AWS and Elasticsearch settle trademark infringement lawsuit

'There is only one Elasticsearch, and it comes from Elastic'


The dispute between AWS and Elastic looks to be over, with Elastic saying the trademark infringement lawsuit is "resolved."

"Now the only Elasticsearch service on AWS and the AWS Marketplace is Elastic Cloud," said Elastic.

For its part, Amazon Web Services has begun stripping the term "Elasticsearch" from its website, services, and project names.

"We view this as a significant step in removing the confusion in the marketplace because there is only one Elasticsearch, and it's only from Elastic," said Shay Banon, founder and chief technology officer of Elastic.

The pair filed a joint stipulation of dismissal of the September 2019 lawsuit last week, records reveal [PDF]. Further terms were not disclosed.

Elasticsearch is a database search engine, and a darling of the enterprise search world (DB-Engines has the platform ranked top as of February 2022). It was initially released in 2010 and Amazon introduced a service called "Elasticsearch" in 2015. Banon's firm was not impressed – and considered that the use of the name created "confusion" in the market – and a bitter dispute ensued, including the 2019 lawsuit and a change of license for the Elastic's Elasticsearch code. Specifically, Elastic moved to non-free licensing in order to limit those vendors who might seek to offer the code as a software-as-a-service offering. The move was not popular with many in the open-source community, with developer Drew DeVaultdeclaring at the time that it was "a move against open source... [and] every single one of 1,573 contributors."

In January 2021, Banon said that both the ElasticSearch and Kibana projects would drop the open-source Apache 2.0 license and adopt what it dubbed the Elastic license and the non-open-source Server Side Public License (SSPL).

Amazon responded by forking the Elasticsearch and Kibana code and renaming it "OpenSearch".

The version 1 milestone was reached in July 2021 and this week's announcement looks like an end to hostilities.

The productization of open-source code by some of the tech giants has long been an issue, occasionally resulting in license changes (MongoDB springs effortlessly to mind). Elastic went down a similar path to MongoDB, although being based on Apache Lucene meant that it could be accused of benefiting from open source while locking down products itself.

Still, there was always that Elasticsearch trademark, which was the subject of the 2019 California suit [PDF].

The Register asked Amazon for its thoughts on the matter, but the box-shifting cloud behemoth has yet to respond.

In the meantime, Elastic seemed happy to be friends again. CEO Ashutosh Kulkarni said: "With this matter behind us, we'll continue to focus on collaboration with Amazon for the benefit of our shared customers who use Elastic Cloud on AWS." ®

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