To request permission to use FreeBSD and Foundation related trademarks, please fill out the permission request form. Please see the Trademark Terms and Conditions FAQ for more information.  

Updated August 7, 2019

The FreeBSD Foundation (the “Foundation”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the FreeBSD® Project (the “Project”). The Project has developed and continues to develop the FreeBSD operating system, which is an advanced operating system for modern server, desktop, and embedded computer platforms. It is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX® developed at the University of California, Berkeley, and is developed and maintained by a large team of individuals. Additional platforms are in various stages of  development.

The Foundation is entirely supported by donations from individuals and businesses, which are used to fund the Project. In addition, the Foundation represents the Project in executing contracts, license agreements, and other legal arrangements which require a recognized legal entity, including granting licenses or permissions to use the FreeBSD trademarks, service marks and logos (collectively, the “FreeBSD Marks”).

The following is a list of the FreeBSD Marks for which the Foundation has registrations in the United States and other countries:

 (FreeBSD Project Logo)

FREEBSD (Word Mark)

The Foundation has the following trademarks, service marks and logos in use in the United States and/or other countries:


 (FreeBSD Foundation Logo)

The Foundation is responsible for maintaining the FreeBSD Marks, which are used, among other things, to identify source code, documentation, projects, and other materials originating with or through the Project. By following our Trademark Usage Terms and Conditions (“Terms and Conditions”), you help us protect the goodwill associated with the FreeBSD Marks, as well as the open source nature of the FreeBSD operating system. You may contact us with any questions about these Terms and Conditions or any FreeBSD Marks.

Reasons for Usage Terms and Conditions

The FreeBSD Marks are symbols of the quality and community support that people have come to associate with The FreeBSD Foundation, the FreeBSD operating system, the FreeBSD Project, and other projects under the FreeBSD Project. To ensure that the use of FreeBSD Marks will not lead to confusion about our operating system, the Foundation must control their use in association with software and related services by other organizations. Also, as a U.S.-based corporation, the Foundation has a legal responsibility and the authority to set policy for the use of the FreeBSD Marks.

Trademark Basics

The following is not intended to summarize the complex law of trademarks. It describes some of the key trademark principles behind these Terms and Conditions.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. Throughout this document, the terms “trademark,” “mark” and “FreeBSD Marks” refer to both trademarks and service marks.

What is nominative use?

Anyone can use the FreeBSD Marks if that use of the trademark is nominative. The “nominative use” (or “nominative fair use”) defense to trademark infringement is a legal doctrine that authorizes everyone (even commercial companies) to use another person’s trademark as long as three requirements are met:

1. The product or service in question must be one not readily identifiable without use of the trademark (for example, it is not easy to identify the FreeBSD® operating system without using the trademark “FreeBSD”);

2. Only so much of the mark or marks may be used as is reasonably necessary to identify the product or service; and

3. The organization using the mark must do nothing that would, in conjunction with the mark, suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder.

The trademark nominative fair use defense is intended to encourage people to refer to trademarked goods and services by using the trademark itself. This trademark defense has nothing to do with copyright fair use and should not be confused with those rules.

What is the “confusing similarity” or “likelihood of confusion” test for trademark infringement?

Some uses of another person’s trademark are nominative fair use, but some uses are simply infringing. Indeed, if a trademark is used in such a way that the relevant consuming public will likely be confused or mistaken about the source of a product or service sold or provided using the mark in question, then likelihood of confusion exists and the mark has been infringed. Note that, even if there is no likelihood of confusion, you may still be liable for using another company’s trademark if you are blurring or tarnishing their mark under the state and/or federal dilution laws.

To avoid infringing the FreeBSD Marks, you should verify that your use of the FreeBSD Marks is nominative and that you are not likely to confuse software consumers that your software is the same as the FreeBSD operating system software or is endorsed by the Foundation, or you should verify that your use of the FreeBSD marks is otherwise authorized or licensed by the Foundation.

Proper Use of the FreeBSD Marks

Proper use of the FreeBSD Marks by following these Terms and Conditions protects the value of the FreeBSD Marks. Any use of or reference to the FreeBSD Marks that is inconsistent with these Terms and Conditions, or use of marks that are confusingly similar to the FreeBSD Marks, is prohibited. All uses of the FreeBSD Marks, and all goodwill associated therewith, will inure solely to the benefit of the Foundation.

Rules that Apply to Trademarks In General

There are some basic rules that apply to any use of any trade or service mark that you do not own, including any FreeBSD Mark, without the express permission of the owner.

  •  A trademark should never be used as a verb or noun.
  • A trademark should be used only as an adjective followed by the generic name/noun. For example, the correct usage is “FreeBSD operating system,” rather than “FreeBSD is an operating system.”
  • A trademark should not be used in the plural or possessive form. For example, it is incorrect to say “FreeBSD’s operating system.”
  • A trademark should not be altered or amended in any way. A mark should not be combined with any other mark, hyphenated, abbreviated or displayed in parts. A trademark that is depicted as two or more words should not be compressed into one word. A logo should not be displayed with color variations, or with other elements superimposed on top of the logo. For specific examples relating to the FreeBSD Marks, see our Brand Assets page.
  • A trademark should not be used as your domain name or as part of your domain name.
  • A trademark should not be used as part of your product name.
  • A trademark should not be incorporated into your company’s logos or designs.
  • A trademark notice should be used on the most prominent and/or first appearance in any medium of a trademark, and a trademark notice should not be changed. In particular, a ™ should not be changed to an ® in a trademark notice by anyone other than the owner. If you are unsure about whether a FreeBSD Mark is registered in your country, please contact us for additional guidance as to what trademark symbol you should use.

Rules and Policies Applicable to the FreeBSD Marks

In addition to the generally applicable rules discussed above, there are a few specific rules that we ask everyone to follow when using the FreeBSD Marks. 

  • Use FreeBSD Marks that are word marks in a form that distinguishes them from the text around them, such as by capitalization, bold or italic fonts, or with quotation marks. Any use of registered trademarks listed above should include the ® symbol immediately after the first usage (for example, “The FreeBSD® operating system is an advanced operating system….”). Any use of unregistered trademarks listed above should include a TM immediately after the first usage. In addition, the first usage of a FreeBSD Mark must be accompanied by a conspicuous notice that “the <<Insert the name of the FreeBSD Mark>> is a [registered] trademark of The FreeBSD Foundation and is used by ____<<Insert the name of your organization>> with the permission of The FreeBSD Foundation.” 
  • Do not use the FreeBSD Marks more prominently than your own company, product or service name.
  • Use the FreeBSD Marks consisting of logos (the FreeBSD Project logo and The FreeBSD Foundation logo) only in accordance with the guidelines specified on our Brand Assets page, where approved images of the logos may be downloaded.
  • Do not use the FreeBSD Project logo or The FreeBSD Foundation logo on posters, brochures, signs, websites, or other marketing materials to promote your commercial events, products or services without written permission from the Foundation. You may use these logos within the guidelines specified on our Brand Assets page on slides or signage for a FreeBSD-related presentation or event without our permission. 
  • Do not use the FreeBSD Project logo or The FreeBSD Foundation logo on the cover of a book or magazine without written permission from the Foundation. 
  • Do not attempt to claim or assert any ownership rights in any FreeBSD Mark and do not attempt to register any FreeBSD Mark as a trademark, trade name, domain name, or “doing business as” name, alone or (unless specifically licensed) in combination with your own trademarks.
  • The FreeBSD Marks must not be used to disparage the Foundation, the Project, projects under the Project, members, sponsors, or communities, nor be used in any way to imply ownership, endorsement, or sponsorship of any FreeBSD-related project or initiative of any kind. As a vendor-neutral organization, an important part of our brand is that FreeBSD projects are governed independently.

The FreeBSD Marks have been created and their use is expressly permitted for a specific purpose. Do not use the FreeBSD Marks in any commercial or marketing context other than as expressly permitted in these Terms and Conditions unless you have obtained explicit written permission from the Foundation to do so. The Foundation may grant or withhold permission for any such use in its sole discretion. If you’d like to request permission to use the marks, please fill out this form.

Any individual, organization, or company may use the FreeBSD Marks to show support for the Project or as part of a notice to users that a product incorporates the FreeBSD operating system. On websites, the Marks should always link to or

You are also allowed to use a FreeBSD Mark (including logos) solely as a link to the home page of the applicable project or to a web page on the web site of the Foundation or the Project that is relevant to the reference so long as the link is in a manner that is consistent with the preservation of the goodwill and value of the mark.

The Foundation permits the use of the FreeBSD Marks for private and personal use to make t shirts, stickers, and caps for yourself, friends and family on a non-commercial basis (meaning you don’t receive anything of value in return) in a manner that is consistent with the preservation of the goodwill and value of the FreeBSD Marks. If you wish to make such items for wider distribution on a non-commercial basis, such as at a conference, you must have the prior written approval of the Foundation for each instance. In no event may such items be sold.

Questions, Comments, Concerns

We look to our community to help us retain the value of the FreeBSD Marks. If you have questions with respect to these Terms and Conditions or to report concerns regarding the use or misuse of a FreeBSD Mark, or to obtain written permission for a proposed use of the FreeBSD Marks, contact: [email protected].


The Foundation does not make any express or implied warranties, including but not limited to the warranties of non-infringement of any third party intellectual property rights. The Foundation does not warrant that any pending trademark applications for the FreeBSD Marks will result in any granted trademark protection. The Foundation shall not be liable for any claims relating to user’s activities falling within the scope of the permission and user hereby agrees to indemnify, defend and hold the Foundation and its contributors harmless against any such claims.


The Foundation may release new versions of these Terms and Conditions or statements of permitted use of the FreeBSD Marks without notice. We realize these Terms and Conditions are being introduced at a point in time when some companies and individuals already have product/service names that include the Marks. Companies and individuals using the Marks as of May 1, 2006 will not be required to change their already existing product names to comply with these Terms and Conditions now or in the future. However, we do request that these companies and individuals give proper notice and attribution of our Marks. Any new product or service names must comply with these Terms and Conditions.