Hudson and Jenkins, can brands and trademarks affect an open source project?

Maybe you haven’t heard yet (where have you been!), but Hudson, the Continuous Integration server, is being renamed to Jenkins.

Sacha Labourey sheds a bit of light on the background that motivates the changes, but let’s just say that the community wants to move in a direction that Oracle is against, and Oracle claims the ownership of the Hudson trademark, so the community decides to move the source code to another hosting and use a different name for this fork.

So you have on one side Oracle, which AFAIK is doing few contributions to the project, and most of the people doing actual contributions on the other side.

Now, playing devil’s advocate, what if Oracle decides to continue Hudson, by, for instance, just merging all changes to Jenkins back into Hudson. No non-Oracle committers, a bit of development on their side if needed, just a close copy of Jenkins, but with the Hudson brand.

Would that succeed?

Of course you know that the community-endorsed project is now Jenkins. How many people out there would know that too?

Would current users in big corporations be aware of the status of the project?

Would it be possible for a giant like Oracle to use its marketing machinery to promote Hudson as an Oracle product and build some Hudson-branded products on top by just owning the trademark?

Could somebody pull a trick on the open source world as Eddie Murphy does in The Distinguished Gentleman? Vote for Jeff Johnson, the name you know!

I would hope that’s not the case, specially because Hudson doesn’t seem to play a big role in Oracle product map, but if it were otherways… I wouldn’t be so sure.

3 thoughts on “Hudson and Jenkins, can brands and trademarks affect an open source project?

  1. I think one of Oracle’s objectives is to ship this with JDeveloper. The problem is their legal team puts blocks on shipping the code because there are multiple pieces (see the thread at http://hudson.361315.n4.nabble.com/Hudson-Discussion-Summary-td3235174.html for more details on the license issue). My guess is the community likes things like JFreeChart, which is LGPL. But Oracle lawyers won’t let the product team ship with that license.

    If there is a split between Oracle and the community, then I think what will happen is that Oracle’s fork of Hudson will wind up focusing on issues like that and will slow them down, while Jenkins will continue to go at the usual fast pace.

    • Licensing, provenance and CLAs are a concern that usually open source projects don’t start to worry about until it’s needed and then it’s such a hassle, if not impossible, to fix. Only foundations like Eclipse or Apache have some procedure in place, while individual projects out there in the wild don’t.
      I would expect a fork to also worry about license issues, probably not as much as Oracle lawyers do, if only because in the US makes companies using it, such as CloudBees, easy target for suing in the future.

  2. Pingback: Jenkins – Hudson is now Officially Independent « Castellers v2

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