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A few days ago I talked with someone about writing a book about TeX and we came to the question if TeX as a word and its Logo (and the related things like LaTeX, XeTeX, …, package names etc.) are (registered) trademarks or can I use it freely as any other word like dog, house, moon, …?

Examples

  • using in book titles: Start with TeX or Become a TeXnician
  • using in corparate names: LaTeX production company or TeX Help Line

Are there any restrictions in using “TeX” commercially (assuming the products/services are TeX related)?
How about the derived words like “LaTeX”, “XeTeX” etc.

Edit: As Patrick said, the country could be important … I’m living in Germany and want to sell from there too but I could imagine that there are readers from Swiss and Austria for German books too.

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migrated from meta.tex.stackexchange.com Oct 3 '11 at 10:14

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems.

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See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TeX#License – it claims that "The American Mathematical Society has once tried to claim a trademark for TeX". –  Jukka Suomela Oct 2 '11 at 14:08
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there is no restriction, as long as it is rendered either as TeX or with the logo, and as long as the reference is to the actual TeX(-related) software. that said, it is not likely that any lawyers will be sent after you; however, beware of peer pressure, which can be considerable. @Jukka -- i actually handled the letter from the Honeywell lawyers, asking that DEK and AMS cease and desist from use of the name. this is a case where peer pressure did have a strong effect; a compromise was worked out by which the TeX form of the name was agreed to be acceptable, if used consistently. –  barbara beeton Oct 2 '11 at 18:18
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@barbarabeeton Now that I've migrated this to the main site, I think your comment would make an excellent answer. –  Joseph Wright Oct 3 '11 at 10:15
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Trademarks are local, you should state where (which country) you want to use LaTeX, TeX etc. Even if it isn't registered by the AMS, it could be registered by other people. –  topskip Oct 3 '11 at 11:44
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Simple answer: Ask the lawyer of your publisher! Note that 'TeX' and 'LaTeX' might be legally handled quite differently even when the first is part of the second. It normally about the possibility of confusion. There are already a lot of (La)TeX books around which didn't got sued (AFAIK), so I don't think it is an issue. –  Martin Scharrer Oct 3 '11 at 22:05

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

There is no restriction, as long as it is rendered either as TeX or with the logo, and as long as the reference is to the actual TeX(-related) software.

That said, it is not likely that any lawyers will be sent after you; however, beware of peer pressure, which can be considerable.

At the time of the attempted registration, I actually handled the letter from the Honeywell lawyers, asking that DEK and AMS cease and desist from use of the name. This is a case where peer pressure did have a strong effect, since Honeywell was then a computer manufacturer, and DEK was already a leading light of computer science. A compromise was worked out by which the TeX form of the name was agreed to be acceptable, if used consistently.

There has not been a later attempt to register the trademark; however, Knuth's standing internationally is sufficient that if the name were "misused", there would probably be at least a few reasonably local interested persons to object. In fact, this is what we count on when complaining about PDF copies of The TeXbook found on the web; in most parts of the world, this is sufficient to get them removed.

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Would you care to explain why a PDF copy of The TeXbook is considered "misuse" of the TeX name/logo? –  Werner Oct 3 '11 at 17:39
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@Werner: I think it is just an example of relying on peer pressure to handle such situation. –  Khaled Hosny Oct 3 '11 at 18:09
    
@Werner, Khaled's interpretation is exactly what i meant. –  barbara beeton Oct 3 '11 at 19:38
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Please extend this history of TeX the trademark in a future issue of TUGboat so we have a reliable source for Wikipedia (I doubt that an answer on SX meets the standards of Wikipedia). –  Martin Schröder Oct 3 '11 at 22:39
    
I always thought that the X was actually a \chi and that why it was written as a capital x becomes they look more alike –  Rick de Groot Jun 24 '12 at 11:38

Totally unrelated to TeX, but it might be of interest to note that the supermarket group Carrefour holds various trademark registries for the name "TeX" and multiple logos, some of which closely resemble the TeX logo:

tex logo 1

tex logo 2

tex logo 3

tex logo 4

In most countries, this trademark is registered for textile (not texlive as I was about to write) products such as shirts, pants, sheets, underwear, baby clothes, etc. But in France at least, the list is quite longer, including for example scientific devices, games, medical devices, lighting/warming/cooling devices, security devices (for cars, bikes, etc.), jewelry, printing devices, leather, furniture, cleaning and cooking devices, toys, etc.

This should not prevent from publishing books about TeX and LaTeX, but it might be a problem if we wanted to sell a TeX (or TeX.SX) t-shirt for example.

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