing with different chapters of the same legal entity. And this is not the case. They should at least change either color, font, size or shape of the logo, to better distinguish themselves. Just my oppinion.

    • Re:Too similar (Score:4, Insightful)

      by InfiniteZero (587028) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:29AM (#40927739)

      Seconded.

      Not only is the logo too similar, but frankly it sucks. To the uninitiated it looks like a broken gear. You can only imagine the jokes down the road whenever something doesn't work.

      For all its merits, graphic design is one of those areas where the open source movement lacks serious talent.

    • by EzInKy (115248)

      Are you being sarcastic? The open source hardware one is a light blue semi-circle with squared off here, reminds me of the KDE logo except it's missing a bottom tooth. The open source initiative one is a green semi-circle with a dark green outline and no teeth. There is no way the two could be confused.

      • by mellyra (2676159)

        Are you being sarcastic? The open source hardware one is a light blue semi-circle with squared off here, reminds me of the KDE logo except it's missing a bottom tooth. The open source initiative one is a green semi-circle with a dark green outline and no teeth. There is no way the two could be confused.

        the issue is not that they could be confused but that they look extremely related. the similarity of the logo together with the text arrangement makes it look as if the organizations represented with these logos are related - which they are not.

        it seems extremely likely that the open source hardware logo was directly inspired by the OSI logo and tries on purpose to look very similar.

        • by EzInKy (115248)

          Have to disagree, the open source hardware is much more similar to theirs [kde.org]. I still fail to say how the other two can be seen as being related in any way, unless it's because they both have the word "open" in their titles.

  • Not sure -- IANAL, after all -- but don't they risk some other, more nefarious, party hijacking their trademark if they don't defend it?
    • by caspy7 (117545)

      Extend the license to allow them to use it. Done.

      • Almost.

        OSI has offered them a license. Being a community-driven organisation, they've asked their users if they'd prefer licensing the logo or developing a new one.

        The open source hardware logo was chosen by the community and has become a de facto standard over the past year and a half. As the founding board members of OSHWA, we feel that it is not our right nor our place to decide this issue for the community without further input.

        http://www.oshwa.org/ [oshwa.org]

  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by epp_b (944299)
    Do they really not see the irony here? Really??
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Sadly irony is incompatible with trademark law...

      I've got to say I can see the issue - the OSHWA logo does look enough like the OSI logo that it was almost certainly inpired by it, and it would be a reasonable guess that it represents a related group. Which means that , due to the nature of TM law, OSI is in the position of defend it or lose it. Of course we could argue about how valid a trademark that's little more than a ring-arc in one of the four primary orientations really is to begin with. I mean co

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Superficially, yes. But in reality everything has limits. Open source has always been a bit different from public domain, just as Communists have locks on their doors and Libertarians support laws against murder.
    • by fermion (181285)
      I think it is important to remember that the reason we can't just put stuff out there is because when it becomes useful someone is going to put limits on our rights to use it. So we have the creative commons, the GPL, and other copyleft licenses to insure that everyone can use open intellectual property respectfully, but cannot take it away.

      What if MS decided to use the OSI Logo for it's program that allows certain customers to view code, it's version of open source. Would OSI be allowed to fight for tr

  • It would make sense for organizations with such similar goals to have similar symbols.
    Then again, I can understand being concerned about being associated with another organization over which you have no control.

  • So, a few things are evident.

    OSI have a point, the logos are so similar as to imply a connection / sponsorship. (Look at TFA, the similarities are really striking.)

    OSHWA almost certainly must have been intending the similarity.

    OSHWA didn't seek out approval in advance.

    Thus, to keep their trademark, OSI are compelled to protect it. But this makes one wonder, what about OSHWA does OSI not like? Otherwise, one would think they would extend a license to the trademark. Alternatively I suppose that OSHWA might not want to abide by any restrictions set by OSI on use of the mark, but then I'm curious what restrictions were proposed.

    There has to have been some conversation already, right?

    • OSI is willing to license the trademark, OSHWA's Gibb wrote in the blog entry. However, accepting such a license would establish OSI as the owner of the gear logo, which could put members at risk of litigation.

      "It would make OSI responsible for deciding where and when the logo can be used, effectively giving OSI control of defining what can and cannot be labeled as open source hardware. It could also place OSHWA in the uncomfortable position of needing to enforce OSI trademarks," Gibb wrote.

      In other words, OSHWA doesn't want to be beholden to another organization. If OSHWA and OSI were to disagree on whether a particular piece of hardware is "open source" or not, OSI would have the final say.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:52AM (#40927869) Homepage

    I happened to be grabbing a fresh copy of Jetty and noticed that Codehaus's logo [codehaus.org] has the same keyhole.

    • by Cesa (972909)
      The State Bank of India [wikipedia.org] has a similar logo as well.
    • Codehaus's logo [codehaus.org] has the same keyhole.

      heh, as a child my dog's doghouse had a little ramp on the front of it, so I don't see the keyhole in Codehaus's logo. I do wonder who was so clever as to build a doghouse with a circular door, though.

  • A gear composed of red fire.

    I donate this idea to the open source hardware community.

    Glad to fixt that up for you. Get back to work.

    • FireGear? Your idea has merit, but I'm just going to fork IceGear...

      Now all we need is for some of the projects to start building "defensive" patent war-chests. Then they can be like the big boys!

      It'll be great! Everyone loses. (Translation for /.'ers: Everyone looses)
  • Those logos are clearly different, but the logos can go together!!!

    Just put the green logo in the blue logo, so you have open hardware running open software.

  • Facts From OSI (Score:5, Informative)

    by WebMink (258041) <slashdotNO@SPAMwebmink.net> on Thursday August 09, 2012 @09:15AM (#40930421) Homepage

    I'm OSI's current president. Here are the facts that are missing from the OP:

    1. OSI has not sent any legal notice to OSHWA, does not want to and has no plans to do so.
    2. OSHWA approached OSI last year to ask about the relationship between the OSHW and OSI logos, which their internal discussion [openhardware.org] had identified as a problem.
    3. Since then, there has been an ongoing conversation between OSI & OSHWA. It's not been perfect, but everyone involved is a volunteer doing their best in a complicated situation.
    4. Last week OSHWA decided to consult its members/stakeholders about the matter before next steps with OSI.
    5. The template trademark agreement from OSI that they published was not a proposal or demand, it was just an example document to assist them in making a proposal to OSI. It was requested by OSHWA prior to a meeting between OSI & OSHWA on June 29.
    6. The discussions are ongoing and it's unhelpful to treat this as a conflict; neither OSI's Board nor (as far as I have been told) OSHWA's board do.
    7. OSI is very keen indeed to devise an approach that brings maximum benefit to the whole open source community and which builds bridges to strengthen it.
    8. When OSHWA's data-gathering ends (August 16) OSI will be ready with a strong proposal that fixes things.
    • by ledow (319597)

      Apparently modern tech journalism consists of getting a rumour submitted and then posting it verbatim without checking a single detail with any involved party.

      Thanks for the clarification. And hell, you could even read the link you posted as being derogatory of OSI's working methods and still you pointed it out.

      The only questions remaining - why didn't the OP check with you, why didn't Slashdot editors check with you, and why hasn't there been an article update already?

      • by WebMink (258041)

        The only questions remaining - why didn't the OP check with you, why didn't Slashdot editors check with you, and why hasn't there been an article update already?

        Actually the IDG journalist involved did contact me; the text I posted above was copied from my reply to him! He even quoted the "build bridges" bullet...

        • Actually the IDG journalist involved did contact me; the text I posted above was copied from my reply to him! He even quoted the "build bridges" bullet...

          Pretty much every interaction with a journalist has been of this type. The more I know of something in a news article, the more I see why it's wrong. At this point I just assume all of the news is more wrong than right.

          That's actually why Slashdot is a useful news site too...

      • This is the way Slashdot works.

        Remember the "KHTML DEVELOPERS BLAST APPLE!!" thing that turned out to be "KHTML developers explain, after being asked over and over again to incorporate WebKit improvements into KHTML, why it's difficult to because WebKit is a significantly different system having been refactored by its developers"?

  • Seriously. Absolutely Seriously?

    End of the credibility of the OSI?
    • aparantly I didn't read the source.

      they THINk it might violate copyright, as larger issue that someone doesn't like the design.

      disregard my post and this thread.
  • that is the shape of the "magic eye tube" circle, first unveiled in the 1930s by RCA. sorry, guys, but Void That Copyright!

  • ... to cause confusion? I think not.

    Similar enough for people to associate the two forms with some underlying concept? Yes. But that's the point.

  • Shouldn't the OSI and the OSHWA be working together anyways? They have similar goals and challenges. Petty bickering between the two organizations is silly and counter-productive to their goals. They should create a central governing body to cover both, call it the OSA (Open Source Alliance) and dedicate it to all things Open Source. This would grant both groups a LOT more power to direct industry, champion patent and copyright reform, and even take down some patent trolls.
  • I do Free Software instead. Free Hardware sounds even better than Open Source Hardware.
    Based on name alone, which do you think most folk would want to find out more about?
    Bonus, it gives RMS yet another soap box from which to preach the virtue of "Free vs Free".

    /me whistles the Free Software song and walks away, swishing his tail to ward off open sores' flies.

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