Recently the news was released by the development community of PostgreSQL DBMS about confrontation they have had with a third party who is trying to take over the brands registered in the project of the «PostgreSQL Foundation» (a non-profit organization not affiliated to the PostgreSQL developer community), since for the moment it has managed to get the registration of the PostgreSQL and PostgreSQL Community trademarks in Spain and has applied for similar trademarks in the US and the European Union.
The intellectual property related to the project PostgreSQL, including Postgres and PostgreSQL trademarks, it is managed by PostgreSQL Core Team.
The official trademarks of the project are registered in Canada under the PGCAC (PostgreSQL Community Association of Canada), who represent the community and act on behalf of the core PostgreSQL team. Trademarks are available for free use subject to certain rules (for example, the use of the word PostgreSQL in the name of a company, third-party product, or in a domain name requires approval from the PostgreSQL development team).
In 2020, a third party organization of the «PostgreSQL Foundation» and without the prior approval of the PostgreSQL Core Team, initiated the process of registering the trademarks of PostgreSQL and PostgreSQL Community in the US and the European Union. In response to a request from PostgreSQL developers, the PostgreSQL Foundation explained that they are trying to protect the PostgreSQL trademark.
In correspondence, the PostgreSQL Foundation was informed that the registration of trademarks associated with the project by a third party violates the project’s trademark rules, creates conditions that mislead users, and conflicts with PGCAC’s mission. , an organization dedicated to protecting the project’s intellectual property.
When the representative of the PostgreSQL Foundation, Álvaro Hernández Tortosa, was contacted about his attempt to register the “PostgreSQL” and “PostgreSQL Community” trademarks in 2020, the PostgreSQL Foundation responded that he wanted to secure the trademarks to protect the PostgreSQL trademark. However, the registration of the “PostgreSQL” trademark by another organization is a violation of the PostgreSQL Trademark Policy, as this could lead to user confusion and inconsistent licensing policies and standards. The PostgreSQL Foundation learned of this in a previous correspondence. This is also in direct conflict with PGCAC’s mission to maintain the intellectual property and brand assets of the PostgreSQL project.
When contacted in 2020, the PostgreSQL Foundation indicated that they will not withdraw their applications for the trademarks “PostgreSQL” and “PostgreSQL Community”. The PostgreSQL Foundation indicated that it would be willing to negotiate with PGCAC, and although PGCAC made an offer to the PostgreSQL Foundation, at that time PGCAC did not receive a response from the PostgreSQL Foundation as to whether the offer was acceptable or not. Ultimately, PGCAC and PostgreSQL Europe (PGEU), a recognized PostgreSQL non-profit organization operating in Europe, chose to file official disputes over the registration of these trademark applications.
In 2021, PGCAC learned that the PostgreSQL Foundation filed additional trademark applications for the “Postgres” trademark in the European Union and the United States. Along with the original trademark submissions, this is considered by the PostgreSQL core team and PGCAC to be a clear violation of the PostgreSQL Trademark Policy. Actions like this put the name and reputation of the PostgreSQL project at risk should an unauthorized third party take control of PostgreSQL trademarks, and could be used to take over domain names and other items.
In response, The PostgreSQL Foundation organization made it clear that it will not withdraw the submitted applications, but it is ready to negotiate with PGCAC. The representative community organization PGCAC sent a proposal for a resolution of the conflict, but did not receive a response. Subsequently, together with the European office of PostgreSQL Europe (PGEU), PGCAC decided to formally challenge the applications submitted by the PostgreSQL Foundation for the registration of the PostgreSQL and PostgreSQL Community trademarks.
While preparations were being made for the presentation, the PostgreSQL Foundation filed another trademark application for “Postgres”, that it was perceived as a deliberate violation of trademark policy and a potential threat to the project. For example, trademark control can be used to take over project domains.
After another attempt to resolve the conflict, the owner of the PostgreSQL Foundation said he was ready to retire applications only on his own terms, with the aim of weakening PGCAC and the ability of third parties to control PostgreSQL trademarks. The PostgreSQL Core Team and PGCAC found such requirements unacceptable due to the danger of losing control over project resources. PostgreSQL developers continue to wait for a peaceful solution to the problem, but they are ready to take every opportunity to reflect attempts to appropriate the Postgres, PostgreSQL, and PostgreSQL Community trademarks.