SugarCRM, GPLv3, and the all-importance of brand in open source

SugarCRM is giving away its software. It should never give away its brand.

Roberto Galoppini has declared the end to the "badgeware" debate but also potentially stirred it up again by noting that SugarCRM is using GPLv3 to insist that its logo be displayed by its SugarCRM Community users. SugarCRM is clearly within the bounds of GPLv3 by following its allowance for:

b) Requiring preservation of specified reasonable legal notices or author attributions in that material or in the Appropriate Legal Notices displayed by works containing it;

In response, Roberto suggests:

...[I]t is now clear that SugarCRM and SugarCRM?s VCs do still care a lot about brand protection.

Well, yes. Of course they do. Brand - whether you're a proprietary company or an open-source company - is a company's most valued asset. It, more than copyright or patent protections, is what drives a purchase. Ask Marc Fleury - he'll tell you that open-source companies should protect their brands (their IP) at all costs.

SugarCRM has found a way to protect its brand. This isn't about "badgeware." It's about good IP preservation. And that, my friends, matters even more in open source than it does in proprietary software. You can give away your software. You should never give away your brand.

Disclosure: I am an advisor to SugarCRM.

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