It's widely known that the name "JavaScript" is trademarked by Oracle (formerly a trademark of Sun, formerly a trademark of Netscape).

However, others seem to have no problem using the JavaScript trademark. Google uses it in reference to V8, Mozilla uses it in reference to SpiderMonkey and in various other places, etc. Mozilla is the only one that seems to try to attribute the trademark to its owner (bottom of this page), although at the time of this writing it's incorrectly attributed to Sun rather than Oracle.

For a long time, Microsoft used "JScript" as the name of their ECMAScript implementation rather than "JavaScript," presumably to avoid infringing on the trademark. Recently (I'm not sure when), Microsoft appears to have switched from the "JScript" name to "JavaScript."

My understanding based on the version history is that they've written a new ECMAScript implementation and named it "JavaScript," leaving the old one named "JScript" (rather than retroactively renaming "JScript" to "JavaScript").

My question is this: Since JavaScript is trademarked, isn't it an infringement to use it in connection with the name of a product or technology (such as "Microsoft JavaScript") without permission? If so, where can I find records of agreements with Oracle/Sun/Netscape allowing third-party use of the trademark? I assume these documents would be publicly listed somewhere, but I don't know where to find them. And finally, if the trademark changes hands again, would previously-made agreements still be valid, or would they need to be re-forged with the current trademark holder?

The reason I ask is because I want to know whether I can use the word "JavaScript" in the title of a product, for example a JavaScript library, without explicit permission, and whether I need to provide a disclaimer stating that JavaScript is Oracle's trademark.


1 Answer 1


Trademarks are not like copyright or patents. Anyone may use them, but only for "nominative" purposes. That is to say, you may use the trademark "JavaScript" to describe something that's indeed Javascript. A "Javascript library" would mean a library that works with Oracle's Javascript.

You don't need to mention trademarks yourself. Oracle does, of course, since it's their trademark. But if you do note that Javascript is a trademark, you must make clear whose trademark it is (so you don't suggest it's yours).

Microsoft's JScript was not a real Javascript, so the "nominative use" rule didn't apply to them.

  • 'Anyone may use them, but only for "nominative" purposes' -- so I could make something called for example "The iPhone Doohickey" that somehow integrates with iPhones and not be infringing on Apple's trademark?
    – Hey
    Feb 20, 2012 at 9:37
  • @GGG: Indeed. You may hit quite some other legal issues; e.g. Apple will sue you if there is even the slightest hint in your communications that your Doohickey was in any way endorsed by Apple.
    – MSalters
    Feb 20, 2012 at 9:53
  • Right, that's the kind of thing I'm worried about. I'd assume using the iPhone trademark would be enough grounds for them to say I had implied that they had endorsed it. Realistically I doubt there would be a problem with "Foo JavaScript Library" since Oracle hasn't gone after anyone yet and there are way bigger fish to fry, but you never know... remember Mike Rowe Soft?
    – Hey
    Feb 20, 2012 at 9:57
  • 1
    Alright, I've done some poking around regarding "nominative fair use" and after reading this short PDF I feel like it may be a bit wobbly. ISTM that the best thing to do is include a disclaimer somewhere clearly stating that I am not affiliated with or endorsed by Oracle, just in case.
    – Hey
    Feb 20, 2012 at 18:21
  • 2
    @GGG: Trademark law (at least in the US, where Oracle is located) requires "the continuous use in commerce". It doesn't actually require an implementation; If Oracle offers "Javascript consulting" it would also count.
    – MSalters
    Feb 21, 2012 at 9:17

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