Nagios Trademark Truth

Several community members have asked about the Nagios trademark and rumors of trademark problems with a German company called NETWAYS. This post will hopefully clear some things up.

Update: There has been progress on this issue. See my follow-up.

Jump to:
Overview
Timeline
What You Can Do

Overview


My name is Ethan Galstad. If you haven’t heard of me, I’m the guy who started the Nagios project back in 1999. I’m often referred to as the “Father of Nagios”, and I self-profess to be the defender of it as well.

The purpose of this post is to inform the Nagios Community of serious Nagios trademark violations by a German company by the name of NETWAYS, and its managing director – Julian Hein. The details of the violations are outlined in detail in the timeline below, but the short story is this: Julian Hein and NETWAYS registered for a Nagios trademark in Germany, along with several domain names, and are refusing to transfer them to me or my company (Nagios Enterprises), despite having said that they are “willing” to do so many times over the past 4+ years.

Both I (personally) and Nagios Enterprises have attempted to resolve this issue first amicably directly with Julian Hein and NETWAYS, and later through our attorneys. Our attempts at resolution have thus far been unsuccessful, so I feel that there is no other option on the table than to expose them publicly. A number of Nagios Community members have asked what they can do to help with this issue. I greatly appreciate your offers and have some suggestions for how you can help.

This entire debacle started when I was just starting out working on Nagios full time. I had recently quit my full-time job to make a job for myself around the project I love. I had few resources at my disposal at the time, and I believe Julian Hein and NETWAYS exploited that opportunity to their advantage.

I am a strong believer in copyrights, trademarks, and ethical behavior. Its important that we all respect others and their work. I know that others have faced similar issues in the past, and there will surely be others that go through this in the future.

A timeline of significant events that have transpired over the past 4+ years is given below.

Timeline


Note: In the text below, “I”, “me”, and “my” refer to me – Ethan Galstad.

2006 – Initial Notice

In early January of 2006, NETWAYS sent an email announcing that it was hosting a “NETWAYS Nagios Conference”. The email announced the conference site as nagiosconference.com

On January 24th I sent an email to Julian Hein of NETWAYS describing problems with regards to NETWAYS’ choice of names for their fall Nagios conference and use of various URLs and domains containing the “Nagios” mark.
After not getting a response, I resent the email to Julian on February 2, 2006.

Julian responded on February 3rd, stating he was out on a business trip and then responded more fully on February 6th.

Subsequent emails (Feb 27th, April 3rd, April 27th, and May 4th) between myself and Julian clarify the trademark and domain issues. Julian agrees to transfer the domains to me after the conference is over.

2008 – Discovery

Despite the passage of almost two years and multiple attempts at resolving the issue, NETWAYS was continuing to use the “Netways Nagios Konferenz” conference name and refusing to transfer the domains back to me. As a result, I notified NETWAYS on May 30, 2008 and asked to be taken off the confirmed speakers list of the planned fall 2008 conference until trademark and legal issues were resolved with Julian Hein.

I spoke with Julian Hein, Bernd Erk, and Michael Streb of NETWAYS at the Nordic Nagios Meet hosted by OP5 in Stockholm June 3-4, 2008. Julian Hein agreed to changing the name of the “Netways Nagios Konferenz” after the 2008 conference date and I agreed to be put back on the speakers list for the conference.

Mary Starr and I met with Julian Hein, Karolina Kaliz, and Bernd Erk of NETWAYS on September 12, 2008 after the last presentation of the conference. Mary and I explained the seriousness of NETWAYS’ misuse of the “Nagios” mark in newly announced websites (nagiosforge and nagioswiki), as well as the title of the conference (“NETWAYS Nagios Konferenz”). I notified the NETWAYS’ folks that because of their actions, Nagios Enterprises would not license the “Nagios” mark to NETWAYS for future use in conference name in the future. I also restated that the issues at hand required that NETWAYS immediately transfer the domains domains to Nagios Enterprises. During the course of the discussions, Nagios Enterprises and NETWAYS were unable to reach a verbal agreement on the transfer of the domains. The meeting concluded with both parties agreeing to followup with a phone conversation in approximately 4 weeks.

On October 8th, 2008, in the course of examining our trademark registrations, we discovered that Julian Hein, managing director of NETWAYS, filed for a registration of the “Nagios” mark with the German Patent and Trademark Office on January 31, 2006. This filing was registered with the German Patent and Trademark Office on April 6, 2006. The registration can be seen online at http://register.dpma.de/DPMAregister/marke/register/306056410/DE. This trademark filing was done by Julian Hein without the knowledge or permission of myself – the individual owner of the “Nagios” mark at the time.

In my opinion, the timing of Julian’s registration of the Nagios mark in Germany is evident of bad intent. He filed for the registration after I had notified him of trademark issues. Our attorneys notified us that at the time he filed for the trademark, Germany did not have an electronic filing system online. That meant that he would have had to walk into the office and file in person on that date. He said he was on a business trip around that time in his email of February 3rd, 2006.

Concerned about what else Julian and NETWAYS were up to, we performed a Nagios domain search. The search results revealed that Netways had more than 50 domains registered using the name “nagios”.

We immediately begin working with our attorneys to seek resolution to this matter, as NETWAYS had previously delayed resolution. Most correspondence is left out for brevity. It can be raised from the deeps if needed. We also began strengthening the Nagios trademark policy and our enforcement of it, in order to protect against possible future issues like the ones we faced with NETWAYS.

Julian Hein sent me an email on December 27th, in which he stated he only registered the trademark because he didn’t know me and he wanted to help “protect” it.

2009 – Deafening Silence

In early January Julian and I exchanged emails regarding a solution to the problem. Julian indicated that he would get back to me in “a few days”. Two months later, on March 20th, Mary Starr sent a follow-up email to Julian and Karolina asking if they had any intention of responding to the trademark violation issues. Her email, which includes Julian’s and my previous correspondence is found here.

On May 6th, 2009 a Nagios fork headed by NETWAYS was announced. We were later informed by a community member that NETWAYS had invited several key Nagios community members in Germany to a meeting that was held in Nuremberg over the Easter Holiday. This meeting would serve as a key decision point to fork. Over the next few weeks, Julian Hein, NETWAYS, and other members of the fork worked diligently to promote a deceptive hysteria that they forked because myself and Nagios Enterprises were attacking the Nagios community. This screenshot of the Icinga website from that May shows some of the wording that was used on the site to create an atmosphere of distrust. I find this interesting, as it was their (NETWAYS’) infringements that caused us to beef up our trademark policy and enforcement in the first place. Though there were particular situations where we had to step up and enforce our trademark policy, the things we did were in the best interest of protecting the Nagios name and Community at large for the future of the project.

Karolina Kaliz (now Karolina Hein) sent an email to Mary Starr of Nagios Enteprises on May 10th, in which she outlined some of NETWAYS’ reasons for not working with us to resolve the trademark and domain name violations – they were busy with other things and transferring the IP to us would have hurt their commercial business interests.

In June our attorney drafted separate trademark and domain transfer agreements, which were provided to NETWAYS’ attorney.

We finally received notice from their attorneys. Julian Hein and NETWAYS were willing to transfer the mark and (most) domains if we re-instated a partnership with their company for a minimum of two years. We refused to entertain those terms. I personally don’t like being blackmailed and consider it a pretty low-ball tactic.

Neither NETWAYS nor their attorneys have responded to follow-up requests from us.

What You Can Do


I would greatly appreciate the Nagios Community’s assistance in helping me to resolve this issue by pressuring NETWAYS and Julian Hein to do the right thing and return what is not rightfully theirs.

Ways that you can help include:

  • Writing an article or blog post that links to this article
  • Linking to this article on social networking sites
  • Contacting Julian Hein and NETWAYS and let them know you don’t approve of their actions. You can find them on Twitter (@jhein @NETWAYS) and elsewhere.

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