I am writing a book on my recent research. I am going to register a copyright for this work and publish the book through a major publishing house (Springer). My editor and I have agreed in our contract that I am the copyright holder.

I have been fortunate to use many free software tools while completing my research for this work, so I want to place the logos of these projects next to a thank-you note in the acknowledgements of my book. In some cases this is easy because the copyright holder's license states I am free to use their logo in order to refer to their company. However some logos are licensed under a GNU GPL share-alike license and I do not see any specific terms relating to using the logo to refer to their work. I know this means I can't modify or redistribute their logo unless I release my work under the same license - but is there some clause I am missing when it comes to referring to their project?

I would imagine there would be no concern, since I am using their logo to express how greatful I am to their project and I want people who read my book to be aware that these are the third party tools which have been so helpful for me. But I also know that intellectual property licensing and conditions is often given a lot of weight by developers of such projects (For example).

1 Answer 1


When you put a logo that is a legally recognized trademark or servicemark in an acknowledgements section of a document, you are not infringing on the mark.

A mark if infringed by someone using it when it is used in a manner that falsely communicates an affiliation with, or an endorsement of, the mark owner of the type of good or service that is protected by the mark.

Using a mark in an acknowledgment section doesn't communicate this message (unless, of course, the acknowledgement section falsely says otherwise, which it wouldn't in the case posed by the question).

Instead, this use is what is called "nominative use", and this use also expressly acknowledges and reaffirms that someone else owns the mark and has not licensed it to the author of the work containing the acknowledgement. So, this use of these logos does not infringe on the trademarks or servicemarks that protect these logos.

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