[Design-team] summary of my meeting with Pam Chestek yesterday

Pamela Chestek pchestek at redhat.com
Fri Jul 30 22:43:24 UTC 2010

Hi all,

Ian Weller wrote on 07/30/2010 01:42 PM:
> Yesterday I met with Pam Chestek, Red Hat's Senior IP Attorney, about
> some of the requested and proposed changes to Fedora's trademarks.
> Here's a summary of our conversation; Pam promised she'd respond with
> the legal bases and answer any questions you guys might have.
> Part of the meeting was attempting to understand, just for my own
> personal knowledge, how the heck trademark law affects how we use and
> distribute our logo. If you guys have any questions on this, feel free
> to ask and Pam will answer.
> I may have messed up on a few things below, so IANAL, Pam will correct
> me, etc. :)
> == The Fedora logo ==
> One of the things I've been spending time on is changing all the little
> "TM" symbols to our new font, Comfortaa. It was formerly written in
> Interstate, which is a commercial font, so we wanted to change that.
> From both a brand and legal perspective, both Pam and I agreed that
> changing the font for "Fedora" in the logo would not be a good idea,
> because it is far more likely to confuse someone who sees the Fedora
> logo than impress them that we now use a free font.
There are two fundamental reasons for this.  Here, the switch from 
Bryant2 to Comfortaa in the word "Fedora" is fairly noticeable, 
particularly the "d." It is a significant undertaking to rebrand, but in 
addition to the sheer work of pushing out a change, the lack of 
consistency during the transition adversely impacts recognizability 
and creates (at a minimum) subconscious uncertainty about the 
authenticity and reliability of the brand.  This is also a bigger 
problem for Fedora than most brands because of the way that the Fedora 
branding is disseminated, which makes it impossible to have a quick 
transition.  We're therefore looking at a period of at least several 
years of confusing identity.  The advantages of consistency are so high, 
and a rebranding has such a negative impact on a brand, that most 
companies won't rebrand unless their logos are hopelessly dated or the 
company wants to deliberately distance itself from the former identity.

The second reason is more pragmatic.  As it is, we find unauthorized 
uses fairly commonly.  People create their own design files for the 
trademarks, but they can often be recognized because of the errors made 
in creating the imitation.  Using a freely available font will make it 
easier for copyists to create a more exact representation of our logo, 
which we don't want.  The current font is a bit of sand in the engine 
that helps us protect the uniqueness of our mark.
> == Logo distribution ==
> All SVG files containing the Fedora wordmark or the Infinity design logo
> will continue to be distributed by request by emailing
> logo at fedoraproject.org.
> The remaining logos (at this point Foundations and FUDCon) will be
> distributed through a tarball that may be downloaded via HTTP from
> somewhere on fedoraproject.org. Although these logos are still Fedora
> trademarks, Legal is not worried about rampant misuse of these logos,
> but we will still be sure to enforce the proper use of our trademarks.
Just to explain the thinking, we're pretty clear in all the information 
we provide about when and how someone has permission to use our logos, 
so the fact that someone gets their hands on an svg (or png for that 
matter) can't be construed as permission to use the logo.  But 
restricting access to the logos is one tool that, on a practical level, 
limits people's ability to use our logos without permission.  Given the 
importance of the Fedora and infinity logos, putting some controls on 
how easy it is to get exact representations makes sense.  With respect 
to the FUDCon and Foundations logos, though, at the moment we don't 
really see those being used improperly, and its much easier for everyone 
who has legitimate need if we put up the svg files, so that's 
worthwhile.  If we see these files getting used improperly frequently, 
we can revert to the same practice we have for the Fedora and infinity 
logos, but we don't need to for now.


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