[tor-dev] Tor trademark (was Embedding tor in an application and using tor) without opening a port

Roger Dingledine arma at mit.edu
Mon Apr 15 05:04:01 UTC 2013

(Sorry for the brief diversion from technical stuff folks, but this looked
like a good opportunity for some trademark education and clarification.)

On Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 03:44:17AM +0100, wac wrote:
>  I changed from libTor to libtor as Tor is a registered trademark but
>lowercase tor is not.

I'm afraid that's not how trademark works. The trademark is infringed by
any name that might confuse users into thinking that it is, represents,
or is endorsed by the Tor Project.

> I already paid for the domain and to make sure people knows is a library
>to use the Tor network.

I would be happy to paypal (or whatever) you some money to register a
different domain -- e.g. libonion.org -- before you get too established
in your brand.

(Many generic Tor-related projects use the community-oriented word
'onion', which we have intentionally left out of all our trademarks.)

>  This is also non-profit and I clarified at the website what is Tor and
>that carries no guarantee from the Tor Project about quality, suitability
>or anything else.

Thanks -- that is a good first step.

> The guidelines also say that being non-profit I could
>even use a modified Tor logo.

Actually, that's not what the guidelines say. They say "Please don't
modify the design or colors of the logo." Can you point to the sentence(s)
that confused you, so we can clean them up?

>  This is in any case not a trademark, is just a name so people knows
>what they are getting that comes out almost naturally. A library to
>connect to the Tor network.

You're making modifications to Tor, and then telling people what they're
getting is Tor. I'd say that's a clear opportunity for confusion.

> I do not pretend to sell anything. But I
>made it lowercase however in order to reduce any possible tension.

I understand, and that's why it would be best to resolve the confusion
early before users start to associate your software with this name.

In fact, I'd love to have an officially associated project, called
something like libtor, that is a library version of the Tor software,
endorsed and maintained by Tor (including maintained by you as a Tor
project core member). But the way to get there is to become a part
of the Tor community and establish a history of doing development and
maintenance of libonion the right way, rather than to start out with a
confusing name and hope everything works out from there.

> Is
>not that I have to obey any law from the USA as they don't apply to me.

I'm afraid that part isn't true either in this case -- you got your
domain from a US-based TLD, and through an ICANN-accredited registrar,
so both US trademark law and the UDRP apply. Do a web search for 'icann
udrp' for the gritty details.


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