Comodo, the world's biggest issuer of browser-trusted digital certificates for websites, has come under fire for registering trademarks containing the words "let's encrypt," a phrase that just happens to be the name of a nonprofit project that provides certificates for free.
In a blog post, a Let's Encrypt senior official said Comodo has filed applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office for at least three such trademarks, including "Let's Encrypt," "Let's Encrypt with Comodo," and "Comodo Let's Encrypt." Over the past few months, the nonprofit has repeatedly asked Comodo to abandon the applications, and Comodo has declined. Let's Encrypt, which is the public face of the Internet Security Research Group, said it has been using the name since November 2014.
"We’ve forged relationships with millions of websites and users under the name Let’s Encrypt, furthering our mission to make encryption free, easy, and accessible to everyone," Josh Aas, ISRG executive director, wrote. "We’ve also worked hard to build our unique identity within the community and to make that identity a reliable indicator of quality. We take it very seriously when we see the potential for our users to be confused, or worse, the potential for a third party to damage the trust our users have placed in us by intentionally creating such confusion."