RfC: Draft SecureDrop trademark guidelines


Hi folks,

As previously indicated, Freedom of the Press Foundation stewards the SecureDrop trademark. We think it’s important to do so, to avoid misleading or confusing uses. But like other free software projects with trademark policies (e.g., Tor, Mozilla) we want to make sure that we don’t get in the way of good faith community uses of the SecureDrop name.

To that end, I am sharing with you a first draft of our trademark guidelines. This is still very much a draft and we look forward to your comments. Is the language clear, or are parts of it confusing or even alienating? Do you spot anything that could get in the way of community activity that is underway, or that is planned? We’re happy to revise based on your feedback.

Thank you for taking a look. :slight_smile:



Updated August 1, 2018

These guidelines are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike license.

1. Introduction. This document outlines the many permissible ways you can use the SecureDrop Trademarks.

A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or sensory element that someone uses to identify and distinguish their goods or services. It can be nearly anything that you might see in connection with a particular good or service and think, “that is X brand.” Beyond text and logos, trademarks can also include smells, layouts, flavors, or even types of motion. We keep a current list of the “SecureDrop Trademarks” here [link to come in final version].

SecureDrop is open-source software, developed as an open community project with significant participation from Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF). FPF stewards the SecureDrop Trademarks to ensure that they are not used in a confusing or misleading way. For example, because SecureDrop offers strong security protections for news organizations and journalists, it’s important to ensure that the name is not used for software that lacks these protections.

These Guidelines describe the only permissible uses of the SecureDrop Trademarks. If you are unsure whether a particular type of use is permitted by these guidelines, please contact us at securedrop@freedom.press.

2. Acceptable Uses. You can use SecureDrop Trademarks:

  • to refer to or describe FPF or the SecureDrop software it distributes;
  • to refer to or describe the SecureDrop instance operated by a particular media organization;
  • to refer to or describe the source of the code that underlies the SecureDrop software;
  • in other ways specifically described in these Guidelines;
  • within the fair use exemptions granted by United States trademark law;
  • (with our written permission) in many other ways

so long as your use does not suggest that you are sponsored by, affiliated with, or endorsed by FPF (unless we have a separate agreement with you to that effect).

You cannot use the SecureDrop Trademarks:

  • for fraudulent or deceptive purposes;
  • as a name or trademark for software other than the SecureDrop software;
  • as the name or trademark for other goods or services that we have not approved in writing; or
  • in any other way that would be likely to deceive, confuse, divert, or mislead users.

3. Style. When you use a SecureDrop Trademark, it should be clear that you are not using it to refer to yourself or any company, product or service other than the SecureDrop software or FPF. Beyond that, the following usage criteria apply:

  • Separation. Your website should not copy the look and feel of the SecureDrop website, or include text or graphic elements that would suggest any affiliation, sponsorship, or approval by SecureDrop or FPF, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing.

  • Alteration. The minimum size of the SecureDrop logo is 45 pixels wide at 72 dpi. Logos may be enlarged if all of their elements are increased proportionally. The SecureDrop Trademarks may not be altered in any manner, and must always be used in the form and colors shown here [link to come in final version].

  • Notice. If you are a media organization and you use the SecureDrop Trademarks to refer to, describe, or provide information on the SecureDrop instance you use to exchange information with sources, this section does not apply to you.

    For any other uses of the SecureDrop Trademarks, you must do one of the following:

    (1) Include the following sentence somewhere on the page where the SecureDrop Trademark is displayed: “TRADEMARK is a trademark of Freedom of the Press Foundation;” or

    (2) If there is limited space available, include the ™ symbol next to the first and most prominent use of the SecureDrop Trademarks. If there are multiple pages, on a separate page (e.g., an “About Us” page), include the full notice statement in option (1).

    For merchandise like t-shirts, you may omit the symbol on the product itself, but you must display the notice on the page describing the merchandise.

If you have any questions about or problems with posting a SecureDrop trademark, contact us by e-mail at securedrop@freedom.press.

4. Product and Domain Names. If you are a news organization that uses SecureDrop to exchange information with sources, you are permitted to use the SecureDrop name in the URL of web pages where you provide information about or access to your SecureDrop instance.

5. Modifications and Extensions. SecureDrop is open-source software. Subject to the terms of the applicable open source license (e.g., the AGPL for the main SecureDrop codebase), you may modify the code, create new additions, or develop extensions for the SecureDrop software. However, if you promote your (for example) extension, you cannot do so in a way that suggests a connection, affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement, or approval by SecureDrop or FPF. “Encryption Tools for SecureDrop” is good; “SecureDrop Encryption Tools” is not. If you create a fork with the intent to distribute it to end users, we ask that you call it something other than “SecureDrop”.

6. Merchandise. You may create t-shirts, desktop wallpapers, mousepads, coffee mugs, or other “consumer merchandise” with the SecureDrop Trademarks so long as you comply with these Guidelines and:

  • Give them away for free; or
  • Use all revenue generated from their sales to support the SecureDrop Community (as defined through participation via the SecureDrop code repositories, forums and other community spaces) or FPF.

7. Amendments. FPF reserves the right to modify these Guidelines, or any goods or services offered in connection with the SecureDrop Trademarks, at its discretion.

8. Termination. We reserve the right to immediately terminate permission for the use of our trademarks to any company or individual that does not follow these Guidelines. Upon notice of termination, any site using the SecureDrop Trademarks must cease its usage immediately.

9. Reporting Abuse. As a nonprofit organization, FPF attempts to devote as much of its time and resources as possible to promoting the causes of transparency, free speech, and adversarial journalism. As a result, we do not have the ability to police the Internet for every problematic third-party use of the SecureDrop trademarks. If you see any uses of the SecureDrop trademarks that you believe are in violation of these Guidelines, please notify us via email at: securedrop@freedom.press.

10. Questions? If you have questions regarding FPF, SecureDrop, or these Guidelines, please visit our websites, f‌‌reedom.press and SecureDrop.org, or email us at: securedrop@freedom.press.


Getting a Trademark policy that is not working against Free Software is incredibly difficult. The only way I can think of is to submit a package with the SecureDrop apps to either debian or fedora and highlight the logo/name are under the proposed trademark policy. And let people in charge rule if it is good enough. When and if they give the green light, I’m confident all details will be covered.

My 2cts :wink: