Since at least 2021 there has been a disagreement between Postgres related non-profit organizations. On one side are two affiliate non-profits for Postgresql.org; on the other is a relatively unknown non-profit out of Spain. Lines have been drawn, feet have dug in, and a lot of unproductive discourse has occurred. This has culminated in legal action, bad blood, and some poor decisions.
As one of the Founders of United States PostgreSQL, a former Director of Software in the Public Interest (one of the NPOs behind Postgresql.org), a former committer (web), former major contributor, President of the oldest PostgreSQL company still independent in North America, and the Founder of Postgres Conference (in the U.S.), I thought I would offer a knowledgeable perspective.
I have had long discussions with one of the primary people within the Fundacion PostgreSQL (Alvaro) and his heart is in the best interest of the community, even if Postgresql.org, PGEU and PGCAC do not agree. You can see this demonstrated within Fundacion’s trademark policy. That said, Fundacion PostgreSQL did go about their actions in an incorrect way. There should have been an open discussion and they should have provided PGCAC the opportunity to resolve the trademark issues on their own. It is also true that while I believe PGEU and PGCAC believe they are protecting the community, if they were interested in positive community growth and collaboration, they would not be taking the approach they currently are. The current path has far reaching implications that PGEU and PGCAC do not see.
Further, the PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada and Fundacion PostgreSQL have resorted to terrible language in representing what is actually going on within the disagreement. Using language such as, “An attack on our community” or “PostgreSQL attacks the community” is immature at best and at worst an intentional decision to use good faith and mindshare against what is largely just a disagreement that could be solved with an active mediator and a few phone calls. If this disagreement is about the best interest of the PostgreSQL community, shouldn’t that involve discourse, honesty, transparency, and kind communication?
- The first appearance of a PostgreSQL trademark outside of Canada wasn’t until 2018.
- The trademark PostgreSQL in the European Union was not registered until 2018.
- The trademark in Canada was registered in 2003 (filed in 1999).
- The trademark in Canada does not accurately represent PostgreSQL as the services it was registered under are:
(1) Internet consulting.
(2) Internet presence provider- DNS hosting.
(3) Commercial internet support for database applications development and implementation including the ability to host internet domains (as an internet service provider) and provide a wide range of web site development, programming and information technology services, namely computer software architecture, design and/or development services.
(4) Computer hardware sales and service.
The solution to the whole problem is simple; a single contract that states:
- That the term PostgreSQL is trademarked by the PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada
- That the Fundacion PostgreSQL relinquishes all property and rights to the mark PostgreSQL held in Spain and assigns them to the PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada
- The PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada forgoes any punitive damages or secondary costs
- That the Fundacion PostgreSQL forgoes any punitive damages or secondary costs
The contract should not contain language in regards to future potential filings that involve but are not exclusive to the word Postgres or PostgreSQL. There are already a number of filings worldwide that use Postgres or PostgreSQL as part of an overall mark inclusively such as Postgres Pro, Postgres Plus, Postgres Always On and Postgres Enterprise Manager, all of which are not owned but PGCAC or PGEU.
Why forgo punitive damages or secondary costs
Because it is the right thing to do. Otherwise this whole affair is going to end up costing one entity or another way too much money for no purpose. There is no clear distinction on who would legally win, and in either situation the main sufferers are the PostgreSQL community. Let’s have the parties show an act of kindness for the betterment of everyone involved.