[Standards-JIG] Public Federated Jabber Network

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Thu May 18 22:54:29 UTC 2006


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This thread is off-topic for the Standards-JIG list, which is devoted to
protocol development, not the names people make up for the open network
of servers that use those protocols (nor the trademark that exists on
the term "Jabber"). However, I will respond to Chris's message because
it contains significant errors, which might lead to confusion and
misunderstanding.

Chris Mullins wrote:
> Hi Robert,
> 
> I'm familure with trademarks, the way they work, and what exactly the
> represent.
> 
> The problem arises from the fact that there is a corporate entity
> called Jabber, 

The legal name of that corporate entity is "Jabber, Inc."

> a protocol often called Jabber, 

In colloquial usage, yes. When we contributed the core protocols to the
Internet Engineering Task Force, we used the neutral name "Extensible
Messaging and Presence Protocol" (XMPP). All the non-core protocols that
are defined outside the context of the IETF can be called "XMPP
extensions". You don't have to use the term "Jabber" at all if you don't
want to (although I grant that "Jabber" is better known than "XMPP", and
for good reason since it is the original term and is more catchy).

> and a foundation called Jabber 

The foundation is called the "Jabber Software Foundation". Please let's
not start a thread about renaming it. I think we have better things to
do, and this is not the venue for such discussions in any case.

> (and, as you propose, a Federated Network called
> Jabber). There are also a number of software projects called Jabber.
> All of these are effected by the trademarked that is owned by Jabber,
> Inc. All of these entities exist, to a very, very real degree, at the
> whim of the trademark holder. This trademark was supposed to be
> transferred to the JSF some time ago, but that never happended, and
> the expected outcry never happended.

The Jabber Software Foundation has the authority (through a legal
agreement with the trademark holder, i.e., Jabber Inc.) to grant
sub-licenses to use the JABBER mark in the names of projects, products,
services, and even companies. The JSF has done so in the past and will
continue to do so in the future. Projects that have registered their
usage of the JABBER mark with the Jabber Software Foundation have a
legal license and binding contract to use the mark. By no means do they
use the mark at the whim of the trademark holder. The Board of Directors
of the Jabber Software Foundation has found the current arrangement
regarding ownership of the mark to be quite acceptable, for instance
because it does not open up the JSF (which does not have deep pockets)
to lawsuits regarding use of the mark. If you have concerns about the
current policy, feel free to bring them up on the mailing list for JSF
members, with the JSF Board of Directors, or directly with me.

> While many open-source folk take the issues of patents, tramemarks,
> copyrights, and other IP related issues lightly, the corporate world
> does not. The ongoing (and some may feel, very intentional) confusion
> over what exactly Jabber is an ongoing PR coup for the company that
> owns the trademark and profits from the name in an ongoing way.

I apologize for the tangled history of terminology. As you well know,
"Jabber" was originally the name for the server project started by
Jeremie Miller, now called "jabberd" (the name was changed to lessen
confusion). The JSF was formed to manage the wire protocols used by the
community of projects and companies who had grown up around the original
server. Some of those projects and companies -- mostly older ones --
have names that include the JABBER mark (jabberd, ejabberd, JabberBeans,
Jabber Inc., etc.). Other projects and companies have names that do not
include the mark (Psi, Wildfire, Tipic, Antepo, etc.). The core
protocols are called XMPP and of course you are free to use that term if
you would like (it is not trademarked in any fashion). I don't have any
control over the fact that someone decided to form a company called
"Jabber.com" (now "Jabber Inc.") back in March 2000. The history is what
it is. We've tried to do the best we could since then. If want to change
the way the JSF runs or is named, you of course are free to apply for
membership in the organization and to get involved. But personally I
think we all have a lot more important things to do than stamp our feet
at the reality that has unfolded over the last 7 years. Call it XMPP and
keep coding.

> This ongoing issue is certainly a very real reason there is so little
> corporate involvement in the JSF, even by the players (like me) who
> have a vested interest in the XMPP protocol.

How do you know why companies do or do not get involved in the JSF? And
what do you define as "involvement"? The best way to get involved is,
IMHO, to contribute to the core standards work of the JSF. I notice that
representatives of companies who are not elected members of the JSF
(e.g., Jive Software and Google) are perfectly comfortable contributing
to the standards process, probably because that standards process (i.e.,
the JEP series) is the best place to define XMPP extensions. No one is
forcing anyone to contribute to our standards process. No one is forcing
anyone to become elected members of the JSF (that's not necessary in
order to contribute to our standards process -- which is decidedly not
the case with closed consortia such as the W3C and OASIS) and in any
case the JSF as an organization exists solely to provide a basis and a
legal framework for us to pursue our standards work. Get over the name
and contribute to defining XMPP extensions.

> When I see new terms like "Federated Public Jabber Network", I can't
> help but laugh at how sucesfully the open-source community has been
> hoodwinked into providing free marketing material for the trademark
> holder.

It's sad that you have such a jaded view of human nature.

And our community is not an open-source community -- it is an
open-standards community.

> The term "Jabber" has alot of baggage and is best left behind by all
> save those who own the trademark.

So, as I said, use the term XMPP. It is unencumbered by any trademark or
other intellectual property restrictions. Furthermore, if I may say so,
it has been handed to you on a silver platter by all the people who
worked so hard on standardization of the core Jabber protocols under the
name XMPP (I personally worked at least 2500 hours on that effort over a
period of two-and-a-half years).

>> There is plenty of precedent for using the term "jabber":
>> 
>> * Jabber Software Foundation * Jabber ID * All of the XMPP
>> Namespaces start with "jabber:"
> 
> ... all of which are subject to the continued good-will of Jabber
> Inc. 

1. With regard to the terms "Jabber ID" and the use of the word "jabber"
in the core namespaces, you are quite simply wrong. See here:

http://www.ietf.org/ietf/IPR/jabbersf-ipr-xmpp-wg.txt

2. With regard to the Jabber Software Foundation, the JSF has a legal
and binding contract with Jabber Inc. to use the term JABBER and to
sub-license that mark. That contract has specified terms, and can be
revoked only if the terms are not upheld by the JSF. Given that the
terms are fairly easy for the JSF to uphold, I see no reason to fear
that the contract would be rescinded.

> A cease-and-desist letter could come at any time. Company such
> as Apple Computer, or Volkswagon, or any other entity who is diligant
> in protection of their IP would have come by now.

I don't know what this is intended to mean. Do you mean to say that
companies like Apple Computer and Volkswagen (?) have not participated
in the activities of the JSF because they are concerned about the
trademark holder revoking use of the JABBER mark? I cannot speculate
about the reasons for their lack of involvement, but I can say that
absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There are many reasons
why a company might not participate in an open standards process.

> How long, I ask, do you think it would take a cease-and-desist letter
> to come should the JSF begin to get invovled in activites that Jabber
> Inc views are contrary to their interests? 

The mandate of the JSF is to document and develop open application
protocols on top of XMPP. I freely grant that the JSF has not developed
software but instead has focused on protocols. This is arguably good for
Jabber Inc. because it does not introduce competitive implementations.
For the same reason it is probably also good for Coversant, Sun, Google,
Jive, Antepo, PubSub.com, and all the other companies who are developing
and deploying technologies that use the protocols. It is, arguably, not
as good for open-source projects. I'm sorry about that. But the JSF has
been kept quite busy with its standards process and personally I have
not seen a strong reason for the JSF to change its focus. If you feel
differently, feel free to get involved with the JSF.

> The fact they they hold
> this card, and all know the card for what it is, means those
> activities will never happen.

Again, I see little reason for the JSF to change its focus -- I think
we've been successful at developing protocols (for the most part: I know
we're not perfect) and I think we would not have a strong competency in
 other activities.

Finally, a personal note. It is no secret that I am paid by Jabber Inc.
They pay me as a "sponsored employee" to work on standardization of XMPP
and XMPP extensions (i.e., I don't do anything directly for the company
itself). In my opinion Jabber Inc. has devoted significant resources to
the activities of the JSF over the years -- from driving the formation
of the JSF in 2001 to my full-time efforts for the last 4 years to the
part-time efforts of people like Matt Miller, Joe Hildebrand, and Peter
Millard. They didn't have to do any of that, but they did -- and they
did it, I think, in a spirit of trying to move these technologies
forward in a completely open fashion (no matter what name you use) with
fully open standards instead of proprietary extensions and add-ons that
would have destroyed interoperability. Furthermore, I personally have
always striven to act as a neutral third party in all of my work at the
JSF. Whether I have been successful at that is a matter of public record
in literally thousands of mailing lists posts, JEP and registrar and
Internet-Draft CVS checkins, and chatroom logs. If you wish to entertain
baseless conspiracy theories about Jabber Inc. holding the strings and
manipulating the JSF behind the scenes, you have that right. But I think
the public record of the JSF speaks for itself.

Peter

- --
Peter Saint-Andre
Jabber Software Foundation
http://www.jabber.org/people/stpeter.shtml
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