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AWS scrubs 'Elasticsearch' from site to settle trademark dispute with Elastic

If you see 'Elasticsearch' in AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or as a download, you'll now know it definitely comes from Elastic.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

Elastic, the makers of an open-source search and analytic engine, has settled its trademark lawsuit with Amazon Web Services (AWS) over the latter's use of the term Elasticsearch.

Under the agreement, announced by Elastic, Amazon has removed the word Elasticsearch from its pages and replaced it with Elastic Cloud "sold by: Elastic" as can be seen in the AWS Marketplace, which brings its offering on AWS into line with Elastic on Microsoft Azure and Elastic on Google Cloud. AWS has also renamed the Amazon Elasticsearch Service to Amazon OpenSearch Service.

The dispute arose early last year after Elastic changed its license for Elasticsearch, a search and analytic engine, and the related data dashboard Kibana from the open-source Apache 2.0-license ALv2) to a more restrictive Server Side Public License (SSPL)

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SSLP was hatched in 2019 by MongoDB, the makers of an open-source NoSQL database, as a response to problems it had monetizing its offerings through major cloud providers.  

At the time of Elastic's switch to SSPL, it said the move had no impact on "the overwhelming majority of our user community who use our default distribution for free". While that was correct, it could impact any company that used the Amazon Elasticsearch Service, such as Netflix, LinkedIn, Walmart and more that use AWS.  

As ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols explained at the time, Elastic on Azure and Elastic on Google Cloud were commercial partnership offerings. Elastic on AWS was not.

"Our license change is aimed at preventing companies from taking our Elasticsearch and Kibana products and providing them directly as a service without collaborating with us," Elastic said back then. 

Within days of Elastic's license change, AWS went and forked Elasticsearch and Kibana. The AWS forks then moved to the OpenSearch Project, which reached version 1.0 in July. Around the same time, Elastic amended the Elasticsearch Python client to disable it on forks of Elasticsearch, as The Register reported

The trademark lawsuit pre-dates Elastic's license change. In 2019, it added AWS to an existing trademark infringement lawsuit against several companies for using the terms Elasticsearch and Kibana in their products, including IBM's "Cloud Databases for Elasticsearch".

Elastic CEO Ashutosh Kulkarni seems satisfied with the trademark agreement with AWS.

"We're pleased to share that Elastic and Amazon have resolved the trademark infringement lawsuit related to the term Elasticsearch. Now the only Elasticsearch service on AWS and the AWS Marketplace is Elastic Cloud," Kulkarni said in a blogpost.

"There is only one Elasticsearch, and it comes from Elastic. This means when you use Elasticsearch, whether as the Elastic Cloud service in AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud, or when you download and run Elasticsearch yourself, you can be sure that you're getting the best possible experience because you are benefiting from 12 years of constant development and innovation from the people who created the product."

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