Catalyst - Flying Camel Mascot and O'Reilly
A while back the Catalyst framework open source community was working on a mascot for their project. The idea was to have a flying camel made up of Lego-like building blocks. This would convey key characteristics of the project including (a) Catalyst would make your project fly, (b) Catalyst is very modular and (c) Catalyst is written in Perl. There was a lot of excitement and Tim Gould was kind enough to make the following camel for the group:
Unfortunately, the idea did not get the approval of O'Reilly Media, Inc. which holds a trademark on the camel image. Their policies are described on their Perl Camel Usage and Trademark Information page. Tim O'Reilly mentioned their Perl Camel policies in his response to the recent "Web 2.0" service mark controversy which caused me to wonder if O'Reilly Media, Inc.'s commercial trademark policies are in the spirit of open source.
In the open source world, you can typically take someone's copyrighted information and modify with attribution, especially for a non-commercial use. If that standard were applied to logos, especially mascot-type logos, then it would seem that the spirit of open source is in line with modifying and giving attribution for mascot logos as well. Two popular mascots that have been altered and published include Tux for Linux and Mozilla originally for Netscape. These alterations have arguably made Tux and Mozilla even more popular and recognizable, thus strengthening the brand, than they would otherwise be. Unlike Netscape and Linux, O'Reilly has chosen to use a strong hand in preventing modification of the Camel logo for use by open source projects such as the Catalyst. Is O'Reilly's policy too stringent for the open source community or acceptable business practices?