What community will own SOFTWARE FREEDOM?

Two non-profits providing services to free and open source software projects – Software Freedom Conservancy (Conservancy) and the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) are in a dispute over the SOFTWARE FREEDOM CONSERVANCY registered trademark.

You can read the timeline of all events and my legal analysis, so now it’s time to get to the important issue: what the community effects are from the SFLC’s petition to the TTAB and the blog posts on both sides.

UPDATE: Karl Fogel and Neil McGovern have both blogged in detail on this.

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Legal Issues Around SOFTWARE FREEDOM Trademarks

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) recently filed with the USPTO to cancel the registered trademark SOFTWARE FREEDOM CONSERVANCY, owned by the non-profit of the same name. Both SFLC and Conservancy have a long history together with several people working for both.

Since this is a TTAB legal proceeding – not in federal court – here’s a brief review of the legal aspects of this case, from an experienced layperson.

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A SOFTWARE FREEDOM Trademark Timeline

There’s a trademark battle over the SOFTWARE FREEDOM name going on right now – and it’s not actually about the FSF.  Here’s a brief timeline of interesting facts of the case and how the two organizations are related, along with some community reactions. Reminder: this is about the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC, petitioner to cancel) and the Software Freedom Conservancy (Conservancy, the registrant of the SOFTWARE FREEDOM CONSERVANCY mark in question).

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The battle for the SOFTWARE FREEDOM name

There’s a conflict happening right now over the future of what SOFTWARE FREEDOM means that you’re probably not aware of. Like many conflicts over trademarks, it’s complicated – but it’s critically important to any open source project that wants to keep their own name and branding.

By Mari Helin-Tuominen on Unsplash

Why does this matter?  Because it may affect who can call themselves SOFTWARE FREEDOM® in the marketplace.

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What is Apache Mahout? Website Brand Review

Website Brand Review of Apache Mahout

While we’ve all heard about Apache Hadoop, did you know there are over a dozen big data projects at Apache? We host projects that provide everything for your big data stack: databases, storage, streaming, logging, analysis, machine learning, and more. Apache Mahout is one of the pieces that puts a big data stack to do higher-level work for you.

Here’s my quick review of the Apache Mahout project, told purely from the point of view of a new user finding the project website.

Happy Birthday! This month is the Apache Mahout project’s 6th #ApacheBirthday!

What Is Apache Mahout?

“The Apache Mahout™ project’s goal is to build an environment for quickly creating scalable performant machine learning applications.”

While this is a laudable statement – and nicely emphasises the community behind the project – it doesn’t directly say what the software they provide does.

“The three major components of Mahout are an environment for building scalable algorithms, many new Scala + Spark and H2O (Apache Flink in progress) algorithms, and Mahout’s mature Hadoop MapReduce algorithms.”

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What is Apache Hive? Website Branding Review

Website Brand Review of Apache Hive

While we’ve all heard about Apache Hadoop®, did you know there are over a dozen big data projects at Apache? We host projects that provide all the different functions your big data stack: databases, storage, streaming, logging, analysis, and more. Apache Hive™ is one of these pieces of the whole big data ecosystem.

Here’s my quick review of the Apache Hive project, told purely from the point of view of a new user finding the project website.

What Is Apache Hive?

“The Apache Hive ™ data warehouse software facilitates querying and managing large datasets residing in distributed storage”.

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What is Apache Flex? Website Branding Review

Website Brand Review of Apache Flex

Many projects come to Apache from software vendors donating them to the Apache community, where the Apache Incubator works to form an open and independent community around the project. Here, Adobe donated both the code and the brand for their Flex project to Apache. Now, the ASF is the steward both to the vibrant Apache Flex community, as well as the new owner of the Flex brand and registered trademark.

Here’s my quick review of the Apache Flex project, told purely from the point of view of a new user finding the project website. While we’re all familiar with Adobe Flash browser plugin, not everyone may be familiar with the Flex environment for building Flash (and other!) applications.

What Is Apache Flex?

Apache Flex® is the open-source framework for building expressive web and mobile applications.

In other words, Flex is a toolkit for building general applications that can be run on a variety of web browsers and mobile platforms that include the Adobe Flash or Adobe AIR runtimes or application containers. Flex is the coding language and environment you use to write applications for the Flash/AIR containers.

No, Really, What Is Apache Flex For?

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What is Apache HBase? Website Branding Review

Website Brand Review of Apache HBase

How do open source projects get popular? By providing some useful functionality that users want to have. How do open source projects thrive over the long term? By turning those users into contributors who then help improve and maintain the project. How well a project showcases themselves on the web is an important part of the adoption and growth cycle.

Here’s my quick review of the Apache HBase project, told purely from the point of view of a new user finding the project website. HBase is a key part of the big data storage stack, so although you may not work directly with it, it’s probably underlying some systems you use.

What Is Apache HBase?

“Apache HBase™ is the Hadoop® database, a distributed, scalable, big data store”.

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What Is Apache Mesos? Website Branding Review

Website Brand Review of Apache Mesos

How do open source projects get popular? By providing some useful functionality that users want to have. How do open source projects thrive over the long term? By turning those users into contributors who then help improve and maintain the project. How well a project showcases themselves on the web is an important part of the adoption and growth cycle.

Here’s my quick review of the Apache Mesos project, told purely from the point of view of a new user finding the project website. Mesos is turning into a major project in the big data and cloud space; not perhaps the obvious popularity of Apache Spark yet, but certainly big.

What Is Apache Mesos?

Apache Mesos abstracts CPU, memory, storage, and other compute resources away from machines (physical or virtual), enabling fault-tolerant and elastic distributed systems to easily be built and run effectively.

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What Is Apache Spark? Website Branding Review

Volunteering at the ASF and elsewhere in open source, I think a lot about open source brands. In particular: how do various open source projects – run by a wide variety of typically very geeky volunteers – present themselves publicly to new users? We sometimes spend so much time working on the great new code – and explaining it to other developers we already know – that sometimes I wonder if we’re really showcasing what our great new code can do for new users and contributors.

Here’s my quick review of the Apache Spark project, told purely from the point of view of a new user who just came to the project website. I’m trying to show what I think someone new to the project might think about the project once they get to the homepage. Since Spark is a major project in the big data space, there are a lot of search hits for Spark, including a wide variety of other software vendors.

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