View Full Version : Is making your own Ubuntu merchandise to sell without permission legal?

December 16th, 2007, 04:31 PM
Just curious, as I've seen a couple of debates about this. And I ain't talking about discs, I mean merchandise. Like the first lot who sold stuff apparently only gave a tiny donation to Canonical (and kept the vast majority of profits on crappy merchandise everyone complained about). Then I read that they didn't even have to give anything to Canonical... it was still spreading the word and no law was broken.

I've bought some from Merchandise Mania recently and it all is fine. I have no idea whether Canonical have anything to do with that, but it got me thinking whether anyone could do this. So what say you on this? If you decided to get some baseball caps and stickers made up, etc, would that be legal?

December 16th, 2007, 05:20 PM
i would say no based on reading

December 16th, 2007, 05:21 PM
I read somewhere, that, unlike most linux distros, the Ubuntu name can be used.

I think this is, as you say, to allow canonical and ubuntu free advertising!

December 16th, 2007, 06:30 PM
Your only really allowed to use a trademark if you ask them, otherwise your not entitled to use the ubuntu name, ubuntu logo or other trademarks in your commercial products. Why do you think gOS isn't Goobuntu?

I damn well made sure I got trademark permission when making the aluminium case badges, and was happy to let Canonical employees and other ubuntu hackers have the free at UDS; This and the fact that all money went towards our LoCo team.

December 16th, 2007, 09:28 PM
There have been websites forcedly changed because they used a logo that was similar to the Ubuntu logo. It wasn't even exactly the same. The software is open source, but the logo and trademarks sure aren't.

So go ahead and see what happens.

December 16th, 2007, 09:31 PM
The software is open source, but the logo and trademarks sure aren't.

They're open source too. But that something is open source doesn't mean you're entitled to use it however you like.


December 17th, 2007, 09:34 AM

Trademark Policy

This draft trademark policy is itself published under the CC-BY-SA license, you are welcome to base your own project trademark policies off it, just let others use your changes and give credit to the Ubuntu project as the original source!
The objective of the Ubuntu trademark policy is to encourage widespread use of the Ubuntu trademarks by the Ubuntu community while controlling that use in order to avoid confusion on the part of Ubuntu users and the general public, to maintain the value of the image and reputation of the trademarks and to protect them from inappropriate or unauthorised use.
The sections below describe what is allowed, what isn't allowed, and cases in which you should ask permission. If you have any doubt, please contact us at trademarks@ubuntu.com.
The Trademarks

Canonical owns a number of trademarks and these include UBUNTU, KUBUNTU, EDUBUNTU, and XUBUNTU. The trademarks are registered in both word and logo form. Any mark ending with the letters UBUNTU or BUNTU is sufficiently similar to one or more of the trademarks that permission will be needed in order to use it. This policy encompasses all marks, in word and logo form, collectively referred to as “Trademarks”.
Permitted Use

Certain usages of the Trademarks are fine and no specific permission from us is needed.
Community Advocacy. Ubuntu is built by, and largely for, its community. We share access to the Trademarks with the entire community for the purposes of discussion, development and advocacy. We recognise that most of the open source discussion and development areas are for non-commercial purposes and will allow the use of the trademarks in this context, provided:
the Trademark is used in a manner consistent with the Usage Guidelines below
there is no commercial intent behind the use
what you are referring to is in fact Ubuntu. If someone is confused into thinking that what isn't Ubuntu is in fact Ubuntu, you are probably doing something wrong.
there is no suggestion (through words or appearance) that your project is approved, sponsored, or affiliated with Ubuntu or its related projects unless it actually has been approved by and is accountable to the Ubuntu Community CouncilDerived works. The ability to customise Ubuntu to meet your specific needs is one of the great strengths of free software in general, and Ubuntu in particular. While we encourage customisation and derivation of Ubuntu, we must balance that freedom with the integrity of the Trademarks and the quality which they represent. To help reach that balance, we have established the following guidelines and definitions.
We recognise and encourage the concept of a “remix.” Remixes are derived versions of Ubuntu, and it is intended that any software and hardware certifications will apply to a Remix. Therefore the changes from official Ubuntu product must be minimal to be permitted to use the Trademarks. These changes can include configuration changes through the existing Ubuntu configuration management tools, changes to artwork and graphical themes and some variance in package selection. In general, a Remix can have applications from the Ubuntu archives added, or default applications removed, but removing or changing any infrastructure components (e.g., shared libraries or desktop components) will result in changes too large for the resulting product to be called by a Trademark. Note that if the nature of the product's divergence from Ubuntu changes, the Remix naming and Trademark use may no longer apply.
Therefore, if you are creating a derivative of Ubuntu, you may use the Trademarks in association with the software product provided:
the changes are minimal and unsubstantial, as described above
there is no commercial intent associated with the new product
the Trademark is used in a way that makes it clear that your project is a development effort related to the Ubuntu source, but that the software you are working upon is not in fact Ubuntu as distributed by the Ubuntu project. The approved naming scheme to facilitate this is through designation “Remix”. For instance, a new ISO image which has been packaged special tools for software developers could be called “Ubuntu, Developers Remix”, or an image was has been created with Thai language packs could be called "Ubuntu Thai Remix". Words such as "Edition" and "Version" should be avoided, as they have specific meaning within the Ubuntu project. Prefixes, such as “ThaiBuntu” should also be avoided. Any other naming scheme will require explicit permission.
there is no suggestion (through words or appearance) that your project is approved, sponsored, or affiliated with Ubuntu or its related projects unless it has been approved by and is governed by the Ubuntu Community Council.If you are producing a new product which is based on Ubuntu but which has more substantial changes than those described above as a Remix, you are allowed to state (and we would encourage you to do so) that your product is "derived from Ubuntu", "based on Ubuntu", or "a derivative of Ubuntu" but you may not use the Trademarks to refer to your product. In some cases you may be allowed to use the Trademarks, but we'll need to discuss that. In that event, these products will need a trademark license, and such a license can be revoked if the nature of your divergence from Ubuntu changes. Products which include very invasive changes, such as a new kernel, the inclusion of packages which are not part of the Ubuntu repositories, or anything else that significantly impacts the technical quality or user experience would fall into this category are unlikely to be approved. (Note that if you are including packages which are not part of the Ubuntu repositories, we encourage you to work within the community processes to submit and maintain those packages within the repositories in order to minimise this issue.)
Building on Ubuntu or for Ubuntu. If you are producing new software which is intended for use with or on Ubuntu, you may use the trademark in a way which indicates the intent of your product. For example, if you are developing a system management tool for Ubuntu, acceptable project titles would be "System Management for Ubuntu" or "Ubuntu Based Systems Management". We would strongly discourage, and likely would consider to be problematic, a name such as UbuntuMan, Ubuntu Management, ManBuntu, etc. Furthermore, you may not use the Trademarks in a way which implies an endorsement where that doesn't exist, or which attempts to unfairly or confusingly capitalise on the goodwill or brand of the project.
Commentary and parody. The Ubuntu trademarks are designed to cover use of a mark to imply origin or endorsement by the project. When a user downloads something called Ubuntu, they should know it comes from the Ubuntu project. This helps Ubuntu build a reputation that will not be damaged by confusion around what is, and isn't, Ubuntu. Using the trademarks in your discussion, commentary, criticism or parody, in ways that unequivocally do not imply endorsement, is permissible. Anyone is free to write articles, create websites, blog about, or talk about Ubuntu -- as long as it's clear to everyone -- including people completely unfamiliar with Ubuntu -- that they are simply referring to Ubuntu and in no way speaking for Canonical, or the Ubuntu project.
We reserve the right to review all usage within the open source community, and to object to any usage that appears to overstep the bounds of discussion and good-faith non-commercial development. In any event, once a project has left the open source project phase or otherwise become a commercial project, this policy does not authorize any use of the Trademarks in connection to that project.
Restricted use that requires a trademark license

Permission from us is necessary to use any of the Trademarks under any circumstances other than those specifically permitted above. These include:
Any commercial use
Use on or in relation to a software product that includes or is built on top of a product supplied by us, if there is any commercial intent associated with that product.
Use in a domain name or URL.
Use for merchandising purposes, e.g. on t-shirts and the like.
Use of a name which includes the letters BUNTU in relation to computer hardware or software.
Services relating to any of the above.If you wish to have permission for any of the uses above or for any other use which is not specifically referred to in this policy, please email us at trademarks AT ubuntu DOT com and we'll let you know as soon as possible if your proposed use is permissible. Note that due to the volume of mail we receive, it may take up to a week to process your request. Permission may only be granted subject to certain conditions and these may include the requirement that you enter into an agreement with us to maintain the quality of the product and/or service which you intend to supply at a prescribed level.
While there may be exceptions, it is very unlikely that we will approve Trademark use in the following cases:
Use of a Trademark in a company name.
Use of a Trademark in a domain name which has a commercial intent. The commercial intent can range from promotion of a company or product, to collecting revenue generated by advertising.
The calling of any software or product by the name UBUNTU (or another related Trademark), unless that software or product is a substantially unmodified Ubuntu product, or properly labelled as a "Remix" as described above.
Use in combination with any other marks or logos. This include use of a Trademark in a manner that creates a "combined mark," or use that integrates other wording with the Trademark in a way that the public may think of the use as a new mark (for example Club Ubuntu or UbuntuBooks, or in a way that by use of special fonts or presentation with nearby words or images conveys an impression that the two are tied in some way).
Use in combination with any product or service which is presented as being Certified or Official or formally associated with us or our products or services.
Use in a way which implies an endorsement where that doesn't exist, or which attempts to unfairly or confusingly capitalise on the goodwill or brand of the project.
Use of a Trademark in a manner that disparages Ubuntu, Canonical or its products and is not clearly third-party parody.
On or in relation to a software product which constitutes a substantially modified version of a product supplied by the Ubuntu project, that is to say with material changes to the code, or services relating to such a product.
In a title or metatag of a web page whose sole intention or result is to influence search engine rankings or result listings, rather than for discussion, development or advocacy of the Trademarks.Logo Usage Guidelines

Our logos are presented in multiple colours and it is important that their visual integrity be maintained. It is therefore preferable that the logos only be used in their standard form but if you should feel the need to alter them in any way you should keep the following guidelines in mind. It should also be borne in mind that the more you wish to vary our logos from their standard form the smaller is the chance that we will be able to approve your proposed use.
If presented in multiple colours, the logo should only use the “official” logo colours.
You may use transparency and gradient/depth tools but should retain the “official” colours.
A monochrome version may be acceptable in certain situations, if the use requires it (e.g. desktop backgrounds).
Any scaling must retain the original proportions of the logo.

So my advice to you would be to ASK for permission as your endeavor falls in the category of " Use for merchandising purposes, e.g. on t-shirts and the like."