Red Hat has responded to claims that it is acting like Microsoft in asserting its trademark rights over the use of the Hibernate name by trainers and consultants.
Indeed, Mark Webbink, Red Hats general counsel, has posted a letter on his blog "to clarify issues" regarding the companys request to some firms to cease using the name "Hibernate" in their materials.
The letter Red Hat sent to an independent trainer/consultant was "not placed into the context of the situation it was addressing," Webbink said. "That presents the opportunity for misinterpretation. At the same time, I would agree that the letter is less than precise in defining what has been done wrong and the corrective action that is required. Ultimately, that is my fault as the person in charge of trademark enforcement at Red Hat."
To clarify the situation, Webbink wrote: "...You cannot offer Hibernate training or JBoss training. This is an improper use of Red Hat trademarks in that the marks are being used (a) either as nouns or (b) to promote a good or service that is directly branded with Red Hat owned marks. What is permissible is that you are permitted to offer Hibernate Object Relational Mapping Software Training or, as another example, JBoss Application Server Training. Here the marks are being applied to the goods in a proper manner and it is clear that the training is being provided for that branded technology, not by the brand owner. As a further common courtesy, it would also be appropriate for those properly using the marks in this manner to make clear that they are not in any way associated with Red Hat or its JBoss Division."
In essence, Webbink is asking trainers and consultants to add a few words to differentiate their offerings and not simply say they are providing Hibernate or JBoss training.
"You can find tons of people not understanding trademarks and trying to mix trademarks and open source; they are not the same," said Sacha Labourey, chief technology officer at Red Hats JBoss division." "And a trademark you do not defend is a trademark you lose: We do not intend to lose our trademark. At the same time, we do not intend to restrict people from making money on our JBoss, Hibernate, etc., technology; that is certainly not the idea."