Starting in 2003, we used to call our RTC server “Jive Messenger” – very clear, but not very exciting, and not much of a brand in and of itself. So we decided to rename in 2005. We went through a long process (including going out to the community) and ultimately ended up with “Wildfire” – everyone loved the name and it worked well with the product.
Unfortunately, we recently hit a snag. Even though we performed a trademark search at the time we chose the name, we were recently asked to end the usage by a company who sees their product as similar. Their original trademark was for a protocol that supports peer-to-peer file sharing – it was close, but we were pretty sure it wouldn’t be perceived as an issue. Unfortunately, this same company expanded their usage afterwards to include other forms of real-time communication. And now they believe that our use of Wildfire is infringing on their trademark.
As you can imagine, it’s been incredibly frustrating. We didn’t see it as a confusing mark, but they weren’t budging, and we didn’t want to get into a costly legal battle that we likely wouldn’t win. It’s also an exceedingly expensive situation, since we’ve invested so much in the brand. In hindsight, we could have done more homework on the name, and could have involved more lawyers. Painful lesson learned.
After exhausting the possibility of keeping the Wildfire name we’ve now started working on a new name for the project. We’re still researching and brainstorming, but getting your thoughts early in the process is very helpful. And this time we’ll be more careful (read “paranoid”) as we search for a new name for Wildfire. You’ll probably see some names that have absolutely no infringement potential: Getabubazz? Havofrindia?
We don’t have an exact time frame for the change yet, but we’re going to keep an open process and I’ll provide status updates in the forums. This is a situation that I never wanted or imagined and several of us here at Jive have had sleepless nights over the problem. Still, I’m confident that we’ll get through it and look back on all of this as just a blip on the quest to build the leading Open Source real-time collaboration server on the market.