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A lot of open-source licenses have a limitation on trademark use, meaning that they "do not grant trademark rights, even though licenses without such a statement probably do not grant any implicit trademark rights."

Trademark use limitation

But to whom does this limitation apply to? Does it prevent the trademark, such as the name and logo of the project from being used or modified; or does it stop contributors from registering their own trademarks regarding the name and logo of the project (or in other words, to patent the project).

Is there a clearer explanation for the trademark use limitation?

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    When you register a trademark you do not patent anything. You trademark it. So in other words to trademark the project. A patent is a completely different thing
    – slebetman
    Sep 20 at 15:17
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Does it prevent the trademark, such as the name and logo of the project from being used or modified

The limitation does not prevent this - but this is because it is the default in law for any names, logos etc which meet the threshold to count as a trademark; it it likely that the names and logos of most open source projects do not meet that threshold. What choosealicense is doing here is classifying licenses into two sets:

  • Those which make this explicit.
  • Those which do not make this explicit and instead rely on the default in law.

Realistically, the difference here is probably moot, but if it's something that you have a specific concern on for a specific project, you should take professional advice.

or does it stop contributors from registering their own trademarks regarding the name and logo of the project?

It is very unlikely that contributors would be able to make a successful trademark claim for the name and/or logo of an open source project. They are, by their very nature, something available "in the commons" and not indicative of a particular relationship. So again, this is not prevented by the limitation but instead by the very nature of trademark law.

or in other words, to patent the project

Patents and trademarks are very different things. Do not confuse the two.

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    Assume that the name and logo meet the threshold of distinctiveness to be considered a trademark, are they automatically protected by trademark law, or are they just eligible for registration? Sep 20 at 7:10
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    The UK distinguishes between unregistered and registered trademarks; registered ones receive higher protection. Again, talk to a lawyer in your jurisdiction if you need actual advice. Sep 20 at 7:43
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    THIS. Basically, the trademark limitation statement is effectively just a clarification that the license is strictly a copyright license and isn't granting permission to use the trademark, something which recipients might be confused about. Sep 20 at 21:00

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