Open sourcers in trademark scrap

The Open Source Initiative and Open Source Hardware Association are apparently swinging handbags at each other over two logos which they claim are similar.

The Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) has a gear logo where part of it is broken to indicate open source goodness. The Open Source Initiative has a green circle which has been broken to indicate open sauciness. We would have thought both symbols mean that open source software is broken, but apparently they are supposed to symbolise keyholes.

The gear logo appeared earlier this year to promote hardware innovation and unite the fragmented community of hackers and do-it-yourselfers. It is being used on boards and circuits to indicate that the hardware is open source and designs can be openly shared and modified.

However, the OSI has now informed OSHWA, which is acting on behalf of the open source hardware community, that the logo is its trademark. As you might guess it is the keyhole that is the problem or rather both sides having “keyholes”, who are presumably doing the negotiations.

OSHWA created its logo as part of a competition. Like good open saucers the mark was released by its designer under a Creative Commons license.

According to Network World, the two sides have been talking to each other for a year and are “close to settling” the, er, hole issue.

But like most things open saucey, it has sparked a debate on OSHWA’s website, with some community members moaning that the OSI was policing and the thought was that open saucers should should be steering clear of OSI’s licensing terms.

OSHWA is asking its members if it should design a new logo or license the gear logo as a derivative work from OSI.

OSHWA president Alicia Gibb wrote recently that it was possible to argue OSI’s claims in court. But this would be a waste of resources and would split the open sauce community.

But the gear logo has gained in popularity and more than one OSHWA member wants to keep it.

OSI is more software orientated and the two sides appear to have different views when it comes to things like trademarks.

While it would appear that it does not take long before open sourcers can turn into proprietary trolls scrapping over a trademark, Simon Phipps, president of OSI, insists that there is no schism between the organisations.