This summer, the trademarks for the Joomla! name and logo were officially registered in the United States. This is very exciting news for the project's contributers and users since it means that we can more easily protect Joomla!'s identity than with an unregistered trademark

Joomla sloganAs stewards of the Joomla! Project, with the task of protecting it legally and financially, the board of Open Source Matters got legal advice. Together with the core team, we decided that trademark registration was absolutely necessary to protect the contributions that so many people in our community make to the project. Coincidently, a recent report illustrated the extent to which the project and its contributors have been successful in establishing a strong identity around the world.

You might wonder why it is necessary for a community driven free and open source project to protect its identity. The reasons are similar to why we have to license the software and not just put it into the public domain. Failure to protect can lead to exploitation of the work that our community has done. Taking positive steps is a much better approach than continually responding to the actions of others. We have to protect the reputation of the Joomla! project by preventing confusion between it and other entities. So just as for all of the other major FOSS projects, trademarks are important to the Joomla! project.


What does it mean?

Registration of a trademark will have no real impact on how the project handles trademark matters day to day. The trademarks existed before registration, and from its earliest days the Joomla! project has had policies and practices concerning their use. As a community driven project that wants to encourage a vibrant commercial sector we have always had a generous licensing policy compared to some other FOSS projects and to almost all for profit projects. The nature of the ownership of the Joomla! name and codebase means that we can think about these issues a bit differently than in projects where trademarks are owned by individuals or commercial entities.

Does all this cost a lot of money? Yes it does.  However, based on our analysis of what is best for the long term success of Joomla! OSM decided that this is an important investment in the future of the Joomla! project. We are fortunate to have income from donations, advertising, the shop and various other sources that makes it possible to take these steps even though the Joomla! code is distributed for free.  Although we strive to work within the community to address unauthorized uses of the Joomla! name and logo, it is safe to say that even with this registration we will continue to need both community and legal help with protecting the Joomla! name and logo.

What did we learn?

In the last year and a half I and everyone on the OSM board have received a real education in what is sometimes called intellectual property. We now understand the difference between trademark and copyright and between offering use under terms of a generous license and allowing unfettered use. We know you can't copyright a name and that even though we don't charge money, offering software for download is a kind of trade or service. We understand why the template is copyrighted but the logo in that template is trademarked.

One particularly wonderful aspect of this process has been to see how helpful and understanding community members from around the world have been with protecting the Joomla! name and logo. With very few exceptions, people genuinely want to understand the issues, follow the rules, and support this project. They understand that if the Joomla! name were lost their uses would be lost too. Everyone connected to this project benefits from the identity that the Joomla! project has built, and everyone will benefit from protecting it.

Thank you so much to all of you who have helped make this possible. People who have contributed financially, people who raised the issue over and over and said you have to think about this, people who have cooperated and been supportive of our policies, and of course everyone who contributes to making the Joomla! name carry with it a reputation for great software and an amazing community.

We'll be blogging more about Joomla! trademark policies and what they mean for individuals and commercial vendors  in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have questions you may want to review the Trademark FAQ  and trademark policy on the OSM website. If after that you still have specific questions concerning your use of the Joomla! trademark, feel free to ask them in the comments. We will leave such comments unpublished and respond to you personally.