FEEDBACK REQUEST! The FoxyCart Name, 3rd Party Integrations, etc.

brettbrett FoxyCart Team
in Important News edited October 2010
Hello all.
We're trying to tackle something and decided to open the discussion to the community.

Because FoxyCart isn't (and never will be) a CMS, 3rd party integrations are important for us. This presents a problem though because a 3rd party integration is two things:
1) Made by a 3rd party, and not "official".
2) Integrating 2 separate systems.

THE POTENTIAL PROBLEMS:

Let's take a make believe CMS named Mambo (ok, so not make believe, but effectively dead from what I can tell so it'll work for this discussion). The natural inclination is to name an integration something like Mambo+FoxyCart or FoxyMambo or something like that that actually uses FoxyCart, Foxy, or a derivative of the FoxyCart name.

This presents at least two causes for concern:
1) The use of the "Foxy*" in the name implies (to many) that it may be an official integration created by FoxyCart.com LLC.
2) It can confuse expectations wrt support, maintenance, updates, bugs, etc. If the integration is confused with FoxyCart itself then people can easily get frustrated by being bounced around support forums, wondering why they need both FoxyCart and the 3rd-paty code, wondering why we can't answer questions or fix bugs in an integration, etc.

However, disallowing the use of our trademark and discouraging the use of "Foxy" or homonyms presents very real problems as well:
1) It makes it more difficult for integrations to take advantage of FoxyCart's brand recognition, which will (likely significantly) hurt adoption.
2) It forces integrations to come up with a unique name, which at least conceptually decouples the integration from being built expressly _for_ FoxyCart. (ie. FoxyMambo wouldn't make sense to add support for non-FC options like PayPal Standard or etc., but "FooBarCart" could more naturally proceed in that direction.) While our goal with FoxyCart is to encourage people to choose the best option for them even if it's _not_ FoxyCart, it is problematic for us if a 3rd party builds an integration using FoxyCart's brand and reputation and userbase then supplants FoxyCart. (We're being very open and honest here. Hopefully it doesn't sounds like we're greedy bastards.)

We've worked very hard building our brand and our reputation, so we take it very seriously. At the same time, we really want to help anybody building a 3rd party integration to succeed (and profit, via our developer affiliate program).

THE POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS:

1) Disallow use of "FoxyCart" (our registered trademark) and discourage use of Foxy derivatives and homonyms.
2) Allow it across the board. (This is problematic from a trademark perspective, since if we don't defend our trademark we could _lose_ it.)
3) Allow use of FoxyCart and Foxy* for non-commercial / open-source projects. (This is what many open source CMSs do, from what we've learned.)
4) Allow use of FoxyCart and Foxy* for exclusive integrations. ie. If an integration integrates with FoxyCart and other things, it cannot use FoxyCart in the product name. (For legal reasons we might need to require an agreement with the dev to allow this while protecting our trademark.)
5) Allow "FC" but not FoxyCart in names. Discourage Foxy* or homonyms.

We're leaning towards #4, though #5 is interesting as well. With that approach we'd likely need to require some language clarifying that "FoxyCart is a registered trademark of FoxyCart.com LLC" and probably a tagline clarifying that the integration is created/maintained by the 3rd party and not FoxyCart.com. We also _may_ want to require approval, since using "FoxyCart" implies a much more official relationship.

One big potential problem is that if "FoxyCart" is included in the name of a 3rd party integration it would not be able to be copyrighted. This _probably_ won't be an issue for most, and given the exclusivity it would promote, but it's worth noting.

Fwiw, the typical "official" approach would be to disallow anything even close to our FoxyCart.

So all that said, we'd love feedback from the community, since our intent with all of this is to facilitate even better possibilities to provide easy and customized e-commerce solutions to your clients. We want to make it as easy as possible for developers to create and release integrations, but we also need to balance it with our needs to protect our brand. We trust you all to provide honest feedback, either as a potential developer or as a user of a 3rd party integration.

Thanks!
Comments
  • pixelchutespixelchutes Member
    edited October 2010
    @brett, I personally would lean towards #4 myself.

    It is stated "Allow use of FoxyCart and Foxy* for exclusive integrations", but then says "[...] it cannot use FoxyCart [...]"

    Are you basically saying FoxyXYZ or ABCFoxy is "OK", where ABCFoxyCart and FoxyCartXYZ is not? (that's how I understood it, but seems confusing with the current title)

    Bottom line: I think you nailed it by requiring the clarifying verbiage that clearly defines your trademark protection vs. attributed source (the 3rd party).

    If I couldn't get any support for FoxyMambo and saw that FoxyCart.com LLC was not the creator/maintainer, at least I would be able to rule FC out of the equation. (good for the user, even better for FC)
  • fc_adamfc_adam FoxyCart Team
    @pixelchutes, #4 says that exclusive intergrations could use FoxyCart or Foxy*, but if their integration is not solely with FoxyCart (ie. not exclusive) but also other payment systems, then they can't use FoxyCart in their name in that instance.
  • In general I like the idea of allowing things like FC or variations of the word "Foxy" without actually using the word "FoxyCart". You have to be really careful though about what you're associating with your name. If those integrations are really poor than it potentially also reflects poorly on your brand.
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