Partial victory for MySQL AB

By eweek  |  Posted 2002-03-02

The courtroom battle between open-source database vendors that some say is holding back their chance at commercial success took a step sideways on Friday, with a district judge declaring a winner—sort of.

MySQL AB, the Uppsala, Sweden, company founded by the key inventors of the MySQL database, sought an injunction against NuSphere Corp. for illegally using the "MySQL" term in NuSpheres product name and for breaking the open source communitys bedrock, the GNU Public License, or GPL.

District Court Judge Patti B. Saris, in Boston, ruled that NuSphere must stop using the MySQL name within 45 days, but she denied MySQL ABs request to stop NuSphere from selling their distribution of the actual MySQL database.

"Continued use of the trademark will cause MySQL [AB] irreparable harm," the Saris wrote. But MySQL "has not demonstrated that it will suffer any irreparable harm during the pendency of the suit" if NuSphere continues to sell the database under a different name, she wrote.

Despite the partial victory, MySQL AB, would much rather settle out of court, as Saris urged, CEO Mårten Mickos told eWeek. "If we can reach a settlement in the meantime we would welcome that. I think this is a clear indication for anyone who tries to steal business from open source companies that it cant be done," he said. "To our users, there is less confusion now."

Mickos denied that the lawsuit has taken up too much of his companys time, "The lawsuit hasnt stopped us from investing in the product development," he said. "Our sales of commercial licenses ... has grown tremendously in the past 12 months. We have 3 million users," he said.

For NuSphere, a subsidiary of Progress Software Corp., both of Bedford, Mass., the ruling could be crippling: if theres no settlement and the GPL, the second motion, goes to trial, "MySQL seems to have the better argument here," Saris wrote.

NuSphere officials apparently anticipated the ruling, redirecting their own site to MySQL ABs site last month. Saris already approved their new product name—NuSphere Advantage for MySQL—President Lorne Cooper said. "Well be doing it pretty soon," he said.

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