Open and neutral: transferring our trademarks to the Open Usage Commons

An update on trademarks and project governance.

Jul 8, 2020 | By Sean Suchter - Google

Since day one, the Istio project has believed in the importance of being contributor-run, open, transparent and available to all. In that spirit, Google is pleased to announce that it will be transferring ownership of the project’s trademarks to the new Open Usage Commons.

Istio is an open source project, released under the Apache 2.0 license. That means people can copy, modify, distribute, make, use and sell the source code. The only freedom people don’t have under the Apache 2.0 license is to use the name Istio, or its logo, in a way that would confuse consumers.

As one of the founders of the project, Google is the current owner of the Istio trademark. While anyone who is using the software in accordance with the license can use the trademarks, the historic ownership has caused some confusion and uncertainty about who can use the name and how, and at times this confusion has been a barrier to community growth. So today, as part of Istio’s continued commitment to openness, Google is announcing that the Istio trademarks will be transferred to a new organization, the Open Usage Commons, to provide neutral, independent oversight of the marks.

A neutral home for Istio’s trademarks

The Open Usage Commons is a new organization that is focused solely on providing management and guidance of open source project trademarks in a way that is aligned with the Open Source Definition. For projects, particularly projects with robust ecosystems like Istio, ensuring that the trademark is available to anyone who is using the software in accordance with the license is important. The trademark allows maintainers to grow a community and use the name to do so. It also lets ecosystem partners create services on top of the project, and it enables developers to create tooling and integrations that reference the project. Maintainers, ecosystem partners, and developers alike must feel confident in their investments in Istio - for the long term. Google thinks having the Istio trademarks in the Open Usage Commons is the right way to give that clarity and provide that confidence.

The Open Usage Commons will work with the Istio Steering Committee to generate trademark usage guidelines. There will be no immediate changes to the Istio usage guidelines, and if you are currently using the Istio marks in a way that follows the existing brand guide, you can continue to do so.

You can learn more about open source project IP and the Open Usage Commons at

A continued commitment to open

The Open Usage Commons is focused on project trademarks; it does not address other facets of an open project, like rules around who gets decision-making votes. Similar to many projects in their early days, Istio’s committees started as small groups that stemmed from the founding companies. But Istio has grown and matured (last year Istio was #4 on GitHub’s list of fastest growing open source projects!), and it is time for the next evolution of Istio’s governance.

Recently, we were proud to appoint Neeraj Poddar, Co-founder & Chief Architect of Aspen Mesh, to the Technical Oversight Committee — the group responsible for all technical decision-making in the project. Neeraj is a long-time contributor to the project and served as a Working Group lead. The TOC is now made up of 7 members from 4 different companies - Tetrate, IBM, Google & now Aspen Mesh.

Our community is currently discussing how the Steering Committee, which oversees marketing and community activities, should be governed, to reflect the expanding community and ecosystem. If you have ideas for this new governance, visit the pull request on GitHub where an active discussion is taking place.

In the last 12 months, Istio has had commits from more than 100 organizations and currently has 70 maintainers from 14 different companies. This trend is the kind of contributor diversity the project’s founders intended, and nurturing it remains a priority. Google is excited about what the future holds for Istio, and hopes you’ll be a part of it.