Amazon AWS has launched a new service last month, name CodeGuru.
Only problem, CodeGuru is a major website dedicated to Microsoft technologies. It’s been running for more than 20 years, it is (was?) a top 25k website with half a million visitors a day.
Now it is in free-fall since Amazon decided to step over it, the site can hardly be found with Google unless you search for “Microsoft CodeGuru” specifically.
Some stats here (note AWS codeguru was in beta for half a year before launch, it’s really hard to find historical traffic before that):
CodeGuru.com seems to be owned by a small company in the US. While not owned by Microsoft, it is strongly affiliated to Microsoft, being dedicated to Microsoft technologies including Windows C/C++/COM API, anything C# and Visual Basic. Basically if you google something related to these Microsoft technologies and the result is not StackOverflow (since 2010), the result may be an article or forum post from CodeGuru explaining how to use it.
It’s very unlikely that they have the means to defend from Amazon -a trillion dollar company- blatantly walking over them. Should Microsoft step in and defend their ecosystem? Or maybe they could get a solicitor to take up the case on a no-fee no-win basis. The case is solid, it’s a great opportunity for an ambitious no-name firm to make a name for themselves.
Interestingly, if you lookup the trademark “CodeGuru” on the US TradeMark Office, it is not deposited by anyone. (This shouldn’t be an issue to defend since there is extensive usage for decades). For comparison, a similar website is CodeProject, top 5k website with millions of registered users, it’s live since the late 1990s, the trademark was deposited in 2009.
Major lesson here, if you run a major site in the US and did not deposit the name (maybe it grew organically over the years?), now is a good time to do it.
A registered trademark alone might not stop giant competitor from trying to kill your company overnight, but maybe they will think twice when they come up with the name in the early phase of the project and legal review find it deposited. Either way it will give you more grounds to defend in court, should the need arise.
There is no way that Amazon was not aware of codeguru. Amazon must have willingly decided to ignore it (couldn’t care less about a small company), or worse, Amazon willingly decided to stomp on it knowing it affects their competitor.
This is a major lawsuit waiting to happen. Possibly a landmark case. (Note that not having any lawsuit is equally a landmark case).
Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and co are competing as platforms. Platforms are not about one-site or one-product anymore but are complete ecosystems intimately tied to networks of community, documentation and resources.
Big companies can’t directly attack or infringe on other big companies, they’d defend and fight back. But what if you could go after the ecosystem instead? Scattered resources from your competitor that can be taken away? That will be an effective strategy without a doubt.
From this perspective, a next blow could be to take over CodeProject, a major resource, also a generic name begging to become a generic project management tool.