Today, we launched CollabMark — a project to provide information about how open source and free culture communities can use trademarks.
A project’s identity is important. Trademarks empower communities to protect their identity and build a strong reputation to recruit new members and distribute their work. But trademarks also impose some restrictions that are challenging for groups that thrive on freedom and decentralization. With CollabMark seeks to offer some strategies to collaborative communities, including a Collaborative Mark Policy that they can adopt to protect their name and logo in an open way.
CollabMark is created by Yana Welinder and Stephen LaPorte. We are two lawyers at the Wikimedia Foundation, where we work on applying trademark law to the work a great free culture community (but CollabMark is a personal project). We have also extensively written about this issue to start a conversation with policymakers about how trademark law can better fit collaborative communities. But until trademark law evolves to accommodate collaborative work, communities can use the trademark hacks discussed on the CollabMark site and in our paper to reconcile that conflict.