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A veteran software engineer urges Oracle to stop trademarking JavaScript and move the term to the public domain.

Ryan Dahl, the creator of Node.js and Deno, contacted Oracle through an open letter. JavaScript is a trademark of Oracle. Dahl argues that the trademark affects the developer community.

Oracle obtained the JavaScript trademark right after its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010. The original trademark was established in 1995 by the now-defunct Netscape.

Although the programming language was initially marketed as a tool for developing interactive capabilities on Java applets and web pages, JavaScript has little in common with Java. It’s a language in its own right.

Open letter

In an open letter to Oracle, Ryan Dahl argues that trademark law casts a dark cloud over JavaScript. Many developers avoid naming JavaScript in documentation to avoid legal problems. According to Dahl, the latter leads to all sorts of dilutions, such as ECMAScript. The industry veteran wants to avoid further confusion about the programming language and its functionality.

Since JavaScript has virtually nothing to do with Java, Dahl says it would be more convenient to move the name into the public domain. This way, developers and companies could simply indicate that their solutions are based on JavaScript, without having to worry about possible legal actions from Oracle.

The trademark is difficult to defend

Dahl further points out that it would be very difficult for Oracle to defend its trademark in court. Oracle uses JavaScript in its products, but Dahl says that none of the products rely on the trademark.

Furthermore, according to Dahl, Oracle’s trademark manual doesn’t explicitly mention JavaScript. The manual only states that Oracle’s trademarks strengthen their role in Oracle’s products and services. Furthermore, the trademarks bar others from using the terms as generic names.

Oracle hasn’t responded to the open letter at the time of writing.

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