Translating Brand Names

By brand names we mean Trademarks but also some other recognised but not, yet, trademarked names. Brand names are emerging as the differentiator within Free Software and people are becoming protective over them, i.e. they don’t like you translating them or using them without permission. Examples include (registered or otherwise) Mozilla,, KDE, Red Hat, Debian, etc.

Most brand names are easily left as is while some are tempting to translate:

Simple Policy

Want a quick and easy policy on brand names?

Do not translate any brand or application name

Policy ideas

  • If it works in your language leave it
  • If it is an obscure application maybe change it
  • Think of derivatives. Eg. has Draw which you might want to keep and Drawing for drawings produced by Draw which you would want to translate. Does this make it confusing to the user?
  • Be consistent. Writing down your policy and reasons saves you having to explain things a hundred times. And policies can be changed.
  • If needed, think about transliterating the name so that people can understand how it is pronounced. This is similar to the idea of transliterating programmers’ names.