Got a question? email: contact@opendigital.org

Trademarks: Open Digital® and OpenDigital® (registration)

Q: "So you've trade marked Open Digital, that's not very open, is it? Will you wipe the internet clean of any mention of your trade mark?" 

A: This perhaps represents a common misunderstanding about the use and purpose of trade marks. The main purpose of a trade mark is to prevent unfair and unauthorised use of a name or brand.  That does not extend to preventing any mention or use of a trade mark by anyone else.  In fact the legal protection afforded to a trade mark is actually quite specific.

As an organisation we fully support fair use of trade marks for open discourse, criticism, protest and parody and don't see any impact from trade mark law on free speech, so long as trade mark law is applied correctly and trade mark owners don't make unreasonable demands on others to prevent fair use of their trade marks.

Trademarks are useful to protect a name or marque as a certificate of origin.  Only our organisation can release reports or host events, conferences etc bearing our name.

We also registered the trade mark to protect ourselves.  If any other organisation using the name Open Digital for any other purpose suddenly claims ownership we have a defence, in that we went through the proper process of registering our trade mark.

Whilst it is true that we must take reasonable steps to protect our trade mark in order not to lose protection afforded, trade marks are awarded for specific purposes.  We registered Open Digital in the UK only for the activities we envisaged our organisation would engage in; mainly research, analysis and consulting in the field of digital policy and related activities.

We therefore only have to protect our trade mark if someone else was attempting to make commercial gain or produce content masquerading as us within the defines of those registered purposes.

- 16th December 2011

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