Does the use of a Trademark in a software package (an NPM package for example) qualify for descriptive fair use if its usage is intended to describe how the package relates to the original trademarked program?

For example, say I want to release an NPM package named chrome-dev-tool-enhancer that does something special to enhance Chrome's Dev tools.

The name would be describing how that package's functionality is related to the Chrome browser, a trademark of Google.

It sure looks like a lot of packages on NPM, Rubygems, Hex, etc., use trademarked names in this way. Is this considered fair use?

  • This talks about trademark but the question appears to be about copyright. Please do some research and decide what you want to ask about. – Dale M Mar 9 '18 at 20:08
  • 3
    Yes, I asked about trademark intentionally. The trademark in question is the "Chrome" mark and I have an example of it's use. – user15976 Mar 9 '18 at 20:36
  • 3
    I'm not asking about the source code of Google Chrome, which is where copyright would come into play. Google maintains the Chromium project under a slightly modified GPL, but that's completely besides the point. I asked about trademark use in software package names. – user15976 Mar 9 '18 at 20:37
  • but you talk about “fair use” - trademark law has no such concept – Dale M Mar 9 '18 at 20:39
  • 3
    It absolutely does. I'll link you so that you can do some research. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use_(U.S._trademark_law) – user15976 Mar 9 '18 at 20:39

It seems like you've done a lot of the work for me, but yes, nominative fair use is a thing, and if your package is something that builds on Chrome dev tools, then you can probably use the Chrome mark to refer to the browser that the package is for. I would, however, be very careful to not seem like you're endorsed by Chrome. I'm pretty sure that's bad.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy