Trademark protection for Stan name and logo?

Hi, @SGB. Has there been any discussion of enforcing trademarks for the Stan name and our logo? What made me think of this was reference to a package called GeoStan (from user @cmcd). There’s nothing at all particular to this project, it’s just the one that caught my eye today.

I don’t know if the authors asked for permission to use the “Stan” name in their package name or if others are using “Stan” in package names without permission. It’s the usual thing to do, so I’m not blaming authors for putting “stan” in the name of their Stan-derived packages. One could even argue we benefit from the advertising if the quality is good.

The main reason I’m writing is that I think that if we don’t enforce our trademark, we’ll lose the ability to do so going forward. Did the SGB decide not to enforce trademark at some point? Mostly I’m just curious about policy and whether we still have a trademark that’s enforceable and whether I should be letting the SGB know when I see packages like this.

We are planning to meet still in this month and I think we should discuss this.
My personal inclination here is to only enforce trademarks authorization if the package has a license non-compatible with GPL-3. But that is not the case for geostan.
But I would love to hear more opinions from @SGB.


A license can be changed by package owners. Does not happen often, but it’s possible.

The problem is that trademark enforcement has nothing to do with licensing. The legal argument is that a trademark is required only a brand needs to avoid confusion with other, unrelated entities. If a brand doesn’t enforce its trademark, or only selectively enforces a trademark, then one can legally argue that the trademark wasn’t necessary and have it revoked. This doesn’t happen often, and trademark precedents in open source projects can be murky, but it is a technical risk.

One way to enforce the trademark is to require that any independent project wishing to use the Stan logo first obtain pro forma permission from the Stan Governing Body. For a project as large as Stan this can become a burden. Many terms ago the Stan Governing Body voted to allow anyone to use the “Powered by Stan” image, logos/powered_with_stan.png at master · stan-dev/logos · GitHub, in their projects without explicit permission to avoid having to say yes to each independent project individually. I believe there was a page discussing this policy on the website but I can’t find it through the internal search engine.

All of that said I thought that we obtained a trademark only on the logo and not the name “Stan” itself which would mean package names would not be of concern. The @SBG should double check on that, though.

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Thanks for the input and the historical recap @betanalpha! Well discuss it tomorrow and well keep you all posted.

We have the trademark for both. See:

Here’s the registration for the name:

and the logo:

Others who have applied in the same area have been rejected as you can see if you do a search on that site. For some reason, logos are trademarked in B&W, so the color’s not part of it. Also, the capitalization isn’t part of the name trademark, which is why they show up in all caps.