Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How to not misuse the Moodle trademark: Tips for freelancers and small companies

This page at moodle.com is quite clear about the Moodle trademark, but I guess many people have never seen it because it's over at moodle.com and not moodle.org, which is the default destination for Moodle users who're looking to download Moodle, chat on the community forums, read documentation, etc. Mary Cooch, a well-known Moodler, has written about her experiences with the Moodle trademark, and I've just written a somewhat preachy post about why misuse of the Moodle trademark is a problem. Forbes magazine says trademarks like Moodle and IKEA are the strongest kind of trademark, and I think this is another reason Moodle HQ is assertive about protecting the Moodle brand. But I bet this isn't easy as Moodle itself is free and open source software. Those with technical expertise can freely explore the inner workings of Moodle, become experts, and start selling services around Moodle!

So what do you do if you're a freelancer or small business owner who specializes in Moodle and you want to run your business without violating the Moodle trademark terms? This is something I've started to ponder about: although I have a full plate of Moodle work now, I am self-employed and I may want to sell services at some point in the future.

My suggestions for those who're in a situation similar to mine:
  1. See the links given above :)
  2. Be nuanced when you sell services related to Moodle. Try to avoid using the word "Moodle" in your service description.
  3. Look into contributing to the Moodle project. If you know a lot about Moodle, you can do a lot of good on the community forums. If you're a visible and helpful member of the community, you'll probably know what's the right thing to do when positioning yourself as a service provider.
  4. Moodle HQ does need a healthy and growing commercial ecosystem around Moodle, and every now and then new Moodle Partners are announced. These companies are allowed to use the word Moodle to sell services. If you employ or contract people to help you with your business, check out the Moodle Partner program application. In some countries there are already quite a few Moodle Partners and it could be difficult to become a new Partner, but there are few or no partners in many countries and regions.

1 comment:

  1. This is very incorrect, if not unethical, behaving the way described in the above post bringing bad name to our society/country.
    Hope better sense will prevail from NOW ON!