question

Steve A avatar image
Steve A asked

Use of Public API's

I just got a request from the skills cert team to provide "documentation demonstrating that you have the right to use [xyz company]'s logo and brand name." Now, I understand that logo -- that needs to be changed. But I don't know if that's the only problem. Am I allowed to use the company's name in the description of the what the skill does? (For example, my skill description says is something like "Integrates Alexa with [xyz company]'s product.") By the way, XYZ provides a public API for such integration. I'm also puzzled because I have had a skill certified that allows Alexa to add events to Google calendar, and I used Google's name in the description of the skill. Is the difference that this skill says explicitly that it's for purchase? (It's offered as a 14 day trial.) Can I use the companies name to describe the skill if I avoid having Alexa say the companies name? The note I got did not have a lot of guidance beyond: submit this paperwork. But I'd like to have a better sense of what the general rules are, and where exactly my submission violated them. In particular, are the rules different if the skill is free or paid? Can I use a companies name to describe the skill? Can I have Alexa say the name?
alexa skills kitsubmission testing certification
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jjaquinta avatar image
jjaquinta answered
Many companies are very twitchy about how you use their name (and especially logos). You cannot imply endorsement from that company of your services. Amazon are another stage here, since they will host your language, and are a notch more paranoid. For example, in our upcoming "Tweet Poll" skill, the description makes mention that I use "IBM Insights for Twitter" to collect my data. Although I am using both "IBM" and "Twitter", they happen be in the form of a product name, and one that is specifically developed for 3rd parties to use and that has a well defined license agreement. Compare this with another skill concept we had for a pizza ordering application. Domino's has a pizza ordering API, but all we could find were 3rd party libraries using it. There was no license agreement When we contacted Domino's we (eventually) were told that the API was not public. So that skill idea got shot down before we even started. If the API you are using is a public API, there should be a license through which its use is granted. If you are lucky, there may be language in there that makes it clear what you can and cannot use. If not, I would suggest you reference it anyway when replying back to the cert team. They (or their lawyer) may determine that's good enough.
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Matt Kruse avatar image
Matt Kruse answered
The general guideline in using a trademark name in your app title is that it should never cause consumer confusion. Generally, you shouldn't call your app anything like "Facebook Friend Finder" but instead prefer "Friend Finder for Facebook". Using "for Product" at the end is generally more acceptable, because it says what your app is used for, but the trademark name is not in the app name itself. As for the other stuff, who knows? The certification/publishing process appears to be almost random. Nobody knows exactly what the rules are. It's a black box, and Amazon isn't opening it.
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Steve A avatar image
Steve A answered
Matt, Thanks. I did call it "app for xyz product." I'm sort of thinking I got a form letter, triggered by my use of the company logo as my skill icon. I'm just going to resubmit without the logo and without the name in the skill title (but still in the skill description.) I'll see if they send it back again.
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