The maze book for programmers!

Algorithms, circle mazes, hex grids, masking, weaving, braiding, 3D and 4D grids, spheres, and more!

DRM-Free Ebook

The Buckblog

assorted ramblings by Jamis Buck

SwitchTower C&D

3 March 2006 — 1-minute read

Well, Raindance Communications, Inc. has exercised their legal right and requested that I cease and desist in using their trademarked term, SWITCHTOWER.

This means the beginning of a major hassle for me and for any of you SwitchTower users out there. I’ll be working on thinking up a new name this weekend. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Hopefully early next week I can begin migrating all ST references to the new name.

Reader Comments

How about * SwitchTrack * SwitchRail * BuckTower
I was looking for other possible names here: Maybe "switchpoint" or "turnout"?
Switch Station (like a rail road switching station)
How about a free set of ruby books to the one whose name choice you use? my choices are: -BitchTower -RailsSetter -BabelTower -RubyTower -RailSpikeTower -WaterTwoer
SignalBox AutoSwitch ChangeOver HomeSignal SmokeBox TwinTrack
Conductor. He's the one that governs it all.
Conductor is good, if you want to be safe maybe use RailsConductor instead.
  • conductor
  • whistle
  • stationmaster
  • junction
  • switchman
Of course in this day of legal madness it's no surprise that Jamis would receive a C&D from some company no one's really heard of and when you do get a letter like that you just want it to go away as quickly as possible. Legal bullying as practiced in America. Still the questions arise: How is Switchtower code a product? How is Jamis the responsible party for this code? Does Jamis own switchtower? Does this mean any developer who worked on the code should get a C&D as well? What if the name is changed and I still choose to call it Switchtower should I get a C&D as well? I say don't bow down to the IP Scumsuckers and takes this fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Let's make the new name: IpodWindowsVistaLordoftheRingsSwitchTower Oh and just in case anyone takes this advice I live on the North Pole in a small cabin, so just have the legal letters addressed to me c/o Santa Claus.
Putting ruby or rails in the name loses the fact that it can be used for more general stuff. How about: * Krinkle * BackApp * Whiplash * Backlash * nst (not switchtower) * Boomerang * Stammer * stav (set to app version) * Commando * WatchTower * AppRiot * WhipBack * PickApp * SWARM (Simple Web App Reversion Master)
I agree with TIm. There should be no need for you to change the name of Switchtower. Unless their switchtower product has anything todo with deployment and change management these are completely different products. IANAL but as far as I understand US trademark law does not allow you to keep others from using your name in some completely unrelated product. I say keep it Switchtower.
A quick tour of a railroad glossary of terms yields this utter gem: *Hump* - the highest point in the Marshalling Yard where cars are released to coast toward the correct track. :-)
from my understanding (and I'm not a lawyer), it is when there's a reasonable belief that the two products could be confused. Unless you're a mega brand (e.g. Coke) and then anything is more or less "brand diultion" So as Pelle stated, you should be in the clear. Call the EFF :)
This really stinks. You picked a great name. Maybe you can get some ideas from here: Good luck and thanks for such a great utility.
They're just mad, because the SwitchTower manual beats them in Google.
Hey Jamis, I suggest you check out and make sure that they actually have the right to force you to C & D. As John said, call the EFF. They can issue at least a counter letter. Sometimes companies go away once they get a nastygram back. Remeber that Trademarks only apply to specific uses of the application of that term, not all uses. Safari is both a web browser from apple and a tech book service accessed via web browers from O'Reily. Offer to put up a link to their website on the switchtower manual. I suspect they are mostly upset at their losing google rank. That said, it took them a long time to notice. -rabble
IANAL either, but I think Pelle may be right. Consult with a lawyer or at least ask the people at groklaw or eff, if you want to keep the name. Looks like Raindance makes a suite of network appliances for web conferencing which when used together constitute what they call a SwitchTower network. This is not competition with a development tool (completely different markets) but since they're both "computer stuff" it would pay to check with a lawyer. This boils down to they aren't showing up on the first page of a google search for switchtower and that makes them mad. It's easy to send out a cease and desist letter and scare some open source developers into changing a name. I say stand your ground until it actually comes down to spending money to do so (e.g. paying a lawyer or going to court). Or just change the name. I never really liked it anyway (but don't change it on my account!).
I hope whatever you choose you avoid the tired railroad metaphors. It getting really annoying. And the metaphor doesn't always work. If anything, ST has a cooking metaphor going with its "recipes". Maybe a kitchen/cooking/baking theme would work. How about "Baker" or "Chef" or "ActiveCook" or something? Hell, call it ActiveMicrowave since it takes the effort out of cooking up a production app :)
How about: On the train engineer theme: railseer funnyhat variations on switchtower: bittower switchcenter swhichtower switchpower iSwitch rSwitch (too javaesque) i'm done
Jamis--hope you can fight this. It smells of bullying, and that happens far too often in this country. If you are forced to back down, you could always do a recursive GNU-ish thing. I'm thinking SOWS, meaning "SOWS Once Was SwitchTower". The beauty of recursion means you can make the first letter anything you like if you think of something more fitting.
Well that kinda sucks. What about Deploy? .. RubyDeploy?
What about calling it TurnTable or TurnStile? Of course, you risk endless jokes about the Byrds "Turn, Turn, Turn" apropos though they may be.... ;-)
I appreciate the moral support, all, but we have consulted a lawyer and their advice was that we not try to fight this. The point is that both the deployment software "SwitchTower", and Raindance's software, are both software, which is similar enough, apparently. So, we're definitely renaming. We'd like to choose a name unrelated to railroad terminology, simply because ST is not rails specific and we'd like to emphasize that a bit. Great suggestions so far, btw. Thanks, all!
From FAQ: If no income is solicited or earned by using someone else's mark, this use is not normally infringement. Trademark rights protect consumers from purchasing inferior goods because of false labeling. If no goods or services are being offered, or the goods would not be confused with those of the mark owner, or if the term is being used in a literary sense, but not to label or otherwise identify the origin of other goods or services, then the term is not being used commercially. Confusion between the names does not seem likely in the marketplace. To a non-techie the difference may not be obvious, however both 'products' are targeted at a technically savvy audiences. I appreciate you probably don't want the hastle, aggravation and worry but I'd always recommend getting legal advice before backing down. They may not have a strong case and relying on the fact that you'll buckle upon reciept of the C&D. I think it's a great name BTW.
Kinda like what Nola said, except how about Reploy (Ruby + Deploy). Less then 1000 hits on google, is available. :)
* PuppetMaster * Marionette * Lobbyist ;-) * DeusExMachina
Whats better than a tower? Its a bird, its a plane, no its a -----superstation-----.
How about ControlTower. A search of the USPTO site for registered trademarks shows no matches for the one word version. There are a few that match on "Control Tower". Has similar connotations, but is aircraft oriented, rather then train. Ruby ControlTower (RCT) would probably differentiate enough to prevent further C&Ds. For that matter, wouldn't Ruby SwitchTower be enough to differentiate this from the other product? Link to USPTO TM search form:
Sorry about the link format. I created a tinyurl link intead since it wasn't obvious how to properly post a url with params in the comments.
SwitchTover SwitcherooTm SwapTowers
Just make a minor change. Like the way Microsoft adds the word Microsoft (or MS) to their products (Microsoft Office, MS DOS). How about "J-switchtower" or "switchtowerJB" or "The Real Switchtower" or "Switchtower For Rails". None of those should be a legal problem, since you can't trademark a real word (to prevent others from using it). IANAL
How about naming it SwitchTowr and get rid of that useless e in there? ;-)
RoboBOFH ScriptMao (it lets a thousand flowers bloom..) Shepherd RubyVisor ScriptCaster NetSherpa Aerosol
Ok, I've got it. * Switchyard
Other switchyard examples:
Conductor would be more appropriate as a replacement for ActiveRBAC.
How about ActiveSwitcher? I believe that if you even name it ActiveSwitchTower you are not violating the trademark any longer, but i am not a lawyer.
I think you should get a second opinion, preferably from the EFF. Barring that, call it ScrewYouRaindanceYouPettyBastards
I'd like to see it called NetRunner It sounds official, implies a larger scope than just RoR, and the NetRunner's objective is to keep 'the Corp' from acheiving their evil world domination (always a good thing).
How about 'Raindance_Can_SuckIt!'
How about: CowCatcher (just for the heck of it hehehe)
Following the cooking metaphor: Dispatula!
derailer rightofway crossover
reverse it TowerSwitch
I'm with Nola: Deploy or RubyDeploy DeployR
DisAdmin (distributed) BOFH-in-a-box RuBot
SpreadTower TransmitTower ReachTower Circulate Just some thoughs :)
Gee.. I'm gonna have to be careful naming my Classes and Methods in future.
Of course they have the legal right to defend their trademarked product name, but then we have the legal right to never use their products again. I sure won't be, and neither will anyone I work with.
How about just Ruby Switch?
I agree that you should find out if they have any legal merit to send you a C&D. Besides, Raindance is just performing a marketing stunt so that thousands of angry SwitchTower users and Ruby-lovers go to the Raindance website and research their brand/technology. Afterwards it will trickle to other blog and news sites. Common ploy -- any news is good news type of thing.
IANAL, but remember the Firebird thing. Even though one was a database and the other a browser, and even though they were both open source, we now have Firefox. At the time I remember it having to do with both being in the tech/computer space. Dispatula is a good one though the name suggests it is disposable. Your project, however, is indispensable.
How about something to dig in at them, should you not want to go through with challenging their claim. Something like 'RadiantTower' or the like.
If Jim Weirich doesn't mind, you could call it Distributed Rake/DRake/Drake. If you want to give raindance a bittersweet victory, you could do something like: Used To Be SwitchTower, and abbreviate it U2B SwitchTower. That would get past the naming issue (I assume) and still keep you at the top of google searches for SwitchTower.
Oops. I guess it helps to use textile to format a list, not just CRs.. * RoboBOFH * ScriptMao (it lets a thousand flowers bloom..) * Shepherd * RubyVisor * ScriptCaster * NetSherpa * BOFH-in-a-box * DisAdmin * RuBot
How about "ControlTower" or "SwitchMaster"
how about "Switchr" ?
How about : *"Aiguillage"* ? it's the french word for "railway points / switch" it's in french but there are some nice pictures...
My votes: DeployTower Switch & Deploy QuickSwitcher Quicksilver (generic enough to avoid all issues I hope) Striving With Interesting Technology Creates Havoc Tower (S.W.I.T.C.H. Tower) JB & Company's SwitchTower X-SwitchTower Switched Tower (due to legal threats (tm)) My sympathies go out to you, just hope that you can include "formerly SwitchTower" if you go back and replace all recurring instances with a new name. I sure hope Amtrack doesn't come after Rails!!!
Or "strelka" -- this is Russian for railway switch... and more as well.
Host it outside the US and screw the trademark.
Well, it is sad that you are being forced to change your name... IP laws are teh suck. But, you may as well make the most of it while you can. Since you aren't really going for a railroad related name, you can go for some similar terms. For instance, SwitchTower is all about coordinating releases, upgrades, and maintenance. So how about Conductor or Orchestrator? It makes sense since we use your program to guide all of the code into place and get everything ready. Now if you could just get it to direct in 3/4 time rather than in 4/4 time it might even be considered a SuperConductor!