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I am the maintainer of a open source project Uptime Kuma (https://github.com/louislam/uptime-kuma), The project is under MIT license.

Generally, for most cases, I don't mind how people used my software.

Until recently, I discovered a website called "MyUptimeKuma" (See image below) which is not related to me. This website is directly using my project logo as their website logo and the name is quite similar. It is a bit uncomfortable for me, because the website is pretending they are the official service of my project in this way.

Don't get me wrong, it is completely OK to resell it like what Linode or MyPikPods did, since it is clearly stated in MIT license.

Also this project is just my personal project, the name and logo are not trademarks, and the logo is also a SVG file inside the git repo which should be part of the MIT license.

So my questions are:

  1. Are people allowed to create their website/service with the logo which comes from projects under MIT license and pretending they are official?

    Not just for my project, let's say I would be now going to make a website "my-syncthing.com" which would be selling Syncthing (also a open source project) and I directly put the Syncthing logo as my website logo, am I allowed?

  2. If they are allowed to do that, are there any open source license to improve this situation?

MyUptimeKuma

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    What outcome are you looking for? What use do you want to permit?
    – fectin
    Commented Feb 4 at 16:47
  • Having just looked at the project, wow, looks fantastic, I will be deploying it soon. If I were you I'd contact them directly with the aim of of coming to some agreement of adding features they need that sell, for a cut. There is a huge difference on being able to write software, and sell it. Team up and make the best of it if possible.
    – adudley
    Commented Feb 8 at 22:01

2 Answers 2

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Given that you're distributing the logo image file under the MIT licence as part of your repository, this really boils down to a question about trademark law, rather than copyright law. Trademarks are how you protect the right to use a name and/or logo to represent your particular project, rather than other people's versions of the same thing.

Unlike copyright, trademark protections don't arise automatically, but must instead be applied for via whatever process your jurisdiction has for this. There is usually a fee. Moreover, they are not automatically internationally-valid, though the Madrid Protocol has made the business of applying for an "international trademark" registration somewhat easier.

Further assuming you apply for, and are granted, registration of your mark(s), you then need to use an open-source licence that clearly and explicitly restricts or denies rights to use your trademarks. We discuss that in more issue in this question, but I note that while MIT makes no mention of trademarks, and is thus a poor licence in this regard, the Apache licence achieves this in s6.

Assuming you avoid accidentally giving away rights to your trademark, you then have to defend it, which involves lawyers and more actual money. That is why few free software projects go that far; when mark registration does occur, it's generally a defensive registration, to avoid others from registering it (see, eg, the history of the "Linux" trademark").

So in answer to your actual questions:

  1. Yes, though I'm not sure those people are "pretending they are the official service of my project", because as I understand it you don't have an official service. A cursory glance at their site doesn't unearth any actual claims to be the official site of the project, or endorsed by you, or anything actionable in that regard.

    I can't tell if the "syncthing" logo and name are registered marks, but assuming they're not, then I don't see any reason you couldn't host your own MySyncThing service.

  2. Yes, but they involve you applying for trademark registration.

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    Also, trademark is the only tool here -- your logo needs permissive licensing for copying and creating derived works, so e.g. a print publication can convert it to CMYK and use it in an article talking about your project. Commented Feb 3 at 16:03
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    As a side note and question to the OP: depending on what communication happened before and how that went, it might already go a long way to send the project a friendly e-mail and asking them to add whatever clarifying statement the OP might want to see. Possibly they might not even be aware that they cause some grief and wouldn't even want it. Commented Feb 3 at 16:16
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    (Some) trademark rights generally apply even if the trademark is unregistered. Using the MIT licence would not preclude enforcing a trademark, as far as I know. (It says nothing explicitly about them. I suppose one could argue that the broad language in it implicitly coves some trademark rights, but I don't think it would legally be interpreted as granting full rights to use a trademark.) You should probably explicitly claim trademark rights (in a statement in your project or web site, and use the ™ mark), I'm not a lawyer. Trademark law varies by jurisdiction. ... Commented Feb 3 at 16:48
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    ... See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unregistered_trademark (though this is US-focussed). Commented Feb 3 at 16:48
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    Friendly also doesn't hurt if someone is in the wrong... not every wrong-doing is intentional especially in regard to licenses, trademarks etc... the laws and licenses are diverse and complicated, and differ by country. Commented Feb 3 at 22:33
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Until recently, I discovered a website ... which is not related to me.

This website is ... pretending they are the official service of my project in this way.

As already written in the other answer, this is not (only) a copyright question - and therefore it does not play any role if your project is an open-source project or not.

However, there is one point in which I disagree with the other answer:

It surely depends on the country, but here in Germany criminal law could also play a role in your case:

If I understand the laws correctly, it would be "fraud" if the operator of the web site offers products or services thinking that at least some of the customers will only buy as long as they are convinced of false facts.

The word "Pricing" in the screen shot shows that the operator of the web site is offering some products or services.

The question is now: Does the operator think that some of his customers will only buy as long as they think that his web site is the official project web site...

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