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Oracle asserts non-existent open source trademark

Hudson not Ellison's after all

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Oracle's trademark on the popular Hudson open-source project doesn't exist. At least for now.

Oracle claimed that it acquired the Hudson trademark with its purchase of Sun Microsystems. But a well-placed former Sun Microsystems employee has contacted The Reg to say that Sun took an "explicit decision" not to apply for a trademark on the name Hudson. A search of the US Patent and Trademark Office's website throws up 623 trademarks for Hudson for many things, but not for the project Oracle owns.

On Wednesday, we reported how Oracle's trademark claim has put added strain on Oracle's relationship with devs outside the company and in the open source world. Though the company does not in fact own the trademark, Oracle US recently applied for a trademark in the European Union. A search here reveals that Oracle applied for a trademark on October 29 of this year, just before Hudson users began forking the service by moving it off Oracle-owned hosting servers. It doesn't seem that the EU has granted Oracle the trademark.

Hudson users are trying to fork the continuous build system, used by 25,000 customers, but Oracle told them that they could not call their fork Hudson because Oracle owned the trademark.

Hudson users had moved big parts of the project off of the Java.net servers owned by Oracle. The mailing list archive and the live mailing list had gone to Google Groups and Nabble while source code had moved to GitHub.

The big switch was scheduled for November 30. But then Oracle tools and middleware chief architect Ted Farrell told a Hudson mailing list that the trademark passed to Oracle with its Sun acquisition this year.

The Reg contacted Farrell on Thursday in light of its discovery to ask for proof Oracle owned the Hudson trademark. He told us: "I believe Oracle trademarked several assets acquired as part of the Sun acquisition, including Hudson. There is a US process and an EU process and I don't have the details of where we are within those processes."

Farrell added: "My team and I are part of the Hudson community and are working through some issues with other core Hudson members. I believe we will all come out on the same page."

If Oracle has a claim, it might be that project creator Kohsuke Kawaguchi was a Sun employee Sun employee Kawaguchi, now with start-up CloudBees, came to work on the project during his day job. Kawaguchi started the project during his spare time, but US labor law says assets created by employees using their employer's resources and time are owned by their employer. ®

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