Earlier this year the OpenOffice.org code base was donated to The Apache Software Foundation. The resulting project, Apache OpenOffice (Incubating) is progressing well as a podling in the Apache Incubator with a rapidly growing community and project infrastructure (see http://incubator.apache.org/projects/openofficeorg.html). This open letter seeks to articulate our vision for the future of Apache OpenOffice within the wider Open Document Format ecosystem.

With the OpenOffice.org donation, Apache has become a significant part of a global ecosystem that was initially formed more than ten years ago, it includes support for an internationally recognised Open Standard for documents (the Open Document Format developed by the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications [OpenDocument] Technical Committee) and at least 13 related open source projects. In addition to being a critical component of the IT industry OpenOffice.org is of significant value to the global user community with approximately 100 million users and over 70 native language packs.

In such a large ecosystem it is impossible to agree upon a single vision for all participants, Apache OpenOffice does not seek to define a single vision, nor does it seek to be the only player. Instead we seek to offer a neutral and powerful collaboration opportunity.

The permissive Apache License 2.0 reduces restrictions on the use and distribution of our code and thus facilitates a diverse contributor and user base for the benefit of the whole Open Document Format ecosystem. Within an Apache project it is possible to rise above political, social and commercial differences in the pursuit of maximally effective implementations of freely available open standards and related software tools.

Our license and open development model is widely recognised as one of the best ways to ensure open standards, such as ODF, gain traction and adoption. Apache OpenOffice offers much more potential for OpenOffice.org than "just" an end-user Microsoft Office replacement. We offer a vendor neutral space in which to collaborate whilst enabling third parties to pursue almost any for-profit or not-for-profit business model.

Apache has over 100 world leading projects and over 50 incubating projects. Within these projects we have demonstrated many times over that our model of collaboration is highly successful. Maximum benefit is gained through increased engagement with our communities. While it is possible, and legal, to take our code and work independently of the foundation we believe that collaborating wherever possible strengthens the ecosystem and facilitates progress towards one’s own vision for ODF.

Each participant in an Apache project is free to set their own boundaries of collaboration. However, they are not free to use our trademarks in confusing ways. This includes OpenOffice.org and all related marks. To ensure that the use of Apache marks will not lead to confusion about our projects, we must control their use in association with software and related services provided by others. Our trademark policy is clearly laid out at http://www.apache.org/foundation/marks/.

Only the Apache Software Foundation can make releases of software that bear our trademarks. The Apache OpenOffice (Incubating) project has tentatively identified the first quarter of 2012 for a Version 3.4 release.

As well as clarifying our position in relation to our trademarks we wish to make it clear that no third party has been given approval to solicit donations of any kind on behalf of the Apache Software Foundation or any of its projects, including OpenOffice.org.

In general, if a communication does not come to you from a verifiable apache.org address then it is not an official Apache Software Foundation or OpenOffice.org communication.

We invite and encourage everyone engaged with the Open Document Format standards to explore opportunities for collaboration with the Apache OpenOffice (Incubating) project. For further information see http://incubator.apache.org/openofficeorg/get-involved.html .

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