- Sun took earlier work to create OpenOffice.org. They added the .org so they could register the trademark around the world. Oracle bought Sun, and after a while, someone internally said "why are we funding this thing", and essentially stopped their corporate development on the code. Some long-term contributors (from various companies) forked the code, and started a GPL licensed fork called LibreOffice. LO folks went on to create TDF = The Document Foundation as a non-profit to keep building their office suite.
At that point, Oracle in all it's wisdom (ha!) decided to transfer the trademarks to the ASF and licensed their code (from their last build) to the ASF under the Apache license. Since a bunch of volunteers (yes, many of them are from IBM) showed up at Apache to work on the code, the Apache Incubator accepted them as a podling, or potential project. Today's news story is about this podling graduating to be a top level Apache project, meaning that as long as there's a community to keep building it, the ASF will provide it a home and support. While the ASF is now the legal owner of the OpenOffice.org trademarks, the product will be called Apache OpenOffice going forward.
- The ASF has never required copyright assignments; in fact, we don't really accept them. We require that you license any contributions to us under the Apache license, so that the ASF can then re-ship our Apache projects under our Apache license. Once we ship a release (any project), the world is essentially free to take the code and use it whatever way they want. It's unfortunate that people keep bringing up the Sun/Oracle era copyright assignments in the context of Apache OpenOffice.
- I have to laugh when various commenters ask about merging the projects. First, it's clear that the people in the projects - i.e. the volunteers (or $bigco employees paid to work on them) mostly have made it clear that they have some different objectives and ways of working. So for the actual developers working on AOO and LO, it's unlikely the communities will merge. Many people would certainly like to see more code and idea sharing. In fact LO is welcome to incorporate any released AOO code in their project. However since Apache projects don't ship GPL code, the reverse is not always true, unless someone specifically licenses the code under the Apache License to AOO.
Fundamentally, AOO is happy to share code with anyone. LO will only share code with people who use the GPL. Which world seems like it would be a larger set of developers?