Fun_People Archive
20 Jun
An Open Letter from JavaSoft President Alan Baratz

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 96 16:04:37 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: An Open Letter from JavaSoft President Alan Baratz

[If only the Kellogg's lawyers (the ones in the Toucan Sam battalion)  
understood this...  -psl]

Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <>
Forwarded-by: Wendell Craig Baker <>

             An Open Letter from JavaSoft President Alan Baratz

      [ picture of Alan Baratz ]

                          In the eye of the storm:
                      The benefits of a Java trademark

There is a storm brewing on the Net and Sun Microsystems is at the eye of
the storm. It has to do with the Java name and actions we have taken to
protect "Java" as a trademark.

We are hoping this open letter to the Internet community will help allay
some fears, correct some misperceptions and, in general, educate our
customers, partners, users and interested observers of the Java technology
about the importance of the Java technology trademark.

When Sun introduced the Java technology, we had a very specific goal: to
provide a network-centric computing platform that had, among other
characteristics, the ability to allow programmers to write applications
once and run them on virtually any hardware or software architecture.

An important part of this goal was to ensure this community that a Java
application could run in any operating environment certified as Java
compatible. This requires a nomenclature that acts as a type of assurance:
when you see the name Java you should have assurance that the application
will run across all platforms or that the platform is compatible with the

Trademarks are among the accepted means for providing this assurance.
However, our intent from the beginning has always been to establish this
trademark only within the realm of products, services and technologies for
computers, communications, and networking.

We should also note that there is considerable precedence for trademarking
generic English names for novel use within the computing context. Apple took
the generic term for a piece of fruit and the MacIntosh strain and
successfully established a brand for the best WYSIWYG computers. Mention
Apple or Mac at CompUSA and it's always clear what you mean. Use the terms
in a grocery store, and it's likewise clear you're referring to the fruit.

Java has taken off like wildfire for a number of reasons:

   * It's great technology
   * It's open, giving everyone an equal opportunity to capitalize on it
   * It has a clever name that is easy to remember and fun to play upon

Now, with its popularity at full tilt, we are attempting to make sure that
those benefitting from the name are doing so without infringing on the name.

A few weeks back, letters from Sun's law firm were sent to individuals using
"Java" in their company names, product names, and domain names notifying the
recipients that they might be violating our trademark rights. Unfortunately,
in our haste, letters were sent to some individuals who obviously were not
infringing on the Java trademark.

Specifically, a company called Javanco received a letter when it should have
been clear from the circumstances that Javanco's name was not a play off of
our Java trademark. Let us just apologize to Javanco here and now. It was a
mistake on our part.

Nonetheless, we do believe that it is in the interest of the community at
large, not just Sun's, to preserve the Java trademark. If we allow the Java
name to be associated with multiple incompatible versions, then our
prinicipal tenet -- to "Write Once, Run Anywhere," is seriously eroded.

Once that happens, developers are never assured that any application or
applet they write will run on the multiple Java platforms. And once that
happens, users will never be sure that any applet or application called
"Java" lives up to the claim of being truly compatible.

We're not about to take legal action against the island of Java or a coffee
roaster or an Indonesian travel service. We haven't done it, we aren't doing
it, and we're not going to do it. The word Java is clearly generic for these
uses and Sun wouldn't take legal action against anyone for using Java in its
normal English connotations.

We're not trying to remove the word Java from the English language for our
exclusive use.

What we are doing is protecting the Java name as it pertains to computer
products, preserving the first successful model of cross-platform
compatibility that this industry has ever witnessed.

If we don't maintain the Java trademark, Java won't remain Java for long.

                               Alan E. Baratz

                            President, JavaSoft

                          We welcome your comments

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