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From Jan Lehnardt <>
Subject Re: Seeking CouchDB guidance
Date Tue, 13 Mar 2012 18:57:56 GMT
Thanks Shane, This is very helpful!

I'll reply in more detail inline. I just want to make sure to note that I'm am wearing two
hats in this matter, my Apache CouchDB PMC Chair hat and my Couchbase co-founder hat. I'll
denote when I'm speaking for which accordingly.

On Mar 13, 2012, at 04:50 , Shane Curcuru wrote:

> (Apologies for coming late to this thread; note I'm not on dev@)
> (cc: trademarks@ for FYI)
> On 2012-02-22 6:02 PM, Noah Slater wrote:
>> Hello,
>> I am reaching out to you in response to this thread on the CouchDB dev list:
> ...
> Thanks for the comments and focus on the thread; they are very helpful.  I've found that
trademarks law often seems quite non-intuitive to programmers.  We typically see things in
binary: it compiles or doesn't; it's faster or it's slower.  Trademarks are fundamentally
about ensuring that an informed consumer understands where their products are coming from
based on the brand name of the product.  Thus, the perception of users - especially new ones
to this territory - are important to consider.
> As I understand it, fundamentally we had Apache CouchDB first, and then it's quick popularity
bred several other companies and software products with names including the word "Couch" in
them.  The fact that both a number of CouchDB committers and some normal end-users of CouchDB
are expressing confusion over some Couchbase software products means that this is an issue
we should seek to address, and is one that I hope Couchbase will actively help to address
to prevent confusion as to the source of Apache CouchDB software.

[Couchbase hat]: We are committed to help ensure that Apache CouchDB is a thriving success
from the C-level down. To action behind words, we are helping to address the trademark concerns
the best we can.

> I have a number of general comments for the PMC:
> - The simplest and most direct step to take is to better tell our own story of what Apache
CouchDB is and how it can help new consumers run their servers / data /business better, easier,
and faster than other products.
> One key item would be improving the couchdb.a.o website, in particular so that it better
describes what CouchDB is and how to use it to *newcomers* to the technology.  Separately,
I bet it would be helpful for committers (and others) to blog and post about CouchDB individually,
both to explain why CouchDB is so great, and also to explain that there's only one Apache
CouchDB, and all the other Couches are less (or more) related to us, the first Couch-named
No-SQL db.

[Apache CouchDB hat]: That's very good advice. For a while now I longed for a page that explains
the CouchDB ecosystem in a nutshell. I have personally not gotten to it, but I'd love to see
a page that is a brief introduction into all the players that make up the greater CouchDB
ecosystem with Apache CouchDB at its centre. It could be as simple as starting with a list
on our wiki.

> - The number and detail of comments from both committers and users about "which Couch
is which" and "How is Couchbase related to CouchDB" say to me that there is a branding issue
here - hopefully one that we can work through amicably and with assistance from Couchbase.
> To be frank, it's unlikely that we could prevent all other organizations from using "Couch"
in their names.  However it is possible to take actions to ensure that other organizations
do not confuse informed consumers as to the true source of Apache CouchDB software.

[Couchbase hat]: Again, we're happy to do our part.

> - When dealing with user confusion by a third party or even potential trademark infringements
by a third party, the first step is to figure out what the PMC would like to see happen (you're
doing this), and then to ask nicely (usually in private, to allow people to save face if they
want to) the third party to make some changes.
> In this case, think that it's probably unrealistic to ask Couchbase to completely rebrand
themselves.  There are several Couch-something products out there, and it certainly seems
(I'm guessing, I don't know) that they're as attached to their overall name as we are to the
CouchDB name.
> It is realistic - and we should! - ask them to respect our trademarks. They can do this
by being diligent at following our formal trademark policy, especially by explicitly attributing
our marks on any pages or materials where they have products that are using similar names
or descriptions.
> For example, it would be appropriate in this case to ask that they attribute our CouchDB
mark on their Couchbase server web pages, like this one:
> Similarly, given the history in this case, it would be realistic to ask them to go further,
and include explanatory text in various places on their website that explain what CouchDB
is, that it comes from Apache, and that their product is not related to CouchDB (either in
technical compatibility, or in terms of governance/provenance).
> The web page they put up at is an excellent start to
this, and is very much appreciated - thanks!

> However it would be realistic - especially in the short term - to ask for some other
explicit mentions of what CouchDB is in some places on their website that are closer to their
actual Couchbase-named product pages.  I.e. it would be great if they'd put a small one-paragraph
"Couchbase SuperThing And Apache CouchDB - to great (but separate) things...", perhaps with
a link to their /couchbdb page.
> Trademarks are about preventing user confusion over the source of products (in these
cases, primarily software downloads).  Especially given that the ASF is a community-oriented
non-profit, there are plenty of ways that third parties can do an aggressive job of marketing
their own product(s), while still providing plenty of credit and links back to Apache project
pages, recognizing the source (and volunteer effort by all our committers) of the underlying
Apache software.

[Couchbase hat]: We just had a meeting about this and we'll have more changes to our website
to help eradicate confusion. It is not in our interest to be confused with Apache CouchDB
much in the same way that it is not in Apache CouchDB's interest to be confused with Couchbase.
We agree that it is entirely realistic to expect that we respect the Apache CouchDB trademark
and that we do our part to show that respect on our website and other publications.

[Couchbase hat]: I'll follow up with a report on changes that we made to our website when
they are implemented. Please allow a number of days. If the PMC agrees, I'll use this thread
instead of the private@ mailing list to send the update. If the PMC prefers, I can take it
to private@ directly, though. If the PMC has additional requests for us, please get in touch
privately at

> - The PMC should also update the couchdb.a.o website to ensure we're properly attributing
our own marks.  Please update the trademark attribution in the footer to include:
> Apache CouchDB, CouchDB, Apache and the CouchDB logo are trademarks of the Apache Software
> See:

[Apache CouchDB hat]: The footer currently says: '“Apache CouchDB” and the Project logo
are trademarks of the Apache Software Foundation — Copyright © 2008–2011 The Apache Software
Foundation' Aside from the year that we should definitely fix, we only need to add "CouchDB"
to the list, is that correct?

Thanks again Shane! I trust we can drive that to a amicable conclusion now.


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