Managing Community Open Source Brands

Location: E145 Level: Intermediate
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In the modern open source world, where licenses and DVCS’ allow instant and infinite forking, the only true control point for a community-based open source project is its name, its logo, and its identity. Your brand is your identity: this is how the rest of the world sees you and your project.

How can a volunteer-led open source project control it’s own identity and brand? How do you manage your project’s brand when most of your volunteers are coders who don’t want to get involved with lawyers or deal with enforcing trademarks? How can the community keep their brand independent and free of commercial influence, so they can ensure the maximum number of people and corporations are interested in participating in their project?

Similarly, how can businesses respectfully use open source brands to their own advantage – without being seen as co-opting and independent or open community open source project solely for their own gain? The desire to control the next hot project for your profit may quickly turn on you when another company simply forks the code under a better marketed service.

Learn the basics of all these topics and more with Shane Curcuru, who volunteers as Vice President, Brand Management for The Apache Software Foundation. Over the past few years Shane has led a group of volunteer ASF Members to define and implement a consistent brand policy for all 100 Apache projects – spanning from the veritable HTTPD and Tomcat to the newest CouchDB and Hadoop.

Draft Topic list will include:

- What is your (project’s) brand
- Not just marketing fluff
How the rest of the world sees your project – and might be interested in contributing (or not)

- Defining basic brand policy
- What kind of project is it?
How does your community governance decide policy?
- Creating effective brand policy without management headaches
Ensure you have an official brand policy, even if it’s simply lenient and respectful use

- Trademarks (brief overview)
- Do you want to register your brand name or logo?
- Finding pro bono legal support

- Making a profit: businesses respecting project brands
- Understand your long term business goals
Ask! Participating in the open source project enables you to influence direction
- Do you want to co-opt? Or do you want to be a partner?
Build your own business’ brand alongside the open source project brand

Photo of Shane Curcuru

Shane Curcuru

The Apache Software Foundation

Briefly, Shane is: a father and husband, a friend, a geek, a Member of the ASF, a baker, an ex-Loti and current IBM’er, a BMW driver, a punny guy, a gamer, and lifelong resident within the 495 belt. Oh, and we have cats.

Shane volunteers and serves on the Board of Directors of the Apache Software Foundation, where he has also been appointed VP of Brand Management, setting policy for trademarks and branding across all Apache projects.

During the day, Shane works at IBM as an Application Architect, consulting with HR teams on improving business processes with intelligent automation.

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Picture of Shane Curcuru
Shane Curcuru
07/13/2012 12:16am PDT

Please – add your comments here. There’s far more I can talk about just based on experiences managing the Apache brands than will fit in a 40 min session. 8-)

This isn’t about marketing, and I can’t go into the devilish details of actual trademark law (other than to point out a few clarifying examples of what trademarks actually are). So what do OSCON attendees want to hear about?

How to have appropriate community governance? How to best showcase your brand for defensibility? How to work with third parties who might be mis-using your brand?


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