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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Apache CMS: Adding static data tables easily?

Did you know that the ASF has their own CMS / static generator / magic update system that runs the apache.org homepage and many Apache project homepages? While it’s more of an Apache infra tool rather than a full Apache top level project, it’s still a full service solution for allowing multiple static website builds that are integrated into our servers.

While there are plenty of great technical CMS systems, when choosing a system for your company, many of the questions are organizational and deployment related. How easy is it for your IT team to manage the core system? How easy is it for various teams (or projects) to store and update their own content, perhaps using different templates in the system? How can you support anonymous editing/patch submission from non-committers? Does it support a safe and processor-respectful static workflow, minimizing the load on production servers while maximizing backups? And how can you do all this with a permissive license, and only hosting your own work?

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Even better than Hadoop!

You know what’s even better than using Hadoop? Using Apache Hadoop!

Even better is Apache Ambari to manage your Apache Cassandra data store through Apache Hive with Apache Pig to make it simpler to write Apache Spark compute flows… Or, if you want it assembled for you, just grab the latest Apache BigTop, which already includes a bunch of Apache Hadoop related packages all together.

How can we do a better job of getting at least a single “Apache Hadoop” into some of the many media stories about Hadoop these days? It’s great that all these vendors are making great technology and projects that power big data, but with all their success and fancy marketing campaigns, you’d think we could get just a tiny bit of credit in the popular press with the actual committers on the core Apache Hadoop project itself. Or any of the other Apache project technologies that these vendors, other software companies – and just about every other company too – rely on every day to help make their websites work.

Would it hurt marketers and journalists and bloggers to throw in just one extra “Apache” before talking about the many free Apache software products that help power more than half the internet?

The ASF and Apache projects give away a tremendous amount of technology every day under our permissive Apache license – always for free. All we ask is respect for our trademarks, and a little bit of credit for the many volunteer communities that build Apache software.

P.S. Apache projects love to get more code, documentation, testing, and other contributions too! And the ASF has a Sponsorship program.

But what we we really want is what every human wants: just a little love. Just an extra Apache here and there makes us feel better.


What is Apache Hadoop?

There’s a lot of excitement around Hadoop software these days, here’s my definition of what “Hadoop” means:

Hadoop ™ is the ASF’s trademark for our Apache Hadoop software product that provides a service and simple programming model for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of commodity computers. Many people view Hadoop as the software that started the current “Big Data” processing model, which allows programmers to easily and effectively process huge data sets to get meaningful results.

The best place of all to learn about Hadoop is of course the Apache Hadoop project and community, which says this about the Hadoop software:

“(Hadoop) is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage. Rather than rely on hardware to deliver high-availability, the library itself is designed to detect and handle failures at the (simple to program) application layer, so delivering a highly-available service on top of a cluster of computers, each of which may be prone to failures.”

The Apache Hadoop project at the ASF is related to or has created a large number of notable modules, subprojects, or full projects at Apache, including:

There are a wide variety of vendors who provide Hadoop-related software, however the only source for Hadoop software itself is the Apache Hadoop project here at the ASF. We certainly appreciate the many companies who allow their employees to contribute work to Apache Hadoop and all of our projects, and also to the many Apache Corporate Sponsors. However I do hope that companies working in the Hadoop and related Big Data industry take stock of their marketing strategies, and ensure that their corporate marketing doesn’t shortchange the credit owed to the Apache Hadoop community itself.

We very much appreciate those corporate supporters who do provide plenty of credit to the ASF and the Apache Hadoop community – both the old hats, and the very new spinoff in the Big Data space. I just hope that some of the other players in the industry will carefully consider their public crediting (or lack thereof) to the ASF’s Hadoop brand and the many individual committers and contributors to the Apache Hadoop project.

As always, the Apache Hadoop website and mailing lists are the best place to learn about Hadoop software!

Oh, and remember:

Apache Hadoop, Hadoop, the yellow elephant logo, the names of Apache software products, and Apache are either registered trademarks or trademarks of the Apache Software Foundation in the United States and/or other countries