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An open letter to open street map….

I started a project last year – just a simple data mash-up on Google maps. It was popular and I gave users the ability to contribute to it. Many did. I gave it a name to reflect it’s purpose – “Open Canal Map”. Canal maps have been very closed source in the past. They generally come in the form of a map book costing about £15 and consist of a map of the locks and bridges. This is usually paired with a half poetic ramble about quaint churches or a cry of caution or venom about bits of Doncaster you should avoid. They are incredibly pub-centric and don’t really reflect the needs of every-day boaters but vie for sales to hire boaters. I wanted to (and did) make a free map generated by boaters with no adverts or monetization.

A couple weeks ago I got the email (see below email).

So my question to openstreetmap is simply why do you feel you own open maps? We had street maps before you made an open one. What if someone creates a better open mapping system than you? History tells us this is likely. Can you claim ownership over every open mapping system just because you put the trademark in first?

I think openstreetmap is an amazing project and have followed it closely since it began. I want to settle this amicably and will change the name of my project if you can persuade me it is right to do so.

Tom Sapey

Email from Simon Poole below:

Hi Tom

OpenStreetMap community members have pointed us to your interesting project.

Unluckily the name you have chosen conflicts with the OSMFs
OpenStreetMap trademark, that is registered in multiple territories see
for example

We only license the use of the OpenStreetMap mark, derivatives and
re-mixes of it to OSM community projects with a strong OSM link and
content, criteria that your project clearly doesn’t meet. As a
result your use of our mark will lead to confusion about the provenance
of your project, imply association where there is none and damage our
standing in the market place.

We kindly request that you help resolve this issue in an amicable
fashion by committing to changing the name of your project,
associated domain names and apps in an expedited fashion with clear
communication that you are currently using our marks without permission
and are working with us to rectify the situation.

Kind regards

Simon Poole

OpenStreetMap Foundation
132 Maney Hill Road
Sutton Coldfield
B72 1JU
United Kingdom
A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales.
Registration No. 05912761.