First of all, full credit for the title of this blog belongs to Business Week magazine. Interestingly enough that was the title of the article in print, but online the same article is titled “Hadoop data software spreads beyond Silicon Valley”. Perhaps they wanted to jazz it up a bit as they went to print!
Nevertheless, I used to just jumble Hadoop in with Joomla and J-Scripts and other higher level computer language tools, many with a slight Indian flavor – in development and naming it seemed to me. Well I owe Doug Cutting both an apology and a pat on the back. Fancy becoming the leader in your category when you simply named your new clever database after a character in your kid’s book!
For those of you who don’t get branding yet, this should teach us all two things: (1) Good products often rise to the top despite their name and (2) products get more attention and stand out from the crowd when they have interesting or unusual names. Plus isn’t Hadoop a much more fun name than Cloudera or Hortonworks and MapR, especially when Doug pulls out his kid’s old yellow cloth elephant at conferences?
OK, but what is the legality of using a using known toy name for your software? Well in the USA there is only one trademark on the name and it is clearly owned by the Apache Software Foundation – where the master copy of the open source software resides. I had to look very far online to find references to the story in a book – so they can hardly claim super brand or other common law rights. But once before I once asked a public legal forum about the legality of using a character or place from a show like Star Wars or Star Trek. You won’t believe how many lawyers offered to take my case, not realizing I was just posing a general question while trying to assist a client – and the techies do sure like those Star Trek names.
So the motto of this story is: Have fun but proceed with caution and do note that Star Trek actually publishes a directory of all their characters, places, spaceships, etc. Some they brought over from the classics – many others they made up – and they have big lawyers protecting their full rights.
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