The Apache 2.0 license states

  1. Trademarks. This License does not grant permission to use the trade names, trademarks, service marks, or product names of the Licensor, except as required for reasonable and customary use in describing the origin of the Work and reproducing the content of the NOTICE file.

I'm not well versed in trademark law, but I assume trademark usage allows for redistribution of official binary releases. Does this trademark allowance extend for builds of the official source code?

That is to say, can I apply the trademark of a project if I build it unmodified?

1 Answer 1


I think the only realistic answer to your question is some combination of:

  • no-one knows
  • which jurisdiction(s) do you care about? Trademark law is not nearly as homogeneous globally as copyright law is, so you may get different answers in different places.
  • talk to your lawyer when you have a specific trademark in mind, with the exact wording of any usage guidelines released by the owner

The most famous case here is almost certainly Firefox, which Debian rebranded for many years as "Iceweasel" after disputes with the Mozilla Corporation. Now while some of the issues there were about Debian wishing to apply changes to the official source, that was by no means the only point of contention.

With regards to "unmodified source", you will want to consider the old chestnut of On Trusting Trust: just because you and I start from the same source doesn't mean we get a binary with the same functionality, and what happens if that different functionality is (for example...) for all instances of the string "Stack Exchange user noname" to be replaced with "Smelly Poo-Poo Head"?

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