Elastic Files Suit Against AWS

More developments in the Elastic defending its IP front.

Elastic has filed a suit earlier this month alleging trademark infringement for AWS Elasticsearch Service and for Open Distro for Elasticsearch.


”Due to Amazon’s misleading use of the Elasticsearch mark, consumers of search and analytics software are, at least, likely to be confused as to whether Elastic sponsors or approves AESS [Amazon Elasticsearch Service] and Open Distro," the complaint states.

“Amazon’s misleading use of Elasticsearch also misrepresents the nature, characteristics, and/or qualities of AESS because, on information and belief, AESS (1) disables certain functionality available from Elastic’s Elasticsearch product, and (2) includes software code not offered by Elastic in any Elasticsearch product,” the complaint states. “Amazon’s use of the Elasticsearch mark therefore constitutes false advertising.”

It’s not like they were calling it DocumentDB like with the mongo fork.



I saw Elasticsearch on AWS mentioned on a slide deck training recently and perked up.
Then I realized it was AWS’ version, and not the Elastic Cloud product sold by Elastic itself.

And I am an ESTC stockholder, and I was confused at first.
Definitely misleading.

Whether it is anything you can sue about, I have no idea, as AWS will just claim it is leveraging the open source stuff.

Trying to think of an analogy here, and it is difficult because open source is unique.

For example, let’s say there is a world in which McDonalds creates the hamburger, and they are only called Big Macs…no one actually says “hamburger”. Then Burger Kings start to open up, and they start selling “BK Big Macs”. Still not a fair analogy, but as ElasticSearch is basically the Big Mac that Elastic makes, and it also allows others to use a free version of Elasticsearch, you can see where this gets confusing.

Bottom-line: AWS sucks. It should be a conflict of interest to be a major IaaS cloud provider and offer competing software services as companies that are providing cloud-based software solutions.

Or maybe it should be like drug companies…a period of years before a “generic” version can be introduced by other players.



I listened to a podcast that talked about these cloud providers and how easy it is for them to upsell as they add more and more offerings. It’s a simple click of the button to add these features to your AWS account.

I haven’t heard of AWS decimating any independent cloud SaaS companies yet but I can see it happening. At least possibly take the wind out of their sales. Just something to keep an eye out for. I’m surprised this lawsuit didn’t happen earlier. Why now?

1 Like

I haven’t heard of AWS decimating any independent cloud SaaS companies yet but I can see it happening.

It happens ever year at the AWS re:Invent conference. AWS has, for a very long time, watched very closely what its customers want, use, and ask for. As do many others. Many of these “others” end up forming small start-ups with a goal to specifically provide a 3rd party service to AWS customers for features customers have been clamoring about for years. AWS then watches this, and, silently in the background, figure out how to package this up as a solution after watching the small start-up do all the research and heavy lifting. Then, when people are just getting comfortable with the small start-up’s solution, BAM! AWS announces a “brand new service” at a fraction of the cost that effectively puts the start-up out of business. If you’re at the re:Invent conference during the Keynotes where AWS announces new features and services, the groans are quite audible, as one company after another, at the conference to attract new customers, sees its business plans going up in a cloud of smoke…



Why now?

Elastic has spent a lot of time and resources over last two years developing and differentiating their own hosted Elasticsearch platform. This has greatly increased the value of their trademarked product, such that another company calling their product by its trademarked name, Elasticsearch, is now very misleading to the public as to what you are purchasing. That looks to be what Elastic is claiming here.

In addition, AWS also recently launched an additional product with the official name of Open Distro for Elasticsearch, which could again mislead that it’s an official Elastic product. So goes the argument from Elastic anyways.

I believe Elastic has arrived at a place where they think their Elastic owned Elasticsearch is ready for the big league and part of that is ensuring it is protected from copyright infringement with the search Guard case and with its trademarked Name with AWS.



They are not suing for IP infringement of the software. The suit is being brought against the misrepresentation of the trademark. Yes, they can sue and most likely win, though I expect damages will be nominal. Amazon will have to stop using Elastic’s trademark. Maybe have to cover court costs and pay a nominal penalty.


It’s not just upsell, it’s another way to lock in. Once you use proprietary cloud tech from a specific provider, you are locked in. Usually it is obvious (AWS DynamoDB, GCP Spanner etc) but in this case it is not. The less observant will think they can migrate away from AWS ElasticSearch if it becomes necessary but, as soon as they use a feature in AWS ElasticSearch that isn’t available in ElasticCloud it becomes a lot harder.

If they don’t rigorously defend the trademark they lose it so they have to go after AWS on this. For example, J&J occasionally has to sue the International Red Cross when they exceed their licensed use of J&J’s red cross trademark.

1 Like

Excellent related article from Ars Technica describing open-source software tribulations… and how ESTC and MDB are affected by the likes of AMZN and their ilk…


There’s battle lines being drawn …Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong