Open Source

Why we trademark open source software and you should too  ↦

In theory, trademarks protect freedom. In practice, trademarks prevent abuse.

Neither the terms “Open Source” nor “Free Software” are themselves trademarked, which unfortunately allows anyone to use them to describe anything – companies regularly exploit this to undermine public understanding of the freedoms which the words originally conveyed. This is why we are using trademarks early and often in Lightmeter — to avoid problems for users and ourselves later on.


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2021-02-24T17:25:51Z ago

An extra point that came up in discussion following publication: you don’t have to register a trademark in order to get protection from it.

Just start adding the TM symbol next to names or images which you intend to register later, and this signals to the world, and to courts, that you are naming something specific and distinguished. This can serve as evidence of your intention and early differentiation against other things, should be you be challenged.

Also: despite what you might think, you dont have to sell something Open Source in order for it to qualify as trademarkable.

Check the HN comments for more details (

And remember: IANAL (but I /am/ the article author 😉)

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