Legal/Using External Trademarks

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Using External Trademarks

This page documents how to use external trademarks within KDE software and websites, i.e. trademarks not owned by KDE e.V. or the applications developer. It is important for the KDE community to respect other entities trademarks both because we expect other entities to respect our trademarks and because there can be legal and financial consequences for committing "trademark piracy".

What Is A Trademark?

Wikipedia provides a detailed explanation of trademarks. A trademark can be a sign, symbol, logo, design, name, slogan or phrase which uniquely identifies a particular product or service. For example, the name "Facebook", the "facebook" logo, the Facebook "F" logo, the "Like" button and "Thumbs-up" logo are all trademarks, as are slogans like You-Tube's "Broadcast Yourself". In order to legally protect their trademarks and prevent them from being ruled as public property, most owners will issue Terms of Use for their trademarks and seek to actively enforce those terms. Any use of a trademark outside those terms of use can be ruled by a court to be infringing and appropriate penalties may be applied. The KDE community respects trademark and copyright and will not ship any artefacts that contravene the owners terms of use.

Terms Of Use

Most Terms of Use are reasonable as the owners want their brands to be used, but some owners can be draconian in their restrictions. Whenever you want to use an external trademark you must review their terms of use and only use their asset where it is clearly safe to do so. If you are not certain on the terms of use you can ask for help on the [email protected] mailing list. In exceptional circumstances you may need to contact the trademark owner for clarification.

Most terms of use share some common features, many of which are legal boiler-plate and may even seem ridiculous in terms of an individuals right to free speech and fair use, however this does not diminish their legal weight should KDE as an entity find itself in court. Some of the most common terms are:

  • You must not modify the logo or name or slogan in any way, this includes for example giving a logo an Oxygen look, or changing the color.
  • You must not use the name as a verb or a plural or abbreviate it.
  • You must not use the logo instead of the name in the middle of a sentence.
  • You must not use the name in any way that suggests you are the owner or have a particular relationship with the owner.


These are example terms only for illustrative purposes, you must check the actual terms that apply to the trademark you wish to use.

Best Practices

This section documents the best practices for trademark use as recommended by the KDE Community.

  • Only use a logo if the Terms of Use give explicit permission for your use case.
  • If the Terms of Use do not allow you to use the logo then do not attempt design a logo that looks similar. This is known as "passing-off" and is not permitted.
  • Never modify a logo unless the Terms of Use give explicit permission (most allow for resizing).
  • Never use a trademark name in a library or application name as this could be seen as passing-off, e.g. a library called "libgoogle" or an app called "Facebook Chat" are not acceptable.
  • Always check at every release that the Terms of Use have not changed and that you are still in compliance. It is your responsibility to ensure you are complying.
  • etc

Commonly used Trademarks

This section documents some commonly used trademarks and their terms of use as at the cited date. You should always check for yourself the terms in effect at the time you want to use the trademarks.

Skype

  • Skype expressly forbids the use of their logos under any circumstances unless you have written permission from them to do so.
  • The one exception allowed is to show the Skype logo on your business card or advertising next to your Skype address. It is not recommended to try use this exception in an address-book app.

Google

Yahoo

Facebook

Last updated: 2013-04-26

The Facebook terms can be found at:

Each logo and badge also has extra terms attached, you must click-through the required logo and usage type to read the specific terms:

If you are using a particular Facebook API then also check the Terms of Use for that API to ensure compliance.

Note that Facebook do not have an "Apps" category under their Terms of Use, either use the Web terms if appropriate or seek explicit permission.

Generally the terms are:

  • Facebook allows use of the "f" logo only, not the "facebook" logo.
  • You must no modify the logos in anyway, other than to resize them.
  • You can only use the "f" logo next to a factual text describing the use, e.g. "Chat using Facebook", or side-by-side with other social media buttons, e.g. in a "Share" dialog next to Twitter and G+.
  • You can only use the "Like" logo to Like something on Facebook.

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