A trademark is a claim of uniqueness in a name that is used to designate some service or product, a monopoly recognized in law that prevents others from using the same phrase or name to identify a different service or product.

use to protect unique offerings

Unlike copyright which protects creative works and individual capital, trademarks are intended to protect social capital and the reputation for reliable services under that name. "Passing-off" is the legal term for an attempt to represent goods or services as if they had come from the holder of the trademarked name.

No generic term can be trademarked if it is a simple composition of words or use of metaphor already extant in the language. For instance the use of "Windows" to describe Microsoft Windows cannot be a monopoly of Microsoft, as many graphic user interfaces used that word long prior to Microsoft's choice to do so.

use to bind consortia

Similarly open politics itself is not a term amenable to trademark as it is often used to mean transparency or accountability reforms - or just ethics. It might be possible for a more specific and unique term like openpolitics.ca to become a trademark. A unique and distinct phrase like open politics in force, or use a word that has no obvious connection or prior usage, like Java for a programming language, can definitely be trademarked. Sun Microsystems used the latter strategy to prevent Microsoft from ever releasing a variant product called "Java" and eventually forced it to abandon any attempt to.

As this example shows, trademarks can be used by consortia to ensure standards are applied and that variant versions do not emerge from those who are motivated by seeking unique advantages or exclusive control of the rules that apply to their own service or product. For instance, in the open politics web, having the rules that put open politics in force be independently maintained of any open politics service, is intended to prevent any deliberate distortions of the ruleset that would favour a particular faction, administrator, manager or in fact any person. This is absolutely essential to any effort at a genuinely open politics, since one thing for sure about politics itself is that people will featherbed, distort, twist and otherwise make unjustifiable claims to let themselves control what others do in the service.

In the essay why the term 'intellectual property' is a seductive mirage, Richard Stallman explains why trademark law, patent law, and copyright law, and other areas such as domain names, should never be confused in an ideological phrase like intellectual property. At openpolitics.ca itself the practice is to use the term:IP to mean only Internet Protocol, but to permit the longer phrase to describe the issue Stallman and Lawrence Lessig and others raise.