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The curl author writes in the linked article that Google has a right to do this both morally and legally. He should check with a trademark lawyer immediately since they don't have a right to pick such a confusing name and the curl trademark is probably strong enough to be enforceable even in unregistered form. (I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, but I have been involved in administering and enforcing other open source trademarks.)



While that may be the case, given that he says they are _morally_ within their rights to do it implies that he won't want to consider a trademark dispute.

(Also, just to point out, lawyers cost money, and I wouldn't want to pick a fight with Google's lawyers if I didn't have to)


He may have been considering just the moral rights to fork and ship a derivative, not the confusing naming which he called out himself in the article. But indeed it's possible he doesn't care about sustaining or enforcing the curl trademark. Or he didn't know how the trademark laws can still apply without a formal registration.

And you're right, Google legal is not easy to go up against. But maybe they haven't yet been consulted on this plan and would agree with a politely but firmly worded letter from him on the naming question specifically. The original public source of these Google plans is merely an issue in the Chromium bug tracker, not yet a fully vetted blog post or press release.


That's a very fair point.

Though it would probably be prudent to try sending an email with "hey, do you mind changing your name to something else" first.

Then again, given the article and a bit of HN Buzz, that may already be happening.

Definitely worth you pointing out the rights that the author likely has in the comments though.


I wish Google learned from Go/Golang (i.e., where a nontrivial number of people refer to Go as Golang, much to the displeasure of some of the authors) and use names which are easy to search for.

I'm not looking forward to people mistyping libcrurl as libcurl and people having to second guess what the intention was.

curl might not be a trademark but EU has 'moral right of the author' rules. In my mind libcrurl is right up there with a search engine named G00gle or a software company named MikeRowSoft.


Your point is very valid, but I cant even SAY it, so I havent even gotten to the typo stage.

"Crurl" is in "rural juror" territory.


"Searching for libcrurl. Click here if you really meant libcurl."


EU rules aren't the only relevant ones, either. They are certainly among the relevant ones since the curl author is in Europe, but Google has enough ties to the US that he can probably benefit from whichever set of trademark laws are more favorable. And US laws recognize unregistered trademarks too.


> where a nontrivial number of people refer to Go as Golang

https://golang.org/

Simple names in the era of the web are not always a good idea. Also see https://www.r-project.org/


Sadly, there’s a fair amount of sniping[1] in parts of the Go community if you use “Golang” instead of “Go”.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18717303


For whatever reason, "alternative" languages seem to have weird naming issues.

See also - Rust


C, D, and C++ on the other hand... And the naming of JavaScript had certainly never caused any confusion. Let's face it, programming languages have weird names.


There is a non trivial overlap between the people present for the creation of C (which followed B) and the creation of Go - so there may have been something weird in the water at Bell Labs sometime around 1980. D just followed the existing convention and C++ started out as an extension on top of C.

JavaScript on the other hand was an entirely intentional marketing move. Only issue was that the programmer they hired to create the language wasn't on the Java hype train.


Yes, an informal first approach is generally best, agreed. My suggested trademark lawyer consultation was not meant to bypass that, but merely to advise on it and to assist with any subsequent steps that the situation may merit.


He's going to have a hard time against google for the trademark after not fighting MS for aliasing invoke-webrequest by default in powershell.


Agreed. I think the fact that Google would not tolerate a company who picked off gooogle.com, googel.com or any other TLDs that would impinge on their brand, yet someone at Google has decided they have the flex to do something Google itself (legal) would not tolerate.

I think you're right. Presenting it as a moral matter may be a signal that he's not looking to pick the legal fight but take matters up in a more public social court, if you will.


Btw, gooogle.com isn't a TLD. com is a TLD, gooogle.com is just a domain (sometimes called a second-level domain, but--eh).


In order to claim a trademark you need to actively enforce it. That is, a defense for trademark infringement is 'but they allowed X to infringe it to'. Hence, their might be a reason to dispute this just to preserve the trademark.


Popular misconception.

Allowing someone to do something means there is estoppel (my explicit action to let you do X is considered in law to prohibit me later going after you for doing X even if you'd otherwise have no right to do it) but doesn't magically abolish my right to forbid others.

Claims require that you actively use the mark, if you last sold Rocqua brand hats in 1987, your claim against me for using that mark in 2019 won't work, but they don't require you go around suing or even threatening to sue anybody. That's just lawyers getting themselves a few extra bucks off the unenlightened, mixed with people who want an excuse for behaving badly.


It doesn't magically abolish your right, but it is evidence against you if a competitor actively and overtly uses your mark and you don't enforce it even to the level of writing to them seeking a rename or a license.

Not only is there a risk of estoppel (probably not if they can't show anything explicit or intentional by you), even other competitors can point to your willful inaction in support of their argument to a judge that your trademark has become generic.

As noted above, I'm not a lawyer or giving specific legal advice here, but I have worked with lawyers in dealing with trademarks.


It harkens back to when they stomped on the original go language with thoughtless naming



That hurts to read.


I'm going to start squatting programming language names with lisp dialects. I'll demand extensive lip service and Google Summer of Code resources every time they stomp on one.

Wait, this makes more sense if I do it for chat systems. Google loves making chat systems.


If the creator of curl doesn't consider this to be morally grey action by Google, I won't argue (though I do disagree).

But I reserve the right to be mightily annoyed by the confusion that any partial implementation of the library and CLI tool will cause.


Given that it's his trademark, it seems like he has no interest in enforcing such rights.


I thought it was more or less required to defend your trademark, else you could loose it.


He also needs to have registered it in the first place. Trademarks are not automatic like copyright is.

I didn't try very hard, but I couldn't find a "curl" trademark here for software:

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4808:iz1...


Sort of. The USA you can claim trademark rights without a registered trademark; that's the difference between ™ and ®.

But the law follows "use it or lose it" rules. If you don't defend your trademark, then in the eyes of the court it is no longer a trademark.


Hold on, that's "defend it or lose it". Author of libcurl clearly is using the name, there are new releases coming out quite often.


My wording was unclear, yes. If you aren't defending it, you aren't using it as a trademark.

Think of the term literally; if it's not exclusive to you, it's not longer a "mark" of your specific "trade". It's just a "mark".


Fair enough.


>He also needs to have registered it in the first place.

Not true. Unregistered marks can still be defended (it's just harder).

That's why there's both ™ and ® symbols. Trademark and Registered Trademark.


That's true. But he's allowed to choose to lose it, or to discuss with Google and grant a trademark license.


But why would he want to protect himself from Google picking a confusing name for _their_ software?


So that he doesn't get the bug reports, feature requests, user support requests, or any reputational problems that stem from Google's confusingly named release.


Just to add to that, since libcurl is used everywhere, he gets all sorts of strange messages:

https://daniel.haxx.se/blog/2016/01/19/subject-urgent-warnin...




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