[Foundation] Jabber (TM)

Jeremie jeremie at jabber.org
Thu Mar 7 10:55:17 CST 2002

I'd like to add a few notes to this, just to make sure everyone is on the
same page.

There are actually two relevant trademarks here, the first one that
Jabber, Inc. purchased when they acquired "jabber.com", and the second
which they applied for in 2000.

Information about these two trademarks (and any others) can be found at
http://www.uspto.gov/ and more directly at http://tess.uspto.gov/

The important things to point out here is that only the first one is
registered, and isn't even relevant to what we call "Jabber" as it was for
software for a speech bit compression technique (in Java).  

The second and relevant one has only been applied for, and according to
the latest status will be published for opposition soon:

IANAL, and I don't necessarily know what this kind of status means, just
pointing it out since it's probably relevant.


On 6 Mar 2002, Mike Lin wrote:

> My fellow JSFers,
> In full anticipation of a chorus of loud groans, I believe the time has
> come once again, now more urgently than ever before, to discuss the
> difficult issue of Jabber.com, Inc.'s trademark on the Jabber name.
> The past few months have been an exciting time for Jabber. Though it
> might be reasonably pointed out that corporate interest has perhaps
> waned somewhat in the face of harsh economic conditions, the Jabber
> Software Foundation and the Jabber developer community at large has been
> more vibrant and productive in the last few weeks than at any point I've
> observed in the 18 months for which I've been involved with Jabber. 
> Thanks to the hard work of Peter Saint-Andre and others, we finally have
> a comprehensive document, seperate from the jabberd implementation, that
> specifies the full syntax and semantics of the Jabber protocol. Thomas
> Muldowney's exciting work with JabberStudio has been making visible
> progress towards becoming a unified resource for coordinating future
> development. New and emerging projects are at last moving us away from a
> single-implementation model.
> Moreover, there has been unprecedented progress in these past few weeks
> toward the next incremental steps for the Jabber platform. The
> discussions in Standards-JIG over recently proposed JEPs and other
> issues have been of great merit both in their technical validity and
> their interpersonal civility. I believe all involved will agree that,
> largely in thanks to this recent progress, we have gained new technical
> direction and have a clearer picture of what our near-term goals are.
> In the coming months, we will see ratification of new technical
> standards, further development and documentation of proposed or existing
> standards, concrete definition of the meaning of "Jabber Powered", and,
> I'm sure, hearty debate on all of the above. We will also welcome new
> members into our Foundation for the first "normal" time, and we will
> elect a new Jabber Council.
> In short, thanks to the hard work of key individuals and the community
> at large, our Foundation is growing out of its infancy and toward its
> mature state as a guiding body for the Jabber developer community. We
> are at a unique juncture right now, and in the next few months, where we
> see rapid technical progress from many disparate individuals and
> organizations that neveretheless is largely unhindered by corporate
> interests. Still, we must always look toward the future, and consider
> how we may best accomodate the inevitable coming of wide and varied
> corporate and legal as well as technical interests.
> As most of you may know, Jabber.com, Inc. owns the trademark to the name
> "Jabber", which it acquired at considerable cost prior to the formation
> of the Jabber Software Foundation. Though the use of the term has been
> rather liberal in the open-source community, Jabber.com, Inc. has in the
> past chosen to enforce its trademark in the case of private interests
> attempting to use the name.
> The importance of Jabber.com, Inc. to the JSF cannot be understated. In
> addition to providing funding to the Foundation along with IBM and
> others, Jabber.com, Inc. employs a significant majority of the key
> technical and managerial personell that created and continue to create
> the Jabber platform.
> It is thus clearly not the case that Jabber.com, Inc. should simply
> wholesale give up its ownership of the Jabber trademark, especially to
> an organization that, at this point, is wholly incapable of legal
> management, enforcement, or responsibility of such an entity. If
> anything, Jabber.com, Inc., has been more generous than should
> necessarily be expected with the use of its trademark by the community.
> Last May, as the Foundation was being formed, this issue was discussed
> in detail for several weeks via this same mailing list. During this
> time, according to participants from Jabber.com, Inc. in the discussion,
> Jabber.com, Inc. examined the issue in fair detail. At the end of the
> discussion, a tacit consensus seemed to prevail that dictated that
> Jabber.com, Inc. would handle the "Jabber" trademark similarly to how
> Sun Microsystems handles the "Java" trademark. However, this consensus
> was never agreed upon or adopted by either Jabber.com, Inc. or the JSF
> in any formal manner; the issue has since rarely been mentioned.
> I believe it is critically important for the future that there be a
> clear and explicit understanding between Jabber.com, Inc. and the Jabber
> Software Foundation, in spirit and perhaps even in legally binding
> words, concerning the acceptable use of Jabber.com, Inc.'s trademark in
> Foundation-sponsored, open-source, academic, and private projects.
> I would therefore like to see, with the participation of Jabber.com,
> Inc. and independent members of the Foundation, if we can reach
> consensus on codified acceptable criteria, if any, for the use of
> "Jabber" in project names, descriptions, documentation, and so forth.
> In particular:
> 1) jabberd, JabberStudio, Jabber Enhancement Proposals, etc. are
> presumably projects of the JSF. It therefore seems necessary that
> Jabber.com, Inc. continue to allow the use of the term in
> Foundation-sponsored projects, of which there will undoubtedly be more
> in the future.
>    a) What constitutes a foundation-sponsored project? If we define a
> criteria for such, will Jabber.com, Inc. require its explicit approval
> for each before use of its trademark
>    b) Since the JSF is a separate legal entity, does this require a
> legal agreement with Jabber.com, Inc.?
>    c) If, in the future, the interests of Jabber.com, Inc. are not
> aligned with those of the JSF, can we ensure fair arbitration when
> Jabber.com, Inc. has such a valuable "chip"? This is a particularly
> important question to consider, since if and when Jabber technology
> enters the mainstream, Jabber.com, Inc. will begin to exercise less
> influence over the JSF.
>    d) If, in the very distant future, Jabber.com, Inc. were to cease to
> exist, what would happen to the trademark?
> 2) Assuming we define a criteria for foundation-sponsored projects,
> there will almost certainly be other open-source projects which the
> Foundation does not sponsor. What will be Jabber.com, Inc.'s policy in
> this case? Can such projects use "Jabber" in their title? How are they
> required to acknowledge Jabber.com, Inc.'s ownership of the trademark?
>    a) If Jabber.com, Inc. will allow use of its trademark at all by such
> projects, can it codify an explicit policy for doing so? Again, will it
> reserve the right to selectively disallow use of the trademark by
> projects, totally at its own discretion?
> 3) In deciding to allow use of the Jabber trademark, will Jabber.com,
> Inc. officially distinguish between general open-source projects, GPL
> projects, or projects put forth by academic institutions? Are any of
> these more deserving than others of use of the trademark?
> 4) How will Jabber.com, Inc. address the legitimate concerns of private
> interests that may hesitate to commit to Jabber technology in the face
> of an ambiguous legal situation?
>    a) Will Jabber.com, Inc. license the use of the term to any private
> interests at all? Again, will it do so as it pleases, or according to
> some consistent standard? Does this require an explicit legal agreement?
> These are difficult issues, but I believe it is immensely important to
> have a clear and unambiguous understanding that both Jabber.com, Inc.
> and the JSF can refer to publicly, even if that understanding leaves
> most or all of the control of the trademark in the hands of Jabber.com,
> Inc. Thus, what I am advocating is not necessarily any transfer of
> control, but rather a relief from the current condition of ambiguity
> surrounding exactly how the trademark may be used, given that
> Jabber.com, Inc. has evidently chosen to allow use of the trademark in
> some cases.
> At the end of the discussion, then, I would very much like to see a
> point-by-point document that clearly defines Jabber.com, Inc.'s policy,
> which can be posted as a notice to all prospective members of the Jabber
> developer community.
> Thank you for your time.
> Mike Lin
> Jabber Council
> mikelin at mit
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> Members at jabber.org
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