Wikimedia’s new developer-friendly trademark guidelines for apps

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The new guidelines encourage app innovation. Image by VS-QQ freely licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0.
At the Wikimedia Foundation, we would love to see more app development, especially in today’s environment where users are increasingly migrating to mobile and wearable devices. Therefore, we created new app guidelines that encourage developer innovation while also providing tips on how to use Wikimedia marks and content in a way that properly represents the Wikimedia community.
These new guidelines are based on our Trademark Policy, published last February after a seven month long consultation with the Wikimedia community. The guidelines provide practical examples of how to use the Wikimedia marks and Wikimedia content in apps while also supporting our mission.
For example, the guidelines make it easier for developers to understand how to use Wikimedia marks and content in the following ways:

  • Using marks in apps without requesting a license: The guidelines make clear for app developers how to use certain marks without requesting a license as long as such use advances the Wikimedia mission and abides by the Trademark Policy.
  • Clearer visual examples of fair use for apps: In our Trademark Policy consultation users expressed confusion over how to use Wikimedia marks. In response, the app guidelines provide clear examples of how to use marks in app buttons, app descriptions, and app titles.
  • Location of licenses: The Wikimedia marks and content are released under different Creative Commons licenses. The guide tells developers where to find those licenses and gives examples of how to properly apply them.
  • Plain English: Unlike typical legal documents, these guidelines use simple words, short sentences, and straightforward sentence structure to make them easy to follow. They recognize that some readers may not be native English speakers and avoid using legalese to facilitate easy translation into multiple languages. To verify the simplicity of the language, we applied various readability indices for better comprehension, like we did with the Trademark Policy.
  • User-friendly layout: Also, as with the Trademark Policy, after considering design techniques, we used visual examples, section breaks, and white-space to make the guidelines both visually appealing and easily accessible.

In a world where people are increasingly accessing knowledge through different devices, the new guidelines are intended to empower designers, developers, and the Wikimedia community to collaborate around the Wikimedia projects while maintaining legal protections. If you have any questions, please email us at
Victoria Baranetsky, Legal Counsel
Yana Welinder, Legal Director

Many thanks to James Alexander, Community Advocate/Project Manager; Corey Floyd, Software Engineer; Manprit Brar, Legal Counsel; Stephen LaPorte, Legal Counsel; James Buatti, Legal Fellow; and Marshall Olin, Alex Krivit, and Arielle Friehling, Legal Interns for their incredible work on the app guidelines.  We would also like to thank the rest of the Legal Team as well as the Community Engagement and Communications Teams for their assistance and support in this effort.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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