New trademark policy

What do you guys think about the proposed new trademark policy for rust?


This came up as a topic of conversation at work and I'm personally not a fan. I feel like it is politics & bureaucracy for politics & bureaucracy's sake, rather than the Rust foundation trying to do something to advance the community's interests.

I had some strong thoughts, but I think this Reddit comment sums it up best:

I'm replicating my response in its entirety here. TL;DR up front: this document has specific problems, but also one big problem, which is that while I like and trust many individuals within the foundation, I do not trust the Foundation as an entity, because those people can be replaced. The Foundation cannot have this level of power, and it's concerning that you're seeking it.

Specific criticisms first.

  • The idea of referring to "the Dungeness compiler for Rust" makes about as much sense as the "GNU Compiler for C" or the "PyPy compiler for Python". PyPy is a Python compiler, GCC is a C compiler, and gcc-rs is a Rust compiler, not a "compiler for Rust". This requirement is frivolous and does not meaningfully improve clarity.
  • 4.3.1 appears to prohibit library names such as "-rust", "rust-", and "-rust". This strikes me as, among other things, completely incongruous with reality; off the top of my head, this would impose a serious burden on intellij-rust, rust-rocksdb, Steven Fackler's openssl-rust and rust-postgres, rust-libp2p, Stepan Koltsov's rust-protobuf, and probably dozens of other serious and well-respected projects, not to mention hundreds of smaller projects.
  • 4.3.1 also prohibits the normal naming scheme of cargo subcommands, which is transparently ridiculous. Others have mentioned this so I won't go into detail.
  • The prohibition on using "rust" or "cargo" as part of a domain name is ridiculous for a similar reason, as others have brought up in the Reddit thread. Many projects already do this. It also seems trivially easy to circumvent (e.g., by making the site nominally Puccinia- or logistics-themed), so I'm not sure why you would include such an obviously controversial statement.

There are other specific problems, but I don't want to quibble. What I do want to say is this: the Rust Foundation must be, first and foremost, oriented towards the Rust community. I fail to see how the majority of these rules do anything other than place restrictions on normal community activity. As just one example, many Mastodon servers have a :rust: custom emoji, which would violate these guidelines as many are recolored. How does prohibiting those advance community interests?

The Foundation is a threat to the Rust community as much as a boon. These kind of powers must be as limited as possible for the Foundation to achieve its goals, because frankly, the Foundation's entire staff could be replaced in five years, and I have no reason to trust that the people who would take over would respect your benign intent.

Thank you for presenting this to the community before committing to it. I sincerely hope that you do not choose to move forward without taking the community's concerns into account in a material and significant way. Doing so would demonstrate that you are merely paying lip service to the idea of community engagement, as we feared due to the makeup of the Foundation's donors.

Amusingly, Slack interpreted the :rust: in that original post as an emoji and replaced it with our Rust emoji... which itself violates their policy because it isn't the plain black of the official logo :upside_down_face:


I just heard about this a few hours ago via video. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory! Do they actually want Rust to grow? Why do they need to do this? Why can't they just label their own products as "copyright Rust Foundation" and forbid anyone else from masquerading as the Rust Foundation? Simple.


I haven't read the new policy, but I do think that it makes sense to have a trademark "Rust" and to defend it. It's the Rust Foundation which will decide on the future of Rust when it comes to language standardization and the reference implementation.

(Note that I don't really know the structure of the Foundation and can't judge whether it's well organized or not. I merely want to say that I do understand the wish for keeping a trademark and defining/agreeing on what "Rust" is.)

However, I also would feel bad if I have to be super careful where to use the term "Rust". One problem is that "Rust" refers both to the reference implementation and the language specification (which doesn't really seem to exist as the reference is non-normative). I wouldn't like if prefixes or postfixes including "Rust" or "rust" would be a violation of the policy, unless I name a particular compiler or language "Rust" when it's not official. I think the rules should be as strict as necessary but as lax as possible.

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This shows just how utterly, stupidly disconnected from reality this whole initiative is.


I'd also have concerns there. Moreover:

In 3.1:

We would consider the following too similar to one of our Marks:




That I can understand in general, but when we also look at that 4.3.1:

Using the Marks in the name of a tool for use in the Rust toolchain, a software program written in the Rust language, or a software program compatible with Rust software, will most likely require a license. The “RS” abbreviation can be used instead.

It specificially says "in the name" and not "as the name". What about rustyline? Would that violate the policy too?

I feel like I should refrain from saying "Rust" anywhere except when I refer to the particular "programming language, software, compiler, [standard?] library, community" (2.1.1) as a whole and it looks like I must not use it as part of a package name when I want to indicate compatibility for that particular programming language or compiler. :neutral_face:

I also feel like it's a bit weird to explicitly allow an abbreviation (which is meant to refer to that trademark) while not allowing the full (correctly written) trademark in the same place. :man_shrugging: It would feel like if someone said, "please use 'PstgrSQL' in your package name if you want to indicate compatibility with PostgreSQL". Maybe it's common practice? Maybe not.


It reminded me of the Linux word mark:

If you are a journalist interested in writing articles that include the term Linux, you do not need a sublicense. If you are printing up pencils, stenciling T-shirts, or distributing coffee cups with a legend on them like “Linux® is the greatest!” or “Even my Mother uses Linux®!” this is normally considered fair use.

which seem to be not very restrictive, except for commercial products where a free of charge, perpetual sublicense may be obtained:

If you plan to market a Linux-based product or service to the public using a trademark that includes the element “Linux,” such as “Super Dooper Linux OS” or “Real Time Linux Consultants” you are required to apply for and obtain a sublicense from the Linux Foundation.

Something like this for the Rust word mark would be okay, I guess. The current proposal seems way too restrictive, and as others have said, not beneficial to the community.


Afaik the trademark already exists. This is merely about how you are allowed to use this trademark.

Yes, of course, I just wanted to emphasize that I don't see a general problem that a foundation holds the trademark rights and defends them. But I do think that the policies should not make things unnecessarily complex for normal use (at least in regard to free-to-use open source software).


I heard about this via ThePrimeagen's youtube vid. It was pretty scathing. The part about prohibiting firearms and following local health regulations is particularly alarming to me, regardless of my own views towards those subjects. Why not just say conventions and events must follow local laws and regulations? It's hard to interpret this as anything other than an attempt to give the foundation a political voice.

The people behind the foundation are entitled to whatever political views they want. The foundation ought to be politically agnostic.


From the policy's FAQ:

I am producing educational materials (tutorial blogs, videos, etc.). Can I use Rust Marks in these? If so, what are the stipulations?

You can use the Rust name in book and article titles, and the Logo in illustrations within the work, as long as the use does not suggest that the Rust Foundation has published, endorsed, or agrees with your work.

Fair enough, aside from lack of clarity over how "suggest" might be interpreted.

We require this to be stated up front (i.e. before the first paragraph or page of your work) in a clear and dedicated space. You may use the following language or a close variation of it: [..]

Are they attempting to imply that educational materials using a Rust trademark without this explicit opt-out might be endorsed by the Rust Foundation?

  • For usage of the Rust logo there is a degree of sense here: logos are an easy way to make things "look official" and can be easily avoided.
  • But for the words Rust and Cargo? You cannot possibly talk about the language without using that word.

Does this mean that every blog post concerning the language should have a disclaimer that it is not endorsed by the foundation?

Does this mean that every single Rust project (which must include Cargo.toml) published under a permissive licence (thus may be considered educational) should include a disclaimer?

And if there is no legal basis for requiring this, why state 'we require ...' in the FAQ?

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Note that the FAQ and plain language summary is not the policy.

It's pretty fundamental that to use Rust's branding to advertise a conference (or other commercial or sponsored event), you have to abide by Rust's rules for conferences. I do not think that requiring a minimum standard for health and safety at a Rust-branded conference is "political", and in any case those were provided as examples. The current policy requires written permission in any case so no real change there.


Sharing here for extra visibility: A note on the Trademark Policy Draft | Inside Rust Blog


The draft doesn't even say "health and safety". It just says "health regulations". I'd wager that until a few years ago the former was the more often cited term.

The way I'd interpret this is that not meeting health regulations is an automatic rejection but holding the conference in a building that's structurally unsound is not.

And this follows directly behind a clause to prohibit the carrying of firearms.

As soon as you start listing things with no obvious connection to Rust, a tremendous amount is being said. A lot by the things you choose to list, and volumes more from the things implicitly omitted. E.g. why health code but not safety code? Why the prohibition of firearms but no mention of discrimination?

I'm not saying there was any intent - I can even understand how someone in good faith thought this was a good idea. It is nonetheless horrifying to think this could be made official.


This would not be the correct interpretation. That section is merely giving examples of the restrictions Rust may impose on people wanting to use the Rust brand in association with their event. It is not exhaustive.

It is already official that you have to ask for written permission to use Rust's brand with commercial or sponsored events.

Some people want to feel like being in a safe and welcome environment. And that is an understandable goal, and it's understandable if the Foundation works towards these goals and doesn't want any violations/violators using the Rust trademark. I'm sure there is a reasonable motivation to add such clauses (in particular) given recent developments, disregarding whether it's a good way to achieve this goal or not and whether the particular wording is a wise choice and/or good style or not.

I prefer to be in an environment which enforces a Code Of Conduct that goes beyond what's legally allowed or forbidden.


In case we're looking at different parts of the draft:

5.3.1 Events & Conferences
We will consider requests to use the Marks on a case by case basis, but at a minimum, would expect events and conferences using the Marks to be non-profit-making, focused on discussion of, and education on, Rust software, prohibit the carrying of firearms, comply with local health regulations, and have a robust Code of Conduct.

"at a minimum" sounds pretty normative to me. I'm not a lawyer but to me it sounds like any event/conferences seeking permission would be required to explicitly prohibit firearms.

Sure. But you asked:

E.g. why health code but not safety code? Why the prohibition of firearms but no mention of discrimination?

As you say, it'd be silly to list everything that they might want to prevent. But I can see how giving some guidance on the sorts of things they're talking about it useful than none.

But maybe you're right and they should make this a separate policy rather than an explicit rejection. I still don't think it's "political" either way.

I agree. I would also prefer events which enforced rules beyond the minimums required. The catch is, I might also choose to skip an event because I was uncomfortable with some of the additional rules. Event organizers can always enforce a more strict set of rules, but they can't "un-enforce" rules mandated by a minimum. I think its much better to be permissive (which is part of the stated objective) and allow event organizers to enforce additional rules as they see fit. I can always skip events with rules I don't like and wait for one that I'm more comfortable with. But if the rule I don't like is part of the minimum, then I either have to be brave or accept that I won't ever attend an event.

Fact is, some people really feel safer in an environment where everyone has a gun, who will argue that prohibiting guns will only make the attendees more vulnerable. Maybe someone in Japan wants to have a women-only event for the same reason they have women only trains. Maybe someone in Afghanistan wants to have an event while still having the usual amount of armed security. I know these examples are far fetched but my point is that I think a more permissive rather than restrictive policy is ultimately more conducive for a inclusive community where everyone can feel safe.


As someone who was initially quite confused about this trademark policy draft myself, some interesting points of notice.

First, something to be aware of when discussing this topic and wanting to be heard: The reddit thread that was linked above contains a moderation mark that “members of the foundation reading this thread and gathering feedback”, on the other hand, the same may apply less for other places such as here; and also generally the message is that the best place to give (useful) feedback to be heard is the feedback form.

Looking at some public discussion(s), e.g. in the rust-lang zulip, I get a better feeling that of course the feedback is definitely being heard and there’s truly not going to be any form of unilateral imposing of a flawed policy from the foundation. Also, I got the feeling that the trademark policy draft is in more or an actual-draft and less of an almost-final stage than what might first appear; and I think someone[1] wrote that the reasons why there isn’t much of an official answer to the feedback yet (and likely there won’t be before the end of this feedback period) is because there’s lots of feedback (so it’s a bandwidth problem), and also there is some uncertainty about what and how could/should be best said or not said in order to avoid any legal problems. So the lack or limited amount of answers to the feedback should best not be taken as any indication that feedback is ignored, or that the people responsible would generally believe that the noted issues aren’t a problem, etc…

As far as I can tell, we can hopefully expect that there will be an improved draft being created at some point in the future (though now that I say that, I don’t think I’ve actually read this being promised anywhere…), and some effort will be spent to improve the contents of the draft on one hand, but also improve the communication around the thing, and in particular also to add more motivation/explanation. (I believe I’ve also seen acknowledgement in some form that there are issues with this draft that could probably have been addressed before publishing it to a large audience.)

This is my own take, off the top of my head, and only based on my own understanding of publicly visible information or discussions, that I took (probably too much) time reading through just so I myself can sleep well at night again :slight_smile:

Of course, I’ve seen the post on the Inside Rust Blog, too, but that post alone does, presumably because it’s an official communication, not address any actual concrete points of criticism at all yet, saying little beyond the phrase: “trust me bro”

We will not ship a trademark policy that Project representatives and the Foundation aren't happy with and proud of after reviewing community feedback.

which of course looses gains or looses its effectiveness to instill some peace-of-mind with the level of trust the reader has in the foundation, which might be very low, in particular for people who have no idea what the foundation really is beyond ”this organization that just put out that crazy trademark policy (draft)”. I personally have a better feeling about this now, and for me, too, that’s not based on that post, but it’s because I could gain some basic feeling of trust after looking into what people are part of this (e.g. see the list of signatures on the linked Inside Rust post) on the one hand, where I was seeing quite a few names I recognize well, and on the other hand by having some of those people personally writing a few replies online that mirror or acknowledge some real concrete problems, e.g. I believe on zulip.

  1. I didn’t take notes on where exactly I read this, but this is the sentiment AFAIR ↩︎