tldr: Use equity warrants for open source trademark licenses.

Long Version:

Apache Software License v2.0 allows the free and unrestricted use, modification, and what-have-you of the source code. However, it protects the use of the name and brand of an open source project.

In the OpenStack world, we license this brand to vendors who agree to follow a trademark license agreement that includes, among other things:

But we could have gone one step better.

Imagine a trademark license where, along with cash and compatibility, the open source entity also received a small amount of equity in the licensing firm.

This would make the owner of the trademark, rather than being a non-profit foundation, a Public Benefit Corporation.

The stated public benefit purpose could guarantee that the source code license and trademark policy would not be changed.

And the equity stake would guarantee that this company would have the motivation to improve and enhance the open source code to meet the needs of all the licensees.

Keeping the core development teams “in-house”, so to speak.

While also being able to motivate these “best-and-brightest” through stock-options, and a potentially lucrative future.




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