Licensing · Product launch

Is it legal to replace the name of a product ?


Last updated on April 25th, 2017


a couple of weeks ago, I came across a very interesting portal site, which shut down, after the company got acquired. Since the source code was released under the AGPL license on Github, I hired a few programmers to help me set up the site /portal again. So my question, can I change the company/product name to my new one? Can i re-use or slightly change logos and legal documents ? P.S.The company does not exist anymore


Max Hinkley Independent Consultant \​\ Software/Systems Engineer \​\ Desktop \​\ Embedded \​\ High-Assurance & Safety-Critical Systems

April 26th, 2017

I'm not an attorney. This is not legal advise. Consult a professional. etc.

That said, I would expect that the acquiring company acquired all assets, including rights to the intellectual property. Even if the company had just gone under, my understanding is that the IP rights are still protected, and transfer to the original owners and their heirs. Since the software was open source and the site was shut down, there is a possibility that you might be able to acquire rights inexpensively from the acquiring company. Otherwise, your rights to the software are most likely only what the AGPL allows.

chizoba divine chukwu Cofounder

April 25th, 2017

Hmmmm If the company is registered it is illegal and not right to change the companies product in any form without taking permission. On the other hand, if it is registered I think it is a free license to alter or makes changes on their product for your advantage. So u first find out if they are a fully registered company. Thanks

Tim Boudreau Consulting Product Manager / Software Engineer at Oracle Labs

April 25th, 2017

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

AGPL is a variant of the GPL license, which is explicitly designed to allow you to modify software to meet your needs and redistribute the result. So the short answer is yes, with one caveat: If you either redistribute the resulting software, or make it available for people to use over a network (which is where the AGPL differs from the GPL), you need to also make your changes to it publicly available under the AGPL license.

In short, just fork it on Github and make the changes you want and you will be in compliance with the license (if you add files you should include the standard license header).

Fred Davis Helps startups start up. Mentor: UploadVR & Runway

April 25th, 2017

In your case it is imperative that you change the company name to your own. And, no, you can't re-use logos or legal docs. The open source license only applies to the code. Using anything else could likely result in a trademark and/or copyright violation.