This email is an answer to the questions raised by Rob Page in his email titled “Zope Foundation update”. It was posted on zope.org mailing list, Tuesday July 19, 2005. This document also tries to answer questions raised on the mailing list.
Later in the document:
Zope Corporation = ZC
Zope Europe Association = ZEA
ZEA goals are to promote and develop the Zope technology. The association currently regroups 16 businesses from 9 countries, which are actively involved in the creation or promotion of the technology. As a non-profit, we are developing contact with users, private and public entities. Part of our focus is to provide an increased visibility of the Zope ecosystem.
ZEA management is independent of the business interest. Paul and Xavier roles are to focus on commons issues. Due to a conflict of interest, Paul has not been involved in ZEA decision to register the trademark.
A – Zope trademark : situation and facts
1/ Europython, June 29, 2005
I took the initiative to set-up a face-to-face meeting with Rob. During a 2 hours conversation, I presented ZEA goals, activities and their positive impact on Zope internationally. I explained that working on the Plone trademark, I found out that Zope trademark wasn’t protected and explained the reasons of the decision to register the mark. In his email on zope.org, Rob forgot to mention that ZEA openly provided these informations to ZC.
2/ Reasons for registering the Zope trademark - 2003Q4
At the end of 2003, there was unrest within the Community related to the trademark. ZC made clear statement that the trademark was protected, while it was not. Unknown entities had taken actions to register it in some countries. The decision of a defensive registration was taken among ZEA partners. The goal was to freeze the situation, with an agreement that ZEA wasn’t the right entity to hold the trademark in the long-term. The registration process started on January 5, 2004. Both our trademark expert and legal adviser agree that these registrations are not illegal as suggested by ZC.
3/ Trademark registration
A trademark has to be registered and its status carefully followed. The underlying issues and risk can hardly be summarized in a few lines. ZEA has been advised by a trademark expert in the steps to follow. To reduce the risk of opposition by third parties, her advice was to register a “figurative trademark” = the mark and its logo, and not to advertise the process.
For transparency, I accept to show evidences of the process to the Zope Community and if necessary organize a meeting with Dominique, the trademark expert (file about 100 pages). On July 12, during a mediation attempt, I made the same offer to ZC. My proposition was rejected.
4/ Why Plone is currently under the name of ZEA?
The Plone registration started before the Plone Foundation (PF) creation. The work was done on behalf of representatives of the Plone Community. The final transfer should be done by Q3Q42005, we are currently expecting documentation from the registration office. The PF is aware of the process.
Having informed Rob about my involvement in the process (point1), I was surprised that he came up with this point on a Zope mailing list rather than contacting directly the PF. In the case of the PF, this situation didn’t delay the creation of the Foundation.
5/ ZC contradictory statements
Some examples :
-The statement that the trademark was protected in 2003, while it was not outside the US.
-The ownership of the trademark seems to be a primary concern of ZC, at the same time ZEA and other registrations went unnoticed.
The reasons of these contradictions aren’t clear today: lack of resources, misunderstanding of international laws, problem of expertise of their trademark expert?
The fact is that leaving the trademark unregistered outside the US has put the Zope ecosystem at risk: other brands could have opposed the registration. It also weakens Rob point (July20) that « ZC is more likely to defend the trademark than a volunteer-led Foundation ».
B - Concerns about Zope future
For over 3 years I have been following the discussions about Zope, met a number of developers, businesses and users. Legal concerns including the trademark are ongoing topics brought up by a large number of persons (in and out ZEA). This situation is damaging the Zope Community and related activities. I believe it is time to tackle the roots of the problem or drop the topic. The Zope Community should own this decision.
Since Europython (point1), I had a number of direct contacts with ZC. What struck me most is that:
-the same word “Zope” (brand) is being used for different goals and objectives,
-the unwillingness of ZC to talk about core issues.
The 2 points of views :
(a)- Zope community, businesses and users
Worldwide, Zope refers to “Zope the open source application server”. It is the brand of the technology originally presented to the public. Thousands of people are promoting it. The future of Zope relies on the ability to grow its ecosystem and be attractive to new businesses and users.
(b)- Zope Corporation
ZC point of view is “Zope is Zope Corporation”. The same name is used for a business, its products and (a).
The goals and objectives of (a) are not the same as (b). All actions taken by (a) bring a benefit to (b). The reverse is uncertain. Zope Corporation is in a clear position of conflict of interest. ZC owns the problem : it is a consequence of the decision to rename their business.
An example of distortion : ZC has never done marketing in Europe, while the activity of (a) brings a direct return. Since June 29, I was surprised that the information ZEA received from ZC focused on (b) rather than (a); whatever the consequences for (a) and the market might be.
I’m not an expert in US laws, but from a European perspective, and at least in my country the same conflict of interest underlying a Foundation would automatically disqualify it. By law, a non-profit cannot provide direct benefits to one of its founder or member.
Many of us can already witness some consequences of these conflicts of interests:
- it creates mistrust about ZC actions,
- the use of the name “Zope” remains a hot topic,
- this situation is damaging Zope (a).
The sad thing about this situation is that a number of businesses have already taken actions to reduce their dependency on the Zope brand, while others remain concerned about these ongoing issues. The consequences have a broader impact than the trademark alone: it is a strategic issue slowing down Zope growth internationally.
I believe ongoing success and how to achieve it are the core issues we should focus on.
CEO, Zope Europe Association
Note 1 : The emails posted on zope.org by Rob and Hadar contain factual errors and contradictions. Matt Hamilton already came up with some examples. I do not wish to spend further time arguing this. I would like to express some concern about the way the information is being handled.
Note2: On Friday July 15, I informed ZC that I would be several days away from the office and we would need extra time to review their propositions send the same day. This letter includes a commitment to refund ZEA trademark expenses, which was an earlier point of divergence. We appreciate this step and positive propositions posted by Rob on Zope-annonce. To avoid delaying the present answer, next week I propose to :
- analyze in detail the different propositions,
- summarize ZEA questions and propositions about these points.
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