When DotNetNuke was originally announced in February 2003, the developer community in its insatiable appetite for simple concise technology acronyms, immediately abbreviated the DotNetNuke name to 'DNN'. This short-hand reference has been synonymously linked to the project ever since, especially in on-line communication channels such as the forums and blogs hosted on dotnetnuke.com.
As this term gained popularity in the community, it became clear that the 'DNN' acronym had established itself as an essential part of the project branding, and as a result, when we embarked on the legal process of protecting the intellectual property of the project in 2005, we submitted trademark applications for both 'DotNetNuke' as well as 'DNN'. Both of these terms gained official registration status in Canada, and later 'DotNetNuke' gained official registration status in the United States ( unfortunately due to an oversight on the classification description for 'DNN' the application had to be abandoned and resubmitted ). And for those of you who read the first chapter of the Professional DotNetNuke 4 book, you know that we also submitted an application in Australia in order to block a third party from acquiring ownership of the marks. Protecting the identity of the project has been an ongoing challenge, both in terms of effort and financial expense, however we realize that it is a responsibility which is essential to our ongoing stewardship of the project and ecosystem.
In the last newsletter, I mentioned that we wanted to try and do a better job of highlighting good citizenship in the DotNetNuke community; therefore, we are very pleased to announce that we recently reached an agreement with Gavin Smith of Executive I.T. Ltd for the transfer of the dnn.net domain name ( click on http://www.dnn.net and you will be conveniently redirected to dotnetnuke.com ). The dnn.net domain name was obviously an attractive acquisition, as it contained both the 'DNN' trademark as well as the '.NET' reference which is fundamental to our platform. As a long-time community member, Gavin indicated that he deeply respects the contribution that DNN has made to the development community, and as a result, he was willing to respect our rights in the DNN mark and give up the domain name in the spirit of the open source project. We definitely appreciate the professional integrity and ethics demonstrated by Gavin, and look forward to helping support his future endeavours in the DNN community.
Since we have been fielding a variety of questions lately in regards to the DotNetNuke Trademark Policy, it may also be useful at this time to highlight a few of the more commonly misunderstood items.
In stark contrast to the more heavy-handed policies which most vendors impose as part of their trademarks, we have always taken a more practical approach, as we realize that vendors within our ecosystem need to be able to clearly express their support for the platform. Our trademark policy was introduced in 2005 and is actually based on the Mozilla trademark policy for FireFox and related products, although we did introduce some custom modifications in order to provide more freedom to the members of our community.
For example, we provide the DNN community with explicit permission to use our trademarks within their domain names or company names. The only exception are top-level domain names or company names which consist solely of our trademarks. For example, it is acceptable to use a domain name such as 'dnncompany.net' but it is not acceptable to use a domain name of 'dnn.net'. This policy attempts to balance the overarching requirement that trademark usage must be non-confusing, while still allowing community members to describe their affiliation to the project.
In addition, we also allow third party developers who are building product extensions for the DotNetNuke platform, and offering them to users as independent product packages ( seperate from the DotNetNuke application ), with the ability to use the trademarks in their product names. For example if you have a custom extension for DNN, it is acceptable to show affiliation to the platform and refer to the product as 'DNNExtension' ( although we would much prefer if you used the phase 'Extension for DNN' as it provides much more clarity for consumers ). Again, this comes back to the general requirement that trademark use be non-confusing.
The only instance where trademark usage is strictly prohibited is in situations where third parties want to offer customized versions of the DotNetNuke application to their users. This may include custom modifications to the core application and/or bundling of the application with proprietary intellectual property. Since the customized product is no longer an accurate reflection of the official DotNetNuke application, it would be misleading to refer to it as such. As a result, we kindly ask that organizations use their own distinct branding to refer to these custom products.
The items above help clarify the majority of questions we receive on this topic and I hope exemplify the lengths we go to, in order to allow the community to obtain the maximum benefit of the DNN brand in their business pursuits.