Yesterday Google announced that it was releasing Go, a new open source programming language that's designed to aid in rapid development while at the same time supporting the latest technologies, like multi-processor CPUs.
There's only one problem: there's apparently already a programming language named 'Go'.
Yesterday, somebody with the username 'fmccabe' posted the following on the Issues Tracker for Google Go:
I have been working on a programming language, also called Go, for the last 10 years. There have been papers published on this and I have a book.
I would appreciate it if google changed the name of this language; as I do not want to have to change my language!
Lest you think this is the same guy who claims to have invented the iPod, iPhone and iTunes two decades ago, the poster appears to be Francis McCabe, who has indeed been working on a programming language named 'Go!' for the past 10 years. And yes, there is a book.
Now I'm no lawyer and I don't play one on television so I have no idea if Mr. McCabe would have a legal leg to stand on. 'Go' is obviously a dictionary word, but in the context of a programming language would appear to constitute an arbitrary mark, potentially making it a viable candidate for trademark. A quick search seems to indicate that Mr. McCabe never filed a registration with the USPTO but certain trademark rights are earned through use, not through registration.
Somehow I doubt from Mr. McCabe's posting that he's in a litigious mood but a consultation with an attorney could always change that. Assuming this isn't going to turn into a legal battle, however, the bigger question is how Google will respond to this. Even if there's no legal imperative for Google to honor Mr. McCabe's use of 'Go', it seems that the right (read: empathetic) thing for Google to do would be to find some way to smooth things over.
After all, Google is pretty close with the developer community and I think its members would prefer to avoid unresolved namespace collisions.
Photo credit: szlea via Flickr.