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Apple Reportedly Demands App Takedown Because Name Includes 'JavaScript,' Trademarked by Oracle Corp.

The developer community is up in arms today about a post on the Reddit programming forum site in which a developer claims Apple is demanding the takedown of an iOS app on the iTunes store because its name features the term "JavaScript," which is trademarked by Oracle Corp.

The app from Tyanya Software LLC is titled "HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, HTML, Snippet Editor." Apparently, because of its prominent use of the term "JavaScript" in the title, Apple is demanding it be taken down.

Here's the reported e-mail from Apple, as presented in a Reddit post titled "Oracle Owns "JavaScript", so Apple is taking down my app!" (with the "help" tag attached):

"As you are likely aware, Oracle owns US Trademark Registration No. 2416017 for JAVASCRIPT. The seller of this iTunes app prominently displays JAVASCRIPT without authorization from our client. The unauthorized display of our client's intellectual property is likely to cause consumers encountering this app to mistakenly believe that it emanates from, or is provided under a license from, Oracle. Use of our client's trademark in such a manner constitutes trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act. 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(A). In order to prevent further consumer confusion and infringement of our client's intellectual property rights, we request that you immediately disable access to this app. We look forward to your confirmation that you have complied with this request."

A 2014 post on the Hacker News site quotes a Wikipedia article that does indeed state " 'JavaScript' is a trademark of Oracle Corporation."

This is not the first time Oracle has stirred up developer ire by enforcing its trademarks. Earlier this year, for example, we reported on the company's response to a rebranding of Java EE, "stating unequivocally that it will not be allowing the use of its trademarked 'Java EE' and 'javax' to be used in naming the Java EE 8-based technologies contributed to the Eclipse Foundation late last year."

That article quoted Oracle's position:

"The Java EE and javax.* names leverage the Java trademark, and indicate that the source of these technologies is Oracle and community processes managed by Oracle. As a critical identifier of the source of products to our users, we must continue to reserve use of such names using the Java trademark to serving that fundamental source identifying function. This will help us to maintain the Java trademark, which is in Oracle's interest and in the community's interest."

Over on Reddit, several readers came up with creative names to use in such apps rather than "JavaScript" -- which, officially, is just a variant implementation of the ECMAScript standard anyway. Many of those proposed names were not complimentary to Oracle and can't be reprinted here.

Some developers were surprised to learn that JavaScript was trademarked by Oracle. "Been a JS dev for years... This is the first time I've heard that Oracle owns that trademark, and that there is a trademark in the first place. I have literally never needed a damn thing from Oracle to do my job," said one reader. "How the [expletive deleted] did this happen?"

Apparently, it happened because JavaScript was originally a trademark of Netscape Communications, where the language was created by Brendan Eich. Netscape collaborated with Sun Microsystems and announced JavaScript, "the open, cross-platform object scripting language for enterprise networks and the Internet," in 1995. Sun ended up with the trademark, which shifted to Oracle upon its acquisition of Sun.

For the app developer served with the takedown notice, several Reddit readers just suggested the issue be dodged by changing the title to use JS or another term, though some claimed the trademark has been rendered unenforceable through its ubiquitous use.

Ironically, a Quora post years ago asked: "Could Oracle prevent us from using the name JavaScript?"

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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