Nagios Announces End of Trademark Dispute

Nagios, a maker of open source IT insfrastructure monitoring tools, announced the resolution of an ongoing trademark dispute with German company NETWAYS, based on unauthorized trademark and domain name registration and use.  Ethan Galstad – founder of Nagios – believes that community pressure proved key to Mr. Hein and NETWAYS finally transferring ownership of the trademark domains to Nagios.”  Perhaps the German trademark suit described last week in this blog had something to do with it, too.
A timeline of the violations, created by Nagios, appears here.  According to Nagios, dispute centered on the use of the name “Netways Nagios Konferenz” for a conference promoted by NETWAYS, regisration of the domain names nagiosforge and nagioswiki, and a registration of the Nagios trademark in Germany by NETWAYS.
Although the intersection of open source licensing and trademark use can be complex, this is not a particularly complex case nor is it particular to open source.  The kind of domain name and trademark squatting described in Nagios’ timeline is not uncommon — particularly for international resellers and value-added resellers.  It is also particularly troublesome in countries with first-to-file trademark systems, where it can be difficult to challenge trademark registrations if the distributor files before the developer.  The use of Nagios in a conference name is a more complex matter for a trademark infringement claim than would be, for instance, the use of the name on a product.  Classic trademark infringement turns on passing off one’s products as those of another, which requires the mark to be used in commerce to indicate the source or origin of a product.  But the use of the trademark in a conference name can imply sponsorship by the owner of the mark, which is also an basis for trademark claims in the US.