A note on the Trademark Policy Draft
For the past eight months, the Rust Foundation Project Directors have been working with the informal Trademark Working Group and the Foundation staff to draft an updated policy and FAQ for the Rust trademark. We'd like to provide some context around this work and address the community response to the feedback form for the recently circulated draft.
Back when the Rust Foundation was created, one of the first things to happen was Mozilla transferring its ownership of the Rust trademark to the newly created foundation. An update to the existing policy was needed, and project leadership planned for this to be done together with the Foundation.
Since we wanted to incorporate community input to this policy and make it accessible as possible, the board waited until the Foundation was well-staffed to coordinate the effort. That included things like running a community-wide survey and discussing the result with a number of stakeholders, including the board, community members, project leadership, as well as legal counsel. The latest state of this process is the draft that was published late last week.
Since the draft was announced, we've noticed a widespread impression that this policy was created solely by the Foundation and is being imposed on the Rust Project and community. That is not true. The policy draft was created with the input and consent of each of the co-authors of this post, with the intent to clarify existing policies, incorporate community feedback, and preserve the Rust brand for years to come. The Foundation also cannot – and has no interest in – unilaterally adopting such a policy without the agreement and involvement of its Project Directors.
There can be wildly differing opinions on how to achieve a particular intent.1 Fundamentally however, the question at hand is whether we want Rust to be a trademark or not. If we want to be able to defend Rust as the brand it is today, trademark law fundamentally constrains how permissible we can be, especially in public guidelines.
Our answer to the question of whether Rust should be a trademark has been "yes", just as it has been since before Rust 1.0. Furthermore, our goal is to make a policy that is as permissive as it can be without substantially giving up our right to define what Rust is and is not in the future. Not all open source projects have retained that right.
We aren't lawyers and we leave the question of how to do that to them – and believe us when we say we have gone through many rounds of questions with ours, who have extensive experience in open source projects.
The current proposal is a draft that the Foundation staff, Project Directors, and Trademark Working Group are actively seeking feedback on. We will not ship a trademark policy that Project representatives and the Foundation aren't happy with and proud of after reviewing community feedback.
We genuinely appreciate all the thoughtful input the community has already left, both in public and via the feedback form.2 Please continue to utilize this form as the official way of getting feedback back into this process. We know the draft is not perfect, and we're committed to fixing any mistakes identified and considering the feedback we get.
Unfortunately, in addition to the large volume of thoughtful and respectful feedback, we're ashamed to say we've seen firsthand examples of significant harassment and abuse directed at the Foundation staff. We condemn this in the strongest possible terms. These folks have been doing their best to navigate an extremely diverse set of interests and viewpoints throughout this process. It's unacceptable for anyone in the Rust community to demean, harass or insult anyone, let alone the people we've asked to do this work.
Please remember that any and all communication with Foundation staff is subject to the Rust project Code of Conduct and will be enforced accordingly. We don't expect this to be an issue for most people participating, but when emotions run high it's always a good idea to check your assumptions and remember the person on the other end of the keyboard.
We want to thank the community for participating in this process, and for your patience as we learn the best way to navigate it. We recognize that the process and communication around it could have been better. Notably, the wider project was insufficiently included in the process. We were responsible for that and apologize.
We're committed to learning everything we can from this process and your feedback, and to talking as openly as we can about what we've learned. To that end, we will soon conduct and publish a retrospective around how the process unfolded.
Thank you again to those who have shared their thoughts on the Rust Trademark Policy draft respectfully. A summary of the feedback received will be shared after the consultation period closes. If you have not yet reviewed the draft, we invite you to fill out the feedback form by April 16 at 5 PM PDT. We only ask that you treat everyone in this community, including the Rust Foundation team, respectfully when doing so.
- Ryan Levick, Project Director and trademark working group member
- Jane Losare-Lusby, Project Director
- Tyler Mandry, Project Director
- Mark Rousskov, Project Director
- Josh Stone, Project Director and trademark working group member
- Josh Triplett, Lang team lead and trademark working group member
This was none more apparent than when the community survey got over 1,000 responses, representing a number of popular but fundamentally incompatible views. ↩
We know this feedback-via-form exercise is not familiar, and we're still getting used to it, too. But it's really the best we can do when we're asking a heroic staff to read and respond to the feedback, and when it's a legal matter where what we say can have substantial consequences down the line. ↩