Well, this could get messy. The GNOME project is a well-known free and open-source desktop environment for Linux distros. Gnome is also the name of Groupon's new proprietary point-of-sale operating system. The two couldn't be more opposed in ethos, and given the fact that the former has held a registered trademark on its software for the best part of a decade, the GNOME Foundation is understandably upset.
"It was almost inconceivable to us that Groupon, with over $2.5 billion in annual revenue, a full legal team and a huge engineering staff would not have heard of the GNOME project, found our trademark registration using a casual search, or even found our website," says the foundation in an emotive open letter. Apparently, it requested Groupon change the name of its new software some time ago, but that request was refused, and Groupon has now filed a total of 28 trademark applications for "Gnome."
The GNOME Foundation is attempting to raise money to fight Groupon; it says it needs $80,000 to oppose the first 10 applications by December 3rd, and is asking the community to help pitch in. Its donation drive page also includes supporting quotes from the leaders of two of the most important Linux-based distros, Debian and Fedora. Regardless of whether its attempt to block the trademark applications are successful, it seems the foundation will at least succeed in making a few more people dislike Groupon.
Update: Groupon has just told us it'll squash this dispute before things escalate -- let's hope it keeps to its word. The full statement follows:
"Groupon is a strong and consistent supporter of the open source community, and our developers are active contributors to a number of open source projects. We've been communicating with the Foundation for months to try to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution, including alternative branding options, and we're happy to continue those conversations. Our relationship with the open source community is more important to us than a product name. And if we can't come up with a mutually acceptable solution, we'll be glad to look for another name."
Update 2: Groupon has now confirmed that it will abandon its pending trademark applications and choose a new name for its product.