I’ve been following the furore about the Hudson open source project with some interest and amusement. Oracle owns the trademark on the name Hudson (because the original developer worked for Sun at the time the project was created) and the community is spooked by the possibility that Oracle will enforce its trademark rights in future.
Trademark rights are indeed a big deal for an open source project, just as they are for a commercial product. An open source project builds its brand by several years of high-quality releases and effective support in its community. Whoever owns the trademark of a project controls that brand.
It’s an interesting study in the fragile dynamics of an open source project’s community. Oracle clearly don’t understand how fragile the power balance is. The community is spooked; not so much by Oracle’s ability to enforce its trademark (they claim they would never do that) but by their presumption that they have more of a say in the project than anyone else.
My two cents? Oracle are not evil, but they are being naive and are coming across as complete dicks. If I were a member of the active Hudson community (I’m a happy user of Hudson, since it powers Pentaho’s continuous integration site, but I wouldn’t say that makes me a community member) I’d certainly give my +1 to fork and change the name of the project to Jenkins. There’s little reason not to.