Cloud Native / Culture / Open Source

The New Stack Context: Google Launches a Trademark Office for Open Source

10 Jul 2020 1:29pm, by

Welcome to The New Stack Context, a podcast where we discuss the latest news and perspectives in the world of cloud native computing. For this week’s episode, we spoke with Chris DiBona, director of open source at Google, about Google’s launch of the Open Usage Commons, an independent company to help open source projects better manage their trademarks.

In a blog post, DiBona notes that trademarks sit at the juncture of the rule-of-law and the philosophy of open source. So for this episode, we wanted to find out more about how they interact and how Google is attempting to improve the management of trademarks in an open source way. We also wanted to address the rumors that this organization was created to manage Google’s Istio open source service mesh in lieu of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (DiBona’s answer: no).

TNS editorial and marketing director Libby Clark hosted this episode, alongside TNS senior editor Richard MacManus, and TNS managing editor Joab Jackson.

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Google promises that the Open Usage Commons will work “to extend the philosophy and definition of open source to project trademarks.” Creating a neutral, independent ownership of these trademarks will give contributors/consumers “peace of mind” that their project names are being used in a safe and transparent way, the company hopes. Initially, Google will support Istio, Angular and the Gerrit web-based code collaboration tool.

In our interview, DiBona clarified the scope of the Open Usage Commons:

I think I should say what we’re not going to offer. The point of the Open Usage Commons is to attack the issues around having trademarks in open source projects and making sure that they’re being shared appropriately and consistently with the Open Source Definition. We are not in the foundation business. We’re not in the marketing business. We’re not in the conference business. We’re not the governance or steering committees of any of these projects. The goal is not to be the Linux Foundation, or Apache Software Foundation or Software Freedom Conservancy.

Later in the show, we discuss some of the top TNS stories and posts of the week, including:

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