“Hudson has Our Trademark” – says Oracle

It seems as though there is some confusion with regards to the patenting (trademark issue) of Hudson, an Open-source project which Oracle apparently claims to own through the acquisition of Sun Microsystems. The hotchpotch is basically over whether Hudson needs to undergo a trademark process or not. Evidently, Sun Microsystems had decided not to trademark the name Hudson, when it initiated the project and now after having been bought out by Oracle, the project needs to be patented either with the same name — Hudson or some other name.

To prove that there has not been a patenting process carried out for Hudson, a search of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s website was done which resulted in 623 trademarks for Hudson in many kinds of businesses; however the open source project owned by Oracle did not throw up in the search. So, it appears that Hudson does not have Oracle’s trademark, at least for now.

Apparently, this is not the first time that Oracle has made claims on an open source project. Oracle has been the bad boy for many open source users and developers alike with the patenting of Java, MySQL, OpenOffice and Solaris – which were earlier, some very popular open source projects. This new development of Oracle claiming its trademark over Hudson will definitely strain Oracle’s relationship with developers of the outside world and also those belonging to the open source world. As stated earlier Hudson has still not been patented by Oracle with its trademark, albeit Oracle US a few weeks ago applied for a trademark on October 29, 2010 in the European Union. Registering for a Hudson trademark at the end of October is good timing, since it was only after this that the Hudson users began forking the service by moving it off Oracle-owned hosting servers. EU has not yet granted the trademark to Oracle as yet.

There also exist certain differences between Oracle and those using Hudson services. At least 25,000 customers are currently using Hudson to fork the continuous build, but Oracle has told them not to do so since it owns the trademark. There was the movement of big parts that was supposed to happen of the Hudson project from the Java.net servers owned by Oracle to the open source platform. This was scheduled to happen on November 30, however Oracle tools and middleware chief architect Ted Farrell claimed that the ownership rights for Hudson as a project moved from Sun to Oracle with the buyout.

Speaking on the same he said “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. 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.” In Oracle’s defense there is just one point of argument, which is that the person who created Hudson – Kohsuke Kawaguchi was a Sun employee, and US labor law says assets created by employees using their employer’s resources and time are owned by their employer.

All odds however seem to be against Oracle considering the fact that Oracle had not trademarked the project earlier than later. Only time will tell us as to who comes out as the winner here, with the prize being Hudson open source project.