We all know Comodo brand got very popular especially with the SSL certificates they offered back from 2015. Some of their other products were just average but the amount of marketing and investment that went into the online business turned out to work pretty well for them. Later on, Let’s Encrypt (which are a free open certificate authority) just got informed that they attempted to register a trademark which was already registered by Comodo. This turned out to be complete lies and the only reason Comodo pulled this card was that they had no other option. Their whole business model was considered successful till now and they now have to compete with a free alternative. Follow the article to see what happens next.
Let’s encrypt responded quickly
Let’s encrypt have just posted an article on their blog about defending their own brand in order to react fast and explain what is not appearing to be their choice or mistake.
Following the story and the Comodo CEO’s posts, it’s clear that he feels threatened by Let’s Encrypt and he is willing to use every dirty technique out there in his advantage. Now those SSL certificates being offered for free personal use is something that is going to hit Comodo financially in the long run. It’s funny that Melih rages for the 90 days free certificate saying it’s business model being stolen. The certificates of Let’s encrypt can be renewed automatically for free and they very well explain why their certificates have ninety-day lifetimes. Let’s Encrypt could very well go for a six months free certificate but they explain that renewing the certificate more often helps for making it harder for the intruders. On top of that Let’s Encrypt is a free and non-profit company. The purpose that Let’s Encrypt serves is to provide free alternatives for personal use making everyone with a little knowledge of Linux and server management able to install his own SSL certificate therefor making the internet a more secure and developed place. I get the corporate greed especially after Comodo invested a crazy amount of money into advertising and promoting itself on the websites of the most known hosting providers. Let’s Encrypts is now backed up by Cisco, EFF, Mozilla and others. When the sales of their anti-virus software didn’t go that well against their competitors and the biggest income for them turned out to be the online SSL certificates they sell (~30% of the market share since the year 2015) they decided to do everything to keep the flow coming. Let’s encrypt are using ACME technology to renew the certificate automatically once it expires so it becomes easier for the developers to manage their websites instead of executing commands in the terminal every now and then.
Comodo, on the other hand, offers their so-called free certificates which are actually more like ninety-day trials to get their clients hooked because after the period of 90 days their customers will be limited to one issuance per domain. In other words, this is something like a demo for the actual product.
How big corporations solve this type of problems?
It happens all the time – plenty of companies apply for trademarks only to have them opposed during application. Microsoft, for example, owns two registered trademarks – “NorthWinds” and “Contoso” which they only use for demos and other things freely without braking the low and running into trademark issues. If you employ a trademark in the United States, you own the trademark rights even if you haven’t registered it.
Update June 27.2016
Good news! Comodo took a lot of criticism about their honesty and finally decided to take their hands from what’s not theirs. They just abandoned the project leaving many internet users happy. Here is the official statement about “Comodo Let’s encrypt” trademark dispute.