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I've been using open source projects and libraries for long time. Recently I come across a case which mixes trademark and copyright. Looking at an example of Eclipse Foundation trademark policy I see below statement:

Only Eclipse Projects are authorized to develop or maintain software packages that use Eclipse Foundation namespaces such as 'org.eclipse' in their namespace. An important use of an Eclipse Trademark is the 'org.eclipse' string used on all namespaces for Eclipse Projects. This naming convention is used to identify code that has been developed as part of an Eclipse Project.

Similar statement was recently copied into openHAB trademark policy:

Only the openHAB project is authorized to develop or maintain software packages that use openHAB namespaces such as 'org.openhab' in their namespace. This naming convention is used to identify code that has been developed as part of the openHAB project.

Thing is - each of these projects are based on Eclipse Public License v2 which permits re-use and modifications:

  1. REQUIREMENTS
    3.3 Contributors may not remove or alter any copyright, patent, trademark, attribution notices, disclaimers of warranty, or limitations of liability (‘notices’) contained within the Program from any copy of the Program which they Distribute, provided that Contributors may add their own appropriate notices.
  1. COMMERCIAL DISTRIBUTION
    (...) While this license is intended to facilitate the commercial use of the Program, the Contributor who includes the Program in a commercial product offering should do so in a manner which does not create potential liability for other Contributors.

Given that either org.eclipse or org.openhab namespaces are claimed to be included in trademark protection policy, changing these would mean that renaming of that package could violate source code and license by removing trademark. Clearly there is a conflict between source code license and trademark, which one should be leading in such case?

Can source code namespace be protected by a trademark?

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  • wow, if taken at face value this means that all Eclipse projects are really just proprietary projects with visible source code. Good spotting
    – user253751
    Mar 15, 2023 at 19:36

1 Answer 1

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You're misreading the license.

3.3 Contributors may not remove or alter any copyright, patent, trademark, attribution notices, disclaimers of warranty, or limitations of liability (‘notices’) contained within the Program... provided that Contributors may add their own appropriate notices.

You are not allowed to remove any copyright notices, patent notices, trademark notices, attribution notices, disclaimers of warranty or limitations of liability in the Program.

It doesn't make sense that you are not allowed to remove any "patent". Because you can't remove a "patent," you can only remove a "patent notice". Same logic applies to copyright, you don't remove a copyright because that's an abstract thing. You can only remove a copyright notice.

The fact that all of these are called 'notices' only enforces this, as well as the fact that it says you can "add [your] own appropriate notices".

Therefore the license doesn't say you can't remove trademarks. You just can't remove trademark notices.

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  • You're right about miss reading of license from my end. Yet this it is still not clear if modifications/relocations to code which originally been part of org.eclipse or org.openhab namespaces can be banned by trademark policy. Quoting "important use of an Eclipse Trademark is the 'org.eclipse' string used on all namespaces (...) to identify code that has been developed as part of an Eclipse Project".
    – splatch
    Mar 16, 2023 at 20:37

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