With the meta question The evaluation period is over. We need your feedback! suggesting that we might want to encourage better integration with the wider Raspberry Pi community, and the earlier meta questions What should the logo look like? and Vote for a logo design! only covering the logo, I was prompted to check the current Trademark Rules on the Raspberry Pi foundation website.

In doing so I have realised that we are breaking one of their rules by having our domain name contain raspberrypi and arguably breaking other rules by not linking to the Raspberry Pi Foundation Website.

From the Trademark Rules as of Oct 8 2012:

3. When can’t I use the Raspberry Pi Marks?

You may not:

(i) use the Raspberry Pi Marks as part of your company name, company logo or product name;

Which is already dealt with as we are seeking a logo of our own.

(ii) use the Raspberry Pi Word Mark as part of the domain name for your website;

At the moment we may fall foul of this. Whether we do or don't depends on how the "part of a domain name" should be interpreted. If it is interpreted as "substring of the main domain name" we would be fine, as raspberrypi is only in the subdomain. If it is interpreted as "any part of a domain name" then we could have a problem.

I would argue that the latter would be considered excessive by many, but by flouting it, we could annoy the Foundation members who already have negative feelings about Raspberry Pi Stack Exchange.

Having said that, if in the three years since we went live, this issue has not been raised by the Raspberry Pi foundation, then the former interpretation is more likely.

Incidentally, Wordmark appears to have a specific legal meaning which appears inappropriate to this context, so it would be difficult to know how enforceable this would be without legal advice.

(iii) use the Raspberry Pi Marks in a way that creates a false impression that your product or business endorsed, sponsored or associated with Raspberry Pi or Raspberry Pi products or services;

This suggests that we need to make it clear that we are (as yet) in no way associated with the Foundation. This could go in the site header, the FAQ or (preferably) both.

It is also my feeling that this site is obviously part of the stack exchange network, with distinctly different branding which would be difficult to mistake for official Raspberry Pi Foundation branding.

(viii) use a name or logo which are so similar to the Raspberry Pi Marks which may confuse or mislead people into thinking that your business, products or services originate from or are associated with Raspberry Pi;

Again, I think we have already considered this.

(ix) use the Raspberry Pi Marks or a name or logo which is similar to them in a way that will take advantage of our brand or our reputation;

We may think that RP.SE is doing the Raspberry Pi community a service, but some people have already suggested that we are some fly by night trying to take advantage of the popularity of the Raspberry Pi.

(xi) try to pass-off your business, products or services as associated with Raspberry Pi and/or damage our goodwill in any way.

as (iii).

Note that the Trademark Rules page was updated to mention domain names some time between the 12th April 2012 and the 3rd May 2012 (probably on the latter date) while RP.SE site went public on 19th June 2012, after entering commitment on the 19th April. Thus it is likely that stack exchange had already decided on the subdomain name for the site before the Foundation announced it's change of policy.

If we want the Foundation to get on board, perhaps we need to consider being more considerate of their rules. I can understand why they have them, and I can understand why they me be suspicious of us, but I hope that consideration and education can address these issues, so how do we want to handle this?

  • 1
    Good points raised here. I will seek advice from the Stack Exchange team.
    – Jivings
    Oct 8 '12 at 16:35
  • 1
    Yes, lots of good points. It's actually pretty difficult to enforce wordmarks in the scope of referencing something, but I'm sure the SE team will know what to do.
    – ramblinjan
    Oct 8 '12 at 17:07
  • 1
    Has anyone tried contacting the foundation and asking if the current name is OK? Aug 27 '14 at 2:20
  • Do we have any defence in Fair use - the users of RPSE probably have a care about the products they have sourced from the Foundation and its very Open Hardware (and most) Software nature tends to encourage a community need that perhaps goes beyond the Federation's own Forums it would be a bit restrictive if we could only discuss the product and our experiences and opinions on an official site. Though, that "ii" is a problem.
    – SlySven
    Nov 29 '15 at 6:44
  • Thanks for bringing this, now rather old, meta question to my attention again @SlySven. With the recent site graduation, I think it is worth reminding people that we are still technically breaking foundation rules on trademarks, but it is also now clear that the foundation did change those rules around the same time as we were transitioning from commitment phase to beta site.
    – Mark Booth
    Nov 30 '15 at 16:50
  • Can you refresh me: "...but it is also now clear that the foundation did change those rules around the same time as we were transitioning from commitment phase to beta site." What change is that - or was it prior to the 2012/10/12 document you quote anyhow? However we dress it, we are NOT an official associate of the Federation (to my knowledge) so "case ii" is definitely an issue - perhaps you should self-flag your question because a URL change surely is a SE team issue, and no further reply here from @Jivings so far.
    – SlySven
    Nov 30 '15 at 19:17
  • 1
    The last two archive.org links show the state before and after the change, and it's likely that even though it wasn't brought to their attention, the SE team had already decided on a name for the domain before the foundation had announced their policy change. I can't see SE changing the domain now though, if this was going to be dealt with it should have been dealt with before graduation. Conversely, the foundation are fully aware of raspi.se, so if in 3 years they haven't already complained to SE then I guess they aren't contesting the use of raspberrypi as a subdomain.
    – Mark Booth
    Dec 1 '15 at 14:15

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