Rust Foundation Trademark Policy

I just came across this video that claims that The Rust Foundation has some plans written up that, if true, I would consider rather disturbing.

First off, that they are applying for trademarks doesn't bother me, in principle that makes sense to me.

But a prime disturbing example is an attempt to compel speech or behavior of people that are at best tangentially related to TRF e.g. people off on their own doing things with Rust.

Another is the attempt to force choices on people related to their own domain names, e.g. wanting to forbid people from creating domain names with the word Rust in it.

A thing that makes no sense to me whatsoever, again if true, is that copyright infringement would follow from bringing a firearm to an event. To be clear, I am not at all advocating that that be done in any way shape or form. But that that would lead to copyright infringement seems... off to me.

Now, it hasn't been lost to me that the video may well be fake / contain fake info, so my question is: how much of this is actually real?


The video just seems to be commenting on the contents of the draft trademark policy that the Foundation released a few days ago. The Foundation is seeking feedback here. There has been a lot of (IMO justified) pushback on various platforms, the draft policy is almost certainly going to be revised.


Relevant blog post today: A note on the Trademark Policy Draft | Inside Rust Blog


Forbidding Rust events from being gun shows is likely related to the requirement of having a code of conduct. Which likely comes from the larger goal of making anything rust related a safe space that allows to focus on technology rather than coping with aggressive behaviour.

That being said, it would be nice to not just have a draft of the policy, but also a ratio ale behind all parts of the policy, stating what goals they try to achieve. This would allow for a much more constructive discussion, because one could immediately see if some part of the policy is an oversight, or if there are actually conflicting goals that need some further discussion.


A noble goal to be sure. But I have concerns about TRF overstepping what could be considered reasonable bounds.

Policy decisions of this nature are always a slippery slope as well as subject to a snowball/boiling frog effect: what seems outlandish and unreasonable or even unconscionable now won't be by 2030 if little by little the threshold of what is a reasonable policy decision to make is being moved.

It's something that politicians at national levels have become rather adept at, and it's a wholly unwelcome development IMO. It would be a real pity to see that behavior replicated across non-political areas of life, regardless of intent.

It actually makes me think of the tragedy of the commons: everyone wants to do just a little bit to make life better for everyone, but the ultimate result is the disruption of the common thing (i.e. the feeling of being part of a community that's worth being a part of) that is so important to us all.


So in your opinion the Rust Foundation should let conferences that use the Rust trademark freely decide what code of conduct they want, or if they want a code of conduct at all?

Can you explain why enforcing a code of conduct in this way is unreasonable in itself? Meaning without referring to potential future policies.

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I'm of two minds about it. On the one hand, cultural and societal norms are inherently local, and attempting to globalize one version of them feels very wrong and overreaching.

On the other hand, companies and organizations can be severely harmed by accidental association with undesirable groups, the definition of which changes with the times— There needs to be some lever for the organization to pull in order to distance themselves from a group if they end up in this kind of situation.

I suppose the real conflict here is whether Rust-oriented conferences are more representative of a global Rust community or of the local community in which they are run. If the former, establishing a common code of conduct seems reasonable and expected. If the latter, it seems like needlessly imposing foreign norms on a local event.


Can you give a concrete example of a "cultural norm" that could be placed in inside a code of conduct that makes sense only in some parts of the world?

Just to remember, a code of conduct usually has the goal to make all the attendants of a conference feel safe and welcome.

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The means necessary to do this will vary based on environmental conditions. In some parts of the world, some groups of people can't rely on the government for physical security and must take other measures. An event may need to discriminate against members of one group in order to provide a safe environment for another. Private armed guards may need to be present to counter threats from terrorism or organized crime.

Requiring adequate safety measures for Rust-affiliated events is a good idea, but requiring specific measures worldwide, like the blanket firearms ban in the current draft, doesn't work because the threats that need to be protected against vary so much.


There is never a need for conference attendants to carry firearms in any place on the world. If physical security is a real problem, like for example in very unstable zones or warzones, say current Afghanistan (where to the best of my knowledge there is an actual threat of Taliban attacks at any point) then one can hire armed guards who are not members of the Rust community. One may need to rephrase the rule in the policy for that, but I think preventing the presence of armed guards who are explicitly not members of the Rust community was never a goal of that rule.

Would this be enough of an alteration to the rule to be agreeable? If no, why?

If yes, is there any other example of a "cultural norm" that could be placed inside a code of conduct that makes sense only in some parts of the world? Let's keep in mind what we have learnt so far: a code of conduct is meant to regulate the interactions between members of the community at a Rust conference (or meetup etc), but does not necessarily apply in the same way to support personnel present at the conference, that is not part of the Rust community.

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After thinking about it overnight, the biggest problem that I have with this particular rule is that it's oddly specific compared to the rest of the section. I think something along the lines of "... but at a minimum, would expect events and conferences using the Marks to ... protect the health and safety of all participants" would be much more appropriate.

As these requests have to be individually approved anyway, any more specific requirements can be brought in during that process. Maybe there's a standardized application form that asks about the purpose of the event, the plans for physical security, expected conduct of attendees, etc.

The net practical effect might be no different, but removing the specifics from this policy leaves the foundation more flexibility to adapt to changing conditions.

I'm neither an expert on codes of conduct nor of global cultures, so I can't speculate about such a hypothetical; I can only provide an opinion on specific proposed terms.


I'm am of a similar opinion on that as expressed earlier: if it's a global event organised by TRF itself, then such a centralized CoC demand would be fair; much less so when imposing it on people doing local events. As a thought experiment: Why should someone necessarily have to adhere to some standard (behavioral or otherwise) from a proverbial ivory tower half a world away just because they want to teach people a skill, or learn a skill from others? When has a one size fits all solution worked across all of humanity, ever?

Specifically about trademarks: I really think people are making a bigger deal about this aspect than it really is. Let's take an analog: if someone organizes an event for C, Prolog, or Lisp, what happens then? Legally speaking, a big bunch of nothing, that's what. And a big reason for that is that nobody is claiming any trademarks in the first place. All this to say, trademarks in the context of a programming language is not something to get worked up about IMO, and perhaps could even be construed as a liability rather than ab asset. This is not to say I don't understand why the trademarks exist; I'm just pointing out it can have downsides. And that's not to mention that trademarks are only enforceable in jurisdictions that actually recognize such a trademark, which is its own hairy ball of wax.

Ok, here's a bit of an extreme example: in certain parts of the world, things (eg weddings) are often celebrated by firing automatic rifles. Personally, being present there would make me rather uneasy if only because of the whole "what goes up must come down" principle, but that is part of their culture. If we skip past the potential knowledge gap for a second, how would that culture interact with an event to teach such locals Rust? Would TRF disallow them to celebrate what they've learned if they felt so inclined? In addition, note that such "celebratory items" are more likely to make foreigners (i.e. Westerners) feel afraid than the locals, who are used to those items being on display as well as them being used in a context that is completely different from what the foreigners are used to.

(note that I'm not making claims about the probability of something like this actually happening, which I in fact consider to be quite low. An example was asked for, and I'm merely providing one.)

I agree with this completely, and I think it dovetails with what I said above about one size fits all solutions.


Lets take this conversation to the Zulip thread dedicated for it please.

Please consider that video is likely somewhat exaggerated—I haven’t watched it, but the thumbnail is definitely incorrect—you are allowed to recolor the Rust logo, you just aren’t able to use it in your project’s logo if it is recolored—a distinction between copyright and trademark law is necessary here.

Announcement from the Foundation on Next Steps

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While I believe the gun policy is totally reasonable (and mostly common sense). It feels a little political, and I would rather have the trademark policy not take a political stance.