October 31, 2001

Lutris CEO: SimpleDB.org changes don't satisfy trademark concerns

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

The CEO of Lutris Technologies says changes to a critic's Web site -- which distributes a database program based on Lutris' InstantDB -- aren't enough to make Lutris back off its claims that the site is violating its trademark and intellectual property.

Lutris CEO Yancy Lind maintains that InstantDB has never been released as an Open Source program, and as such, company critic George C. Hawkins doesn't have a right to distribute SimpleDB from his SimpleDB.org Web site. Hawkins asserts that Lutris released InstantDB 3.26 under a Mozilla-like Open Source license, and as such, he has the right to create his own software based on InstantDB.

Hawkins said he's made changes to the SimpleDB site in response Lind's trademark complaint last week. Hawkins has made the distribution of InstantDB 3.26 -- a freeware but not Open Source program, according to Lind -- more prominent at the site, and he's produced a "SimpleDB distribution that doesn't include either the source for InstantDB or SimpleDB, instead an application that will produce the source for SimpleDB given the InstantDB 3.26 binary distro as input."

Lind, through a PR representative, counters that neither of these changes satisfy his concerns about the trademark violation.

He says, "The binary version of InstantDB 3.25 and 3.26 were released by Lutris
for free redistribution. The primary requirements of redistribution of the
binaries are:

"1) A statement that Lutris is the owner and copyright owner of the
code.

" 2) Acknowledgement of the fact that InstantDB is a trademark of Lutris.

"3) Passing along the terms of the license as part of the
redistribution.

"There are thousands of copies of InstantDB 3.25 and 3.26 being
redistributed around the world under these terms."

As for Hawkins saying he's not including the source for InstantDB in a SimpleDB version, Lind says that still doesn't matter.

"No version of InstantDB has ever been released as open source," Lind adds. "Lutris
never provided the source code for InstantDB. Reverse engineering InstantDB
is no more legal than reverse engineering any other piece of software.
Providing and promoting a simple mechanism to reverse engineer a company's closed
source software is also in violation of legal principles governing
software. Changing the name of InstantDB and failing to honor trademarks and
copyrights is also in violation of accepted legal norms. We would hope
that governing legal norms would be honored by anyone using any of our
software products."

So far, Lind hasn't threatened legal action, saying his company doesn't have the resources. Instead, he's asking Hawkins to close the SimpleDB project.

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