This is a reminder that one of our guidelines is respecting trademarks and brands.
Using someone else’s trademarked logo in your plugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party logo or banner is a trademark violation, and they have the right to have us remove your plugin at any time.
Normally trademark situations come up when you submit a plugin like Facerange Messenger, but you don’t happen to work for Facerange. We change your slug from
messenger-for-facerange (or something to that effect) and ask you to rename the plugin to “Messenger for Facerange”. Another common instance is when we have to explain
bobo-facerange-messenger.com is a violation of their trademark use, and you need to rename your domain.
As of late, companies have begun enforcing logo usage as well. Originally they were just picky about the icon or banner being only their logo, but now they’ve moved on to the use at all. What this means to you is simple: Don’t use someone else’s logo in your plugin’s icon or banner. Period.
If you don’t have the legal rights to use it, don’t. If you’re not sure if you do, assume you don’t. If you lose the legal right (like no longer being a part of PayFriend’s trusted developer program), you must immediately remove their logo from your plugin’s public facing pages.
What happens if a company complains?
You will receive a warning via email that a complaint has been filed and you are to correct the icon and/or banner immediately.
How long do I have to comply?
0-days. Technically you’re already a violation. They don’t have to let us give you a chance to come correct, so we would appreciate it being done within 48 hours.
Do I have to push a new version of my code to do this?
Nope. Just fix the images in your assets folder.
Addendum by Otto: This includes screenshots. If you have somebody else’s logos in your plugin itself, or displayed on your service, then you might want to consider getting those removed as well.
What do I do if a company asks me to change my icon/banner?
Change it. Seriously, it’s not worth it. Make your own unique and distinct logo for your plugin. It’ll make you more memorable in the long run.
Do I have to change my display name as well?
Yes, you do. Remember: Don’t start your display name with someone else’s trademark/copyright/commonly known name. If it’s not your name, it’s not a good idea.
Isn’t this contrary to the GPL GPL is an acronym for GNU Public License. It is the standard license WordPress uses for Open Source licensing https://wordpress.org/about/license/. The GPL is a ‘copyleft’ license https://www.gnu.org/licenses/copyleft.en.html. This means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD license and the MIT License are widely used examples. and open source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL.?
No. Licences like GPLv2 are separate entities, and in fact the GNU supports the use of copyright in code. As for open source, it’s not above the law. Check out FOSSMarks for more information and as always, contact a lawyer with your legal questions.
Addendum by Otto: Also note that Trademark and Copyright are two entirely different things. There is no “licensing” for trademarked items. The GPL and any other license will not apply. Basically, if something is trademarked, then you need to get explicit permission to use it, in writing, or you just don’t use it.
I think it’s fair use. Will you let me keep the icon while I fight them?
Alas, no. We have to consider the directory as a whole and it’s over 60k plugins. The risk for us is too high, and we will side with the legal request.
Addendum by Otto: There is no concept of “fair use” in trademark law. Don’t use other people’s trademarks. Period.
What about existing plugins that you let violate trademarks in the slugs?
That’s because we do not have the technical ability to rename a slug without breaking it for all users. They’d be abandoned. And you can’t automatically migrate users from one plugin to another, so because of that limitation, most companies have permitted us to retain plugins that violate their trademark in the slug. Some have not, and we’ve been forced to close those plugins.
Since the logo and display name can be safely changed, it’s a different matter.
Someone else is violating too! Why didn’t you shut them down?
We email people in batches. You’re welcome to report fellow plugin devs who are violating the guideline, but the odds are we’ve already been in contact with them (or will be shortly). You’re not being singled out, we just have a lot of plugins to work through and we take breaks. Keep in mind, if it’s not YOUR trademark, we generally just warn.
Someone’s using my trademark in their icon/banner, how do I get them to stop?
Contact them first and point to this post (and the 17th guideline) and just ask them NICELY to please change it. If they blow you off or don’t respond in a reasonable time (like 2 weeks), you can email us at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll follow up.