Sometimes it's hard to keep track of the players without a scorecard, but the details of some companies that are fixtures in the Macintosh community interest me. Aladdin Systems, founded in 1988 and one of the oldest of Macintosh software vendors, has had a varied corporate history that recently took a few more twists. In 1999, for instance, the privately held Aladdin used a reverse merger with a dormant public company to enable the company's stock to be traded on public stock exchanges. But earlier this year, Aladdin Systems was acquired by IMSI, a PC software developer known for software like TurboCAD, TurboProject, and HiJaak graphics tools. Though now a wholly owned subsidiary of IMSI, Aladdin retained its name and remained a separate entity; other than a cash infusion from the $8 million acquisition, almost nothing changed.
However, in July, Aladdin Systems announced that it was changing its name to Allume Systems, which seemed odd, given the long history of the Aladdin name. The problem turned out to be a trademark lawsuit brought by a company called Aladdin Knowledge Systems, a company I've seen advertising a hardware copy-prevention dongle, presumably to firms making extremely expensive vertical market software (at least I hope that's the market: copy-prevention dongles for normal programs give me hives). Although Aladdin Knowledge Systems has been around since 1985, they first filed a trademark lawsuit against Aladdin Systems in November of 2003, presumably based on the fact that Aladdin Systems had just shipped SpamCatcher, a Windows spam filter that was nominally in the same space as the eSafe service from Aladdin Knowledge Systems.
Aladdin Systems was contesting the lawsuit and believed it had a good case, since Aladdin Knowledge Systems hadn't attempted to protect its trademark for so many years. However, the legal costs of the suit were mounting rapidly, and when IMSI came along, they weren't interested in throwing more money at the lawyers. Hence the settlement, in which Aladdin Systems changed its name to Allume Systems. The aladdinsys.com domain will redirect to the allume.com domain for several years, and ironically, Allume has retained the Aladdin Systems logo, a capital A with Aladdin's lamp as the cross-bar.
All this is mostly by way of explaining why this company called Allume Systems has suddenly appeared, selling StuffIt Deluxe and Spring Cleaning, and all the other software we've become accustomed to seeing from Aladdin. Aladdin has sponsored TidBITS numerous times in the past as part of their support of the Macintosh community, and we're pleased to announce that as of this issue, Allume is once again joining our other sponsors.