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From Noah Slater <>
Subject Re: Couchbase trademark issues
Date Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:42:35 GMT
On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 3:19 PM, Sam Bisbee <> wrote:
> Sensitive topic, so I'm going to try and be uber clear...

Sure, but someone needed to address it.

I'm practically the only person on the committer team without a
CouchDB related corporate employer. I am employed by Engine Yard, and while
we might offer CouchDB as an 3rd party service, it's not really the same
thing. More to the point, I might take this opportunity to remind you all
that you operate within this community as individuals. We all need to leave
our employment details behind when we come to the CouchDB table. If we
can't do that, we have no business being committers.

> - I don't think there is any doubt that CouchBase introduced confusion
> into the ecosystem with the naming of its company, projects,
> conferences, and general marketing. This is something that I heard a
> lot from companies with no direct ties to CouchDB when I was an
> independent consultant, then consulting at Bocoup, and now at
> Cloudant. CouchApps was the other messaging and sales hurdle.

Agreed, though I think recent events have catapulted this problem even

> - I do not think that CouchBase the company intended to do any harm to
> the CouchDB ecosystem. and CouchOne certainly wouldn't have.
> They are a company and therefore have the right to pivot their
> offerings as they see fit. They are not SCO.

I do not assign any malice to Couchbase or it's employees. I know some of
them very well, and have the honour of calling one of them in particular my
friend. But this isn't about saying "ner ner ner Couchbase are bad people"
it's about saying, "woah hold on, the name Couchbase may be infringing our
trademark in a way that is actively damaging our community here people!"

> - Whether Damien the individual intended to do harm to the project or
> ecosystem is something that only he knows. I know it's hard but we
> have to separate the issues of Damien the individual and CouchBase the
> company - there is a reason Damien posted on his own blog instead of
> CouchBase's.

We do not have to separate Damien's actions from this. They are very much
part and parcel of the problem. Damien has been a figurehead of the CouchDB
project for many, many years. And he is also very publicly involved with
Couchbase. When someone like that publicly announces that the "future of
CouchDB is Couchbase" then that is a very serious thing indeed. It doesn't
matter whether that is on the company blog, his personal blog, or at a
conference. He was perfectly entitled to say and do what he said and did,
but that one of the contributing factors here. It contextualises the brand
confusion new users are experiencing.

> - I worry about the precedent that CouchDB could set by going to
> legal. I could see it scaring off other companies who are interested
> in investing in this space.

Just to clarify, "going to legal" just means posting a summary of this
thread on an ASF mailing list designed to answers these sorts of questions.
Having reviewed the documents more fully, I am now of the opinion that the
trademark list would be the proper place to take these concerns. For all I
know, there may be a procedure for trying to resolve these sorts of
problems amicably. Again, I'm not out to "get" Couchbase, I just want to
sort out the problems the Couchbase name is, along with the attendant
circumstances, causing our community.

> - However, I could see justification and good form in the CouchDB team
> all agreeing to send a letter to CouchBase asking that they make a
> clearer distinction between themselves and CouchDB. Especially in
> their marketing, conference naming, etc. Depending on their reaction
> you may or may not want to ping legal.

See above, this may be our next move. I'm not sure! :-)

> Whatever the team decides to do, please do it with good form.

Yes, I should hope so.

Being honourable, being helpful, and assuming good faith are the
cornerstones of this community.

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