Open source does not mean 'open to pilfer trademarks,' suggests Google

Some want Google to give away its trademarks. This is silly and wrong.

Some are apparently up in arms that Google is refusing to allow Chrome developers to use its trademarks and the comic book it released to help explain Chrome. To these and others that equate open source with "up for grabs," please pay attention:

Open source is governed by US intellectual property law. It is not above the law.

For those who mistakenly feel that open source is a stick-in-the-eye to "The (IP) Man," you're wrong. Open-source licensing depends upon and indeed presupposes copyright and trademark law. Without copyright there is no copyleft.

Clint Boulton, whose blog I enjoy and read daily, suggests:

I would be very careful if I were Google not to be too stringent with the trademark. If people are trying to pass themselves off as Google property that's one thing, but let's not send letters to every person using a Chrome logo.

To which I'd reply, "I would be very careful if I were Google to be as stringent as required by law to ensure I didn't lose the rights to my trademarks ." Google needs to protect its trademarks or it risks losing them.

Surely it's not too much to ask people to respect Google's IP so that it can release more of it as open source?

About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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