Origin of the trademark issue

At Europython, I was told that the Zope Europe Association (ZEA)
registered the trademark (they exactly registered "Circle-Z + the
zope word", the Zope logo actually) about one year and an half ago
without letting Zope Corporation (ZC) know. This surprised and
shocked me a bit but worse was coming.

Six months before ZEA registration, Zope Corp registered the
trademark Zope (only the word) in Europe (6 countries at least)
using the Madrid Protocol, at the World Intellectual Property
Organisation (WIPO). ZEA's registration is thus invalid (or
illegal), in at least those 6 countries. Rob Page (CEO of ZC) told
me that he will ask ZEA to transfer the mark to ZC (avoiding the
delay and cost of a cancellation procedure) and that ZC really
wants the mark clean and owned by them as a pre-requisite for
creating the Zope Foundation. I was thinking that ZEA would accept
the transfer without any problem (since they registered it only to
protect it).

One day, drinking my coffee, I read a mail from Rob Page (CEO of
ZC) saying that ZEA doesn't want to transfer the copyright back to
Zope Corp. (even if Zope Corp. indemnify them with the amount it
cost to buy the mark in Europe). I couldn't believe this! ZEA was
also agreeing to transfer the mark to the Zope Foundation (not Zope
Corporation) in exchange for a certain amount of money (20 K euros
which is apparently more than the real cost of such a

The big problem is that Zope Corp is willing to license
irrevocably Zope trademark to the Zope Foundation. Such a license
is not possible with a trademark dispute running on and the Zope
Foundation will consequently be delayed (since it could create some
legal problem for the Foundation or for Zope Corp).

How can we understand ZEA transfer refusal? What is the point of
view and the position of Nuxeo (that is the biggest Zope dedicated
company in the world, with Zope Corp. — Yes I
like writing that, if you are wondering :-)? Here it

Point of view

ZEA is illegitimately owning the mark (and an invalid mark :-).
ZEA is not a charity. ZEA is an association of companies that aims
at selling projects and that is bidding in Europe on some deals,
against other companies. No problem with that, we are in a free
market. But I would like to stop reading things like "ZEA
represents the european Zope community". It does not.

ZEA represents only its members' interest not ones of the whole
Zope Community in Europe. Again, no problem with that, it's totally
normal, but please don't claim anything else.

My concern on this topic is the claim of protecting Zope
Community interests in Europe against the evil american company...
Well, at Nuxeo, a pure european company, we really prefer to see
this mark in the hand of Zope Corp. And we prefer that for two main
reasons :

  • First Zope Corp. was the key player that produced Zope code,
    invented the name, designed the logo, put the code OSS and spend
    some money to market it. Why would someone steal this
    property?  Why would someone bite the hand that feeds
    him? Especially when this one is eating each day. So unfair!

  • Then, Nuxeo is not ZEA's member (it's our choice, even if I
    can't remember to have received any invitation) so ZEA doesn't
    represent our interest. I don't see any reason to prefer to have
    the mark owned by ZEA than ZC from this point of view. But since
    ZEA seems to be unfair, I can feel some danger letting them keep
    the logo of the technology that supports our core business.
    Disclaimer: we don't see ZEA as a competitor and even if it would
    be the case, competition is healthy... when it's fair!

Impact on the Zope Foundation and the whole Zope

After some discussions, Zope Corporation made a clear sign to
the community: they are in the process of creating a Zope
Foundation to hold the copyright of Zope (2 and 3) and to manage
this Open Source project (and related projects if ZF wants to).
That is a big chance for the whole Zope Community to solidify
Zope's image with an independent entity managing it: more members
will be involved, more solid and credible the technology will be. I
was thinking "Eventually, this is the final boost Zope needs to
explode and take a big part of the application servers market",
working at this project and waiting for the Foundation official
launch... I won't explain here all the benefits of such a
foundation and how it will ease and boost Zope's business and use,
this post is about ZEA's big mistake. But clearly it is really
damageable to slow down the launch of our awaited Foundation.

Is ZEA willing to slow the foundation launch?

The direct impact of ZEA's mess is slowing down the Zope
Foundation launch (really expected and applauded by a large
majority of the Zope Community when announced (IRC, Zope list,
Europython, etc.)).

With Zope Foundation owning Zope code and managing the project,
the whole community is assured that Zope is secured even if Zope
Corp is bought by VeryVeryEvilBadCorp! That was expected by so many
people (including many ZEA members and ZEA board members) for more
than 2 years...

So, why would Zope community active members and democracy /
cooperation herald be willing to stop or slow the Zope Foundation?
I really don't know, even if they would fear to lose some
illegitimate power in favor of a legitimate and independent

Note: if I was Zope Corp. I wouldn't have proposed to indemnify:
ZEA did something illegal and they have to repair that mistake (I
will presume that they did a mistake, not an intentional law
infringement when registering). And really don't have to pay for
other's mistake.

About trademarks' "fair usage" and irrational fears

These days, I can read many mails about how Zope Corp can be
bad, owning the whole copyright (but give me one reason to not
apply those fear to ZEA instead of Zope Corp?). Some seems to think
that Zope Corp. would have the power to prevent people to use,
write and pronounce the word Zope.

The reality is a little smoother and fair :-)

There is something called "fair use" that is commonly accepted.
It specifies that an owner has to authorize others to use his
trademark if there is no other way to say something and/or if there
is no confusion about the source.

For example, you use "MySoWonderfulCompany provides worldwide
Zope wonderful experts to develop very large projects" in all you
marketing material. Well, nobody can prevent you to use this
sentence if you're really doing Zope stuff. But, if you say
"MySoWonderfulCompany provides Zope services" and you basically are
providing Java or C# stuff, Zope Corp will sue you, take your home
and make your wife leave! :-)

In short, there is no way for Zope Corp to prevent anyone to use
Zope, if those people respect the source (do not say that you are
Zope inventor — actually, if you say that, you
might fear a lot more Jim's supernatural power than ZC ;-) and if
they really are using / providing / coding on / selling Zope. Don't
forget that the Foundation will own the code and manage the
project, if we can create it!

And the more important is that nobody has interest in preventing
anybody that is doing Zope stuff from using the Zope trademark: we
all have interest in make Zope stronger, more famous, more used and
more known (especially ZC and ZC acquirer if there is one some day,
I think).

Call to ZEA's members

To conclude this, I want to make a call to all ZEA members and
ask them to stop this trademark dispute that is:

  • unfair for Zope Corp. (what would you be selling, right
    now, if ZC would never have released Zope as OSS?) and ZEA
    non-members (do we really need to act as competitor? I would prefer
    to see all of us — members and
    non-members of ZEA — acting as
    partners willing to develop and expand Zope market).

  • damageable for Zope image: what does this mean for your
    current and potential customers? What will people think of our
    community seeing this kind of childish dispute? Well, maybe we
    could all act as professional and stop shouting at / hitting each
    other and concentrate all our effort to build a strong community, a
    rock-solid platform and a large usage... We have talked a lot about
    the Zope 10x project for years, I see this issue as reverse
    marketing ROI :-)

  • useless and non-productive for all of us: count the time
    we are spending on this issue... Is there nothing better to

  • slowing Zope Fondation launch: is it really what you are
    expecting? If the answer is yes, I will do all I can to take the
    mark back from ZEA because I will begin to worry about ZEA's real
    intention and goal...

All of you, ZEA members, please make ZEA give back this mark to its
legitimate owner and stop this silly dispute to eventually allow
the launch of the Zope Foundation! I'm sure the whole Zope
community would really appreciate and thank you all in advance!

Now, let's focus on kicking Documentum ass... :-)

(Post originally written by Eric Barroca on the old Nuxeo blogs.)