JBoss Accused of Monopolistic Practices

A former member of the JBoss team says the company is using bad business practices and is stifling competition.

Once again JBoss Inc. has come into the limelight for alleged bad behavior and in essence not pursuing the open-source way, according to some.

In a Weblog posted Friday, Rickard Oberg, founder of SenseLogic Sweden AB, a software maker based in Orebro, Sweden, and former member of the JBoss team, accused JBoss of bad business practices, dirty tricks and even having an illegitimate license for the JBoss application server software.

In the post titled "The JBoss Issue," Oberg said: "It is with great sadness that it has come to my attention that JBoss Inc. has gone quite insane in how they conduct business. They have cancelled the partnerships with a majority of the German service provider companies, sued at least one of them for using the JBoss name, and tried to acquire and use the customer list of said companies."

Oberg said the use of trademarks to stifle competition "very much defeats the purpose of open source and Free Open Source Software."

Indeed, Oberg accuses JBoss of acting like a would-be monopolist.

He said the Atlanta companys trademark strategy is "designed to create a monopoly situation whereby only JBoss Inc. and partners can offer such services, coupled with a pricing strategy that is quite aggressive and far from free.

"Even most commercial vendors do not limit service companies to use the name of products to offer services, but somehow JBoss Inc. feels that this is a viable way to gain a business advantage."

Meanwhile, Oberg challenges the legitimacy of the JBoss license.

"It has come to my attention that while the JBoss project references the LGPL [Lesser General Public License] license, the license does not and can not apply to JBoss since it does not meet the prerequisites of the license. This includes, but is not limited to, the complete lack of proper copyright notices as is stated and required in the LGPL, section 1.

"This understanding has been checked and verified with the Free Software Foundation (FSF), who owns the LGPL license. In short, it is currently illegal to distribute JBoss because it does not have a valid license.

"The copyright ownership of JBoss is also quite messy, since it has been written by a large number of people over a large period of time, and there is no explicit copyright mentioned anywhere in the code."

A spokesperson for JBoss said the company "takes any allegation of propriety of conduct and licensing, trademark and copyright seriously. Were looking into this and will give it the attention it deserves."

Oberg also wrote an open letter to JBoss Inc. and to Marc Fleury, the companys chief executive, asking that the company not abuse its trademark and copyright protections and to resolve alleged issues with the license.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more from an eWEEK.com interview with Marc Fleury.

JBoss was an open-source application server project around which Fleury and a team of developers built a services business.

They later assumed the name JBoss Inc.

Oberg said he initially found the project and the effort attractive.

But Oberg says that he soon realized he did not see eye to eye with Fleury or the companys program, and he quit.

Oberg said that what prompted Fridays post was learning that JBoss had canceled a partnership with and later sued Brockhaus GmbH, a Darmstadt, Germany, consulting company.

Oberg said Matthias Bohnen, a director of Brockhaus, told him the company had been sued for using the "JBoss" name.

"I was so outraged by this that I decided to pitch in and help them in any way I could," Oberg told eWEEK.

"At the very least, we both decided that the public should know about this situation, and what it all would mean to us as a community, with regard to how trademarks are used as a means to create monopolies on services around JBoss."

In addition, Oberg mentions the former "astroturfing" situation where JBoss employees were accused of writing disparaging posts to online forums regarding competitive products.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about the accusations of bogus postings.

Meanwhile, Oberg said he wants to expose JBoss.

"We just want as many as possible to be aware of the situation, and hopefully get more people to sign the open letter to JBoss Inc.," he said in an interview.

The blog post said: "We encourage any other individuals and/or companies who are in similar situations with regard to JBoss Inc. to send us whatever related information they have available. It will be published here, anonymously if required, so that the full scope of this situation can be known."

The Oberg post and open letter can be found here.

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