Who Owns Hudson?

Oracle Assert Right to Hudson Trademark

Jessica Thornsby

Oracle are pulling out the trademark trump card, as they stop Hudson migrating to GitHub.

Oracle have controversially tried to prevent the Hudson community from moving the project to GitHub. Oracle are asserting that they own the Hudson trademark, and therefore Hudson will remain on the infrastructure.

The Hudson saga started last month, when Oracle engineer Windston Prakash was listed as co-owner of the project “as a sign of good faith from the community towards Oracle.” Following this, core contributor Andrew Bayer suggested moving the mailing lists off, citing its reliability issues and planned series of downtimes and migrations over the coming weeks. Google Groups was selected as the most reasonable solution. However, unbeknown to the Hudson developers, the Hudson project was listed in the same migration bucket as GlassFish. All emails notifying the users, developers and users either never arrived, due to the sender not being subscribed to the lists, or were missed by the project owners. By the time the community realised they are being migrated, the project was already locked down. Developers reacted by pushing through with the plan to migrate the mailing list to Google Groups, and Kohsuke proposed moving Hudson to GitHub, on the new developers mailing list. According to a Hudson Labs post, no objections were raised, and so the final deadline for raising any major objections was set for 30/11/2010, after which the migration to GitHub would go ahead.

That’s when Oracle stepped in. The day before the planned switch-over, Ted Farrell, Oracle Senior VP of Tools and Middleware, sent a message to the users list stating that Hudson would be sticking with Since Oracle own the Hudson trademark, even if the community forked the project and set it up on a new infrastructure, they could not use the ‘Hudson’ name. Understandably, the community didn’t welcome the news. “Are you saying that, as the holders of the Hudson ‘name’, you are prohibiting the developer community from choosing (for ourselves) to migrate the infrastructure (bug tracking / wiki)? The repositories?” asked contributor Nigel Magnay. Farrell replied by re-asserting Oracle’s claim to Hudson: “what I am saying is that I believe the final decision of what to do w.r.t. infrastructure belongs to Oracle and that decision should be made according to the will of the community as it makes sense.”

Oracle are claiming they have a plan for encouraging more users to contribute to Hudson as, currently, many potential contributors “don’t feel like they can be heard….We will be announcing some changes in the upcoming weeks that we believe will foster that.” What this has to do with infrastructure, remains unclear, and the news has caused outrage in a community already mistrustful of Oracle. “More or less Hudson has been a perfect example of OSS where both project and community have had mutual relationship. Why would anyone want to impose a trademark on it?” asked committer Prabhat Jha.

Since the news broke, Kohsuke, CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey and Andrew Bayer have been on a conference call with Winston Prakash, Oracle manager Denis Tyrell and Ted Farrell. After the meeting, Andrew Bayer appears hopeful that this matter can be settled, writing that “I feel real progress was made towards a framework that provides what the Hudson community needs while also preventing the sort of conflicts we’ve seen the last week or two.” Another conference call is scheduled for this week, with Bayer hoping they can “reach agreement on the contentious issues by the end of the week.”

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