Copyright and Trademark Policy for the United States

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For Immediate Help: Please contact your GOA.

For appropriately designed promotional materials please access our professionally designed brochures. Here is how to contact us for permission for printing and use of our trademark.


Since 2012 we have maintained both a registered word mark and a Collective Membership Mark for As such we ask that all use our "Freecycle" name as per the guidelines below so that we don't weaken our marks which stand solely for our nonprofit mission and volunteer goodwill. Local groups within the United States should refer to our having a registered trademark in the United States for "". We also have registered marks for words or logos in Canada, all EU countries, Australia and New Zealand as well as a common law mark in various other countries for one or more of these marks.

We are doing a really good thing here. And, we are also learning as we go, which means there will always be evolution and change. Because The Freecycle Network concept is unique and amazingly successful, there are many who have and who would try to use it for personal gain and profit. For that reason, The Freecycle Network is incorporated as a nonprofit organization, and the® logo is a registered trademark of The Freecycle Network.

We need to do our best to properly use the® trademark so that we don't lose the right to it.

In legalese, the use of the term "" denotes a sharing service which is officially approved by the nonprofit organization "The Freecycle Network," and one that the public can expect to adhere to certain standards. The Freecycle Network must approve any email list or web site that uses the term "®" in its name and provides any sort of exchange service.

Please include both the Freecycle logo and the below noted attribution statement as part of the local Group's front page description. If you would like to use a Freecycle logo separately from the attribution text, it may be found here.

To use this image, enter its address into the image field in your group description.

Its address is: (this will automatically apply the correct logo based on your local IP address).

Alteration of the actual logo is not permitted

Local Groups must use the official Freecycle logo. It must include an (R) symbol or ® and appear exactly as it does on It is however perfectly okay to put adornments around it and behind it. Never put anything over any portion of the logo or otherwise obscure the basic for of the logo or the ® symbol

The Attribution Statement

(This is fancy-speak for a statement attributing ownership of a trademark to someone at the bottom of emails, etc.)

At the bottom or within the body of all official Freecycle web sites, articles, press releases, automatic notices, and group home pages the following trademark attribution should appear (the horizontal lines are nice because they separate it from your content but they're not necessary):

Copyright © 2003 The Freecycle Network (""). All rights reserved. and the logo are registered trademarks of The Freecycle Network.

In group email list footers use the following (in this case include the lines to set it apart): and the logo are registered trademarks of The Freecycle Network.

To save space, if you wish you may use an image which includes the attribution statement by entering the following address into the image field in your group description: (this will yield the proper logo logo based on your local IP address)

Or, you may use the following HTML code in your group's description to create the attribution statement exactly as above:

<center><hr width="600"><font size="1" face="Arial, Helvetica">©

2003 The Freecycle Network (<a href=""></a>).

All rights reserved. <br> and the logo are registered trademarks of The Freecycle Network. </font><hr width="600"></center>

General Trademark Usage Guidelines

  1. While "The Freecycle Network" is a trade name (think proper name), it also functions as a service mark -- i.e., a source indicator -- so it is okay to use the term "Freecycle." in place of "The Freecycle Network" to allow sentences to be more concise.
    For example: While The Freecycle Network has been growing by leaps and bounds, Freecycle also remains true to its core mission.
  2. In all other cases, the term "Freecycle" must be used as an adjective, never as a noun or verb. For example:

Do not say "I'm a freecycler." Do say "I'm a member."
Do not say "Keep on freecycling!" Do say "Keep on recyclin', my friends!"
Do not say "Freecycling group." Do say " group"
Do not say "Please Freecycle." Do say "Please join a group."
Do not say "There are 10 freecycles in this state." Do say "There are 10 groups in this state."
Do not say "freecycle's membership." Do say "'s membership."
(Note: new groups may use the word Freecycle in their group name/title, but should not be approved with any variations of the word Freecycle in their name, title or description, like freecycler, freecycling, freecycles.)

For further information about trademarks and how to use them properly, see:

Usage in Email Addresses

Email addresses with the word "Freecycle" in them: one should consider using something explanatory in addition to the word "Freecycle" in their e-mail address or ID for clarity's sake. Example:

Usage on local group pages, in articles, press releases & automatic notices

The first "prominent display" or introduction of the mark (i.e., the first time you use the term in a document) needs to be distinguished from other text with an (R) or ®. This is in addition to the above attribution statement (the footer-note statement in Section 3 ). So, a group should have an (R) or ® by the logo at the top and an (R) or ® by the first use of in the text/description. The other instances of can be without an (R) or ® marking, though it is still important to capitalize or color them to show they are not just common words.

  1. In HTML, use this HTML code: " & reg;"(remove spaces and quotation marks) to create this: ®
  2. For plain ASCII text documents, in email, and in files in a Yahoo group, use "" (without the quotes).
  3. For other documents, use any method available to create the (R) superscript or ® symbol.
  4. There's no need to use the ® mark more than once per document
  5. Do not use the ® mark in email addresses, email subject tag lines (such as [freecyclemytown]), group names, or URLs.
  6. Do be sure to include the footer in item 3 above, whenever possible.
  7. In emails, use the (R) version rather than the superscript (R) for proper display

Questions and Answers

Do we currently have a registered trademark in the United States?
Yes.® represents our collective membership mark as well as our service mark and we are trademark protected.

Do we have a trademark outside the United States?
Yes, we do. We have a strong and established mark in about 110 countries. Further, the mark is registered (an "R") in Canada, the European Union, New Zealand, and Australia. By using the term Freecycle with care we will be able to maintain these marks as well.

Is it okay for individual email addresses or URLs to include the term "Freecycle"?
Yes, but please make sure the word is accompanied by something explanatory, like FreecycleMytownMod.

Do personal emails about Freecycle need to use the ® mark or trademark attribution?
No. Having the trademark attribution in email list footers is enough.

Where are the most common places that "Freecycle" use should be checked?

  • Group description/home page (Management / Description and Appearance / Description - Edit)
    Group email footer text (Management / Messages / Subject Tag and Footer - Edit)
    Group welcome message (Management / Membership / Welcome Message - Edit)
    All automatically sent notices -- especially the Freecycle Etiquette document Press releases or other stand-alone documents
  • Flyers

What changes should I make to my group's Freecycle Guidelines document?
Make sure all instances of Freecycle are used as an adjective or trade name. Look at the main Guidelines and Disclaimer link for good examples.

Are modified local logo graphics with our ® still okay?
Adding graphics around the mark is fine and fun. We do need to leave the mark itself unaltered (so you're OK as long as the logo and ® are not covered or obscured in any way).

What about our cafe sites? Do they have to be trademark compliant as well?
Yes. Proper trademark usage is something everybody needs to observe, whether in a cafe group or in groups not even associated with®. Follow the same guidelines as above.

I want to have someone look at my site, and tell me what I have to do.
I want someone to come in and fix anything that needs to be fixed.
Send an email to your GOA and specify which option you are interested in. (have a look or come in)

Where can I find the official logo that is required for my site?

How do I go about getting a special logo made for my site?
Glad you asked! Please contact the Graphics Team at Graphics Team

(C) 2003, The Freecycle Network(TM). All rights reserved. The logo is a registered trademark of The Freecycle Network.