According to these guidelines, Android™ is a trademark that should only refer to compatible versions of Android as described here. My confusion is that the Android Open Source Project's name contains the word Android.

If I were to build the AOSP and make no modifications to it, and did not go through the compatibility process, what would I legally have the right to call what I have compiled? Can I call it "Android Open Source Project," or must I rename it? What do I call AOSP if I have made no modifications to it? Renaming it would cause confusion, while not renaming it would also cause confusion. I can imagine someone going, "Where's the app store?" I'm so confused.

A more careful reading shows that this restriction only applies to "hardware, packaging or marketing materials of device." So in my case, I was fine. I was making a spreadsheet comparing computing platforms' support for various communication protocols. But this still leaves the question of what I call AOSP if I were to sell a hypothetical line of phones running a stock build of AOSP that did not comply with the compatibility specification.

Note: This question was originally posted on the Android Enthusiasts section, but I have relocated it due to being its being off-topic there.

1 Answer 1


Trademarks are a complicated matter and eventually something quite important in the FOSS world as branding is essential to some projects whether they are commercially backed or not. For instance, the branding elements of a Red Hat® or Ubuntu® distro are what makes these --otherwise free-software-based distros-- eventually non-redistributable in some cases. Or they are the subject of many debates or feuds such as when GROUPON™ reused the GNOME® brand incorrectly.

In your specific case, there is no easy way out of this. I would likely stay in the clear by calling things "AOSP" which is not something that is trademarked as far as I know, but it could. Or create my own branding. But reusing anything with the word "android" in it is likely a problematic at some level.

Now in the case of a document (such as a spreadsheet) you can call a cat a cat, and reference what is Android™ as being Android alright (like I am doing right now and like you did).

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