As most of you probably know, O'Reilly started putting animal images on the covers of our books about thirteen years ago. To millions of readers, the animals mean O'Reilly. They've become our signature "trade dress." We've also trademarked the association between particular animals and the subject of their books. After all, the only reason that people think of camels in association with Perl is because we used a camel on the cover of Programming Perl.
We recognize that things do get more complicated, though, when an image like the camel is so widely known that it comes to symbolize not just our products but also the entire Perl language. This is a good thing, and we want it to continue. But trademark law is sticky on this point. If a trademark isn't "protected" (by letters asking people not to use it, or by licenses that allow them to use it only in specific ways), it gets into the public domain and loses its protected status. If this happened, anyone could use the camel without restriction, including in ways that were detrimental to the language. For example, you might imagine a company creating a Perl-compatible language, branding it with a camel, and pushing it as the "official Perl" in an attempt to drive Larry Wall's Perl out of existence.
Another important issue is that a brand is strong in proportion to two things: its ubiquity and its distinctiveness. It's important that, just as we want one version of Perl (so we don't have the fragmentation that was the downfall of UNIX), we have one symbol for Perl. To protect the integrity and impact of that symbol, we need to maintain some artistic control over what kinds of camel images are used. We believe that "one camel" will strengthen the overall Perl brand.
In short, we're walking a fine line, trying to make the camel as available as possible as a symbol for Perl while protecting it as a trademark. So, here's our policy on using the camel image:
We will license the camel image widely for open source products and non-commercial sites related to Perl, requiring only an acknowledgement of its trademark status and a link to www.perl.com. To request the camel artwork, please send email to indicating where, how, and for what purpose you plan to use the image. Please note that we generally do not allow alterations of the Perl camel artwork.
Some non-commercial sites currently using the Perl camel:
We also offer the Programming Republic of Perl logo for some non-commercial sites. Feel free to download these logos for use on your pages. Please make the logo a link to www.perl.com.
Some sites using the Programming Republic of Perl logo:
We may also license the Perl camel image for some commercial products and sites related to Perl. To inquire about the use of a camel image on any commercial product or site, please send email to with a description of the product or web site, indicating where and how you'd like to use the camel.
We've also created "Powered by Perl" buttons that any site using Perl may use on web pages. Feel free to download and use these buttons. Please make the buttons link to www.perl.com.
If you have questions or comments about the Perl camel or any other O'Reilly trademarks, or if you want to use one of our trademarks in some way that we haven't explicitly described on this page, please send a detailed request to For more information, see the Perl Camel FAQ.
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