Open-Sourcing of their CSS aside, I feel GitHub was in the right here defending their trademarks on interface. Given GitBucket's stated aim to be a clone of GitHub in Scala, I feel like they achieved their purpose, but at some point they will need to consider whether they are wandering into commercial scale infringement. BitBucket and GitLab offer similar products with distinct UI and UX features, but they have the advantage of being commercial products. Even so, I still feel GitBucket would do well to follow a similar approach.
Dangit, thought for a moment that it said BitBucket, which is in desperate need of an aesthetic update (as is all Atlassian products, which are awful).
Using someone's style is fine, as long as your business has a different product. This was probably a little close to home, with functionality, content AND style being similar or the same.
That's not stated by the MIT license. That said, what you said is just an ethical question.
MIT license applies to the look. Not to the underlying functionality. You can use bootstrap. If you use bootstrap to build a site that sells "shoestrap" which looks, acts and basically is the same thing, they'll sue you.
Asking them only to change their look is all kinds of nice of them. It's basically saying: "sure, you can compete with us. just don't look like us."
You can't see "using their styling" in isolation in this case, because they took EVERYTHING from GitHub. User interface, product.
As Dominik wrote, the MIT license authorizes other parties to use the sourced product however they want. They can even sell it.
See my response to him. You can't see this in isolation. They had the same product, product UX and UI elements. The only difference was the name and the way you get it running.
Basically, they're saying "we're alright with your product, if you change the look of it".
Well you can sue anyone for anything. It doesn't mean you'll win. I'm not familiar enough with the precedent in cases like this so I'm not saying that GitHub wouldn't have a case. If I were in GitHub's shoes, I would probably do the same thing and ask them to politely change their design.
However, this opens up the possibility for a lot of controversial thinking. For example, if I created a product using an open source design framework and then you created a similar product using the same open source design framework, could I win a lawsuit against you? What would my damages be?
Only, we're talking about EXACTLY the same product here. Literally. They even marketed and named it the same. Have you compared the UIs? Just because the CSS and HTML have been made publicly available, doesn't mean you can copy everything else too...
FYI, if I haven't made it clear, I'm arguing for the sake of arguing here because I find the implications of this interesting, not because I disagree with you or what GitHub did.
Gitbucket's team built their product from scratch. It doesn't utilize any of GitHub's non-open source code. They haven't stolen anything. What they have done is create a clone. Now, is creating a clone an actionable offense? How close of a clone does it have to be in order for it to be an actionable offense? Can it be argued that other git services are treading on GitHub's domain if they do the same thing but look slightly different? What if GitHub decides that their core feature is X and now no one else can do X. Is that fair?
Let's go back to my previous example where we both created the same type of product using the same open source design frameworks, but yours is commercial (like GitHub) and mine is free and open source (like Gitbucket). Who would win in a court case? Does it depend on who released first? What if they were released at the same time?
What's the difference between a clone and a knock-off?
I guess that's what this debate comes down to.
Good question :) I don't have the answer!