# Web 2.0 Service Mark Controversy (Tim responding this time)

I used to bristle when members of the mainstream press wagged their fingers at the unprofessionalism of bloggers. I looked around at all the bloggers who are, to my mind, practicing great journalism, and wrote off the MSM criticism as fear of the new medium. But now I’m not so sure. The flap about the Web 2.0 Conference trademark has shaken my faith in the collective intelligence of the blogosphere. Of all the hundreds of people who commented on this issue, only a few touched base to do a bit of fact checking. The New York Times, by contrast, was all over doing due-diligence. They talked to everyone they could get their hands on before publishing their story.

While I admit that the cease-and-desist letter to IT@Cork was a faux pas, the blogosphere response and especially the comments on Sara’s posts to the Radar blog have been appalling both in their tone (even to the point of one comment, which Marc Hedlund deleted in my absence, implying that I’m a child molester!) and in their lack of any fact checking. (Thanks to those brave blog commenters who suggested that the mob hold off till I was back and able to respond.)

Tom Raftery of IT@Cork must have noted the discrepancy between the friendly email from me that he quoted from and CMP’s letter. In fact, the next line of my email, which Tom neglected to quote, was “Best of luck with your event.” A number of people in the comment thread drew parallels to my Amazon 1-click patent protest, but they left out one important point: I wrote to Jeff Bezos privately first, and went public with my complaint only after he’d given me the brush off. Given that Tom and I had previously had a conversation where I wished him the best of luck with his conference, while the lawyer’s letter came from CMP, I would have thought that he would have wondered whether the right hand knew what the left hand was doing before launching and then encouraging the torrent of net vitriol that’s come our way. He did call CMP to talk to the lawyer who wrote the letter, but he never tried to contact me. While he acknowledges that the letter was from CMP, he used O’Reilly’s name in the headline and repeatedly throughout the piece for maximum net impact. So while we owe Tom an apology for heavy-handed tactics, I think Tom owes us an apology for the way he responded.

Now, I want to address the deeper issue that’s been raised, about whether it’s appropriate for anyone to hold a trademark on the term Web 2.0, and to give some backstory on how this happened.

1. MediaLive (now a division of CMP) routinely files for trademarks (a service mark is a special kind of trademark) on the name of any new conference they start. In fact, Eric Faurot, the head of the group, told me recently that after the sale, they had to review the status of literally hundreds of worldwide trademarks owned by MediaLive. Some of these conference trademarks are very well known — Comdex, Interop, Voicecon — and MediaLive (and CMP) put great store in protecting the conference brands they create.

2. MediaLive filed for the trademark on the Web 2.0 Conference back in November 2003, when they first entered into the partnership agreement with O’Reilly on this conference. This was before Web 2.0 became such a popular term — the filing actually preceded the first conference. However, I wasn’t personally aware of this trademark filing till this past February, as a result of discussions with CMP after the MediaLive purchase.

3. O’Reilly also values its trademarks — as do other companies and individuals aligned with the values of openness and sharing. (I’ll note that Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds, that Apache is a trademark of the Apache Software Foundation, Mozilla and Firefox are trademarks of the Mozilla Foundation, Wikipedia is a trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, and so on.) At O’Reilly, we’ve even had to send a cease-and-desist letter once, to a company that was publishing technical books with the picture of an animal on the cover. That’s what trademark law is for, to prevent people from imitating other people’s brands for similar products with the result that customers get the
products confused. In most cases, though, especially with non-commercial users, we’ve usually found it sufficient to send an email asking the non-commercial user to protect our trademark by acknowledging our ownership of it. We’ve even licensed our trademarks for commercial use when the use is clearly complementary and not confusing in the marketplace. See for example our policies about the use of the Camel image, which is our trademark for Perl.

4. CMP let us know recently that they were worried about potential dilution of the conference brand by other companies putting on Web 2.0 related conferences using the same name, and I agreed with them that it was an issue that we needed to deal with. I was not aware, however, that CMP intended to send out cease and desist letters to anyone in the short term, let alone to a non-profit organization with whom I’d previously corresponded about the event they were putting on. (Gina Blaber, the head of our conference team, was aware of the letter, however, and approved it, and that’s why Sara Winge, in her postings, did not disclaim O’Reilly’s responsibility.)

5. Neither CMP nor O’Reilly sued anyone, as has widely been misreported. A C&D letter is not a lawsuit. It is not even a threat of a lawsuit. It is a routine first step in trademark enforcement — and as Sara noted in her earlier post, it is in fact required of any company that wants to protect a trademark. You have to let people know that you believe they are infringing your mark. I still remember the alarm I felt the first time I received a cease-and-desist letter, early in my career, so I have some sympathy with Tom’s reaction. (The letter was from AT&T, warning us that we were using their trademark Unix incorrectly in our books because we were using it as a noun, rather than as an adjective, as they required. They wanted us to say “the Unix operating system” throughout.) And while CMP’s letter may appear harsh to those who’ve never seen one, it is actually relatively mild compared to many such legal letters I’ve seen over the years. For those of us who aren’t lawyers, the special language that lawyers use to cover their various bases is as odd and arcane as a Perl program might appear to most lawyers. That being said, it seems to me that given the non-commercial nature of the event in question, a friendly email simply asking IT@Cork to acknowledge the trademark would have been sufficient. That’s what I would have done had I been around when this was coming down. And I apologize to IT@Cork for the organizational failure that led to them getting a legal letter rather than a simple email query or phone call.

6. Just to be clear, neither CMP or O’Reilly is claiming the right to all use of the term Web 2.0, as some of the posters assert. We just want to keep other conference companies from putting on events that trade on the name and concept that we created. And don’t tell me it’s not possible to have a Web 2.0-related conference without using Web 2.0 in the name! Microsoft’s Mix 06, Google’s Zeitgeist, the Ajax Experience — these are all web 2.0-related conferences that don’t use the name.

7. The success of the Web 2.0 conferences and the usefulness of the term admittedly complicates the Web 2.0 trademark situation. With a name like LinuxWorld (Sara’s analogy), the subject of the conference (Linux) and its trademarked name (LinuxWorld) are not one and the same. But with Web 2.0, the name was originally conceived only as the name for a conference and Cory Doctorow’s comments are very much on point. We created a meme that has legs beyond the conference space, and there’s a real tension between the desire to protect the trademark on the conference and the desire for people to talk about, meet about, and otherwise engage with what has turned out to be the name for the next big thing in the computer industry. This is clearly a problem that we’ll need to figure out. We’re hoping we can come up with some guidelines that help balance these two factors. Mozilla’s trademark page is a good example of the kind of balancing act that is required.

8. I don’t believe that the arguments about prior use of the term, or about “genericization” have a legal — or even a moral — basis. No one was using the term “Web 2.0″ with its current meaning before we launched the Web 2.0 conference in October 2004, and the subsequent widespread use of the term Web 2.0 to describe the phenomenon itself is outside the scope of the trademark. The trademark is only for events. Trademarks aren’t like patents, where any prior art (theoretically) prevents registration. A trademark is for the continuous use of a brand in a specific field of commerce. In my conversations with CMP, they’ve made this point. One of their flagship conferences is called Software Development — clearly words that have been used before the trademark was registered. They were able to obtain that trademark for a conference to prevent other companies from building copycat conferences based on their success.

9. Yes, I really was out of touch till late Sunday night, houseboating on Lake Powell for a week with my family and some old friends. While I took my cellphone and left both my number and my daughter’s for people to contact me in an emergency, it turns out that Verizon is the only service that works on the lake (and even it is very spotty) and my phone is on T-mobile and hers on Sprint. And even then, I didn’t have my laptop with me, and so I didn’t get to actually start reading up on this situation and talking to people until Monday morning. And as I’ve suggested above, it is worthwhile to talk and think before you post, hence the delay in this response.

I’m not sure yet quite how to resolve the situation, and in any event, it’s not completely under my control. CMP, not O’Reilly, filed for the trademark, and we’re partners in the conference, so I can’t make a unilateral decision. We can’t leap to a solution because two companies (and a complicated legal situation) are involved. But as I noted above, I do believe in trademark. It’s perfectly legitimate for a company to file for and own a trademark on a product they create in order to keep others from creating an imitation product that would potentially be confused with the original product.

But I’m really mindful of the fact that Web 2.0 has become so successful as a meme that we’re not looking at a traditional brand name situation. This controversy is also bad for my most important brand, my own name, especially since O’Reilly and not CMP is taking all the heat! So I’m going to be talking with CMP about this situation over the next couple of days, and will see if we can come up with a solution that will satisfy our reasonable desire to protect the name of the conference while taking into account the dual role of “Web2.0” — as a brand for our conferences and as a handy meme for discussions of this phenomenal technology.

And while I’m disappointed in the vitriol and personal attacks and the failure to engage in real conversation, I’m also aware that the passion you have all expressed says something powerful about how important O’Reilly is to you, and how much you expect of us. That’s a good feeling. We really do try to do the right thing. We don’t always succeed, and sometimes we really screw up, but I hope that those of you who seem to assume the worst are doing so only because it’s so important to you to have role models in business that you can respect. The folks at CMP are also good folks, and don’t deserve your abuse either.

Your passion also says something powerful about the nerve we struck with the term Web 2.0. We’re delighted that it has come to mean so much to so many people, and we want that enthusiasm to continue.

I would, as a parting bit of advice, point to an excellent posting by Anil Dash from back in 2004, entitled Learning from Experience. Anil wrote, after a dustup between Cory Doctorow and the magazine Fast Company:

“One of the things I’ve learned of late is that, despite being a wonderful, generous community of truly warm-hearted people, sometimes the blog world likes nothing more than a good old-fashioned pile-on… [But] what I’d like to do is propose a new model for responding to the blogosphere’s frequent and characteristic calls to action against Stuff That Sucks. First, read the link. Don’t go being a slashdot flameboy. Read the thing that’s being linked to. Second, we’re good at collectively ferreting out information, so let’s find the person responsible…. And then? Follow up. They’ll make changes, as quickly as they can, though in most organizations that’s not all that fast…. My last request, though I suspect it’s not likely to be adopted, is that people acknowledge the change when it happens.”

Understanding how and why screwups happen, and trying to engage with the right people to fix them, is way better than name-calling. We got the message loud and clear that the water here is muddy. But I don’t think that anyone deserves the kind of abuse that’s been flying around here. Thanks for your patience while we come up with a solution.

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• http://publish.com Steve Bryant

It’s an unfortunate consequence of our page view- and advertising-driven online world that pile-ons are at once anticipated, reviled and encouraged. I know I’ve been guilty of exploiting that dynamic before. To the attention getters go the spoils.

• Scott

A sensible post and well worth reading. I think the core of the issue is the analogy with LinuxWorld and Linux and the way that Web 2.0 is more than just a conference. Furthermore the earlier posts implied that the trademark applied for was “Web 2.0″ in the use of live events. Now this covers a lot of ground from large conferences down to training seesions and anything inbetween. It now seems as if you are clarifying this and saying that the actual trademark application is for the name “Web 2.0 Conference”. While this is quite broad it would still allow other uses of the phrase “Web 2.0″ such as “The John Doe Web 2.0 Workshop”. It would be appreciated if you could clarify the scope and intent of the trademark application – thanks.

• JB

I agree a sensible post, but I wonder why no one in O’Reilly or CMP could have written a similar post to defuse this earlier. The earlier corporate responses, while factually correct, for want of a better term lacked soul, they read like something a faceless corporation would write, and I think the Web 2.0 and techical community, perhaps felt aggrieved.

• Anonymous

I’m glad to see a well thought-out response. I think it’s good that people had a weekend to digest the controversy before reading your post (they probably wouldn’t have done much more than skim it if you had made it on Friday).

It definitely strikes me that there’s an inherent conflict in wanting to protect Web 2.0 as a mark and wanting it to become popular and generic. After all, nobody’s interested in building O’Reilly’s Web 2.0, but we are interested in bringing the Web to a level of community, rapid development, rich clients, user-friendliness, and interactivity that it should have had 8 years ago. Lacking a name, Web 2.0 has filled the void (very much with O’Reilly’s help). Neither the name nor the concept are at all essential to this change, but they do bring a useful focus (not to mention a marketing buzzword) to the table. If I were you, I’d drop any interest in protecting it as a mark, and push for it to become as broadly used as possible. The fairly simple mistake from last week has probably hurt this cause significantly, and will take some doing to convince people to rally around, teach classes on, and run conferences about Web 2.0 with the same fervor that they seemed to be doing before. Anyone organizing a conference around new Web technologies is going to think twice about including Web 2.0 in the name, I think.

People are now going to feel that they have to tread lightly with this term (and your latest post does too little to mitigate this new fear). Since the name (i.e., focal point, rallying cry, etc.) is so much of what Web 2.0 is at this point, that might kill it altogether–at the very least it will hold it back. People will now look to other things to name their conferences. This can only be a good thing, however, since it will force them to think about what Web 2.0 is, since the name so conveniently blankets the concept.

• Thomas Lord

May I kibbitz?

Yes, the dog-pile phenomenon blows. Some of us have suffered major career setbacks from similar (ahem). I’m sympathetic and think your claims and reasoning is basically sound.

Nevertheless:

• In the future, always pick something that is clearly a coined brand name for conferences. “Usenix,” not “Unix,” etc.
• If at all an option, own the trademarks for your conferences — don’t let partners take them. Pick new partners if you need to — as you’ve seen, it’s clearly an O’Reilly brand (de facto, not by ownership).
• Since “Web 2.0″ violates both principles and is currently both a hot topic and a problem: pick a new name. Let CMP do whatever the heck they need to do but walk away from the issue. Anyway — the “2.0” is too limiting. “Webolution” is a terrible idea but something like that.

-t

• Thomas Lord

p.s.: You will never again has a chance to rebrand this conference with the same amazing upside of the chance you have at the moment.

-t

• http://www.opengardensblog.futuretext.com Ajit Jaokar

Hi Tim
Great response! I was one of the people who said on Nat’s post that we should wait till we have heard from you. Indeed a thoughful response. shall blog more later(and continue to buy O Reilly books!) kind rgds Ajit

• Anonymous

Oh, and to your other point, I think you have good reason to take a certain amount of pride at the outrage. People do want to believe in good companies. Pretty much every step in the unfolding of this controversy up until your post was very much at odds with the popular image of O’Reilly, and I think that that really disappointed people. Nobody would think twice about a company like Microsoft swinging its axe around, but watching O’Reilly or Amazon do it (or watching Google compromise themselves to gain entry into China) really gives the impression that somewhere something got lost or forgotten. As for Web 2.0, there were a large number of snarky responses amounting to the notion that the term was useless anyway. Nevertheless, it still carries a strong association with important concepts that we do care about that watching these events is not unlike the feeling that I imagine I would get if DHH sent a C&D to the Grails project or PHP on Trax or something (not that he has that legal power, since Rails is free and open, but still).

• alan

I find the whole thing to be silly. Yes, the entire issue and even the responses. Had I received such a letter, I would have immediately responded by apologizing for offending the lawyers. Then I would say, let’s go with Web 2.1 Conference, afterall, it is time to upgrade.

:)

• alan

O, forgot to say, I and my collegues did do our research when the stuff hit the fan… however, despite what we learned and all the official responses; our favor for the O’Reilly brand is significantly diminished. By significantly I mean, it will likely always influence my thoughts when deciding to purchase O’Reilly branded material.

• http://www.farid-hajji.net/ Farid Hajji

Tim, thank you for your reply. My main concern was the practice of sending out C&Ds to non-profits without a prior attempt at solving the issues through direct discussions. As I’ve wrote earlier, I don’t care about the “Web 2.0″ trademark controversy per se. Your response fully addressed my concern w.r.t. the perceived legal bullying, which turned out to be a misunderstanding and mishap. I’m fully satisfied in this respect. And as you may have read, not all comments had been vitriolic. I hope your clarification will help things calm down. Best of luck!

• http://retailscience.blogspot.com/ retailscience

Web 2.0 is much more generic than Linux, Wikipedia or Apache.

I would have thought that you of all people would have anticipated the reaction of the blogging community from securing IPR on the term.

Why you are remotely concerned about the ‘potential dilution’ of the term when used by other conferences baffles me.

• http://www.civilnetizen.com Ken Rossi : CivilNetizen.com

Is it just me or is a bubble about to burst?

I just think that the blogosphere has become a sort of mob mentality. It’s funny how blogs which were freeform are now emulating life and typical journalism rules where everyone follows the most popular path to readership.

Here is the issue: If it wasn’t a big company that was complaining about the use of their trademark, the masses would be rooting for the underdog. See the ‘patent dispute with Blackberry’ and ‘Embedding content in IE’

I think Tim didn’t even need to respond publically but I think it was a definite gesture of goodwill and well said.

• Anonymous

O’Reilly helped create the meme Web 2.0.

The Partner with your tacit approval sends legal correspondance

The correspondance sparks a huge debate
As a result O’Reilly not the Partner suffers a PR black eye

Is this the law of unintended consequences or could you

Tim,or someone else within O’Reilly NOT have seen the looming conflict – when Web 2.0 as a term became so widespread.

you must have noticed the Web 2.0 meme heading towards ubiquity, it was and is inevitable that someone would seek to use it in many ways, a conference being a distinct and likely possibility.

• http://www.squeet.com Angelo

I find Tim’s article a healthy response, but it would be better if it stuck to the point (the mainstream media vs blogosphere debate could have been saved for another article) and if the examples were more salient.

For example the “Software Development” conference; I assume the servicemark entitles the owners to exclusive use of that common phrase as an event title when that is the entire title. In other words, other people can still use the term “Software Development” as part of the title of an event, such as something like “Norwegian Software Development Trends in Whale Migration Patterns Conference” wouldn’t be an infringement.

The position being taken here is altogether different. It is that the (now common) term Web 2.0 cannot be used by anyone else as even part of a conference title. No customer would confuse “The MTV Web 2.0 Beavis and Butthead Conference” with the one in question…so why try to limit its use? How does that protect the public? Why not servicemark “The Web2.0 Conference” in its entirety, instead?

The benefits to the servicemark holder are obvious…it’s the benefit to the public that I haven’t grasped.

This is what I feel needs to be addressed plainly without tangents. This is so much different than all of the examples provided in the post (IMO).

One of Tim’s tangents did strike a chord with me, and that was the one about “corporate role models.” Frankly, yes, I do hold O’Reilly up to a high standard, and I want to be able to continue doing that.

• dude

Sorry but your beloved term “Web 2.0″ is already on its way down the crapper, where it should have stayed.

• Kevin Bingham

Web 2.0 is much more generic than Linux, Wikipedia or Apache.

As Tim notes, the term “Web 2.0″ has become a big meme over the last few years. They could have named the conference “The NEW World Wide Web Conference”, or “Web Version 2.0 Conference”, but instead it became “Web 2.0 Conference”. Who would have know that Web 2.0 would have become a powerful concept? The conference became an idea. Go figure.

Tim: Keep up the good work!

• http://www.wizard-creek.com Les

more and more the blogosphere != thoughtful.
perhaps …the conference previously called web 2.0 :-).

• Geoff Butterfield

Alan is certainly entitled to his opinion, but I think its a bit premature to say that this “will likely always influence my thoughts when deciding to purchase O’Reilly branded material.” These things happen, and I’m more likely to judge someone by how they react to controversy then their ability to avoid it. I think Tim and company have handled this event as gracefully as I’ve ever seen, so kudo’s to them.

I will continue to buy my material based upon whats between the pages, not who published it, but my confidence in O’Reilly’s editors and authors remains intact.

• http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/ Jeremy Zawodny

After returning from a 2 week vacation, I caught a few bits of this saga in my aggregator. After 3 minutes worth of reading, I shook my head and said (out loud–to my cats, I think) “I can’t believe everyone is being so stupid.”

I think we can safely use this as an example of the speed/accuracy tradeoff in reporting “news” stories.

• http://www.research2zero.com Kris Tuttle

I’ll leave the legal issues for Perry Mason but O’Reilly provides a real ecosystem outside of the corporate environment for lots of smart people to exist and thrive commercially as authors, speakers, consultants, highly productive technologists and so forth.

In order for them to be able to do this they have to be a successful business and make money. Perhaps they should have kept the rights rather than give or share them with CMP but I’d certainly prefer O’Reilly to be the holder of these rights than companies like IBM or Microsoft.

Maybe there needs to be an O’Reilly Foundation that holds these rights and ensures that they are used the right way.

I’m surprised that after all O’Reilly has done for the industry they are so quickly piled upon by the online community, informed or otherwise.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

I appreciate the response to the question at issue. I don’t, however, appreciate the condescension implied in the ‘geez you guys, if only you’d done your research, you would have seen the light’. Many of us did do the research. I’m still very interested in the first line of that letter that was sent to Tom. I requested, through several channels, a clean, direct response from many o’reilly people. It seems only the New York Times has access to that information… not exactly comforting news for we mob.

The worry, from many of us, is whether its possible to be a successful company and not be in your position. That position is “well, it’s not our fault, our partners did it”. Your response does not quiet my concerns…

• http://www.thelairofthemonkey.co.uk Mr Butterscotch

I’m with retail science on this. It’s a pretty generic term, and one that was sure to inflame some people…

• Thomas Sluder

Tim,

I’m very glad to have taken the time to read your entire post. It was calm and well thought out. Sometimes thinking before you speak (or blog) is still the best advice. Your mature response in the midst of the firestorm will do you well in support of your primary businesses.

Just seeing your mature attitude and willingness to accept any reponsibility for your actions or those of your employees has caused me to decide to put O’Reilly branded products at the top of my list when considering similar products from other publishers.

-Thomas G Sluder — Dover, Delaware, USA

• http://idid.wordpress.com McD

Regarding the “pile-on” effect. You really should consider what it means… I was scanning the horizon for a few O’Reilly defenders and found a few but I think it indicates something about the what O’Reilly means in the overall scheme of things: an unfortunate consequence of success and scale but still a plea to re-connect to a base of thinkers and leaders on the net. Maybe O’Reilly lost a bit of feeling at the edges…

The timing of the situation obviously fed the monster that emerged… empower more voices, Tim.
As in “Tag… be my voice… I need a vacation.”
The voice of O’Reilly was corporate and firmly rooted in legal and marketing spin. Timid. IMHO.

O’Reilly has ALWAYS had a generic approach to branding… that’s why the CMP ‘C&D’ approach makes so little sense (Open Source, P2P)… you track the meme’s and marketing information to educate the late adopter. Imitation is the most sincere form of success for your efforts. The real pro’s in conferencing wouldn’t open themselves to a claim against earnings… only the Non-Profits that just want to clarify a conference without marketing the meme.

PS> I think it might be time to extend an olive branch to Dave Winer. I admire the fact that you hold him accountable for being rude but I think he’s spent enough time in the penalty box. He’s converted his entire act to Open Source and deserves to speak at an upcoming conference on his OPML efforts… or maybe some kind of life-time achievement event. Just think out loud here: Build bridges.

• http://needmoredesigns.com/ Raymond Brigleb

Well written, Tim. You will always retain my respect.

• http://www.newmyths.org Josh Street

My sympathies for the vitriol that has been poured on you and the company since this non-event started. Its unfortunate that this sort of thing doesn’t seem to be slowing… (even if the tone is at least civil)

Thanks for the explanation – it was good to see the whole story. Hope everything works out (I’ll still be buying – because the quality of your products speaks for itself).

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

No, hold on a moment, this hagiography’s getting out of hand.

Why do you think it should have been Tom Rafferty’s job to sort out a communication problem between you and CMP?

Why do CMP believe the trademark application even holds in Ireland?

Why haven’t CMP sent a C&D to d.Construct for their ‘Web 2.0 Conference’ in the UK, at which Cory Doctorow was a speaker?

Why haven’t CMP saent a C&D or to the organisers of ‘Mesh, Canada’s Web 2.0 Conference’?

Why haven’t CMP sent a C&D to the Irish government for Enterprise Ireland’s Web 2.0 Conference if it really was so important to protect your supposed trademark for conferences and events?

After all, the NYT quotes Eric Faurot as saying, “Not protecting your trademark is a bad business practice”. It seems to me CMP’s already been doing lots of not protecting. Contra the NYT, the legal nuances are heeded in the blogosphere but maybe not at CMP or by you.

I hope you enjoyed Lake Powell. The red sandstone looks awesome with the water level down as low as it’s been recently.

Some of the guys in my Irish reading space could do with the same kind of warm weather kayaking–they’ve beat this web 2.0 adjective senseless while you’ve been out on the lake.

• Absolutely Bored

Regretfully in society the most vocal portions tend to be the few that lack the ability to sway the masses with a valid well thought out argument. What I saw being posted was a lot of personal attacks without foundation and done in a fashion lacking any human compassion or respect.

We all have the freedom to our opinions and being able to present them in a responsible, respectful and ethical manner. Sadly this is lost on some bloggers.

Most people would never think to engage in a conversation with their family, friends, employers or other persons with such venom. What is it about blogging that creates license to act out like spoiled child and speak with such disrespect and contempt. Truly this episode is sad.

Tim has expressed his point and some have expressed their concern. Too many however, have announced their inability to act with intelligence or common courtesy.

Like I said the other day and was laughingly mocked for. There is so much more in life that is important and that people can expend energy towards other than wild tyrades in the hope of gaining attention. Enjoy technology but keep it in perspective. This was a C&D to, yes a non-profit. So what!!! I’ll wait to flip out when a loved one dies in a tragedy or I find out I have cancer. But even then, I will act with respect for myself and others.

As Tim suggested, I looked into it and whether or not it feels warm and fuzzy to me, CMP and O’Reilly have to do what they did. They are obligated to by law. Nobody said life was warm and fuzzy even though we would all like it to be. The end.

• http://blog.outer-court.com Philipp Lenssen

Welcome back, I bet most of us understand it’s not easy to come back to find piles of criticism. But… sigh. I was hoping for something better in regards to your stance of disallowing the use of Web 2.0 in conference titles — not for the sake of Web 2.0, but for the sake of O’Reilly (because the community is moving on to new terms). Also please note that there is no single blogosphere (there are several ones, with the usual good and bad) and we all need to deal with comment trolls — it’s better to ignore them than shower them with attention. Good luck further digesting the issue with CMP.

The heavy, immediate and overwhelming response was precisely because it was O’Reilly (for practical purposes, nobody knows what CMP is) behind the c&d. Any other company and such behavior would have been accepted- in fact, the term would not have been as widely used as it is if the name came from a corporation like Microsoft or Yahoo with a less stellar record of corporate citizenship.

If your reputation is what drives your company and your reputation rides on principles that bloggers and geeks take seriously- privacy, fair use, free/open-ness- you would be better served by keeping your lawyers (and those of people who speak for you) on a much shorter leash. People who represent the O’Reilly name must know what they represent and how serious a C&D letter can be to members of the geek/blogger community.

• Richard J. Fillippo

“I apologize to Tom for the unnecessary lawyer’s letter, and ask that he apologize to me for the way he stirred up the mob.”

I’m very sorry but that’s not going to happen. You should apologize for calling the bloggers a mob. You are digging the hole deeper. Take a course in public relations 101. Imagine that the makers of Tylenol ask the press to apologize for stirring up the mob. I bet they’d be out of business right away. I bet you’ll be out of business pretty soon too with an attitude like that Mr. O’Reilly. Damage control is not done with an attitude, dude.

• http://www.stockalicious.com/user/ginux/ ginux

I don’t see what’s wrong with the mob labelling if the action calls for it.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

a couple more points.

Due dilligence from the NYT is probably not difficult/surprising considering you write op-ed pieces for them.

You did not address the fact that there’s no service mark rights in Ireland.

Tom’s initial response was a request for advice. The response from o’reilly didn’t mitigate anything. I think his actions were fine. (i met him for the first time when he appeared on our webcast)

mmm…

• http://www.myITforum.com Rod Trent

If it’s OK with you folks, I’m going to copyright the term “pile-on” and any of it’s deviations (i.e., pylon, piallon, pie lon, etc.).

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

one more thing…

• http://ptufts.blogspot.com Patrick Tufts

Tim,

This is a great response. Other companies should learn from your example. There will always be miscommunications, and the best way to deal with them is head-on.

–Pat

• Anonymous

Tim,

You still don’t get it and are continuing to dig deeper in the hole. I have read the posts thoroughly and also have experience with trademarks. The issue is NOT that you/CMP sent a cease and desist or in other words, were trying to protect your trademark.

The problem is that you/CMP never indicated that for the past 3 years, Web 2.0 was your pending trademark. Infact, you encouraged common usage of the term with your articles. And it is only now that you/CMP have got the trademark registration (it took 3 years, but now you finally have it !), and that is why you are letting the legal dogs loose. Your post does not resolve the issue that you/CMP acted/are acting in bad faith and cheated an entire geek community.

Trust me Tim, geeks are the most intelligent people around, and even a geek mob DOES read the article before commenting. The geeks are right, and you are wrong. Just analyze the situation more carefully and drop the Web 2.0 trademark for your conference.

• SorenG

I agree with the post above. Great to tell your side of the story, and express your feelings about how you think bloggers did not respond appropriately. That is useful, but let that be at that. If I understand you right, you want IT@cork to apologize for a posting a Cease and Desist Letter that your staff Oked? That is an issue for your staff. Non-profits without access to high powered lawyers are going to do what they can to survive. Sure, it must have hurt to read some of the blogosphere, but it has no doubt benefitted you in the past, as well. Better to take responsibility for your own actions. If you want people reach out to you personally, maybe it is not best to send them such letters.

• http://sporkmonger.com/ Bob Aman

To be honest, I think you should be asking more than just Tom to apologize: there were a blog posts that were definitely fomenting the situation far more than Tom’s was. If nothing else, it was instructive to see whom in the blogosphere was actually in it for the sensationalism, and who was actually a reasonable human being.

That said, I don’t personally see how the value in owning this particular service mark even comes close to exceeding the value of O’Reilly’s reputation, and I think that should play heavily in any ultimate decision on what to do going forward, but frankly, I’d be much happier with O’Reilly having the service mark than I would with CMP, or any other company for that matter. I assume that if O’Reilly or CMP hadn’t registered for it, someone else could have, and frankly, that seems to me to be a much worse situation.

With that in mind, at the moment, I tend to agree with the above commenter that suggested that O’Reilly insist upon being the actual owner of trademarks in the future, and not the conference partner.

• Lars

Hmm, following the whole development with some bemusement, I can’t help but notice a few things…

Geeks may be intelligent, but as some of the above posts show, they are also naive at times.

One commenter notes that the responses from O’Reilly before were typical corporate speak (‘spin’) – but now that Tim writes a non-corporate speak response (‘mob’), it’s not appreciated either.

There are references to ORA digging its hole deeper, and that Tim’s post is not an acceptable resolution – but I don’t see many constructive alternatives being offered.

And good grief, who of us can truly say that they never made a mistake? It happens to everyone.

• http://web2dot5.blogspot.com/ Liam @ Web 2.5 Blog

Regrettably, those few of us (and I worked to recruit some of them) who counseled caution that this affair was CMP’s error and not yours were made fools both by Ms. Winge’s response, and by the second letter which it@cork received, which demanded that they swear never to use the term again. Those added fuel to a hot fire. All that was needed from ORA at the time was, “We’ll be reassessing this; more soon.”

Here is my prescription for how you could have handled this issue, in an O’Reilly-style way:

2) Note that, since the filing, many web 2.0 events have occurred.

3) Indicate your desire to strengthen the Web 2.0 Conference brand.

4) Ask the web community for feedback on how to proceed.

A point that you didn’t address in your piece is the question of whether ORA or CMP has made the requisite effort to defend your brand between the first Web 2.0 Conference and last week. It seems that noone had any idea that ‘Web 2.0 <event>’ was a pending trademark.

Note that my blog uses the term ‘web 2.5′. I may one day organize a conference by that name. I do not expect to hear from your lawyers about it. But if I do, I may make the best of the situation for publicity’s sake!

Regarding all the vitriol, surely you’d already noticed that humans are a mixed bag, with some rather unfortunate, common tendencies?

• ZF

Gosh, I agree with the posts immediately above from Anonymous and SorenG.

It’s not hard to see how this happened, and I don’t doubt your amiable intentions, but:

(a) Don’t expect anybody to apologize for being stung by a cease and desist letter from a law firm representing you (even if they are representing others as well), or for looking about for support in resisting it; that’s ridiculous. A cease and desist letter from a lawyer is a deliberately inflicted slap in the face, and they usually read that way. Further, your own unusually high credibility in the community establishes a reasonable presumption that the recipient might need wide support to resist this cost-effectively.

(b) The inapplicability of your analogies to other trade marks is established by the fact that we all know that 99.8% of the time when we talk about ‘Web 2.0′ these days we’re not thinking even for a moment about the conference (and I’ve attended them since the first one). We’re just not. To expect anyone to believe otherwise is silly.

Far better (particularly if as you suggest your position still has to be worked out with CMP) to simply apologize as you did, point out the incivility of some of the responses, and defer a fuller response until you are ready. In my view everything else you said above has the unfortunate efect of just digging you and your brand and your company in deeper than you were before.

/my 2 cents.

• http://blog.roberthahn.ca roberthahn

Thank you, Tim, for your post.

This situation, more than a any other, has crystallized for me that businesses participating on the internet, and the people who are influenced by them (whether they are clients or not), need to better understand each other. If you look over our short history on the internet, you can find all kinds of evidence of companies trying to do business as usual, or what they think of as business as usual, only to incur vitrolic reactions.

There are three problems that I can see. The first is that most people don’t have the business background to understand that some of the scary things that happen is business as usual. The second is that when something for a business becomes business as usual, no one bothers thinking through whether it might have a different outcome for some particular situation. The third problem is that there are companies out there who have chosen, out of malice or fear, to take extreme action against individuals, that *justify* a hue and cry.

But at the end of the day, I would dare say that out of all the legitimate businesses in the world, most of them are run by people who genuinely mean the best, but simply don’t want to be anyone’s doormat. And I can certainly appreciate business owners feeling that way.

I have no clue what the answer is to this mesh of problems, but if there’s one thing that I’m taking as a good thing from this unfortunate situation, it’s that, for me at least, the problem is now much clearer, and that’s an important first step. I hope that there are people who can carry this conversation further and help us work out what we can do to better this.

• Bongo

You folks can do whatever you like with your Web 2.0 TM and/or SM, the term is unfortunately now a joke.

Good luck with the next meme.

• http://thomashawk.com Thomas Hawk

Tim,

I was one of the irresponsible bloggers who piled on. I want you to know that I’m embarrased by this and also want to apologize to you personally for attacking you with such vengence and for calling you an asshole. I am sorry. This was clearly out of line and is something that I deeply regret.

• Larry Price

One factor that should be taken into account is that the presence of abusive comments legitimises abusive comments. It creates a positive feedback loop that is further fed by the fact that there is a significant population of people who enjoy making abusive comments in places where they know they will be seen (hot web controversies being a favorite fishing spot). This is why you have a number of people deliberately misunderstanding the difference between ‘web 2.0′ as a label for taggable, application oriented, crowdwise web offerings and the use of ‘Web 2.0′ as a service mark for conferences.

• anonymous

sometimes “harnessing collective intelligence”, may not be the smart thing to do :-)

• JB

Can anyone clarify whether the service mark was applicable and enforceable in the Irish jurisdiction.

I would hate to think this firestorm was caused by some lawyer sending a C&D that had no reasonable basis in Law in the jurisdiction of the recipient

In the spirit of Tim’s call for people to do their research, can O’Reilly tell is the service mark valid in Ireland , can we have the facts.

• Dale Sundstrom

I’ve always been an O’Reilly fan, have followed this issue, and waited for your return to hopefully clear it all up. I’m disappointed. The Web 2.0 Conference is (or was) worth millions and might (even-now) continue as such without an overly-broad reach to protect your buzz-mark.

Convince CMP to withdraw any claim other than your actual conference title “Web 2.0 Conference.” Any other claim is very weak and clearly offensive to many.

O’Reilly has acknowledged making an uncharacteristic mistake; please try to show a little contrition. This is best done by avoiding 1.0 apologies, which only require you to state that you’re sorry. Often, as we have seen here, this can fail miserably. Apology 2.0 is much more advanced and efficient, while providing enormous increases in apology acceptance. Apology 2.0 apologies are in the form of: I’m sorry. Note the period. A 2.0 apology is not followed by a demand for a like apology, and never takes the form (as Sara’s did) of “were sorry, even though we have no need to be for the following reasons”

Please step away from the buzz-mark.

• Varun

The following won’t have caused your problem:
Web 2.0 (TM)

If you/CMP had indicated a TM sign next to Web 2.0, the community would have known that it was your/CMP’s pending trademark. You didn’t, and the community whole heartedly adopted it.

“I have read the posts thoroughly and also have experience with trademarks. The issue is NOT that you/CMP sent a cease and desist or in other words, were trying to protect your trademark.

The problem is that you/CMP never indicated that for the past 3 years, Web 2.0 was your pending trademark. Infact, you encouraged common usage of the term with your articles. And it is only now that you/CMP have got the trademark registration (it took 3 years, but now you finally have it !), and that is why you are letting the legal dogs loose. Your post does not resolve the issue that you/CMP acted/are acting in bad faith and cheated an entire geek community.

Trust me Tim, geeks are the most intelligent people around, and even a geek mob DOES read the article before commenting. The geeks are right, and you are wrong. Just analyze the situation more carefully and drop the Web 2.0 trademark for your conference.”

• http://www.cjmillisock.com CJ Millisock

That was amazing, Tim. Thanks for the thorough response.

From the sounds of some of the comments here, some people are apologizing for some of the things they said out of ignorance, but some people still think you should drop your trademark even though it only applies for conferences. It’ll be interesting to see how this one ends.

Re: “You want IT@cork to apologize for a posting a Cease and Desist Letter that your staff Oked?”

Yep. He does. Tim O’Reilly thinks that Tom Raftery’s posting the letter and asking for advice was offensive, and that “Tom owes us an apology.”

This is going to be one for the marketing case studies…

• Reg

It’s very unfortunate that a useful, if nebulous term like Web 2.0 has now been made a joke of through the combined actions of both the legal “advisors” and zealot “advocates,” neither of which seemed to grasp the pragmatism underlying the term in the first place.

I suppose there is some good though, the term Web 2.0 will now typify the continuous and momentous clash between grassroots idealism – “information wants to be free” – and corporate money making – “free to make us money.”

And whether they give each other credit or not, both camps are equally driving the evolution of the web forward at a thrilling pace.

Let’s hang on for the ride!

• Steve R

Put me on the boycott O’Reilly list

• bleargh

fuck you and your dumbass Web 2.0(sm)(tm)(c)(r)* bullshit and your shitty man-page-printout books.

*patent pending

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

Tim – your email account spam server is blocking my server. I’ve sent a response from yahoo.

• Anonymous

Trademarks and to some extent legal issues such as copyright laws are too complex and convoluted for the average “web 2.0″ joe blow to understand.

A “service trademark”? What the heck is that? Is it a US-only thing, or does that applying to my part of the world? What if O’Reilly takes my ideas that I (maybe perhaps naively) shared at his conference and patents/trademarks/copyrights them? How am i going to trust him after this debacle?

Tim, the only sensible thing now is for you to deal with the issues honestly. No cope outs like “let me talk to so and so, we’ll figure out the best way to …”, that’s lame. The community is (was?) looking up to for stewardship, and here you are playing with scary words like “service mark”. Drop all this, issue a public apology and give money to charity. Maybe then you will redeem your conference.

• Reg

(Not taking sides here, just pointing out that no one is clean in this game.)

• Absolutely Bored

Well (BLEARGH – 2 posts up) You help prove the case intelligent life is not as abundent on this planet as many originally suspected. Please, a little respect and manners. You might also consider asking the charm school counselor for a refund.

• Anonymous

Conjecture:

O’Reilly find that Web 2.0 as a concept and moniker has taken on a life of its’ own

O’Reilly understand the community in which they operate and which they serve

Perhaps CMP do not understand any of the above and they register a service mark for Web 2.0, with a view towards protecting it as a commercial “asset” in a narrow field namely conferences/events

However the Web 2.0 Genie has left the bottle, and the tech community do not see it as any kind of commercial “asset”, it is now a generic widespread term, akin to Internet,Web or Blogosphere, it describes an ecosystem, a business approach, a technology, even a community of sorts – how people think, can they now want to corral it and tell people who can and can’t use it, esp when they use the blunt tool of legal correspondance

Should or in fact did O’Reilly counsel caution when CMP said they were going to start issuing C&D’s to people using Web 2.0 in conference or events or are we looking at a disconnect, so that CMP acted and O’Reilly staff just missed the importance of what was being done and through a simple matter of not thinking it through , set the scene for a firestorm

It does appear that someone at O’Reilly dropped the ball , perhaps even without realizing

• Curt

Web 2.0 = Generic = No Patent, period.

Let them try to enforce it and get even more egg on their face. I didn’t even know about their conferences until this flap came up.

If Tim has an ounce of credibility left, he’d use every bit of his influence to kill this patent crap. ’nuff said.

• http://microsoft.com Marky Mark

It’s not a patent that is being registered, but a trademark. ’nuff said.

• Varun

And the irony of all this is that Tim O’Reilly was so well respected for the whole Web 2.0 (TM) thing. He was one of the noble men in the Web 2.0 (TM) community, with a big and shiny halo around him. The term Web 2.0 (TM) was inextricably linked to “Tim O’Reilly”. And all that got blown away. But don’t blame Tom or the bloggers or the commenters for it. It was Self-Destruction 101 at display.

“The Average Web 2.0 Joe Blow” might not understand the intricacies of IP law, but he/she surely would know a trademark when he sees a TM or R sign next to a name. That’s more like, you can look, but you cannot touch.

The situation hasn’t been resolved. CMP Media still owns the trademark to the term “Web 2.0″ in the US, even if it’s just for conferences.

• uk

Tim,
With all due respect, are you kidding!!

A million-dollar corporation, one of the lead thinkers of the contemporary IT world, an expert blogger, a professional…

1. …thinks that having a trademark on “Web 2.0″ is justifiable and defendable, even if the now-projected intended use was limited to conferences!

2. …agreed with CMP about potential dilution of the brand, and that something should be done about it!!!

3. …says that he didn’t know that CMP will send out C&D letters, even though he agreed with CMP about the potential dilution, and that something must be done about it!!

4. …wants to make us believe that O’Reilly and CMP don’t wish to claim the right to all use of the term “Web 2.0″, but still wish to hold on to the trademark and are worried about potential dilution and that something must be done about it!!!

5. …refers to the now-classic “LinuxWorld” analogy.

6. …wants to deny any prior usage of the term for the same intention!!!

It’s irrelevant whether IT@Cork should have responded to you privately before going public.

Shouldn’t your partner CMP consult with you, the biggest proponent of the term “Web 2.0″, before going out after IT@Cork?

Shouldn’t you first consult with the web community, who stood behind you and lined up to read everything you had to say, before agreeing with the trademark and that something must be done to prevent the potential dilution…

Tim, you had it – the grip, the leadership, the opportunity. But you let it go. And once gone, it ain’t gonna come back that easily.

• http://nsputnik.com Nick D

How dare we think that you would have thought that way, Tim. I, for one, am sorry for jumping to any conclusions about your character. This seems to be blown out of proportion, sensationalized fodder for the blogosphere. Now, it almost appears that Tom Raftery was using this as a publicity stunt for his event. If that was the goal Tom, mission accomplished. Now, the backlash should be back at IT@Cork. Now they really have used the Web 2.0 to promote their conference in a very Web 2.0 way. Ironic.

• http://webergrill.com weber_grill

I used to bristle when members of the mainstream press wagged their fingers at the unprofessionalism of bloggers. I looked around at all the bloggers who are, to my mind, practicing great journalism, and wrote off the MSM criticism as fear of the new medium. But now I’m not so sure. The flap about the Web 2.0 Conference trademark has shaken my faith in the collective intelligence of the blogosphere.

Oh now you run for cover under the NYT and spew this blog-hating garbage because you got dinged so hard? These words will follow you forever. You are a gutless self-serving prick. Way to talk shit about everyone with one sweeping generalization over a major fuck-up your company made. FUCK YOU for displaying that kind of arrogance. Any knocks you take now are fully deserved.

Free advice: fire Sara Winge, she’s useless.

I think the issue here is and was not the trademark par sec, rather it is the sloppish manner that the PR folks did and secondly the issue itself…

They say :”Web 2.0,” which the law says we must take “reasonable steps” to protect. “
I say : “Please quote Article and Section and previous docket# wherein which the law is enforced”

That is, where in the history of law has a trademark holder been sued for not taking action to protect his own trademark ?? so what your PR staff said is a lot of ..whatever !!

The point that I am trying to make is simple, that “Web2.0 conference” is and shall always be yours to share, however that is not the stance that you or our assoicates have taken. The C&D speaks for itself. So literally, I am failing to see how you can be called as leading open source advocate under these prevailing issues and current sceanrio. Exactly what prompted you to and your team to send out a C&D letter ?? IMHO, its simple – you dont want anyone using the coined term “WEb2.0 Conference” to make money – yet to advocate open source concepts..correct ??

Is this not a forked tongue method in play ?? What am I missing here ??

• http://wgz.org/chromatic/ chromatic

weber, part of the problem is that it takes even less work to do basic research on the differences between patents, copyright, and trademarks than it does to post angry messages… yet so many comments even on this story demonstrate astonishing ignorance of the purpose of trade and service marks.

The confusion between receiving a cease and desist letter — unpleasant and, I believe, unnecessary in this case but still nothing more than a love note from a laywer — and receiving notice of a lawsuit is also very evident.

It’s very difficult to take certain opinions seriously when they are so clearly ill-informed.

• http://www.digitalfilipino.com Janette Toral

The CMP/O’Reilly’s version of Web 2.0 Conference will always be unique in its own way. No matter how others around the world try to put up one. For a conference participant or media attendee, that distinction (brand loyalty for that matter) is clear and can choose which one to attend.

• IAMweb2.0TM

Fear not. The collective intelligence of the blogosphere is growing and at an astounding rate. You only have to learn to discern the signal from the noise.

If you read the comments on the other two O’Reilly blogs, the essence of it was dissatisfaction of your customers in the manner in which you (O’Reilly) handled the situation.

And now you are only making matters worse with a half-assed apology, criticism of your customer base and wanting an apology in return from the little guy. I sincerely hope that you guys can this whole Web 2.0 TM/SM thing.

I have a line for you: The Customer is Always Right.

or if you like Donald Trump: Don’t believe your critics unless they love you.

Looks like you guys have taken the latter approach.

• Anonymous

To all the flameboys:
I don’t see you with a publishing and conference empire so stfu until you have accomplished something! Go back to your tolling on digg!

• jb

Something to consider.

Section 24 of Irish Trade Marks Act

4.(1) Where a person threatens another with proceedings for infringement of a registered trade mark other than in relation to

( a ) the application of the mark to goods,
( b ) the importation of goods to which the mark has been applied, or
( c ) the supply of services under the mark,
any person aggrieved may apply to the Court for relief under this section.

(2) The relief which may be applied for as mentioned in subsection (1) is any of the following:

( a ) a declaration that the threats are unjustifiable;
( b ) an injunction against the continuance of the threats;
( c ) damages in respect of any loss sustained by the threats.

(3) A plaintiff shall be entitled to such relief as is referred to in subsection (2) unless the defendant shows that the acts in respect of which proceedings were threatened constitute (or if done would constitute) an infringement of the registered trade mark concerned.

(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (3), the plaintiff shall be entitled to such relief as is referred to in subsection (2) if the plaintiff shows that the registration of the trade mark is invalid or liable to be revoked in a relevant respect.

(5) Notification that a trade mark is registered or that an application for registration has been made shall not of itself constitute a threat of proceedings for the purposes of this section.

• stephen

Do you want someone else to own “Web 2.0″ ?

If they do not someone else will

To own it you must REACT to infringement. Moreover using different methods for different organizations can have bad legal consequences. I am certain that there will be many who will try to exploit “Web 2.0″ in “interesting” ways. I would hope we would not want O’Reilly to be vulnerable to dastardly persons. Yes, there are times business is a cartoon.

This has generated great publicity for the conference, which should be good as it has an O’Reilly speaker and it will be on Web 2.0 otherwise O’Reilly would have not permitted them to continue to use the mark. That is why trademarks are generally valuable to society at large.

To Tim and O’Reilly

Could you put up a page (or a pointer to a page) which lists your various marks and what they mean.

Perhaps it could have a form to apply for use of the mark.

Thank you for your effective and considered apology. It will help to make the Blogsphere a better place. Well maybe.

To Sara Winge.

Hang in there you did fine.

• Jb

Also if people wish they may oppose the granting of the trade/service mark, as I believe it is still within the 3 month timeframe that oppositions can be lodged

The UK patent office application number is E4972212

• J. Random Hacker

I’ve been a huge ORA customer over the years (which is easy for any geek who buys as many books as I do). But I was unimpressed by how CMP handled this mess. It’s not nice to wait until a term receives widespread generic usage–without (TM) signs–and then send C&D letters to non-profits. And I’m not surprised that this blew up; it seems that most geeks freak out when receiving a C&D, and many send it straight to Slashdot. Haven’t lawyers noticed this by now? Exactly what do they expect?

If W** 2.0(tm) is a proprietary term, it should have been explicitly promoted as such. I’ll need to cut it from my presentations, because I’m not in the business of promoting a proprietary CMP brand name. I think that’s where the greatest sense of betrayal comes from: I’ve been helping a company I know nothing about.

And if continuing to disapprove of ORA’s and CMP’s actions in this matter makes me a member of the “mob”, well, so be it.

• stephen

I’m sorry Jb I could not resist this one.

Cork is in Eire which is not part of the U.K..

If you really want to avoid a storm I would suggest you correct this, otherwise at the least you are going to be the receiving end of “interesting” responses from the supporters of the Emerald republic.

I’m sure they will be fun to read for everyone but you.

Incidently a C&D is not an action, my guess it is considered a reasonable response in legal terms, but you did find relevant material.

• http://www.prohiphop.com Clyde Smith

What a mess. You’re turning your brand into garbage and, while this post will satisfy some, so many people who picked up the Web 2.0 ball and ran with it will never look to you for inspiration again.

To come up with a term like that, have it become a part of the daily language and be widely acknowledged for creating it is so much more valuable than being the only one able to use it in the U.S. in a conference title, especially a conference that is so well known.

It’s sad to see a great brand lose track, especially due to a partner’s mistakes. By the way, I think registering Software Development was also a bad move on CMP’s part, but now I know to start keeping an eye on their moves.

For them to send a C&D to another country without having attempted any kind of international IP registration shows that they are willing to pull foolish jack moves that will embarass them and you in the future.

Best of luck with your conference!

• jb

Stephen , I’m not falling into the Ireland in the UK trap let me explain

I believe that OReilly CMP made their trademark applcation (for Europe)in the UK ,through a UK Patent agent – so it is lodged in the UK and has European applicability through treaty and agreements.

So the UK is the place to object.

• http://www.accmanpro.com Dennis Howlett

Tim: It matters not whether Tom missed parts of other emails or whether he contacted you – for goodness sake – your own people couldn’t reach you for a response last week – or so it seems. He was dealing with lawyers by that stage – what do you expect?

The admitted fact the left and right hands may not have been so well coordinated should surely be enough to inform you the organisation as a whole is not well connected.

Isn’t that the issue?

And to the wider ‘flat world’ point – Eire is not the 51st State of the US and treating it as such in the absence of enforcable law is guaranteed to piss people off outside the 50 States. When will US media get that?

These are not trivial issues but ones that need addressing. Like it or not in a flat world. That could of course be an issue of global legislation – but since we can’t agree on the same word usage, we have to find other ways to negotiate these issues. Sledge hammers certainly don’t do it in th eyes of ‘us’ in the EU.

• sr

While the geeks are innovating on technology, the suits are innovating at jargon and terminology. This is alright as long as the suits leave the geeks alone and stay out of their way. All hell breaks loose when the suits get in the way!

• Anonymous

I call this letter Bullshit 2.0. Tim, if you wanted to say sorry, you would have said so. But you didn’t, which means you aren’t sorry.

• http://ceejayoz.com/ ceejayoz

In such a long post, it’s rather surprising you’ve failed to substantatively address the concerns the web development community has brought forth.

Stop blaming the victim.

• http://joeduck.wordpress.com Joe Hunkins

Tim this was a nicely reasoned, rational reply to the brushfire of angry commentary.

However I’m guessing this has not addresed a key concern of some which is that enforcing rights to “Web 2.0″ *appears* to be outside of the spirit of Web 2.0 as representing open, freewheeling, new age business models.

I think this may be especially true of those in the EU who are not as familiar with your name and sterling reputation.

Easy for me to say, but frankly I think there is more to be gained from the positive publicity that will follow dropping the claim on the mark than from fighting to own it.

Good luck in any case.
O’Reilly is a fine company and will handle this reasonably.

• http://www.prohiphop.com Clyde Smith

To those who posted about the UK application, thanks. I missed that.

• CT

this whole drama (2.0) has been extremely interesting. of particular concern is that the bulk of the community was waiting on Tim to come in and set the story straight.

it seems that folks do not trust the other members of the o’reilly team. this does not feel like a scalable scenario. in fact, this is like waiting for Dad to come home…

i think that the o’reilly team handled this situation with honesty and integrity. and i feel for Ms. Winge and the nasty posts she received.

no business is perfect. i applaud this team for how they handled a difficult (and highly insulting) set of responses.

in my view, Tim has put together a stellar team, and they should be trusted to mind the store in his absence. this issue seemed to reveal that folsk felt okay bashing his team (but not him) in his absence. what is up with that?

• Anonymous

In no particular order:

I don’t think it’s a failure of the blogosphere that they can get passoniate about things they care about quicky, or let that passion cool off once it’s unjustified. I also don’t think it’s a failure that some blogs try to present news and some present opinion. In fact, I’m not sure I see why this has to turn into a discussion about the blogosphere’s reaction–was there anything new or different about it this time?

You say Web 2.0 became so successful that it’s more than just a traditional brand you own. That’s right. And you made it that way. It’s a submarine trademark.

I don’t think the CMP or O’Reilly people who thought this up should be punished. They probably were just doing their jobs and didn’t know any better than to treat this like any other job. The people who formulated the response to the community in your place, however, should have known better.

As for genericization–the first time, and the first dozen times, I heard “Web 2.0″ had nothing to do with you. That’s my experience, so it happens. Also, see the Linux/LinuxWorld arguments.

As for “failure to engage in real conversation”: that’s what really went wrong here. What do you call throwing trademarks at non-profits but a failure to engage in real conversation? Your letter was friendly much better. “Please change everything to stop using a word we made up a few years ago but many people do not now particularly associate as our possession. Best of luck with that.”

Mozilla’s policy earns them grumbling but little outrage because there’s still a wink-wink-nudge-nudge aspect. Those in the know can get around it and distribute builds with useful work done.

I don’t think you get it. This isn’t about your right to own brands. If you C&D’d somebody making animal books or whatever, who would argue? This is about the O’Reilly name (whether it was originally your or your company or some one else’s decision) being used to claim ownership of a term that people had perceived as generic. It doesn’t matter whether you think it’s moral that they do, that was my, and others’, perception of the term. This is about another annoying suit-world action against the “good guys” who just want to talk tech, doubly insulting because it’s endorsed by the O’Reilly name. I’m not a big fan of the term, but this piece of jargon has become important to the conversation.

This is about Tim O’Reilly, educator and evangelist, telling others what they may and may not educate or evangelize about. I think that’s what you did. Please understand that perception and work against it.

• http://www.accmanpro.com Dennis Howlett

Nicely balanced take Joe that hits the spot for me.

Important to understand most of ‘our’ target audiences wouldn’t know a blog if it slapped them in the face. OSS is widely distrusted, especially with little informed audiences that see outdated, EDS driven models in government, as an anacronysm with no apprent ‘white knight’ in sight.

I love what Tom and his crew are doing for a very sensible economic reason. Eire has a heck of a lot to offer. Look at O’Reilly. Niall Kennedy and Fergus Burns. This is a country less than half the population of London. They’re doing this for no personal financial reward. They DO uderstand OSS.

OK – so they’ve accidently hijacked the conference brand – if indeed that’s the bottom line issue.

What possible economic impact can Tom’s event have on the mighty O’Reilly/CMP empire?

• mark

I’ll be trademarking the term “Web 4.0″.

Use this term and I’ll sue your ass.

• http://www.axis-of-aevil.net/ hfb

You should get one of these for your office wall:

And “faith in the collective intelligence of the blogosphere”….that was good for a laugh. :)

• no one of consequence

“(I’ll note that Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds, that Apache is a trademark of the Apache Software Foundation, Mozilla and Firefox are trademarks of the Mozilla Foundation, Wikipedia is a trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, and so on.)”

I’ll note that these were almost all protective (and in Linux’s case, reactively) because inappropriate parties often opportunistically assert control over distinctive names. Your use of these examples in support of your “Web 2.0″ (a much more generic and pervasive term) is specious.

I think much of the “blogosphere” has in fact got it right. The service mark on “Web 2.0″ is aggressive and silly.

• agus

Has ever Linus Torval forbidden to use “Linux” term?

Web 2.0 is only a CONCEPT. Nobody can be the owner of an idea. After reading your post I’m still thinking the same way; there’s no need to do it!!! So, Why????

• Mike Oligny

I am getting the feeling this isn’t going to quietly go away any time soon – it sort of seems to be snowballing even further.

When I buy books in print, I prefer the animal ones – so to see a company I have supported so consistently make such a short-sighted choice (and for what gain… really?!), well, it’s easy to take it personally.

It is a little bit sad that O’Reilly brought a large part of this (esp. the overly emotional posts) on themselves simply by keeping our expectations so high for so long. There has always been a certain feel about O’Reilly books – for me anyway – that no other publishers could touch.

It’s not too late…

• http://www.instabloke.com Blog Bloke

According to Wikipedia:

“Web 2.0 generally refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online. In contrast to the first generation, Web 2.0 gives users an experience closer to desktop applications than the traditional static Web pages.”

Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.

To some extent Web 2.0 is a buzzword, incorporating whatever is newly popular on the Web (such as tags and podcasts), and its meaning is still in flux. O’Reilly recently claimed exclusive use of the term for conference names, further muddying the waters.”

Given that the term ‘Web 2.0′ is just a “buzzword” for a trend in the World Wide Web, then the question begs to be asked is it reasonable that it could be trademarked any more than the words ‘Internet’, or ‘Blogosphere’ or anything else representing a generic “buzzword” that belongs to the greater public?

This is something that I would have expected from Bill Gates, and it would appear to be nothing more than a shameful power grab by certain corporate types that have a need to control things.

For indeed the primary purpose of trademarking anything is “control”. This notion is also indicative of a dangerous trend that is becoming more prevalent within the blogosphere and indeed the entire web.

Yes, as Mr. O’Reilly states a trademark is for preventing confusion within the marketplace or passing off on someone else’s turf, but he also forgets to mention towards what end? As someone who owns several trademarks and having worked in law, I can tell you with some certainty that a trademark is for enforcing exclusive use of a name or product for commercial gain.

So who is zooming who here? If indeed it is not Mr. O’Reilly’s intention to own the exclusive “right to all use of the term Web 2.0″, then he could easily prove that by abandoning this nonsensical enterprise.

Albeit I am impressed with Mr. O’Reilly’s eloquent retort, but unfortunately my gut tells me that it is just smoke and mirrors to smooth over rough waters. For if it is true that the term “Web 2.0″ is going to be trademarked then I recommend that henceforth none of us should even consider using the term.

Of course, Tim could prove me wrong by showing his good faith and publicly denouncing his (or his partners’) desire to trademark the term, and in that respect I highly recommend that he does abandon this ridiculous notion and be satisfied with having been given the honor of coining the term. All kudos will be acknowledged.

Then again, maybe I should be calling my lawyer tomorrow and registering Web 5.0 (Dennis Howlett already owns 4.0). Now there’s an idea.

Sorry to have to disagree with you Tim, but I’m just expressing my right to say what’s on my mind (so long as I still can).

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

You say:

‘MediaLive filed for the trademark on the Web 2.0 Conference’

The letter to IT@Cork from CMP says:

‘CMP has a pending application for registration of Web 2.0 as a service mark for arranging and conducting live events’

And the trademark application filed on the 21st March 2006 supports CMP’s claim. So, contrary to your assertion, the trademark is for the phrase ‘Web 2.0′ in the context of a conference or live event. It isn’t for ‘Web 2.0 Conference’.

Maybe you might pay more attention to the facts.

• http://jmhz.net jmhz

Hi Tim,

As you say it is only because you are a top guy that it hurts when we realise you are human.

I believe you when you say none of it was meant.

I still think that you should have made it clear that web2.0 was a proprietry term from the beginning as no other term yet suffices. AJAX and the other terms you suggest are facets of Web2.0 – what other term describes it? Now we have Balkanisation of Buzzwords which is a big setback.

You have not made it clear how we can use Web2.0. Can we have a “web2.0 Workshop” or “web2.0 class”.

LINUX, Apache & Mozilla are trademarked by trusted parties to protect the community, not to stop community events. I think you were very well trusted until this – I think many hoped to have this trust in you restored but IMHO your response has not done so.

I think you are very very wrong to ask Tom Rafferty for an apology. You mess up, you get blog-mobbed that is democracy – as you aren’t elected it is all we have. I ask you to retract this. Perhaps he could have played it different but he was the injured party and I can’t see that he called for this – the mob formed because the community feels threatened.

In effect you or your partners submarine service marked the term, this sucks. Now the only reason I believe you didn’t intend this is because of your excellent reputation on such matters.

A blog mob is a culturally diverse group and to malign it for the actions of a few flame-kids is lame and wrong. In my local pub every third word is an expletive and no offence is meant – cultural differences. I don’t advocate rudeness but trying to silence discussion with being offended is very George Bush.

Resolving matters behind closed doors is not open or democratic. There would be no salutory lesson for other companies to clearly program their legal teams.

To suggest the NY Times is better behaved than bloggers completely misses the point of a democratic “we the media” – in the same way a discussion is different than a speech.

“Web2.0″ would not be included in a Open Source Distribution – the liscense is too restrictive. C’mon admit it Web2.0(tm) is an oxymoron.

If you don’t release the term CC or GPL it then your reputation for not submarining servicemarks is IMHO undeserved.

With great power comes great responsibilty.

Kind Regards,

Jason Malcolm-Herzmark

jMHz

• http://acidzebra.blogspot.com Michiel

I never realised o’reilly were to blame for the invention of that whole web 2.0 nonsense.

Our grandchildren will laugh at us for our hubris in calling this basic stuff ‘web 2.0′ when it (I’m talking the AJAX and all the other buzzy stuff) is nothing more whan web 1.1 if even that.

I hope they will also be laughing about all these bullshit trademarks and ‘IP’ issues.

• Anonymous

It is clear from comments by OutragedCustomer & other fools that they are agent provocoteurs trying to assit in derailing this discussion – please do not pander to them by being offended.

• Anonymous

We need to find out what service marks CMP has, if it true they have “Software Development” and we can’t use that phrase for events or education then I think “pure unadulterated evil” is quite apt.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

IF Web 2.0 (TM) is trademarked for events does that include virtual events in Second Life?

• http://www.timalmond.com Tim Almond

Tim,

“I like to think that this makes Amazon at least a fellow traveler with open source, a company the open source community needs to learn from as well as try to teach.”

A lot of people view O’Reilly as a “fellow traveller”. Part of the “alpha geek” community. A forward-looking company who shared many of their values. You had a huge amount of goodwill with that community. Last time I looked, ThinkGeek weren’t selling t-shirts from any other publisher.

You know the response to things like companies claiming they own Unix, Amazon 1-Click or patenting protocols.

Next time you think up a meme, Tim, don’t be surprised if it goes nowhere. The bloggers that you’ve lost faith in won’t carry it.

• Anon

Personal attacks are wrong no matter against who. I have an almost complete personal ORA collection (missing the Lego Mindstorms :-( ) and a couple of complete office library collections (though these tend to have notes in the margins). Are the cover graphics copyright free (I think they are sold by Dover Press)?

ORA says it had to send a C&D to a publisher for having an animal on the cover.
I will now switch to other publishers. Apress springs to mind as they have decent detailed books and I already have the new Evi Nemeth bookmarked.

I have had some doubts over ORA since the rate at which out-of-print have been transferred to freely downloadable appears to have slowed if not stopped.
I buy all the books and I even have a Safari account! I want them to be available to the rest of the world for free later. I thought that was the whole “nice company” idea. I do not know what my annual spend is on ORA, but I guess like most geeks it is pretty high. Easy for ORA to calculate (about 4x every book they print in that year).

This thread has crystallised my thoughts and I will not seek ORA publications in the future. If I can get time off work I will go to the Irish Web Sue.0 conference just to show support. Is there some publish on demand company for IT books?

I do not care if I am the only ORA customer to change. Requesting someone to apologise after he received a C&D is acting like a child because the whole family (community in our case) said it was wrong. It might be a trading partner’s fault, but you also get critisism because of that word “partner”. CMP just have my utter contempt and I will seek them out in the future so I can avoid their shows.
I wish you well in the future, as I would to any human, but I will not be back.

• Web 1.0 Documents
• Web 2.0 Community driven
• Web 3.0 Skipped due to potential money sucking lawyers
• Web 4.0 Intelligent Community (remove the extremes) (owned by Denis Howlet or Zoli Erdos) but free for useage.

• JD

Tim, a nice job with the considered response.

However, it highlights what appears to be the challenge of the fine line you have chosen to walk. I doubt this settles much. I doubt will not be able to find the perfect middle ground that appeals to the geeks you have made your name tracking and intellectually aligning with, and the CMP’s, which give you the money you covet and probably deserve (after missing much of the upside of your thought leadership over the years).

The amazing thing to me is how righteous “web 2.0″ people get on commercialization, while the vast majority of them are just scheming on how they can get recognized and acquired by Google or Yahoo. Web 2.0 isn’t a religion, fer chrissakes, it’s a trend moniker, a catch phrase for this weird mash-up of money-seeking geeks and a small smattering of people passionate about the evolution of the net for citizens.

Sadly, the blogsphere is full of people who are there to hear themselves speak, and pretending that it is a conversation.

• Anonymous

It could seem that CMP/O’Reilly picked a soft target to defend their mark.
As this is undoubtably incorrent please explain why you picked this conference out of the many conferences held by governments and other corporations. Can we find out who else got C&D’s so can see that this is not the case?

& Don’t feed the trolls, everyone.

• Anon

I feel like the doofus jumping up and down behind the reporter as he talks on camera while covering some local murder. That’s how you have to look at the vast majority of the blogosphere — mindless idiots clammering for their 15 minutes.

• Tom Cooke

Your contention that a C&D is not a threat of legal action rests on a semantic distinction that almost nobody is going to accept. Allowing letters like this to be sent out in your name without your express permission was your big mistake here, the blogging community sees any form of legal correspondence as a big deal, and no amount of argument from you or anyone else is going to change that. To people like myself, sending out even one spurious legal letter out by accident indicates an overly casual attitude to these matters, and I hope that this incident will serve as a warning to other companies.

• Whistle Blower

A service mark on Web 2.0, solely for conferences, is perfectly understandable. It’s only like when Dave Winer’s company applied to trademark “RSS” a few years ago.

• http://www.covertprestige.info Florent V.

OK, the page goes longer and longer, with lots of ideas in it. Just wanted to say that even though I was unaware of the controversy (it didn’t hit the French blogosphere that much), I appreciate the response. As someone wrote somewhere at the middle of this page, good companies are not the ones which avoid controversies and mistakes. They’re the ones which react ok.

My opinion:
 the claim “Don’t name your conference in a way that it could be confused with ours” is sensible;
 the method was a bit harsh.
Both points were adresses. No more controversy. Have a nice day.

• http://www.newmyths.org Josh Street

Re: All the comments like “Next time you think up a meme, Tim, don’t be surprised if it goes nowhere.”

Reality check: Uh…maybe it was just me, but I paid attention to Tim’s ideas because they were good, not because they were his…

PS – Could everyone stop with the comments “You haven’t answered the community!” posts. You aren’t the community – you are an individual and you certainly don’t have the right to speak on my behalf.

• Pork Pie McMasters

Tim, did you check your facts before posting this? Did you have a long talk with the Irish guy to get his side of it before demanding an apology? And aren’t you trying to lead a mob here? (It’s not working too well, is it?)

• Anonymous

Tim, it seems you don’t get it ™. Instead of arguing why you think you are right on this, you should wholeheartly apologize for all the mess. Trademarking generic terms is bad, especially when the trademarker made it generic in the first place.

I always thought of O’Reilly as a fine company, but i’m really disappointed by this and will probably not buy another of your books again. You have conviced me that you are no better than all the other money-hungry bad businesses out there.

You lost but you neglect to see it. How sad.

• kissandmakeup

Tom Raftery of IT@Cork says “Sorry Tim”

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

Whether or not O’Reilly and IT@Cork kiss and make up doesn’t impact on the idocy of attempting to trademark ‘Web 2.0′ for live events (including educational conferences) then letting a few bigger fish swim by (Mesh Web 2.0 COnference in Canada and the Irish government’s Web 2.0 Conference) then pouncing on a small non-profit to flex dubious legal muscles.

I’m having a Web 2.0 Conference in my living room today. All welcome.

• http://glasshouse.waggeneredstrom.com Frank Shaw

Two points:

1. Dan Lyons from Forbes Magazine charaterized this sort of controversy/response a “blog storm” in his somewhat negative story from last year; not clear if he got a TM on that or not. ;)
2. As Tom notes in his post above, it is *just possible* that conversation with a small c is a better way to resolve disputes than the big C blog conversation that just took place…something to think about.

• http://marcusvorwaller.com Marcus

It seems like the quote that is the most important here is:

“No one was using the term “Web 2.0″ with its current meaning before we launched the Web 2.0 conference in October 2004″

In my opinion that’s enough reason for O’Reilly to use the trademark in their conference names. If they invented the term then it wasn’t generic when the trademark was applied for.

• Jb

Marcus,

What do you think of the fact that they only filed for a trademark for the UK and by extension Europe in 2006, when I’m sure you’ll agree the moniker Web 2.0 was heading towards being very generic

Filing for Web 2.0 details here, admittedly it was CMP who files this but I assume with O’Reilly approval

• http://www.floatingatoll.nu/ Richard Soderberg

It seems unusual that people would direct vitrol at companies working within the framework of existing trademark law when their passion could be harnessed to change the law instead.

It has been indicated that the sales of O’Reilly Media products will drop as a result of this controversy. If that money is being rededicated to changing how trademark law works, then I stand in full support of bloggers who are backing their political ideals with cash. I must respect the attempt to change the law, regardless of my opinion about the desired changes.

However I am at a loss to understand how a simple “boycott” of O’Reilly Media will serve to change trademark law. It seems to me that the boycotts are intended as vengeance towards O’Reilly Media for operating within the constraints of existing trademark law.

Vengeance is a relatively ineffective route to changing the law. It’s my hope that those who decide to take their money elsewhere will reapply it to changing how things are, rather than merely purchasing books from someone else.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

Richard, I’m not sure anyone is seriously objecting to trademarks in principle.

The issues here, I believe, are the stealthiness of the trademark (who knew?); the deliberate targetting of a soft target (not the Irish Government conference, not Mesh in Canada, not a conference Cory Doctorow spoke at, all of which were / are billed as ‘Web 2.0′); the ridiculous breadth of the applied-for trademark; its dubious legality; the threatening and condescending tone of the letter to IT@Cork; and the lack of fit with O’Reilly’s perceived sympathies.

• ohcomeon

Comparing web 2.0 to Linux or wikipedia or whatever is an insult to our collective intelligence.

- You did not build web 2.0
– You certainly didn’t fund it the way wales did wikipedia
– All you did was label a phenomenom, let the community use it as a rallying cry, and like some sad patent troll or domain squatter decided to register a mark against something you have no rights over whatsoever.

The blogosphere didn’t over react. You guys shouldn’t have gone near this with a mark.

• Anonymous

I’m glad that you and Raftery have patched up over the initial problem, but I think that you still owe something of an apology to those who have worked to bring a lot of power to the Web 2.0 brand without realizing that it was trademarked. You may not have known about it before February, but it seems to me that as the head of the O’Reilly brand you can take some accountability for what people (i.e., CMP) do in your company’s name. Even if there’s no easy path to resolving the problem (especially since you don’t really own it, as you say–CMP does), it seems to me you could still gain a lot from apologizing to those who have written about Web 2.0, taught classes on it, given lectures on it, organized conferences on it, and otherwise built it up, when as far as I can tell, none of them thought that it was marked, and few of them would have imagined O’Reilly defending the mark against an organization that was essentially no different from the rest. A good number of them (I shan’t speculate about the percentage) wouldn’t have done it under the Web 2.0 name if they’d known that it was marked and O’Reilly or CMP had an active interest in defending it.

I’m not saying that it’s something you knowingly stepped into, but I’m just saying that there’s a perfect opportunity to apologize. Between your other apologies, your defensive remarks, and your critiques of the mob mentality and the feces being slung around in the comments, I think you left that one very important apology out.

I’d also like to thank you for reading these comments and allowing them to be posted. It seems to me that before this fiasco and after this fiasco, O’Reilly still stands out. This was not some company-crushing blow, and O’Reilly is not evil. That said, I hope you are able to read between the mud-slinging and see that there are a lot of articulate points being made. You had no trouble lumping all of the response to these events together as the blogosphere–can you also see the differences between the stupid and mean-spirited angry responses and the more intelligent angry responses, or do they really all look the same to you?

• Mark

“I’ll note that Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds, that Apache is a trademark of the Apache Software Foundation, Mozilla and Firefox are trademarks of the Mozilla Foundation, Wikipedia is a trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, and so on.”

And I’ll note that Linux has a product behind it. The others also have one or more actual software products behind them.

“Web 2.0″ flat does not exist. There’s no “there” there. What you people are trying to do is co-opt the work of others, pretending you created something. Which you did not.

I almost laughed when I got to this: “…Web 2.0 has become so successful as a meme…” The plain English translation for “successful meme” is “this week’s stupid buzzword nobody’ll remember next month.”

I hate to say this but one sign a company may be hitting that inflection point in which they go from producing quality products to producing dreck backed by lawsuits is an obsession with service/trademarks, copyrights, patents, the usual suspects.

And while I’m on the “I hate to tell you this” kick, I’ll note that I’m increasingly running into people who sneer at my suggestion of an O’Reilly book. You might want to spend more time on why that’s happening rather than concocting and “protecting” silly buzzwords.

Oh and you just now found out that the “blogosphere” is a bunch of ignorants linking to each other’s ignorance? Welcome to reality. We hope you’ll stay a while.

There are *reasons* we used to expect journalists to go to school, get degrees, gain work experience, and adhere to journalistic traditions and standards. You being in the publishing industry should already understand that. That you did not seem to and are using that stupid “MSM” term is disturbing.

The days of O’Reilly being my first choice in books may be coming to a close.

Finally, you really want to impress me with the Web? Try this one on for size…

I read news from a variety of sources but I don’t want to sit all day in front of a computer screen, working up a headache and a wrist ache. I print a lot of things out and go sit somewhere (sometimes even outside… gasp!) to catch up.

Do you know how stupidly difficult it is to get a web page printed? Everybody has their “print” link/button/whatever in different, often obscure locations. Some demand you “register” to be able to print. Some, especially blogs–like this one, force you to revert to the dark ages of copy then paste into a text editor to get a print out.

All this alleged “technology” and there’s no standard way to just click the print button on my browser and have the silly thing query the site for a printable version and ship it to the printer.

So now I’m going to get whiz-bang-golly-gosh bells and XHTML/AJAX/whatever’s-hot-next week? Whoopee. Probably end up being twice as hard to print anything.

Non-sequitur? No it’s not. Nobody can even agree on nor standardize something simple as *printing a page.* But we’re supposed to believe this “Web 2.0″ mishmash is going to produce anything but more inconsistencies, incompatibilities, and–I’ll bet you money–intrusive ads?

Yeah. Right. Sure thing. And the levees will hold too!

• Anonymous

To agus:

Has ever Linus Torval forbidden to use “Linux” term?
I don’t know, but if you follow the link to the Linux Mark Institute that Tim posted, you would find out that you indeed need a license if you want to use the word “linux” in the name of your own software-related goods or services. (in certain cases, you even need to pay for it). I hope people won’t start flaming Linus now ;-)

Web 2.0 is only a CONCEPT. Nobody can be the owner of an idea.
Yes they can (regrettably in some cases). That’s what patents are about, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. CMP is not the owner of the “concept” Web 2.0, they are not even the owner of the “name” Web 2.0. As has been said before, they more or less just own the right to use “Web 2.0″ in conference names.

After reading your post I’m still thinking the same way; there’s no need to do it!!! So, Why????
Of course, that doesn’t answer this question yet. It’s your right to disagree.

• giovanni

i have the “Web 2.1″ trademark. Then i’ll go for the “Web X” and WEBX

[Ed. note: I deleted a troll comment from “Outraged Customer,” about child molestation again. Thanks to everyone else for leaving me with only one comment to delete this time.]

• J. Random Hacker

Schwimmer Legal thinks that there may be a real genericization issue here:

IMHO, the 2005 O’Reilly piece begins and ends the discussion. If you coin and promulgate a term, you can sell it as a buzzword or you can sell it as a brand, but under trademark law, it’s virtually impossible to do both.

I’m also less than delighted to know that there’s legal issues with giving an educational talk about “Software Development” (or “Call Centers”). I’m not a lawyer, but CMP seems to have a fondness for trademarking generic terms.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

It’s tough coming in at the end of a long comment thread like this, and hoping to respond to individual voices, but I’m going to do my best to pick out representative issues.

First, let me say that I understand that there are many pragmatic reasons why it *may* be better for O’Reilly to try to persuade CMP to abandon their trademark application. We want people to continue to use the term “Web 2.0″ as widely as possible, and to use it to refer to the current stage of the Internet’s evolution. As a result, it may be better for us to rely on other aspects of our marketing and our product to distinguish our events from other Web 2.0-related events. But that isn’t a slam dunk, for reasons I’ll try to explain a bit later.

Second, let me reiterate that CMP’s claim on a trademark for Web 2.0 with respect to live events in no way prevents people from using “Web 2.0″ in other contexts, any more than Linus Torvalds’ trademark on Linux prevents people from using the term Linux in other contexts. (Actually, after a bit of research, I correct myself: the Linux Mark Institute, under license from Linus, claims far more control over the use of Linux for any related products than CMP wants to claim for Web 2.0. It appears you need to pay an annual license fee for any use in commerce, not just for software. So let me use Apache as an example instead.) Apache is a trademark of the Apache Software Foundation for web server software and associated software. I believe I could run an Apache Conference without permission from Apache because a conference can’t be confused with a software package. (I would however, need to be clear that the conference wasn’t put on by the Apache Software Foundation, and would need to acknowledge that Apache is a trademark of the Apache Software Foundation.) A trademark applies only to a particular class of goods.

The situation is so confusing because for many of the people commenting, “Web 2.0″ seems like it’s first and foremost the name of a technology movement, and only secondarily the name of a conference about that movement. But in fact, it started out as the name of a conference. We’re delighted that it has come to stand for the entire movement that we tried to catalyze with the conference, and we have no interest in keeping people from profiting from the name in other contexts than live events, which is the commercial use for which CMP filed an application for trademark registration. Our development of the Web 2.0 conference and the promulgation of the idea of Web 2.0 has created a lot of opportunities for other people — just ask some of the people who’ve got their startups funded as part of the Web 2.0 mini-bubble! Or how about some of the bloggers who’ve managed to build substantial web presences (and presumably associated revenue streams) by covering the web 2.0 phenomenon? Not to mention all the research firms selling Web 2.0 research reports to their clients. This is all great.

Look at it this way:

Apache trademark = software; therefore you can’t call other software Apache, but you can create other Apache-related products like magazines, books, websites or conferences, as long as you make clear that they aren’t from the ASF, and acknowledge their trademark. There is also a wide range of “fair use” cases.

Web 2.0 trademark = conference; therefore, you can’t call other conferences Web 2.0, but you can create other Web 2.0-related products like software, magazines, books, or websites, as long as you make clear that they aren’t from CMP (and if so required, acknowledge their trademark.) There are also a wide range of “fair use” cases.

Third, let me point out that while registration of a trademark gives additional legal rights, the underlying protection comes from use in commerce, and the basic common law in this area is about confusion in the marketplace about the nature or source of the goods or services. I mention this for all the legal eagles who are focused on date of registration and so on. And for those of you who are proposing to assert trademark on Web 4.0 or whatever — if you can establish continuous use in a particular field of commerce, you might well be able to do that. But simply asserting a trademark with no corresponding continuous commercial use is a meaningless act.

Fourth, a number of people have noted the 3 year-wait between the first original filing of the trademark and any action against people using the term Web 2.0. That’s because until recently, no one else was infringing on the trademark, at least not to our knowledge. It was the fact that all of a sudden other conferences with Web 2.0 in their name were cropping up that set the CMP legal team into action. That’s pretty strong evidence of the fact that there’s no intent to prevent other uses of Web 2.0, not evidence of a sudden land grab!

I will point out that Linux was introduced in 1991, yet Linus did not obtain a trademark on it until 1997 (when a trademark squatter noticed he hadn’t filed a registration and applied for one himself!) Do a google search on Linux trademark for an account of how this came down, and all the complications that came to light. It’s as a result of this controversy that many other open source projects also came to file trademark registrations, and one of the many reasons I alluded to in my first paragraph above why CMP simply abandoning the trademark registration isn’t necessarily a good idea.

Finally, a number of people thought it was ludicrous that I should ask Tom to apologize. Soren G wrote: “You want IT@Cork to apologize for posting a C&D letter that your staff OK’d?” Just to be clear, I have no problem with Tom posting the C&D. The problem I had (for which I asked him to apologize) was that he tagged me personally with “setting the lawyers on him” despite the fact that he had a personal email from me wishing him the best with his conference. I would have no grounds for complaint if he’d said something like: “I got this C&D letter from CMP that says they own the Web 2.0 trademark and want me to stop using the name for the IT@Cork Web 2.0 Half Day Conference — here’s the letter — and they say O’Reilly is involved. This doesn’t make sense. I have a personal email from Tim O’Reilly wishing me the best with the conference. I’ve emailed Tim for clarification, and he hasn’t responded. Because time is short, I can’t wait to hear from him, so I’m going public to ask for support.” That was why I led off my response the way I did. I’ve done my share of net activism, but I’ve ALWAYS tried to make personal contact — whether it’s to Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos, or Jim Allchin — before making a public stink. Tom gets that, and I really appreciate his apology. And I sure repeat my apology to him for the ham-handed CMP letters and my company’s part in approving them. And on our side, Gina Blaber, who approved the C&D on behalf of O’Reilly, gets how badly she screwed up by doing so, and specifically asked to be named in my response rather than being an unnamed member of our staff. And while I don’t even know the CMP lawyer, I think she’s probably learned a lesson as well!

(This isn’t really material, but in terms of the question of how such a screwup could happen, one additional factor is that MediaLive, our original partner in the Web 2.0 conference, was recently acquired by CMP, a very large company with its own culture and history and approach to legal matters. These are not people we’ve worked with before or had much opportunity to work with to clarify our respective approach to managing trademarks. When I called Tom upon my return from vacation, he said, “We talked to Sandi at CMP,” and I had to say “Who’s Sandi?”)

The O’Reilly approach to managing trademarks is what I expected when I had the initial conversation with the MediaLive team about their trademark filing and their concern that other Web 2.0 conferences were springing up. That approach has generally been to send an email to the party in question either asking them to acknowledge our trademark, or perhaps, if they were doing something we thought was inappropriate, to stop doing it. From my email conversation with Tom, I obviously didn’t have a problem with what IT@Cork was doing, so my approach would have been the former — just a request for acknowledgement. Even more likely, I would have suggested to CMP that they just let it go — this is clearly not a commercial competitor and since his event is in a few weeks, it’s going to be complicated for him to change his name or his marketing. (I love a comment made by Pope John Paul II: “See everything. Ignore a lot. Change a little.”) I should have dug deeper into what CMP was thinking, but assumed that there would be some further conversation before any action was taken. I hadn’t even seen a list of conferences that they thought were infringing.

Finally, to my promised reasons why it’s complicated to just disclaim the trademark. The first one is the one that I mentioned above in connection with Linux: it potentially opens the way for someone else to file instead. The second one is that we do have legitimate commercial concerns about events that are directly competitive using our name and positioning. And the third one is that despite all the heat in these forums, there’s plenty of room for people to continue using Web 2.0 in most of the ways they are currently doing. That’s why we’re leaning towards leaving the trademark filing in place, but trying to come up with clear guidelines about fair use and acknowledgement.

I hope this helps. I’ll try to pick up on this thread again tonight. (This isn’t the only work I have to do today!)

Thanks a lot for the increased level of constructive dialogue!

• Douglas, Phoenix AZ

Do you ever notice that those that talk the longest seem to have the most to hide – believing that by saying more and more that their arguement somehow gains credibility.

Claiming that when a big-co publisher sends a non-profit conference a legal threat that they should stay quiet about the “mistake” just doesn’t make sense in the real world.

O’Reilly = Microsoft = Apple = Big Business = $Long live the little guy – long live open source. • Anonymous This is very sad more than anything. The response to me signal lack of undertsnading of what is troubling people and how the repect once given to this person and company are already lost. Oh well. • J. Random Hacker For me, the underlying issue is Tim O’Reilly’s 2005 essay, which lays out W** 2.0 as a generic quality possesed by many products, including Google AdSense, Flickr and wikis. Nowhere on that page do I see “Web 2.0(tm)”, the “Web 2.0(tm) brand conference”, or any other indication that we’re dealing with a proprietary brand name. In general, trademark law is very strict about using certain phrasing and other indicators of trademark status. (Although service marks, I suppose, might have different rules.) An ordinary technologist, with a modest amount of legal accumen, would assume that this seminal article was describing a generic concept, not a specific brand name. And some of us mistakenly relied on that impression when deciding to promote the phrase “W** 2.0″. As it turns out, we’ve been promoting a CMP brand name all along, which was not necessarily our intent. Now, I know you’re in a bad spot–stuck between public opinion and a legally-aggressive partner–and W** 2.0 may very well need to remain a service mark of CMP. But I think there’s plenty of room for reasonable people to feel misled by your 2005 essay, and to be upset at discovering the trademark status W** 2.0. I’m not sure that “mob” is an entirely fair characterization of all these different opinions. • TMark This! Ok Tim. Now I get it. Grab the TMark before someone else does. That’s some justification. In the words of Austin Powers… “Yeah Right”! • http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones I don’t think anyone’s been promoting a CMP or O’Reilly brand through using ‘Web 2.0′. The trademark claim is extremely shaky – basically indefensible. It’s generic, it wasn’t invented by O’Reilly, its meaning has been enhanced and expanded by hundreds or thousands of people and tens of companies who have nothing to do with O’Reilly. I don’t need O’Reilly to tell me I can use ‘Web 2.0′ for anything but a conference. I don’t need his permission, don’t respect his legal advice, and dispute his trademark claim. As I said, Web 2.0 Conference at my house. • Web 2.sue > I don’t think that anyone deserves the kind of abuse that’s been flying around here: Ah, classic PR tactics at work here. The wrongdoer paints himselve as the victim. Of course, in good old tradition also decorated with an insult of the victims: > he stirred up the mob So we are just mob. Concerned people are the mob. We, your customers, are apparently only marginally different from scum for you. Thanks for making this crystal clear. I never belived in heros, so I am not among the people who have just experienced the downfall of one of their personal heros. I am, however, sensitive to people who try to pretend to be Mother Theresa but in reality are nothing more than ordinary businessmen who think their customers are scum. There is nothing wrong with just being a businessman. There is a lot wrong with businessmen who pretend to be something else. I mean, if we are the mob, why do you still try to sell things to us? Wouldn’t your moral and attempst “to do the right” thing dictate that you stop doing so? Oh, and you and your CMP henchmen could have filed for the trademark “Web 2.0 Conference” and variations. But no, you went for the generic “Web 2.0″. You tried very hard in your response to avoid that fact, never exactly quoting what you are going to trademark. Bzzzt, didn’t work out. • http://blog.hackingcough.com Chris Edwards “…the filing actually preceded the first conference. However, I wasn’t personally aware of this trademark filing till this past February, as a result of discussions with CMP after the MediaLive purchase.” There remain several things I don’t get. When you say that you were unaware of the trademark filing in 2003, do you mean just you personally or was ORA as a company unaware of Medialive’s decision to file? How does that square with the fact that the phrase “Web 2.0 Conference” was marked with the (sm) symbol, albeit wrongly? Do you mean that you thought the entire phrase had been trademarked rather than just “Web 2.0″? That inconsistency lies at the root of this latest bust-up, and has still not been addressed. And, given that the EU trademark application was still a month away from exiting the phase when it can be opposed, why did both companies think it was a good idea to “demand” that Web 2.0 not be used in the title of a conference happening in the EU rather than making a polite request? CMP was not in any position to make that demand as there is no guarantee that the trademark will stand in the EU. • http://blog.eucap.com Paul Elosegui I disagree with the comparison with Apache and Mozilla foundation trademarks, since both are not-for-profit organizations. Apache and Mozilla cannot abuse trademark advantages against the community as a whole. Tim’s argument certainly aims for a Lessig-like balance between company and community interest. But it is only fair that the community, which is creating the web2.0 meme’s value, voices opposition where balance seems lost. Given how sensitive the issue is, it sounds like CMP should funnel legal threats on trademark through Sara Winge. Communications would not be so easily distorted by a disgruntled competitor. • http://www.docuverse.com/blog/donpark Don Park I had to stop and LOL at Jeremy’s post. Everyone *becomes* that stupid when huddled in a very large group. Pack 1000 of the brightest people in the world in a conference room then scream “fire” if you want to see replays. Tim, you need to be stupid too, by moving along the way rest of the pack is pushing you to move. I don’t think this post of reasons won’t save O’Reilly from being pushed around unless you move along. • Anonymous Tim, Seems like 3 questions 1. Was obtaining or letting your partner CMP obtain a trade mark/service as wide as Web 2.0 rather then a more nailed down specific one , related clearly to the CMP/O’Reilly conference a mistake (even in hindsight) 2. Was the fact that O’Reilly did not apparently openly and publicly state that they were trademarking “Web 2.0″ or that they had knowledge that their partner was taking such action for the purpose of protecting a conference/events/etc an oversight 3 Was the communication and process of protecting the trade/servicemark ill thought out and handled badly And Critically could you have foreseen this , I know hindsight is a wonderful thing. You say – “I should have dug deeper into what CMP was thinking, but assumed that there would be some further conversation before any action was taken. I hadn’t even seen a list of conferences that they thought were infringing.” Assumptions often lead to this type of disaster Sounds like CMP shot first and asked questions later. Whereas O’Reilly by not setting down clear rules and guidelines with their Partner CMP or by not applying them if they existed set the stage for this mess your staffer Blaber looks like she was the last line of defense and well what happened happened CMP owned the trademark – CMP who appear to have a very different outlook and culture then O’Reilly something you allude to in your post and something it strikes me you should have factored into your partnership, as in previous posts you have stated they were worried about dilution of the brands, so you knew they wanted to do something to protect it, it can’t be been much of a logical jump from there to C&D’s at dawn It would seem to me that this whole debacle has it roots in a culture clash of sorts between O’Reilly and CMP, compounded by the tech community not liking how things were handled and feeling let down and possibly at the extreme end of the scale feeling deceived I think O’Reilly need to publically state that from this point in time you will clearly state that it will be your or your partners intent that any term.meme or phrase created by you solely or jointly will be trademarked, so that we all now where we stand” • Varun Tim, I still don’t appreciate your position, and believe that you can and should pursue abandoning the trademark. - If you abandon it, no one else can obtain the trademark on Web 2.0 as it is a generic term. You/CMP simply got lucky in getting it in the first place. - With this trademark in place, no one else can organize a Web 2.0 conference. That’s right, “a” Web 2.0 conference, because it is a buzzword. You yourself promoted it as a buzzword. Where was the pending trademark sign TM next to it ? - Since you coined the term, a Web 2.0 conference organized by you would have unique value. You do not need the legal protection offered by a trademark as your brand is unique and already distinguishable in the Web 2.0 space. - There isn’t enough room for Web 2.0 to exist as a generic buzzword and as a registered trademark. Isn’t all this distasteful enough for people to stop using the word ? - I live and work and evangelize in the Web 2.0 space and make Web 2.0 software products. Suddenly, I find that my industry name is trademarked. How do you think this makes me feel ? Angry, cheated, deceived and confused. - Economic fallout: I am not sure how many people will actually stop buying your books. However, your conference is most likely to be negatively affected by it. Any self-respecting, morally competent person is likely to keep away from it. - Lastly, look at the bigger picture. Think about your legacy. You have earned incredible wealth, built an empire and also accumulated a lot of goodwill and respect over the years. You had been an industry icon. Why let this ruin it all for you ? Surely, some more bucks cannot be as important as your reputation, because right now you are on track to be amongst the most hated and villified persons in the industry you love. Tim, this Web 2.0 controversy won’t leave you, and the only good way to resolve it for yourself and the community is to abandon the trademark. There are better things in life and more interesting ways of making money. • Varun Another point: - Web 2.0 might have been coined by you, but it’s brand was built by the community – by the developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, etc. And by seeking to have EXCLUSIVE rights on being able to organize a conference with Web 2.0 in the name, it just seems so unfair to the rest of us. Where’s my check Tim..since now we have found out that this has been a trademark disguised as a buzzword. • Thomas Lord Hey, Tim, About your reasons against giving up the (TM) and rebranding: The issue of someone else picking up the (TM) is moot if you continue to use “Web 2.0″ in your conference names in addition to some new brand (“Weberificness: Web 2.0 etc.”). You’ve already turned it into a common term in all other fields. You can make sure it becomes one in conference titles. (Perhaps this means that you (loosely and liberally) protect the TM for one year with an announced intention to let it go in year two — to aid transition to a new brand while making sure nobody else gets W2 as a conference brand.) Protecting O’R. branding against competitors is exactly what to do. I’m suggesting that this is the moment when you can achieve the best long-term protection by choosing a less controversial, clearly non-generic identifier. The alternative is future years of challenges and bad feelings — not much protection. In effect, the mark has taken on a negative connotation (this controversy) that you don’t want to be part of your brand. Finally, that most everyone else can keep doing what they want is true whether or not you defend the TM long-term. So that’s another moot point. So there’s your reasonable policy: for 12-18 months, any conference can use “Web 2.0″ if they give prominent notice that that’s an O’R TM and that the conference isn’t affiliated. O’R announces that the term is clearly becoming generic and they won’t try to protect it after 12-18 m. O’R announces that their conference is now the “O’R Webiliciousness(TM) Web 2.0″ conference, or whatever. Glide path to peace, avoidance of litigation, and free advertising — who could ask for more? -t • Anonymous How about creating value by continuing the legacy of excellent conferences, and leave the nomenclature silliness to Proctor & Gamble and the like? This thing has stirred up so much angst because litigation against sharing ideas – much less a generic idea descriptor – has, until this point, not been a part of W** 2.0. And to have litigation introduced to the scene by an early advocate of the openness of W** 2.0 adds insult to injury. To have that same advocate demand an apology from the target of their C&D just seems infantile. To decry the collective W** 2.0 blogosphere as a “riled-up mob” is a slap in the face too. Did Tom handle it like a good ol’ boy at the gentlemen’s club? No, but really – who cares. I’d freak pretty good too if I was suddenly getting threatened by a tech heavyweight weeks before my conference. Tom’s response isn’t the issue. CMP/ORLY used legal pressure to try and get what they wanted, Tom used public pressure. So? Anyway, what I read from all this is that Tim’s going to keep writing essays talking around the issue until everyone stops reading. And in the meantime W** 2.0 has lost its innocence and been co-opted by the same old big business mainstream dollars-litigation-politics triumvirate. A true loss. • Anonymous Does anyone else here think CMP are getting off lightly ? • Anonymous Well you’re a techie type, maybe you’ll understand this: if “web 2.0″.is_brand? raise “What the hell? How did this happen?!” else # Business as usual end You and your partners may have been early adopters of the phrase “web 2.0″ — but by no means is it your brand. It’s bigger than you and to try to hold onto it and make it yours makes you and your partners look like spammers. • http://multiparadigm.com M. Whitener Way to go Tim. Capitalism lives. • http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones Web 2.0 hasn’t been co-opted. CMP and O’Reilly *say* it has: threateningly in CMP’s case, slightly more politely in O’Reilly’s case. I don’t think their trademark holds. Neither do they, I suspect, which is why they haven’t threatened Mesh Canada’s Web 2.0 Conference. How much organising is there to do at one of these$3,000 per-head conferences? Can’t someone else do it? Anyone actually *want* to appear at the Web 2.0 Conference (TM on the ‘Conference’ according to the website http://www.web2con.com, which is just untrue).

Why don’t all those guys speaking at Web(TM) 2.0(TM) Conference(TM) just do it for free in Second Life – or something virtual anyhow – and forget about travel, expense, limited audience. Money?

• http://doncrowley.blogspot.com/2006/05/oreilly-and-aftermath-of-web20.html Don Crowley

Hi Tim, thanks for the responce amd I hope you did have a really good week off.
I would say try not to take the personal attacks personally. It’s what happens
to people in the limelight. I don’t personally know that its easier said than done but I assume it is. I would like to say though that as O’Reilly does create many web 2.0 conferences it is fair to assume you will be in the firing line. I too was not amused by the posturing that IT@Cork was getting. Secondly I think the anology with for instance Apache is completely wrong. As far as I know Apache is an actual product while web 2.0 is purely an mechanism (using AJAX, Javascript and an xmlhttp request). We know that O’Reilly created none of those technologies. Also Apache has trademarked and patented everything it possibly can as a defensive move to protect itself and its developers. I can’t see Apache suing anyone for holding a legit Apache conference for instance. This has simply been a PR disaster. I think that O”Reilly needs to decide what it is doing with it’s service marks and trademarks and think up an open and friendly policy toward people who are not only not your enemy but people who take the time to promote these technologies. Otherwise it’s like getting caught in friendly fire. Anyway, I’m glad to see that this wee storm is dying down. Let’s move on. I for one will still be buying O’Reilly books on their merit.

• marcus

It would appear that ownership of the Web 2.0 term would imply ownership of Web 2.1, Web 3.0, et al.

This is a significant issue, if true.

Bottom line is, “Web” is generic. Ownership of “Web 2.0″ in any capacity is disheartening.

Tim is smart enough to know the significant difference between “Wikipedia”, “Linux”, and “Web 2.0″, and he’s failing to address that issue substantially. Wikipedia didn’t attempt to trademark “Encyclopedia 2.0″. Linus didn’t not attempt to trade mark “Operating System 2.0″.

Tim’s response simply bolsters the need to move away from this term completely in any other usage. It’s not a angry move, it’s simply defensive. We must defend the right to use generic terms however needed by anyone at any time.

Tim, any large group of people who disagree with you will have some rabble. And you of all people know how easy it is to rattle off something emotional online. However your strong implications that this was mostly a mob of people who don’t know much about the issue is demeaning and sad and lowers my respect for you.

I thought about the issue and decided not to post a “me too” response. Beware of the vast thinking majority out there who didn’t say anything. The trademark is wrong. Your response is wrong. Simply having a measured tone in your response doesn’t mean the facts have changed.

I’m not interested in who said what when, I’m interested in why you’re failing to seriously entertain the true ethical problems of attempting to have some ownership of things as generic as “Web 2.0″ when applied to conferences.

I don’t buy your argument that ethics are not violated in this particular case of trademark ownership. It has nothing to do with whether the meme took off or not, it has to do with the trademarking of such a generic term.

• Dale Sundstrom

Convince CMP to withdraw any claim other than your actual conference title “Web 2.0 Conference.” Any other claim is very weak and clearly offensive to many.

• DV

I think we just got Jedi mind-tricked.

The fact still remains, Tim, that you claim rights to the insanely generic term “Web 2.0″. A term that DOES NOT describe an actual thing or organization, unlike your examples of Mozilla, Firefox, Linux and Apache. Your logic breaks down because “Web 2.0″ describes a PHILOSOPHY of web design – there isn’t ANYTHING to trademark here. If you claim that it’s a name of a conference, you discredit yourself because O’Reilly has been defining what “Web 2.0″ means for the last few years, and you have continually defined it as a philosophy, not a conference:

“Web 2.0 doesn’t have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core” http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

You’re lengthy response attempts to sound logical, well-thought-out, and at the same time attempts to discredit the “blog-o-sphere” for being bullies. But, your response never addressed the facts that many in the “blog-o-sphere” brought up (the ones I address above). The firestorm that your C&D letter (CMP’s…whatever) caused was not the Irish guy’s fault, and to even insinuate that, you demonstrate your ignorance of how actual intelligent “geeks” feel about your company’s trademark and attempted enforcement of the term “Web 2.0″.

• http://riya.blogger.de/ riya

relax, people :-)

• Anonymous

If I teach, talk, or build software around Apache, I know that I’m dealing with the Apache foundation. Same goes for Linux. But if I have been teaching or leading conferences about Web 2.0 (illegally, it seems), it’s never been clear that I’m dealing with O’Reilly or Tim O’Reilly.

To put it another way: there’s a tremendous problem if people think that they’re dealing with software from the Apache or Mozilla foundations when in fact they’re not. Aside from tarnished reputations, you have customers whose trust has been exploited and their information endangered, and this presents a tremendous problem (in theory, anyways). Apache is not trademarking their own interests, they are trademarking as a legalistic way of signing their product and guaranteeing that it’s theirs. Because they relate directly to actual software, there’s an important reason to have legal repercussions for pretending to be from an organization when in fact you are not.

With Web 2.0, however, there’s no software to download that people might have thought was produced by the Web 2.0 Foundation. There isn’t even a Web 2.0 Foundation to begin with. When people learn about, write about, or interact with the ideas of Web 2.0, the fact that it originated from O’Reilly should be an afterthought or a historical footnote, even if O’Reilly is considered the most expert source of information on the topic. Web 2.0 is not something to be handed down from on high or downloaded from an open source foundation, it’s something to be discussed–a focal point for emerging and recently-emerged technologies. Trademarking it would be like trademarking phenomonology or post-structuralism. Should Visconti have trademarked neorealism in case people distorted the ideas? Of course not, because neorealism, while originating from him and his circle of filmmakers, was an exploration in what a new type of filmmaking could be–an exploration that anyone should be able to join in on, talk about, and teach.

By all means, no one should be able to set up a conference that could easily be confused with yours. But including Web 2.0 or even Web 2.0 conference is not sufficient to cause that confusion. If you had a conference called Web 2.0 World or O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 or Web 2.0 . . . a celebration!, there would be no question that it can (and probably should) be trademarked. I wouldn’t want to think that I was paying $500 to attend the Web 2.0 conference when in fact it was just some cheap knockoff. If I attend IT@Cork Web 2.0 Half-Day Conference, however, there’s really no room for confusion. I’m impressed by how straightforward you’ve been, and I think you’ve done a generally good job of addressing people’s concerns, but I think the analogy is a bit off, and maybe even a bit disingenuous. • Grap Van Halterkinderapperandumalgonoptonganoophahapuolangtongaview This is so stupid. Does ORA need protection for its Open Source Convention? Do they claim that as some kind of trademark? If not, why aren’t there a slew of conferences taking their business away. Clearly a case of lawyers run amok. • Anonymous Jane Deverson should’ve trademarked “generation X” and sued Douglas Coupland for a share of the profits from his book. Your arguments make little sense, Tim. You are trying to TM a concept that was coined by someone else and popularized by O’Reilly. • Lance Fisher Thanks for the reply, Tim, but I really think the only way to gracefully exit this problem is to relinquish your service mark on Web 2.0 conferences and rename your conference since the term is now generic. It caught on, just like AJAX, because people need a term to talk about the collection of concepts that are being used to make great new web applications. CMP is getting off lightly because no one knows who they are. I never heard of your conference, but I have heard of Web 2.0 and the many things that so many people think it means. I think the mob replies in such a vitriolic tone because that is how they are used to talking to faceless companies, so don’t take it personally. It is childish, but behind each of those voices is someone who cares enough about the technology to post a comment here. Good luck navigating this, I hope it all comes out for the best. Seriously. • Disgusted You so-called a-listers are all the same. Power freaks that want it all for yourselves. Well think again bud because we the “mob” made you, and the “mob” can just as easily break you. • desik Prior to Tim’s initial response on this issue no-one in the company seemed very willing to be accountable for what was a pretty dumb and totally unecessary screw up entirely generated by smartass lawyers. That’s a pretty standard corporate response and it obviously rubbed people up the wrong way. It didnt help either that Tim tried to offload some of his frustration and not a little blame on to Tom Rafferty. That said, you’d have to be pretty cold blooded not to feel for Tim as well as there has effectively been a rebellion while he was out of town and he’s clearly as pissed as most other folk are about what happened and I’m pretty sure he’s also devastated at being cast as the bad guy. Who wouldnt be? Maybe this issue needs less thought and more feeling all round to work itself out. • Gary Burghoff Remember me? Can I have a cut? • desik point made with good humour :) • http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke Thought I would poke around here and take a look at the body count. It looks to me it is about 90% for the “mob” against proceeding with the trademark. What say you Tim? (please don’t shoot the messenger) • http://www.jschramm.com Jason Schramm The Internet is full of irrational kids and immature adults who leap to conclusions based on whatever facts they are fed. Hopefully that will help me make a run for the US Presidency in 2028. Don’t let the majority spoil your opinion of bloggers. We aren’t all bad. And some of us attempt to research topics before reporting on them. • Kelly Lohman Valiant try, but not all of us can be so easily snowjobbed Tim. Even you should know better than to use the Apache, Linux examples. We’re not addressing spilled milk here, this is a premeditated endeavor. And shame on you for admonishing the blogging community in a feeble attempt to shift the blame. Shame on all of you. Here you go! Web 2.0 It’s all yours Timmy boy! Hope it was worth the price! • http://www.prohiphop.com Clyde Smith The cool thing about all this is that Tim being away allowed a lot of people to reveal that they had placed way too much trust in an individual leader. Tim, thanks for reminding me yet again why I became an anarchist. Best of luck with your brand’s self destruction. • Rob Basically you (the royal you) f$cked up blew a six mile hole in your brand and then followed up with another diatribe instead of…”My bad, We goofed, we’ll try harder not to mess up as bad next time”. Walking the talk in the blogsphere is ALOT harder than it seems I guess.

• Dan Milward

To much crud to read here. The key question in my mind asked by Scott at May 30, 2006 01:47 PM (or the second commment) has not been answered. Like a politican would answer all I see is a whole lot of mumbo jumbo. Just a simple yes/no would nice.

Here it is:

“It now seems as if you are clarifying this and saying that the actual trademark application is for the name “Web 2.0 Conference”. While this is quite broad it would still allow other uses of the phrase “Web 2.0″ such as “The John Doe Web 2.0 Workshop”. It would be appreciated if you could clarify the scope and intent of the trademark application”

• http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke

Regarding exclusivity of the mark application and restrictions thereof, the last time that I worked in Trademark law it is (or at least was) theoretically possible that the exclusivity of the mark could be broadened. Accordingly, once the door has been opened theoretically Mr. O’Reilly could end up owning it all.

What I find hard to believe is that the mark application specifically states that it is only seeking control with respect conferences only. That issue could very easily be settled if Mr. O’Reilly would willingly make a copy of said application for public consumption so that we could all read the fine print for ourselves. Then again, that information should also be available to the public at the Trade Marks office.

But as I have already stated, even if he is only seeking a mark for web 2 conferences (at this time), that is indeed the catch word for he could later apply for ownership of the web 2 name without exception. That is the danger and also reality.

• http://bipolardaily.blogspot.com chris

Why all the squabble over “web 2.0″? Just make me an offer for neb2.com and get on with biz.
http://bipolardaily.blogspot.com/2006/06/domain-for-sale.html

• Michael Edwards

The easiest solution for the rest of us .. bump the version number. From now we just start talking about Web 2.1 … Problem solved.

• http://www.opengardensblog.futuretext.com Ajit Jaokar

After some more thoughts .. a longish post ..
(hopefully I have got the HTML formatting right ..)

I first heard about the web 2.0 trademark issue on Friday evening. It was emailed to me by someone in Ireland , a country I am a frequent visitor to (more on that later). My first reaction was .. Oh f***! I am about to release a book on mobile web 2.0 .. and if web 2.0 itself is service marked ..

But one look at the actual letters on blogosphere convinced me otherwise .. This applied only to conferences. I was not creating a conference. I thought nothing of it ..

Over the next few hours, following a number of emails and blogs, it became quickly apparent that this was seen to be a major issue .. and I did not understand why it should be an issue ..

I ** still ** don’t understand what the fuss is all about .. Let me explain ..

I was one of the few people who voiced (under my own name, not anonymously), the view that Tim deserves at least an opportunity to explain his point of view. Having now heard from Tim, I still endorse Tim O Reilly, his vision and his company.

Here is why ..

a) Tim O Reilly was effectively sentenced in absentia. No one deserves that – not least someone who has a good track record in the industry. They at least deserve a chance to put their view point before being condemned

b) The O Reilly corporate response, inadequate as it may be, was not a ‘fob off’ because it had a definite date by which time they said Tim would be back(Monday). For example we heard nothing by Wednesday or a definite date not been given, the corporate response would have been a cover up – not so in this case

c) O Reilly was the wrong target .. It was CMP who has the service mark

d) O Reilly was the soft target!. CMP had already bared it’s legal fangs so although CMP was the organisation that sent the letters, it was easier to target O Reilly

e) The whole issue covers conferences only. How many people actually organise conferences? Not many!. Ironically, as a publisher, it’s possible I may well organise a conference on a related topic .. so it could affect me IF I called it a web 2.0 conference ..

f) Which brings me to the point .. why would anyone want to call their conference web 2.0?

** Service mark or not, the association between web 2.0 and a specific conference is well known to almost everyone involved. **

Have you ever bought a product that looked suspiciously similar to a well known product only to find it was a cheap imitation? Point being .. If I created a conference and called it a similar name to an existing larger conference, I am actually devaluing ** my ** brand . Sooner of later, people are bound to find out that ‘my’ event is not related to the ‘original’. At that point, my reputation is damaged for ever.

** I am not saying that this was the intention in the IT@cork case **, but the concept is valid for conferences in general.

Its to protect ** your ** brand that you would not create a similar conference .. Quite irrespective of service mark issues

g) Thus, in my view, the ‘crowd was not wise’ the whole issue was not relevant to 99.9% of the people. (as I understand it – and I could be wrong!)

h) And then .. there were the child molestation posts .. not much to say about that ..

And now some background about my own reasons / views for interest ..

a) Ironically, I had also invited Tim to a different conference in Ireland. With a name like ‘Ajit Jaokar’, I am obviously not Irish :) – but last year I spoke at an excellent conference in Dublin (http://www.iwc.ie/speakers.htm) , and this year , I am advising the conference itself to make it a lot more global.

Hence, the invite to Tim earlier in the year. Thus, I actually have a very positive view of Irish conferences from personal experience especially because there are so many interesting start-ups there. Hence, I do hope, Tim/ORA will support more conferences in Ireland and I have a personal interest in promoting this specific conference.

b) With issues like net neutrality looming on the horizon, we all bigger issues to address than this one

c) My personal, Randian views lead me to respect the rights of an individual , in this case , both Tim and Tom. Having now heard from Tim, I think everyone acted in their best interest, within the parameters that they found themselves in and that included CMP. I think a Mozilla like resolution may well take place of the outstanding issues. Time (and Tim!) will tell.

Some will be convinced , others not so about the final state of play. However, what I ** am ** convinced of is: in most cases , we are addressing the wrong issue. In the sense that unless we are conferences organisers, it really does not affect us directly

In a final ironic twist, I think Tim O Reilly was born in Cork! Speaking as a first generation immigrant myselves (in my case to the UK), you always attach a deep significance to your country of birth (in my case India). So, of all the places in the world .. it’s ironic that it was in Cork that this should happen .. Just a quaint observation.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

‘Have you ever bought a product that looked suspiciously similar to a well known product only to find it was a cheap imitation’

Not the point because nobody’s arguing against trademarks per se.

1. This supposed trademark is far too broad and generic to be awarded

2. CMP have misapplied the (TM) on their own conference website (www.web2con.com) where the word ‘conference’ appears to be trademarked when the trademark application is actually for the phrase ‘Web 2.0′ in the context of live events.

3. Neither CMP nor O’Reilly told anyone they were trying to trademark Web 2.0 although O’Reilly himself knew about the IT@Cork conference and wished them well.

4. CMP told O’Reilly about their worries re. brand dilution and O’Reilly agreed something should be done about it: what he thought CMP would do other than pursue trademark enforcement is puzzling

5. CMP has seen many other conferences come and go without trying to enforce the supposed trademark: Canada’s Mesh Web 2.0 Conference, Enterprise Ireland’s Web 2.0 Conference, d.Connect’s Web 2.0 Conference in the UK ae three examples. CMP and O’Reilly clearly don’t have a unique association with the phrase ‘Web 2.0′ in the context of live events.

6. CMP’s letter to IT@Cork was rude, threatening and likely without legal foundation.

• Jon

“and ask that he apologize to me for the way he stirred up the mob”

I think the mob just reacted to the facts that were presented to them. The ‘stirring’ if any was done by your own lawyer (Sarah or whatever her name is).

• Jon

Looks like the CMP way of operating and O’Reilly professed way of operating are incompatible

Tim if you cede control to CMP without safeguards, you’ll end up in more trouble

PS you should really ask CMP to respond in public as they are gettng an easy ride

• http://www.hansomli.com/ Hans Omli

Tim,

I appreciate your taking time to carefully respond and to continue the conversation through your follow-on comment. As with you, I believe in the trademark system. At issue here, however, seems to be whether a mark should be considered valid that (while it may not have started out as such) has lost distinction.

In your response, you point out that “Web 2.0″ has become a widespread name for “the next big thing in the computer industry”. Surely you’d agree that the tagline “a conference about Web 2.0″ would be understood as “a conference about the next big thing in the computer industry” rather than as “a conference abour CMP’s conference”. Contrast this with the tagline “a conference about Windows”. Clearly this would be understood as “a conference about Microsoft’s operating system”. The difference is distinction.

• http://pig.sty.nu/ Tim

`I don’t believe that the arguments about prior use of the term, or about “genericization” have a legal — or even a moral — basis.’

You might not, but I do, especially the moral part.

I also think it doesn’t make any business-sense to have a trademark on the term. If you stifle people’s attempts to use it, they’ll be rightfully annoyed and move elsewhere. The Web (2.0) is bigger than any one company’s ego.

• http://www.arseburgers.co.uk/blog/ theaardvark

It’s unfortunate that many people can’t seem to separate the use of “Web 2.0″ as a branding for a series of conferences and its use to describe the new generation of websites and online apps to which the name has subsequently been applied.

Simply because the name has come to mean something more since its original does not lessen your entitlement to protect your trademark in relation to conferences.

I guess the situation is similar to the use of the term “hoover”.

Hoover own the trademark so no one else can use it to refer to their vacuum cleaners. However, as I understand it, Hoover cannot stop people using the term “hoovering” to refer to the act of using a vacuum cleaner to clean the carpet. Of course, IANAL, but I’m fairly sure I’ve seen this point discussed elsewhere.

I feel your post has explained your situation well and reflects well on you and your company. It’s unfortunate that it is unlikely to be as widely read as the original flame ware style rants.

• David Milward

“No one was using the term “Web 2.0″ with its current meaning before we launched the Web 2.0 conference in October 2004″

You are wrong! There was a book published only on Web 2.0 in 2002
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1587622009/ref=pd_bxgy_img_a/002-5897697-3805601?%5Fencoding=UTF8

Can you please tell us what is this book about?? And when it was published??

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Thanks for the continued dialogue. There are a couple of points I want to respond to:

J. Random Hacker wrote:

“For me, the underlying issue is Tim O’Reilly’s 2005 essay, which lays out W** 2.0 as a generic quality possesed by many products, including Google AdSense, Flickr and wikis. Nowhere on that page do I see “Web 2.0(tm)”, the “Web 2.0(tm) brand conference”, or any other indication that we’re dealing with a proprietary brand name. In general, trademark law is very strict about using certain phrasing and other indicators of trademark status.”

I’m not a lawyer, but I believe that the case is that you get additional protection from marking something as a trademark, and still further protection by registering that mark, but your fundamental rights derive from your use in business and the visibility and reach of that use, and the possibility of confusion resulting from other people trading on that visibility.

So let me take this away from the legal discussion, which none of us here are qualified to have, and instead talk at the conceptual level.

I agree that Web 2.0 is the name of a conference, and also a big idea — which is why I said I had a lot of sympathy for Cory Doctorow’s analysis of the situation.

So let’s look at another situation where there’s both an instance of something and a big idea associated with it: Free Software. Like Web 2.0, Free Software is a big idea, which means a lot to a lot of people. But Free Software is also a trademark, whether claimed or not, of the Free Software Foundation. If you don’t think it’s a trademark, go try to set up a Free Software Foundation in some country where the FSF doesn’t already have an affiliated group, or create some other group with an official-sounding name like the Free Software Institute. My guess is that the FSF would even complain if some random company, especially one that they didn’t think lived up to the values of Free Software, were to start a conference called “The Free Software Conference.” And Richard Stallman will certainly call you out if you publish some software under a non-free license and call it Free Software. That’s because Richard Stallman and the FSF have established value in the meaning of those two words in a specific context that gives them standing to complain when someone trades on the value that they’ve vested in those words by their actions in the marketplace.

Similarly, just as “free software” meant something before Richard Stallman gave it a special meaning, but not what it came to mean as a result of his actions, “Web 2.0″ might have meant something (though not much — uses of the term before our 2004 conference are few and far between) before our conference, but it gained a special meaning through our use of it in the conference and our description of that meaning.

The broad phenomenon that J. Random Hacker refers to got its name because of its association with the conference, not the other way around. Even my What is Web 2.0 piece that he refers to, which provided the intellectual framework for a lot of people’s thinking about the meaning of the term, was originally created as a handout for attendees of the second Web 2.0 conference. And the very opening of that piece describes how the term “Web 2.0″ was born out of a conference planning session.

That’s why I referred to “moral rights” in my earlier comments. Regardless of CMP’s legal foolishness, I do think that they (and we) have some right to be concerned about copycat conferences. And to be clear, we’re NOT actually concerned about most of the copycat events — they are either local, or clearly someone else’s work, or use “Web 2.0″ in a subtitle. But imagine for a moment that we want to take our Web 2.0 conference to Europe, or China, or Japan, and someone else has already launched an event called Web 2.0 or The Web 2.0 Conference? Especially if such an event were to be launched by a major conference producer? Don’t you think that there is the possibility of confusion in the marketplace?

The fact that CMP ham-handedly approached a small guy with a non-profit event, clearly not-competitive (which is why I’d originally given him my blessing), obscures what CMP is really worried about, namely events that would directly compete with our event or other similar events that we have planned. But that’s the problem with the law. We don’t have to “mark” the use of the term in order to protect our rights in the conference, and we certainly don’t have to police it in contexts (the big idea) where we are claiming no rights, but we do have to contact people who are actually producing events using the name, or we’d have no standing against events that might actually be a business problem by causing confusion in the marketplace.

And that’s why I suggested earlier that holding the trademark but being liberal in guidelines about how people can use it, mainly asking for acknowledgement, might well be the right answer. But this morning, the FSF analogy occurred to me, and made me wonder whether, if I were able to persuade CMP to give up the trademark registration and rely only on our moral rights and the law of unfair competition, would this community would be as active in warning off people trying to trade off the name of our conference as they would be against people creating rival Free Software Foundations, or Free Software Institutes?

• http://www.apress.com Gary Cornell

A friendly suggestion from the folks at Apress: simply make the trademark and thus retitle the conference as “The O’Reilly Web 2.0 Conference” disclaiming the use of the (now descriptive) term Web 2.0. Not only would this be good for your brand, this would be a very strong trademark, not at all likely for cancellation if someone had the money to fight it. (See the following Red Herrign article for some comments on the likelyhood of cancellation if challenged (http://www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a=17059&hed=Web+2.0+Trademark+Flap+Quiets):

• Thomas Lord

It would be fairly suicidal for a rival organization to adopt the “Free Software” name if they are not really Free Software advocates. That’s because “Free Software Foundation” is a much better established brand with a much clearer story than “Web 2.0″.

It would be equally suicidal for the FSF to fight against a use of “Free Software” where the user is convincingly not antithetical to movement, even if they don’t agree with RMS on every detail.

That brand is so well established, globally, that the law (while it may be handy) isn’t even necessary.

-t

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

The brand, the reputation, is O’Reilly

Call your conference The O’Reilly Web 2.0 Conference.

Before you and CMP do any more damage.

• http://www.stubbleblog.com/ Tony Stubblebine

Tim,

Above, Dan Milward asks if you’d “allow other uses of the phrase Web 2.0 such as The John Doe Web 2.0 Workshop?”

My major issue with Raftery making such a fuss was that the conference name was nearly identical. If he’d called it IT@Cork’s Web 2.0 Symposium what expectations would you have had of him?

I totally agree with you that morally you’re entirely justified to complain when someone uses the identical or near-identical name as one of your products.

• J. Random Hacker

Thank you for your response, Tim.

Software Foundation were to sue Microsoft
for calling Internet Explorer “free
software”, I’d criticize them. Like
“open source”, “free software” has purely
descriptive meaning, and it is probably a
I have been a dues paying member of the
FSF.)

In general, lots of upstanding
patents. But until they actually start
sending C&D letters, I’m inclined to cut
them a little slack. Unfortunately, even
minimal legal action changes the picture
hugely: Once someone starts using lawyers,
the whole world is put on notice, and
we all need to cover our backsides.

Sadly, I see a much bigger consequence
of these events: You have a genius for
identifying and promoting technology
trends in a way that encourages diversity
and openness, and the world has been a
better place for it. But now, that ability
has been slightly compromised: When you
discover the Next Big Thing, many people
will actively resist using your terminology,
for fear of
legal issues. And we’ll all be worse off
for it.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Tony (Stubblebine) you say,

I totally agree with you that morally you’re entirely justified to complain when someone uses the identical or near-identical name as one of your products

What product would that be then?

• http://cenriqueortiz.com/weblog C. Enrique Ortiz

The Web 2.0 “collective intelligence” is based on human factors, which also includes collective emotions – and for better or worst, that is the beautify and power of what is going on – the human nature.

Me personally, what made me react negatively to this whole situation (and I did read/research all the sources) was the fact that the “Web 2.0″ terminology was created and promoted under the “open spirit of the Web” for which O’Reilly is well known for and has made great contributions to, to describe something not built by a single individual or company, but by an entire ecosystem over time (evolution of the Web)… then the term was “suddendly” trademarked, yes for events, but still, it would prevent others (they choose) from evangelizing this concept already understood in our culture as “Web 2.0″… Obviously that is going to create sentiment in the open community. And there is nothing wrong with such sentiment…

That said, now that emotions on this topic have cooled down (to some extend), we all know that O’Reilly has all the right to protect their conference and brand identity… But this is a special case, since Web 2.0 is about the evolution of the Web (not a business or company or individual), thus a meme, thus is collective, it is important in this particular case to be open and communicate the rationale of things, and avoid C&D to all cost, or it will backfire, as it did…
Thanks Tim for taking the time to respond…

Time to move on…

ceo

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

Tony, how is ‘IT@cork web2.0 half-day conference’ nearly identical to ‘web 2.0 conference?’
And, besides, if you read the UK application, it has nothing to do with ‘conference’ it just says web 2.0 in the title of a conference. So symposium would get the axe too.

I’m still waiting on a response from Tim to my email, so I won’t comment further except to ask…

http://www.eschoolnews.com/eti/2006/05/001421.php is this what web 2.0 is?
“Tim O’Reilly’s original definition of Web 2.0 was quite clear on the relationship between the new web businesses and their users (that’s you, in all probability). Web 2.0 businesses “harness collective intellegence” as “the key to market dominance.” You, humble user, are the beast of burden in this scenario. If you let a flat world Tom Sawyer convince you that they’re your friend, and helping them digitally whitewash a fence is fun, then that’s your problem.”

• Jon

The Free Software Foundation is a NON-PROFIT.

O’Reilly’s company and CMP Media are FOR-PROFIT entities, which will do what’s in the best interest of their shareholders. CMP registered only “Web 2.0″ and not “Web 2.0 conference” as their trademark because that is exactly what they wanted – to own “Web 2.0″. And now they are hell bent on protecting it. I’ll bet they’ll be more aggressive as and when it will suit them.

There is no comparison between FSF and O’Reilly/CMP ! Pretty bad analogy. Let’s see some valid points Tim.

• http://oolongo.com Jaclyn

This follow up is still quite unsatisfactory.
Rather than point out the reasons why here, I will write an entry focusing on the things Tim has said which (very obvsiously) skirt the real issue. Using a business and legal affairs person as my backbone, I promise to report why O’Reilly and CMP have not only mistaken the transparency of registering a Web 2.0 service mark, but also why the responses Tim gives his readers is neither healthy nor thoughtful.

• http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke

Tim, you say that you want to avoid legal arguments and yet you continue to give us your legal interpretation of what the mark means to you you.

You said “But Free Software is also a trademark, whether claimed or not, of the Free Software Foundation”.

What you are referring to here is an unregistered trademark ™. So why don’t you just leave it at that and let the chips fall where they may?

I think also the suggestion of “The Tim O’Reilly Web 2.0 Conference”™ is a good compromise. Or how ’bout we just rename the web to the nebulas and leave it at that? ;-)

Neither have you addressed my comments earlier about the potentiality of you (or your partners) owning all of the rights to the name web 2 regardless of the context, and my suggestion that you make the contents of the mark application available for the community to read.

Believe it or not I’m trying to help you out of this schmozzle Tim, but with all due respect all that have accomplished is to dig yourself in deeper. Please do us all a favour and just admit that this is a mistake and salvage what is left of your dignity.

Come on Tim, you know this isn’t right. Be a guy and just admit it and move on.

Cheers.

• Dale Sundstrom

Tim, a more apt (and perhaps less specious) analogy might be Coca-Cola trying to claim control of all use of the term cola in reference to a beverage. I don’t believe they’ve ever pursued that. It wouldn’t be likely to work out well for them.

• John H

There are actually companies now using Web 3.0 now instead. There’s one I noticed today at broadwick.com. They better get on trademarking that! Thanks for the full explanation Tim, although I do hope in the end you/CMP decide to change the service mark to the “Web 2.0 Conference” rather than just “Web 2.0″ and issue a notice that it is safe to use that term as long as it doesn’t relate to a conference (workshop, camp, unconference, etc. should be fine).

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

CMP – which has applied for the trademark – didn’t invent the term ‘Web 2.0′ and neither did O’Reilly. While O’Reilly might have added meaning and value to the term CMP certainly hasn’t. CMP hasn’t object to numerous other Web 2.0 conferences already passed and planned in the future.

CMP had no authority for the threatening letter they sent to IT@Cork and they have no genuine claim over the term Web 2.0 used for live events. They even get it wrong themselves on their own conference website.

Nobody needs CMP’s permission and as O’Reilly hasn’t applied for the trademark, nobody needs O’Reilly’s permission either.

• http://7andacrescent.com Viperteq

Tim,

First, we, your customers, really appreciate the dialog that you have made. We appreciate the time you took to mount a response to some of the comments that have been made on this post. Hopefully, other business will seek to expend dialog to further intellectual compromise.

Second, there are some things that I’d like to point out. You originally made mention that MediaLive was the original filer for a trademark as pertaining to “Web 2.0 Conference” and that “I wasn’t personally aware of this trademark filing till this past February, as a result of discussions with CMP after the MediaLive purchase.” Honestly, I find it really hard to believe that so long a time could go by without you or anyone in your company knowing that MediaLive, a company that you partnerd with to produce the first conference, took this legal action. In fact since you went on to produce a second conference the following year, again in partnership with MediaLive, how could information with such gravity to your business and reputation not come to your attention?

Third, if you nor anyone at your company were aware of the pending trademark by a company that you partnered with to produce the event then it would seem that you probably need to do better scutinizing of the companies that you do business with. If any business can make such a grand sweeping move that would clearly affect your business’ reputation (and the loss thereof) without your (or your legal departments) knowledge, then they are probably not of reputable origins to begin with. Maybe solely producing any events or products from now on would be the best solution?

Fourth, I honestly don’t believe that you give the technical community much credit if you think that we would be so naive as to confuse “O’Reilly Media Presents….The Web 2.0 Conference: 2006″ with “IT@CORK Web 2.0 Half Day Conference”. I know that I’m not the only person to mention this, but clearly we (the I.T./technical community) can see/are aware that those are conferences that may or may not be speaking about the same topic (web 2.0), but are clearly produced by two different entities. There shall never be a confusion as to whom is producing said event especisally if O’Reilly appears somewhere in the name of the conference. In my opinion, I think that what happened was that the legal team at MediaLive snowballed you. They saw that you weren’t going to capitalize of the Web 2.0 phenomanon that was building so they decided to. Maybe a more apt description is that MediaLive caught you napping and decided to take advantage. By the time you figured out what was what, MediaLive had already been bought by CMP. Now, your business has money and I’m probably sure that your legal team is pretty good, what with all the books that you publish, but the nearest I figure: You judged the situation and decided that instead of trying to challenge CMP, you’d roll with it, remain partners with CMP and hope that nothing ever pops up. Only it did. And with you away on vacation no less. Even if a C&D letter is not a threat of lawsuit as you say, the reception of said letter is not going to be warm and fuzzy and I’m quite sure that you are aware of that.

I think that there are a couple things that need to be done from this point forward:

• Absolve your partnership with CMP immediately. Remaining in any type of legal arrangement with them from this point forward is only going to continue to hurt O’Reilly’s reputation among the technical community.
• As some other commenters have noted, it doesn’t appear that we are hearing all of the facts, hence my “explanation” of said events. So, speak one last time, and this time give full, complete and honest disclosure.
• Take another vacation. This time somewhere where you can receive communication cause it’s clear that the troops can’t fucntion properly without the Admiral of the ship. But definitely, another vacation is needed as I’m sure that the effects of the previous one have all been erased due to the fallout of the last several days.

I hope that this is one big lesson that can be noted for posterity in how to go about things for the future when building a business now. Best of luck to you and we will be awaiting your response.

Viperteq

Mekka West Labs

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

The Web 2.0 Conference in my house was very successful; my cat is now adding rounded corners and tags to everything.

As I didn’t receive a C&D notice from CMP I take it that CMP are no longer attempting to assert trademark over ‘Web 2.0′ in the context of conferences and live events and have relinquished any such claim.

Good.

• Jeroen Wenting

“In the future, always pick something that is clearly a coined brand name for conferences. “Usenix,” not “Unix,” etc. “

That’s exactly what they (O’Reilly and CMP) did… It wasn’t until after the conference that the name took on a broader meaning.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

A generic word is one used by much of the public to refer to a class or category of product or service. A generic name can not be protected or registered as a trademark or service mark … even established trademarks can lose their protection if they are used generically

I’m holding another Web 2.0 Conference at my house tomorrow, a Web 2.0 Barbeque, a Web 2.0 Walkabout and a Web 2.0 sleepover. I suggest everyone writing here does the same.

• http://www.jarche.com Harold Jarche

You weren’t first. This is from 1999:

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Harold — thanks for the 1999 Web 2.0 reference. I’ve seen it. Let me repeat: neither O’Reilly nor CMP claims to have been the first to ever use the term Web 2.0. But we do claim to be the first to name a conference Web 2.0! And it is that conference and associated advocacy that brought the term to its current prominence. And that’s why CMP filed a trademark not on all uses of Web 2.0, but only for conferences and similar events.

As I’ve said previously, I don’t think they need the trademark to protect the conference, and they were foolish to pick on a non-competitive event to start their enforcement efforts. But they have a lot of history in the conference space of other people doing copycat events that do compete, and that experience has led them to feel that they need legal protection.

They aren’t worried about David Jones’ Web 2.0 party at his house. They weren’t even worried about IT@Cork’s event. They were worried that if they let lots of little events go by, they wouldn’t have any legal standing when the big ones that they are worried about come out.

A much better strategy for them would have been to ask IT@Cork to acknowledge their trademark. But that’s water under the bridge, and there may well be lawyerly reasons why that isn’t the right answer from a legal protection POV even though it would have been much more palatable from a business point of view.

I continue to hold discussions with CMP about the right way for them to handle this. At the very least, they are going to post very clear guidelines (and I hope fairly permissive ones) that indicate just what they think is unfair use of the term Web 2.0 in a conference name, because it is confusingly similar, and what is fair use.

• FedUp

Hello… Tim! Anybody home there?

Thanks for wasting our time. See you in the board room (but not the book store or any of your damn conferences).

• Anonymous

I find the line of argument saying “we decided to protect our service mark so that consumers wouldn’t confuse other conferences with ours” spurious. A law already exists both in the US and in all common law jurisdictions protecting against that: passing off. To register a trademark is generally an offensive, rather than defensive, strategy. The trademark applicant would have already been protected against another party registering “web 2.0″ in respect of technical conferences because they had already been using it in that context as an unregistered mark.

Mr. O’Reilly’s posting is presented as a full-disclosure honest response, but I believe it would have hit a better mark if the true commercial reason for registering the trademark was not glossed over. The trademark owners do not want any other *big successful commercial* conference organisers to be able to hold a conference with the term “Web 2.0″ in the title. Yes, in order to prevent that, it is prudent to remind the smaller players that the term is registered, but let’s not delude ourselves that the registration was done for anything other than strictly commercial reasons to gain a better position against “real” competition. There’s nothing wrong with this, but please be honest about it and don’t paint it as concern for the consumer.

A cease and desist letter is, of course, not a lawsuit, but it *is* a letter that demands the user to “cease and desist” using the term – it is a legal device and is a first step to taking official legal sanctions. So it’s not de rigeur as some have implied. And to say that the letter was a friendly version of a C&D letter…. you’re grasping at straws there.

I also think the very valid question is raised as to why others have not received such cease and desist letters in the last THREE years since the trademark application. The letter sent clearly states that the trademark application is pending, so it’s not that it had been recently granted. In addition why did the trademark applicant not use the ™ symbol in all collateral prior to registration, which is standard business practice for pending registrations? This trademark application had been lurking and now that the term “web 2.0″ has gained currency in the community (largely as a result of the community), it seems all the more attractive to aggressively enforce the trademark rights.

I don’t agree with the level of aggressiveness towards Tom Raftery. If there were aggresive and personally insulting and threatening posts sent in response to the original blog entry, that can only be the responsibility of the poster. If Tim O’Reilly choses to apologise for the entire C&D issue and the way it was handled, then apologise away, but it devalues the entire post by apologising with bad grace by demanding a “counter-apology”. It would have been better to merely mention that (i) some of the replies to Tom Raftery’s blog entry were beyond the realms of decency and (ii) Tom did not attempt to contact you in the first instance, and leave it at that.

And finally (apologies for the long post), people are absolutely correct in asking where the trademark application is filed. If it is only filed in the US, then that should have been mentioned in the C&D, and the legal counsel should have merely asked IT@Cork to ensure that it was not used in/accessible from the US. Although that would have been practically difficult for IT@Cork, the trademark applicant was overstepping its legal rights to demand enforcement outside of the area of protection. Assuming that the trademark is applied for only in the US (which may not be the case), then it could certainly be seen to be unethical to imply that the trademark applicant holds more or greater rights than they actually have

• Josh

Tim, I once thought you were a smart guy. But after reading that last comment I think I’m going to have to reconsider that proposition. Turn off the tape recorder and start listening.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

They weren’t even worried about IT@Cork’s event. They were worried that if they let lots of little events go by, they wouldn’t have any legal standing when the big ones that they are worried about come out.

How disingenuous is it possible to be? If CMP weren’t worried about IT@Cork’s event why send them a C&D notice? They could have said, the trademark is pending, it doesn’t cover Eire, but it’s fine by us if you go ahead – at which point Tom could have done what he should have done anyway and stuffed it in the bin where it belonged.

The Big Ones have come and gone and are pending. Question. Was a C&D notice sent to Mesh Canada’s Web 2.0 Conference, two weeks ago?

Mesh is Canada’s web 2.0 conference

It says. So why didn’t CMP go for them? I know, really, we all know.

• Jon

Tim,

- Abandon the “Web 2.0″ trademark.

Granted, even this would mean that no one else would be able to organize a web 2.0 conference. However, it will also prevent you/CMP from expanding the scope of your Web 2.0 trademark later on.

Do it, for the love of God !

• Dave G

No matter how frantically you try to spin this Tim, no one with half a brain is going to buy it. What ORA/CMP is trying to do sucks, plain and simple.

A quick perusal of my shelves shows 19 O’Reilly titles. Last night, it would have been 20, but I bought a Sybex book instead. I never even picked up the O’Reilly book to browse through it. And you know what? The Sybex book is a fine book, with all the information I wanted, well-written and well-organized. All these years, I gravitated toward the O’Reilly imprint out of some stupid, misguided thing they call “brand loyalty.” Oh well, I’m glad I came to my senses on that.

• Peter Forbes

First off why do non-profits get treated any different than a real honest business. Most Non Profits are just scams to avoid tax and pay out profits in salaries and expenses.

No 2 – take responsibility for your business, if you have people with the ability to approve things then you have to take responsibility for their actions. Your post seems to try and pretend you had nothing to do with this and you sound like a kid making excuse after excuse to subtract himself from an obvious guilty situation.

No 3 – If it is a fact then fire the person who signed off on it and show us you mean business in sorting this out within your organization. Who would continue working with somebody who showed such a lack of judgment?

No4. The apology letter is pathetic. The only apology letter should come from your conference partners PERIOD. In fact a letter assuring everybody that they made a mistake and not you would help you much more.

NO5- You have set yourself up here with the Amazon 1 click – there is no difference except your opinion. You stated “But as I noted above, I do believe in trademark. It’s perfectly legitimate for a company to file for and own a trademark on a product they create” then Amazon in their mind has a right to try and protect their trademark. Who are you to set the boundaries of what is a legitimate trademark.

No6 – Your noted unhappiness with the harsh comments are nothing more than a device to try and gain empathy and diffuse the main topic. The route of your unhappiness is that you have been busted and your real fear is that this will effect your revenues.

No 7 -Lets face it web 2 has a life expectancy of another few months. Who will want to have a web conference next year named Web 2 a name that highlights the past in an industry that moves at the speed of light. Then of cause I bet you have trademarked web 3 4,5,6,7,8,9,10……..

No8 – The only way out for you was to immediately say you will no longer Trademark Web 2 and allow anybody to use it. You didn’t because you still wish to see if there is cash to be made.

No9 – Have faith in your self-important branding, as a conference named O’Reilly Web 2.0 would define you from the “mob”

No10_ how does it feel to get a piece of your own medicine. Your blog has probably caused many companies to loose money after using your influence – to knock them down. For these people they have no platform like you do – to vent and try and explain “the Facts” and your side of the story. They just have to take it on the chin and move on ï¿½ like you should.

• http://oolongo.com Jaclyn

I think everyone is doing a really good job calling Tim’s bluff. I should point out that the application filed by Media Live (prior to CMP’s acquisition of the company) for the service mark Web 2.0 is public, should you wish to view it yourself.

Since I’ve done a lot of research I’d like to clarify to Tim and his gaggle of O’Reilly authors what some of the application states:

On 3/24/04 an Office Action letter was sent to Media Live International stating–“Disclaimer: The applicant must disclaim the descriptive wording “WEB” apart from the mark as shown. The wording is merely descriptive because it describes the subject matter of the events.”

A Media Live lawyer then responded: “Applicant respectfully disagrees with the Examining Attorney’s findings that the wording “WEB” must be disclaimed from Applicant’s mark because it is merely descriptive”.

The USPTO, on 11/03/2004, again confirmed that Media Live must disclaim the term WEB: “The term WEB is a common abbreviation for WORLD WIDE WEB. In view of the descriptiveness of the term in relation to the applicant’s live events, the disclaimer requirement is maintained and made FINAL.”

At it stands Tim is correct in pointing out that the word mark “Web 2.0″ may only be used for commerce purposes and for “organizing and conducting educational conferences, tutorials and workshops in the fields of computers, communication and information technology.” Neither CMP nor O’Reilly Media have the right to withhold “Web 2.0″ from use among bloggers as tags, URLs, podcast names, services, etcetera. The service mark is Live when and if used for conference purposes only and only by CMP.

Now, when did Media Live assign Web 2.0 (and other marks it had registered) to CMP Media? January 10, 2006. (Media Live was bought by CMP for $65 million.) Assuming Tim is trying his best to portray how the ceiling fell after a ‘cease and desist’ letter was sent to Tom Raferty, I’m still unclear how he did not acquire knowledge of the service mark until only recently– and following– how he claims that the mark refers to HIS Web 2.0 conference which was first held at the end of 2004 (read: the first Web 2.0 conference was announced on September 21, 2004 yet the mark was pending registration 1 year earlier (obviously because the original intent of Media Live and O’Reilly was to PROFIT from the increasingly more “buzz worthy” Web 2.0 phrase.) My point being, Web 2.0 was not intended only to be associated with the O’Reilly conferences, it was registered for a mere$200 (US) dollars so a revenue stream could be developed. That said, my basic question to Tim: If not a straightforward response and not a truthful response, why bother with a longwinded response (so clearly off topic and also belittling to the tech population)?

• http://oolongo.com Jaclyn

This was previously not supplied: filing date for the service mark Web 2.0 is November 3, 2003 (date of O’Reilly’s first Web 2.0 conference October 5-7 2004).

• Anonymous

As is so often the case, this whole thing is not as simple as both sides would probably like it to be. David Hornik does a good job of laying out the complexity in “The Web 2.0 Trademark Controversy: Take Note and Take Care.” Worth a read.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

Hornik’s good job lasts right up to the point where he repeats the canard,

O’Reilly Media executive Dale Dougherty coined the phrase “Web 2.0″

one paragraph in.

It’s what happens if you’re informed by BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow (speaker at d.Connect’s Web 2.0 Conference in Brighton, Uk, 2005, unmolested by CMP lawyers for some reason as yet unexplained by CMP and O’Reilly)

• http://none.com MeMe

“faith in the collective intelligence of the blogosphere” — had me cracking up.

I am shocked that a self-organized group of ideologues doesn’t do research! Say it ain’t so!

At least in prime-time media, there is some (sometimes laughable) attempt at review, fact checking and from time to time an ideologue (Dan Rather) is called to task.

• http://oolongo.com Jaclyn

In this particular entry, Hornik (a Stanford professor) speaks mainly to all sides of the case, since that’s the easiest way to please both O’Reilly and the blogosphere– right? As a pervious IP lawyer Hornik should have given a bit more insight; in my opinion, the entry is a simple rehash of what’s already been stated.

• Less-Than-Gruntled

Who are you calling a mob? I’m not even a blogger, and I’m still irritated as all get out.

Not a day goes by in my office but some management individual drops the term ‘Web 2.0′ into an otherwise inoffensive discussion. That’s the result of marketing – and we aren’t a business group, but academic. If there had been the merest suggestion that ‘Web 2.0′ was anything other than generic, we wouldn’t have touched it with a long barge pole, because we are not in the business of free or paid advertisement of commercial entities.

Somehow we weren’t aware of the term’s origin; we did not know we were preaching the Gospel According To O’Reilly. Now, having been put in this position, we know better. It seems that we’ve been promoting O’Reilly’s Conference all this time, and to say that we are embarrassed hardly covers it, because it’s worse than that. Yes, I appreciate that it’s only a service mark relevant to conferences, but I doubt that this fine nuance will necessarily occur to our funders. And due to CMP’s fine touch on cease-and-desists, it is almost certain that our funders will have heard about this.

Thank you, Tim O’Reilly, for the Web 2.0 experience. Hopefully, it will have taught our staff something about adopting dubious marketing buzzwords. Unfortunately, I doubt that this is worth the price – to say nothing of lost credibility.

• http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke

Hi Jaclyn. I mentioned earlier about reviewing the particulars of the mark application. Since Tim is reluctant to provide it I would greatly appreciate a URL(s). I haven’t had much luck locating it. I’m certain that other readers would also be interested. Thanks.

Regarding former lawyer David Hornik’s review I believe he missed the mark when he states “Nothing that CMP has done or Tim O’Reilly has said suggests that they are attempting to assert the “Web 2.0″ mark more broadly.”

Although it is true that nothing to date suggests broadening of their assertions beyond just conferences, BUT neither is there is anything that would prevent them from doing so at a later date.

He goes on further to say “That would undoubtedly be a different calculus.” That would seem to imply he is in agreement that any further broadening of the terms would be unnacceptable.

The point is a limited mark could open the door for broadening of the terms later. The fact is once that door is opened it will be much easier to broaden the terms. That is the real danger and the question we should be asking is do we the community put our faith in Tim and his partners that they will do the right thing? Neither have we heard from his partners as they seem to be ones that are calling the shots. Pandora’s box is waiting.

All the more reason why I would like to read the fine of the mark application for myself.

• David Feldt

This kind of trademark/servicemark situation comes up regularly in business, and has been a recurring adventure in the computer community before the web was wrought. Its all in how the issue is handled.

For example, back in the mid-1980s we started a conference in Ann Arbor, MI called “MacHack”. A group called “MacHax” contacted us and expressed concern about confusion in the names (They had registration, etc. on their side). We had no problem acknowledging their claim to the similar name, they chose to help sponsor the conferences for many years. Scott Boyd and other MacHaxs became close personal friends. We benefitted greatly from their participation and many people learned about their organization who might never have otherwise heard of them. Very happy ending.

In our case the company (Expotech) that ran the conferences ‘owned’ the conference name, which meant there are still MacHack conferences today even though nearly all the original organizations and people who started it have moved on to do other things.

It takes experience, some times hard won to learn how to finesse these issues. Business, open source, and many apparently conflicting ideas and processes can not only co-exist but thrive when allowed a little light and air. I can only hope the very public and messy handling of this instance helps many folks to understand both the issues involved and the value of deep breaths and a calm approach to problem solving. The more it matters and the more you care the deeper the breath that should be taken.

Thanks for your explanation, and all of those who responded (even those who still think poorly of you). In an information economy we need to understand and make ideas, words and information assets work on several levels. I look forward to reading about the resolution of this dispute, and believe those who took the time to participate in its discussion (on all sides) will be better prepared to contribute to solving the many, many more such issues which will continue to arise with increasing regularity.

• incredulous

I just went ahead and trademarked Web 3.0 – 100.0 for all conferences, books, and magazines. Now I just need to wait to sue somebody.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Jaclyn — I’m not sure I follow your point or understand what my “bluff” is supposed to be. As I noted in my initial posting, MediaLive routinely files for trademarks on all new conferences they launch. Conferences take time to plan: a venue has to be found, a program assembled, the marketing done. The original agreement between O’Reilly and MediaLive to work together on this conference occurred in the third quarter of 2003 (after which agreement the trademark was apparently filed), even though the conference itself didn’t happen till a year later. I’m not sure why the time delay between the filing and the conference itself is supposed to contradict what I told this group….

You also confirm what I said, that the mark is only intended to cover conferences.

You also note that MediaLive was acquired by CMP in January 2006. And again, just as I said in my original posting, I learned about the trademark as a result of discussions consequent to that sale, in February 2006.

So I fail to see how this information indicates a nefarious plot to build awareness of the term “Web 2.0″ and then to profit from anyone trying to use it. The registration is specifically in the trademark class for conferences and other similar events, and the timeline is exactly what I said it was, and is also consistent with MediaLive’s statement that they routinely file for trademarks on their conference properties. (You might want to search for all their other trademark filings as well, if you’re in a research mood!)

I really don’t think MediaLive (now CMP) had any nefarious plans at all behind this trademark filing: they just wanted to protect themselves against the possibility that some competitor would look at a successful conference, and build a “me too” product.

I can also guarantee that if they made any moves to assert the trademark more widely, I would be the first in line to protest. I’ve defended their action to file the trademark on the conference as an understandable business practice given the nature of the competition in the conference business, and have tried to explain why they are reluctant to give it up. (I’ve never defended the C&D, which I considered in very bad form — as I’ve said from the beginning.) But I am as clear as the most passionate of you here that if they were to try to assert broader control over “Web 2.0″ as some kind of general trademark covering other uses would not only be indefensible but legally impossible.

P.S. For those of you who don’t believe that Web 2.0, the conference, preceded and inspired Web 2.0 the meme (even modulo occasional uses of the term before then), do a Google Trends search for “Web 2.0″.

You’ll see the first spike in Sept/Oct 2004, around the time of the first conference. The second uptrend starts in May/June of 2005, when the conference marketing for the second conference began, shoots up sharply at the end of September when my “What is Web 2.0″ piece (still the #2 result for a Google search on Web 2.0, behind the #1 result, the site for the conference itself) was published, peaking the week of the conference itself, and only beginning its steady up trend into real popularity after that. Not absolute proof, but some hard evidence to support the claim that the popularity of the general term stems from the conference, rather than the other way around.)

• Dale Sundstrom

Coca-Cola Corporation could try to claim control of all use of the term cola in the name of a beverage. But…

First of all, they are too smart.

And… cola cookies are fine, but R C Cola?… Cease And Desist! How far would that fly before it crashed and burned?

The service entitled to an exclusive mark is the Web 2.0 Conference. And NOT any use of the term Web 2.0 in the title of a live event.

• Jon

“I can also guarantee that if they made any moves to assert the trademark more widely, I would be the first in line to protest.”

-> They will do that if it benefits them, which makes it very likely. I don’t think now I can trust you ever to protest that…let alone be the first in line. The trust, the respect, the Geek God thing is just gone. Sorry.

“I’ve defended their action to file the trademark on the conference as an understandable business practice given the nature of the competition in the conference business, and have tried to explain why they are reluctant to give it up.”

-> If they truly wanted to protect only their conference, they would have trademarked “Web 2.0 Conference”, not “Web 2.0″. Even now they can simply abandon the Web 2.0 trademark and file a trademark on “Web 2.0 Conference”. They would be well protected. But no, they don’t want to do that, and you are still supporting their stance.

The community built the Web 2.0 brand, even though you coined and initially promoted it.

• http://jacobmathai.blogspot.com/ Jacob Mathai

What’s in a name? The ideas are not trademarked ?

• http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke

Tim, it speaks volumes to me that you still haven’t offered to make available the specific wording of the mark application so that I and others can review it.

It is supposed to be a public document. If this is above board like you have stated then why all the secrecy? It is not helping your credibility.

Give us a pdf doc to peruse so that we can make our own judgment instead of all this speculation.

• Michael Kenney

Wow, yet-another-online-tempest-in-a-teapot.

Tim’s response seems like a reasonable explanation — but of course “reasonable” counts for nothing here in “Usenet 2″ (sorry, I mean the “Blogosphere”). Never have so many spent so much time accomplishing so little.

I am surprised that Tim is shocked by the response. As one who has been online for ~20 years I see no more evidence of “great journalism” in Blogs than I did on Usenet…

• http://oolongo.com Jaclyn

Hi Tim- I donât want to gravitate toward the issue much longer, so I’ll jump straight into answering your question. You (O’Reilly Media) worked with Media Live before working with CMP. I could give the Google sources to prove this but in this instance I think we both agree, and readers can do a source check if they’re not positive. My question to you stemmed from you bluffing when you stated that you only first learned of the service mark by CMP during February of 2006; I want to know, then, what went on in the interim of 2003 (year of Media Live filing for Web 2.0) and 2006 (year when you claim that CMP Media notified you of this pending mark).

Second, and this is basically the above query with a few statistic mentions, Media Live (before it was acquired) filed for only 37 trademarks, 4 of which did not register. CMP Media, on the other hand, filed for more than 275 trademarks (if I wanted to keep counting, I could have), 92 of which never registered (Web 2.0 in fact has only been given a serial # and not a registration #, generally meaning that CMP still needs to prove that the brand is in danger of being damaged– the reason CMP sent the ‘cease and desist’ letter to IT@Cork in the first place). Some quick math provides the following conclusion, and whether or not you concur I’d like to know: Media Live filed less service marks than CMP, however both companies are practiced in filing. What I find slightly unbalanced about the way you’re phrasing O’Reilly’s understanding of the mark is that CMP became a OâReilly Media conference partner in January 2006 and before then Media Live was a partner of OâReilly Media conferences, so if Media Live filed for the service mark in 2003 (and you say it was to prevent others from bleeding dry the buzz YOU created) you should have known from Media Live in 2003 that Web 2.0 was pending.

[ Media Live> OâReilly Media >CMP Media ]

Maybe OâReilly directed Media Live to file for the mark? Since I donât know for sure I will need to verify with Robert Sacoff, original attorney.

This is really exasperatingâ¦

Iâm sorry both of us are in the position to explain.

In conclusion, your promise: âI can also guarantee that if they made any moves to assert the trademark more widely, I would be the first in line to protest.â And from the November 03, 2003 âTo the Commissioner for Trademarksâ letter, the Intent to Use: âThe applicant has a bona fide intention to use or use through the applicantâs related company or licensee the mark in commerce OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE IDENTIFIED GOODS AND/OR SERVICES.â (15 U.S.C. Section 1051 (b))

• http://oolongo.com jaclyn

Obviously the special characters I used did not transfer. Apology.

Tim– if you wish just to continue this via email, I’m more than happy and obviously you now have a way to directly contact me (I posted an email address several times along with my comments). If not, I’ll post further at my blog.

Blog Blokes– there isnt a URL. Just use the USPTO as your resource. Everything is listed for the public review.

• http://web2dot5.blogspot.com/ Liam @ Web 2.5 Blog

Tim,

I chose the name “Web 2.5″ for my blog (with subtitle “the always-on-you web”) because I believed the term “Web 2.0″ to be generic. I would not have done so had I known that this trademark was in the works, because in that case a conference named the “Web 2.5 Summit” could be confusing to the market, even if it sought a different audience than your event. (My blog is now the first result on Google for Web 2.5.)

I accept your assertion that your conference defined the term Web 2.0 as it is now broadly used. I agree that you have established commercial ownership of the term for conferences. And I know your motivation is pure when you assure the web community that Web 2.0 can be used without restriction outside the conference context.

The trouble seems to be that the web community is not comfortable with a term that is restricted so. We find ourselves in the bind of having embraced your term enthusiastically, widely, but now being admonished not to use it, or confusingly similar terms like mine, for conferences. We feel blindsided by this turn of events; we have a great deal invested in this meme.

We are still hoping, despite your signals to the contrary, that you will cede the term to the community, and rebrand your conference (a move that would surely generate tremendous coverage at this juncture). That feels to us like the kind of magnanimous gesture we might expect from your organization, at least as we understand it from its track record in the community.

We will be set adrift, for a time, if you refuse us this gesture. What new label should we apply to our movement? What thought leader should we turn to? What cost will this transition exact? Our creativity, I’m sure you will agree, is better spent in other endeavors.

Most Sincerely,

Liam Breck
Network Improv

• http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke

Thanks Jaclyn.

I tried that earlier and a cursory search didn’t find anything related. Maybe I missed something. Then again I didn’t give it much effort beyond the first page of links.

It would certainly help if Mr. O’Reilly et al would be more cooperative.

Will keep trying though.

Cheers… BB

• Matthew Cooke

Web 2.0 is not like the terms “Linux”, “Wikipedia” or “Apache”.

Linux is a an actual kernel, Wikipedia is an actual website and Apache is an actual body.

People thought you wanted web2.0 to be an open concept/idea like “networking” or “the internet” or “object-oriented”. Supporting a service mark to restrict web2.0 usage in conferences/talks suggests that you don’t view web2.0 in this way.

Your response whilst explaining how the situation arose (which was perhaps unfortunate) implies that you do view web2.0 as property and not a free concept.

People are now confused and upset.

• TJ

Tim,

“Web 2.0″ is not yours to protect.

Not in general, not in the name of conferences, not anywhere. Not any more so than you would have a right to trademark the words “Web” or “Internet.”

You and CMP have a lot of nerve thinking that you are entitled to bully other people out of using a name that belongs to the public freely as they please.

• Scott

Hi Tim,

I’m not up on all the nuances here, but I do sympathize with the reaction people are having.

“The best lack all convictions, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.” Yeats

Remember that the vast majority of people understand your argument, but don’t generally have the passion to post. I’m only posting because of the vitriolic nature of so many other posts.

• http://reuben.honigwachs.de reuben

Hi Tim, something else from the “Web2.0″ term now:

I don’t think this issue is stirred up by a populist backlash. You are smart enough to know how this “user experience” tech (especially blogs) works. And here we have good evidence, seeing you knowing how to find decent PR counteractions.

That said, I don’t think you should start working out on Torvalds or Stallman/FSF at this point. You’re stirring yourself, then.

We all have seen this is an important issue. And my suggestion is: Divide tech from political stuff and bring this discussion to a next level, instead of giving up on it. Let’s be honest: O’Reilly Radar itself is no tech-place to be, than rather an information center for venture capitalists. I believe this is the intention, anyways.

So, don’t downplay this, because it is core to the whole IT-biz-making thing. I will be very anxious to hear from this front (and of course the answers, too) in the near future.

• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:David_Gerard David Gerard

Of course a C&D is a legal threat. THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT OF IT.

And anyone who sends a C&D and expects it not to be publicised needs to be forced to operate in the light a little more.

• Dale Sundstrom

There is a teapot filled with diverting tempests. Some wordsmiths here have been tempted to serve cup after cup. Just let them pile up.

The issue is the service mark. The service entitled to an exclusive mark is the Web 2.0 Conference. Any other claim is very weak and must be withdrawn by CMP. Tim must convince them. It may take a few more days, but at this point the risks and benefits can lead nowhere else.

Over the last few days, web 2.0 has gone from being a very popular and powerful buzzword; to being a popular or ironic buzzword, depending on your perspective. It could continue on this path to become just an ironic buzzword. But, that wouldn’t exactly be maximizing shareholder value, would it? Or, CMP can take a step back to regain some of that power and value. Easy decision.

As CEO of O’Reilly Media, it is Tim’s job to support the positions the company has taken and the partnerships they’re involved in. Over many years in this role, he’s earned nearly everyone’s respect by demonstrating his insight and integrity. He’s not just going to just give that all up.

Tim, buddy, please back me up here.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

bb — I don’t actually have the text of the applications, but it is available on the USPTO site.

and enter “Web 2.0″ in the simple search field. There is only one result, and it says:

Mark Image
Word Mark WEB 2.0
Goods and Services IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: Arranging and conducting live events, namely, trade shows, expositions and business conferences in various fields, namely, computers, communications, and information technology. FIRST USE: 20041005. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20041005

IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Organizing and conducting educational conferences, tutorials and workshops in the fields of computers, communication and information technology. FIRST USE: 20041005. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20041005
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Design Search Code
Serial Number 78322306
Filing Date November 3, 2003
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition September 13, 2005
Owner (APPLICANT) CMP MEDIA LLC LTD LIAB CO DELAWARE 600 COMMUNITY DRIVE MANHASSET NEW YORK 11030
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Susan L. Heller and Joseph Geisman
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “WEB” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL

That is, the trademark is for use of the name “Web 2.0″ (text — not a specialized graphical treatment) in the field of live events, namely tradeshows, expositions, and business conferences.

All of the international filings are the same, to the best of my knowledge.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Dale,

As you can see from Tim’s post, the mark is for the phrase ‘Web 2.0′. So ‘Web 2.0 Workshop’, ‘Web 2.0 Meetup’, ‘Web 2.0 Design-a-Thon’, ‘Web 2.0 Workshop for Teachers’, ‘Web 2.0 Pub Crawl’ would all be infringing according to CMP.

In my view this is way too general.

Nobody’s disputing Tim’s role in helping to build the meaning of ‘Web 2.0′ – not exclusively, by any means, but significantly. I think his and others’ success in this is the very thing that makes it unlikely that the trademark will stand.

And again – simply sticking O’Reilly in the conference title would have avoided and confusion or brand dilution and given a stamp of quality at the same time.

• http://blog.msrportal.com Matt Ridings

The posts here that actually try and make a salient point are well-written and at least attempt to provide a POV on their position.

But in the end I only see two types of posts, those who understood business management and those who don’t.

I’m a huge proponent of the Open Source movement, but it is not, nor has it ever been, a part of the anarchist “all information should be free” movement. For some reason ‘protecting your investment’ has become a bad thing, no matter the context. Apparently whether you are talking about the ‘evil empire’ of Microsoft, or the relatively tiny patent folks trying to take down BlackBerry there is an immediate overtone of guilt.

Note that I’m not talking about the validity of someones claim (especially in the example given above), whether or not they used heavy-handed tactics, sent a cease and desist inappropriately, or anything of the sort. I’m simply distressed after reviewing the posts by the growing number of people in the technical community who seem to want businesses to no longer act like businesses.

I’m not discounting the opinions made on this topic, there is no doubt that Tim and CMP have an issue on their hands in regards to both protecting their interests (not a bad thing!!!) and insuring that what has now become a generic term is able to still be used appropriately by the community.

But how do you blame CMP because out of all their Service Marks *one* of them happened to become ubiquitous in the internet lexicon? There are even posts here saying they are at fault because they should have *foreseen* the future usage of the term. No offense to CMP specifically, but if you think that their marketing department really sits around strategizing about things like this when they are in the middle of launching a conference, well….I mean it’s not like “Web 2.0″ was the most innovative name at the time.

And while I appreciate Tim’s direct response given to the community, and the accessibility that he personally has, I find it a bit silly that anyone would have expected him to be personally involved in a C&D letter sent out from CMP much less the fact that he should imply he carries guilt in that process. He carries responsibility on behalf of his company however, and the effect actions may have on its image. He’s responded by taking the time to explain his position, and to apologize where he thought actions were taken that he felt inappropriate.

What more do you want?

• Dale Sundstrom

David, I agree.

The Web 2.0 conference is entitled to an exclusive mark.

Web 2.0 is not. The over-reaching claim to web 2.0 is very weak and should be withdrawn by CMP.

Tim must convince them. Somehow I still expect him to do so.

• Robert

Yes, mobs suck. The fact remains: claiming legals rights to the use of “Web 2.0 Conference” for the name of conferences is immoral, just like claiming legal rights to the use of “Software Design Conference” is immoral. That it is legal, or is standard industry practice, or was moral 5 years ago does not change this fact.

• Dale Sundstrom

It’s too easy to be less-than-clear with this issue. It’s no wonder there is confusion.

“Web 2.0 Conference” would be an appropriate trademark.

“Web 2.0″ is NOT appropriate as a trademark. CMP should withdraw their weak claim to this broad term. Tim should convince them to do so. Further pursuit of this silly claim will only devalue the term.

• Michael Kenney

Dale wrote:

The fact remains: claiming legals rights to the use of “Web 2.0 Conference” for the name of conferences is immoral

Immoral??? How about turning down the hyperbole a bit?

Why are you getting so worked-up about such a meaningless term (Web 2.0)? This is all quite humorous…

• Dale Sundstrom

Dale actually said something different, Michael.

It was Robert who went there.

• http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke

Thanks Tim for being forthcoming and providing the info. I really appreciate that as I’m sure a lot other people do as well.

I tried the link you provided but unfortunately I get a message stating that the session has expired. And when I do a search for Web 2.0 at the USPTO site I get pages and pages of unrelated stuff. Apparently USPTO and I have a compatibility problem. :)

I see that the application is mainly related to conferences like you said and I think that a lot of people here really don’t have a problem with the mark being specifically just for conferences.

I’m a mediator by profession and I’m just trying to help and I believe that you could save yourself a lot of trouble if you would offer a compromise and amend your application to include your name and perhaps also the word “conference” tacked on the end — i.e. something to effect of “O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Conferences”. I believe that would certainly placate a lot of people’s concerns.

Also, being the owner of many trademarks myself I know that once you get your foot in the door the terms of that mark can later be broadened beyond just conferences. Leaving it the way it is as just “web 2.0″ leaves the door opened for possible abuse in the future.

That is how McDonald’s can stop anybody from using the name regardless if they are in direct competition or not. It happens if you have enough resources and smart lawyers.

That is the danger here and if you would consider the compromise I believe that might resolve this dilemma.

Again, thanks for providing the info.

Cheers.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

among my other concerns… the inclusion of ‘workshops’ and ‘tutorials’ with regards to education includes every professional educational institution/community in the world. Courses taught etc… is this the intention?

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Dave — if the fact that the answer is “no” isn’t clear to you from my comments thus far, it will never be clear. I repeat: the concern is conferences and tradeshows, not seminars, courses, workshops, or whatever.

• Michael Kenney

Dale really wrote:

Dale actually said something different, Michael.

It was Robert who went there.

You’re right, my apologies. Robert was indeed the “moralist” I was quoting.

• http://itdefpat.blogspot.com Brett

aside from the IPR question, and how the entities bungled handling it, is the bigger issue (*biggest?) is how the blogosphere responded? has the opens source movement somehow obfuscated IPR? or has the instant information of the BLOGOSPHERE somehow diluted critical thinking? Anyways, kudos on the reply and de-bungling effort…

• Patrick

What I seem to miss is the point Tom made: how can you send a C&D letter to IRELAND when the trademark is held in the USA ?

• rickdog

Trademarking physical products such as Linux, Apache, Mozilla, Firefox and Wikipedia is hugely different than trademarking a concept such as web2.0, and I’m suspicious of O’Reilly by trying to make them equal. My god, what web2.0 is has been around for probably 10 years, since Microsoft came up with the XMLHttpRequest object, what gives O’Reilly any special rights because he put a tag on something that existed long before?

I don’t plan on buying any more O’Reilly books or CMP subscriptions until I hear some contrition coming out of thier camp.

• rickdog

Regarding O’Reilly’s argument via Google Trends: just because you can track a movement because of a tag that you put on it doesn’t mean that that tag has anything to do with the success of the movement, it just means you’ve attached a successful marker. You may have helped in tracking the beast, but your claim for is success is specious, it has a mind of it’s own.

• anonymous

Tired of reading, and possibly someone said these things, but:

1) Tim is a bit naive as to blogs – they’re just as much a mob as Usenet was, with incessant flamewars. Remember Armenian-Turkish diatribes?
2) I think Tim said Web 2.0 was a trademark for the conference, not a trademark for Web 2.0 in general. Is that tough to keep straight? If not, you might want to unplug your electrical devices.
3) “Non-profits” are not Gods by not making money. They still have to play by rules. I’m not talking about this case per se, but in general.
4) I think Tim said he’s trying to work out a more general solution. Some of us have confidence in his ability.
5) In any case, I’m trademarking Web 3.x, including all sub-revisions, to include all the really cool stuff that nobody’s thought about yet (except me of course, bwaahaahaahaa). Of course I’ll probably be Dave Weiner RSS’ed by a 4.x version that skips 3.x, and an ATOM version to boot, but I’m trying to plan ahead. You’ve been warned. Cease and Desist.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

Tim…

either you haven’t read the trademark application, or this is a completely false document. You say in your terse response to me NO dave. NO WORKSHOPS. and this link

says

“Organising and conducting educational conferences, tutorials and workshops in various fields, including the fields of computers, communication and information technology.”

workshops.

But you say no. so what is it?

• http://speak.to/?q=user/2 Dale Sundstrom

The Kerfuffle Code.

Upon all the noise, and upon the signal; of the mob, of the non-mob, even upon the corporate messages issued while Tim was gone; was encoded one signal…

It was simply, stop the madness. What the madness was, however, varied wildly depending upon your perspective.

Such a two-point-oh-y insight, don’t ya think? And there’s a lot more to be learned from the web 2.0 trademark kerfuffle. Someone should write a book.

Would it be appropriate to try to prevent “Web 2.0 Expo”, “Web 2.0 Get-Together”, or “Jane’s Presentation on Web 2.0″? Would it be worth the trouble and the… expense? I don’t think so.

CMP should withdraw the “Web 2.0″ trademark (claimed for all use in a live event name). A small risk for huge benefits to both CMP and O’Reilly. They are entitled to a trademark only for an actual product, such as the “Web 2.0 Conference”.

Don’t kill the buzzword. Set it free.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

I said I wouldn’t post another comment here but there is one point that people may wish to consider.

Now, the trademark/servicemark isn’t O’Reilly’s (which begs the question as to how CMP trades on O’Reilly’s efforts to broaden the term but that’s another topic). I’d ask three questions:

2. Why does CMP persist in mistating their trademark on their own conference website?

3. What legal advice did CMP recieve to persuade them that their US trademark extended to Eire

And finally: the business advantage in this affair to O’Reilly is – well, what, exactly?

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

David Jones –

The O’Reilly page you point to is a great example of a couple of things:

1) the value of having a trademark guidelines page, such as the one that I’ve suggested several times we’re working on with CMP, and will publish as soon as it’s done. So that answers your point 1.

But it also illustrates another point: in a big organization, people do all kinds of things that can be taken out of context. For example, that trademark page you point to is an old page put together by our retail sales team for guidelines on a retail promotion. It’s years’ out of date — for example, the name of the company is no longer O’Reilly & Associates, but O’Reilly Media, and the trademarked campaigns it was providing guidelines for are long over. (I’ve sent the team a notice that the page needs to be updated or taken down.)

My point: it’s easy for web pages to get out of date, and for people to forget what they were for, and for non-lawyers to get legal details wrong.

A better example of an O’Reilly trademark guidelines page is the one I pointed to earlier at http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/perl/usage/

And I’ll note that we don’t have one for every trademark we own — most companies do not. It only becomes necessary, as in the case of the Perl camel, or the retail promotion page you pointed to, where there are lots of people wanting to use the trademark, and you don’t want to have to talk to them all individually.

2) O’Reilly, not CMP, does the conference website, and I’ve sent mail to the team to let them know. The tone of your message seems to imply that this is some sort of a plot, rather than people scrambling to do the right thing when the shit hits the fan, and not always getting it right.

3) As noted previously, CMP filed for the trademark in the EU, of which Eire is a part.

As to advantage for O’Reilly….at the moment, not much :-)

So do please put the conspiracy theories to rest.

Thanks.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Consipracy theories? Eh?

How long does it take to change a logo on a website? Why was it misapplied in the first place?

Nothing to do with conspiracies. More to do with grabbing a trademark on the sly, not letting anyone know about it, continuing to misrepresent it.

CMP didn’t have the trademark in the EU, and still don’t. The C&D was without legal foundation.

Have you sent a C&D to the Mesh conference? No? Why not?

• Anansi

Could this be a kind of US “lawyer inspired culture” thing? Today a swedish insurance company was sold to foreign investors. One old CEO commented on the news about the major drawback with companies being owned by US investors – they send us lawyers who doesn?t have a clue about what the company is all about.

Actually there is a lot of interesting things to learn from this. Personally I think the expression “Web 2.0″ is rather fragile. It has to be explained, preferably by a “convert” who has now lost faith in his/her divine object of admiration.

As an antidote to this I recommend the old “Escape from Monkey Island (TM)” game. The game makes fun of this trademarking-mania by trademarking all kind of silly things (TM).

Anansi (TM)

• pwb

David Jones, maybe it’s time to give it a rest?

• http://speak.to/?q=user/2 Dale Sundstrom

CMP has demonstrated its intent to prevent any use of “web 2.0″ in the
title of a live event.

Is it appropriate to prevent “Web 2.0 Expo”,
“Web 2.0 Get-Together”, or “Jane’s Web 2.0 Presentation”?

Would you intend for CMP to do so?

• http://www.MarillaAnne.com MarillaAnne

Hmmm as a near geek who has written about Web2.0 as a new illusion to an old theme … should I edit out Web 2.0 from my writings? …

The whole thing stinks … As much as I’d love to view O’Reilly as “those books that saved my backend a few times … the ones with the really cute animals on the front” … I’m just left with a smelly aroma in my nose … And Tim has not helped me as just a “near geek who buys his books very very ocasionally” feel better about him or his company.

In my view a company in his situation needs to be saying “WoaH” and revamping their legal situation in a hurry. Finger pointing and whining does not fix stuff … makes some bodies feel better and makes some bodies angrier … fixes nada.

On the other hand … slander … now that’s something to put a lawyer on … and I did see a few posts … oh but we’re on the great anon web. … right … Is web 2.0 anon?

As to the Pile-On … when the fans at a game rush out onto the field … is the home team irresponsible? Is everyone who responds on a blog really a blogger and are all bloggers really news writers? … I’ve not traced all the links around and I only occasionally follow the tech blogs but … are we sure that all the Pile-ers-on (I get to tm that one!) were really the serious tech bloggers? The ones that just consolidate all the other tech writers don’t count in my book. And the passionate geeks that run from blog to blog … surely they aren’t real news writers … otherwise … I’m a real news writer.

Well I’m late to the Pile-On … so I don’t stand too much risk of injuring or being injured … or even too much risk of being recognized as having ever been part of the Pile-On, for that matter … but …

It’s just the whole thing smells so bad … I had to at least wave a hand at it while holding my nose.

Ya’ll have fun …

O’reilly is being revealed for what it is, just another company out for profit. And frankly, I don’t have a problem with that. It does seem kind of strange though that they push open source this and open source that, all the while criticizing Sun for not open-sourcing Java when they make millions from their closed-source books.

Let me get this straight. Everything that software developers write should be open and free, but things that O’reily authors write should be closed with a pricetag?

Again, I’m not saying that O’reilly should stop making money by selling books or protecting their business interests, but they should get off their high horse and stop looking down at people that try to make money.

O’reilly has put out some great stuff, but they don’t float above it all on some high moral cloud.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

dale – I’ve asked that question three times in this series of comments alone. I agree with many posters… i very much approve of people making money. All I want is clarity. I am a blogger and web/podcaster(albeit not a particuarly huge one) and I’m trying to get specific information before i post/talk about it. I’ve sent emails to o’reilly, posted comments here, even sent emails to him through other people… all asking that same question. What about a web 2.0 workshop? what about Jane’s web 2.0 tutorial? Tim has said “no problem”, and yet the UK application clearly says “education events – conference, tutorials and workshops.” So, with the lack of response, i can only figure that it is true, and that we can’t have a web 2.0 tutorial at the university without asking permission. The LEGAL document says this, and it’s the one that will show up in court, not Tim’s assurances in this series of comments.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

I’d give it a rest, pwb, if I got a straight answer.

The trademark application is for Web 2.0 used on the context of a live event. Tim has told me that the reason a C&D hasn’t been sent to Mesh’s Web 2.0 Conference and wasn’t sent to d.Connect’s Web 2.0 conference is because ‘Web 2.0′ wasn’t part of the official conference title.

I think that’s debatable but nevertheless that restriction is O’Reilly’s for the purpose of responding on this blog. It doesn’t feature in the trademark application. And if Mr O’Reilly wants to stand by that then I’ll ask about another conference: the Enterprise Ireland Web 2.0 Conference. They didn’t get a C&D either.

‘You cannot use everyday words which say what your goods or services are, as everybody dealing in them should be able to use these words for their goods or services’

Before sugegsting I give it a rest maybe you might suggest to O’Reilly that he backs off this silly and damaging land grab.

• Marty Nix

Tim,

I wasn’t a fan before, so I don’t feel betrayed now. But it’s obvious you need a clue-by-four as to the backlash you’re seeing here. Despite the impassioned posts, it is not ultimately as to how you, CMP or anybody else is going to apply the vagaries of US IP law to a few letters, numbers and a dot. Rather, it’s a human-nature thing.

The problem is that up until now you have, whether honestly or deceitfully, held yourself and your company up as exemplars of a standard of corporate ethics and behavior that is supposed to be a cut above the rest. However, with one wrong move that – yes – happened while you weren’t even present, your company and YOUR NAME got attached to a maneuver typically used by Evil Corporations out to do Bad Things. It doesn’t matter whether the motivation was lily white or black as sin or whether the legal or moral reasoning was sound or not.

Here’s why: You came off looking like Just Another Evil Corporate Type. And in so doing, it raised the specter that you actually are and that everybody who ever supported you was revealed to be a fool for believing in your stated philosophy. And being made fools of makes people mad. And by trying to explain, justify… spin it, you only confirmed that hypothesis. I’m not saying it’s so, just what it could look like from the outside.

Even the whole e-mail/C&D conflict. You’ve been in business how long? You’ve never known even one bastard who’d compliment you and wish you well on the one hand and plot your destruction behind your back? One who came off as a saint to everybody else? Hell, in that light, wishing Tom Raftery luck right before the legal letter came comes off as down-right sinister and probably just fueled his indignation.

Is it fair that one act should so mar your reputation? Yes. If one bullet kills one person, it doesn’t matter how many were fired before it or why. One bad act can wipe out a whole lifetime of virtuous acts.

Is it fair that you should take the heat for something so outside your immediate control? Probably not but we live in an unfair world. Your company, with your name on the sign out front, approved this action. It’s your unconditional responsibility. You get the credit for its merits, you have to take the heat for its errors.

If the action was justifiable, should you still apologize for it? Ask the CEO of any oil company that ships crude oil around the world in fleets of aging tankers. The oil has got to move but the clean-ups are a beast.

People are wanting, waiting and hoping that you’ll be a mensch and not a CEO. Trying to explain is just dodging responsibility in many folks’ eyes. Screw the legalisms and make an unqualified apology on a human level and you’ll probably do yourself far more good than 1000 paragraphs on US trademark law.

Or don’t. No skin off my nose either way.

• Marty Nix

PS — The fact that you’re apparently so naive about why everybody is so mad at you kind of makes me think you’re really innocent. Manipulative bastards tend to have a better grasp on human nature.

Either that, or you’re the master of all manipulative bastards. ;-)

• http://www.prohiphop.com Clyde Smith

My Apologies to Seth Godin & Tim O’Reilly

• Forsooth

The magnitude of this tempest-in-a-teacup illuminates a few things from a sociological perspective:

1) Tim is perhaps unaware of the how saintly his image has become (a burdon, as he is coming to find out), or is politically unsavvy. Probably a combination.

2) Nothing more exciting than a good row when the blogosphere is as dull as it is.

3) People are stuck on words, and value them highly because other people value them highly.

4) Law and the Internet are two often antagonistic abstractions.

• http://oolongo.com Jaclyn

The answer is that Web 2.0 may not be used for any live event.

Tim and I exchanged several e-mails, and I’m sure he feels his foot expanding in his mouth as the days go by. I’m happy to answer questions anyone has, if they still have any, about the legal documents. I compiled all correspondence between Media Live and the USPTO, as well as letters written by CMP Media once Media Live was acquired and the service mark became the responsibility of CMP.

• http://internettablettalk.com/blog/ rsperberg

You also might think about whether it’s appropriate to possess the xml.com domain. The best interestes of pushing your proprietary interests and a technology don’t always coincide.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

mmm… my biggest question is what does ‘live’ mean?

• fedup

I recommend that we replace “WEB” with “SPHERE”, and let Timmy have “web 2.0′ all to himself.

• greg

Trademarking a number is a bit absurd anyway. If I trademark the number 4 does that mean that noone can use that number now?

You could have trademarked the entire name, “Web 2.0 Conference”. That makes more sense than trademarking a number. I’m sure there are people trademaring the number 2.1 and 3.0 and 4.0 and so on, just so they can try to limit other people’s uses of these numbers… think about it.

• Tyson Boellstorff

My condolences on the collective misery inflicted by the blogosphere. It was a simple miscommunication that should have been handled by a couple of phone calls. Unfortunately, it turned into something of lower standards than the opinion section of the local newspaper, where we turn from time to time to see what kind of whackos live in our neighborhood.

Once upon a time, there was a barrier to posting a person’s drivel — we had to amuse the editor enough to get our rants published. We had to write somewhat clearly and during a lucid interval. Then the next barrier was that we had to have access, money and expertise. The happy result was that most of the people with antisocial impulses and lack of due diligence filtered themselves right out of the workplace and their posting stopped before it started.

It is now obvious that that barrier has been overcome, and 60 million monkeys with their keyboards ablaze does indeed generate a lot of noise.

Personally, I find the signal/noise ratio in blogs somewhere below the odds in my finding a deposit of dilithium in my basement. At this low signal ratio, the only sense I can filter out of the blogosphere is the result of my filter, and not derived from any of the content I read, and so I’ve quite given up on the media.

What we geeks need is a forum with the barrier to entry reestablished — possibly via SNMP-enabled cattle prods to keep the slavering masses at bay. Until then, I’m thinking of dredging up the 2400 baud modem and going in search of intelligent life elsewhere. Somewhere there’s another Luddite who at least can make it over the barriers to connecting to a BBS. In all of my time on BBS’es, I never had the dubious opportunity to “punch the monkey”. I miss the lack of crass commercialism. I miss the pure debate, not to mention a good flame war or two that didn’t wind up on page two of my local newspaper. For Pete’s sake, what I really miss are twit filters!

• Sérgio Nunes

Hi,

You’ve have also coined the term “Open Source”, but never registered it as a trademark. Do you regret that?

Why the change of policy regarding these two different terms?

• rickdog

And here’s some research for you to do while I’m doing mine:

What has Tim Berners-Lee claimed as his own of the World Wide Web? You’d think he’d have numerous claims, being that he actually invented it.

There’s a reason why some people are revered and made Knights…

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Rickdog –

I suggest you look at http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Legal/2002/ipr-notice-20021231

Here is a partial list of some of the things claimed as trademarks by the W3C, of which Tim B-L is the head:

HTML
HTTP
CSS
DOM
SVG
XML

And last but not least in the context of this discussion, the name of the organization, The World Wide Web Consortium, and its initials, W3C.

I don’t actually think that this [trademarks on actual technology names] is a good parallel, because the W3C is trademarking names associated with software specifications, and, contrary to the assertions of some of the posters here, we’ve never made the claim to trademark the actual specifications of “What is Web 2.0″, just the name of the conference. [That much more analogous to what the W3C is doing with the name of its organization.]

[Bits in brackets added to original comment to clarify it.]

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david

Tim,

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david

Tim,

Terms which claimed as generic are not governed by any W3C license and are used as common descriptors by the W3C.

The following is a list of W3C terms claimed as a trademark or generic term by MIT, ERCIM, and/or Keio on behalf of the W3C:

CSS (generic), Cascading Style Sheets Specification
DOM (generic), Document Object Model
HTML (generic), HyperText Markup Language

Now, am I reading that incorrectly or are you? This seems to be clearly stating that CSS, say, or HTMl, are generic terms and so are not governed by any W3C licence.

Might be wrong. I’ll wait for the C&D from Sir Tim. Or maybe his gracious permission…

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

David –

You’re right — I misread the page. Many (but not all) of the specific technology terms are noted as generic. However, you’ll note that I did disclaim their relevance when bringing them up, except to answer Rickdog’s claim that Tim Berners-Lee had never trademarked anything.

Mainly I noted as relevant to this discussion the fact that the W3C has claimed the name of its organization as a trademark, despite the fact that it consists of the name of a technology and a common word (consortium). I don’t really see where that’s that different from claiming the name of a conference, even though that name is also the name of a technology (or cluster of technologies), especially given that the conference name preceded the widespread acceptance of the term to describe the technology.

I probably shouldn’t keep answering these posts, though, because we keep going in loops. I’m working with CMP to think through guidelines to clarify exactly what kinds of claims they are making, and we should probably drop this until we have something substantially new to present.

I should also add that after numerous conversations with lawyers, they’ve pointed out that none of us amateurs debating online have any idea what we’re talking about :-)

• http://speak.to/?q=user/2 Dale Sundstrom

After ten days, we still don’t have more than a suggestion of “guidelines,” that CMP might provide, as an answer to the outstanding issues, or as a way to prevent future enforcement nightmares. …That, and perhaps Tim’s polite suggestions to CMP to walk more softly, and carry a big Nerf ™ Bat.

Unfortunately for CMP, any guidelines will be more than two years too late. The original web 2.0 meme targets, and the public should have been informed. Tim said he wasn’t aware of the trademark until this past February; making it hard for him to have been on guard for improper usage until then.

Unfortunately, the term “web 2.0″ is intentionally very broad and abstract, and does not now describe any particular product, service, or trade name. Trademarks must be distinctive–that’s the whole point. Back in 2003, the term was apparently thought to be distinctive enough to receive registration. But unfortunately, after more than two years of increasing generic usage, the term has been diluted to a point were it’s not distinctive, and is generic. The popularity of web 2.0 allowed it to become big enough to have its own economy, which itself is large enough to generate its own gravitational and reality-distortion fields. Is it really that hard to see, from up close, that “web 2.0 ™” would not be so popular?

CMP has demonstrated an intent to try to prevent the use of “web 2.0″ in the name of a live events. Tim has suggested guidelines that might allow some to use it in some situations. Just what would be considered to determine if any claimed infringement would be allowed? Are size and affiliation appropriate considerations?

The issue may drop from people’s radar–just as it has from the front page this site–but folks still want to see this resolved. Hopefully we’ll hear something more significant soon.

Nerf is a registered trademark of Hasbro. (Isn’t that easy?). It’s an acronym for non-expanding recreational foam, used to make toys.

• http://www.instabloke.com/ Blog Bloke

“I should also add that after numerous conversations with lawyers, they’ve pointed out that none of us amateurs debating online have any idea what we’re talking about”.

When you said that Tim I hope that would exclude myself of course. And in that respect I would be more than happy to debate the matter with any of your biased lawyers that are on the payroll.

My comments stand and you must narrow the scope of your trademark application or gamble with the very real possibility of damaging your hard earned reputation. Think win/win — NOT I, me, my.

The bottom line is you have to ask yourself how much is your reputation worth to you?

In the end it is your decision but you should think this through and be prepared to live with the consequences whatever that may be.

Take it or leave it but that is my recommendation.

• http://venturecreators.net/blog Joe Haslam

Tim,

The problem here was always that “in your name” a group of non profit quasi hobbyists in a land far far away were attacked if they were somehow aligned with a powerful group trying to offer a competing service.

The lawyers who act for you should have recognised this and you should have slapped them on the wrist for blatant fee generating. ITatCork are a threat to no one.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David Jones

Joe,

IT@Cork didn’t publicise the conference in O’Reilly’s name and clearly had no intention to trade on or profit from O’Reilly. They actually asked Tim O’Reilly to the conference; he declined to attend,politely, although he didn’t at the time think to mention that his partners had an outstanding trademark application which might result in a C&D.

IT@Cork aren’t ‘quasi hobbyists’. The suggestion is patronising, as was the C&D notice for an unenforceable trademark which hadn’t been granted or tested in th EU.

Web 2.0 is generic. Although Tim O’Reilly was very quick to acknowledge he’d incorrectly read the W3C trademark information, the point surely is that Web 2.0 is like HTML is like CSS is like DOM: it’s part of developers’ lives and it just is generic and you can’t trademark generic terms.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

ping.

i notice that the ‘oh, and since none of us know anything, why are we talking’ argument didn’t sway the last three posters. It may not have been intended as a debating tactic… but it is an old classic. “oh, lets just let the smart people sort this one out shall we.” and then only one side has access to the relevant ‘smart people,’ and the topic is decided unilaterally. Which, of course, this one will anyway.
And, i might add, we still haven’t gotten a couple of very relevant points clarified. For posterities sake

1. the disparity between Tim’s specific assurance that this servicemark is only for “conference”, and the application in both the states and europe which specifically mention workshops and tutorials.
2. clarication on the ‘we invented this word in 2004′ issue… which the links to 1999 and the book on amazon in 2002 seem to contradict.
3. the reduction argument for the generic name. if web 2.0 can be trademarked… couldn’t web as well?
4. acknowledgement that the ‘meme’ web 2.0 is the construction of a community (or a refutation of this)

ping.

• http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

I may be repeating some of the comments posted above, but having been away for a while have only now read this response, and would like
to comment in any case.

First, I found nothing in this response that would have led to people to respond differently had they done more research. So far as I can tell, the facts, as presented here, are essentially the same as when originally presented.

Second, though I appreciate the explorations into sharing use of the term, I do note that continued ownership of ‘Web 2.0′ in the context of conferences is asserted, and hence that there is a sense in which others would not be permitted to use the term in that context. So the original position that prompted the outrage remains unchanged.

The problem in this instance is not so much with O’Reilly and its partner, CMP, as it is with trademark law, which allows companies to take terms already in use (as Tim said, it doesn’t matter whether there was prior art) and claim them as identifying marks. And certainly part of the appeal of the term ‘Web 2.0′ is that both the terms ‘Web’ and ‘2.0’ were already in use. The traemark, in this case, draws on very public property to create private property.

Still. Though trademark law allows that practice, and though that practice has become commonplace (after all, CMP ‘routinely’ files trademarks), it seems that the application of the trademark in this case should be subject to some criticism.

First, it should be clear that had either O’Reilly or CMP been open and honest about the status of ‘Web 2.0′ as a trademark, it would not have been as popular as it became. It is one thing to say that the meme ran out of control, and quite another to have deliberately let it run out of control under false pretenses. The submarine nature of this trademark is probably responsible for as much of the vitriole as anything else.

Second, a trademark may be filed in order to prevent other people from stopping you from using the term – that is at least part of the basis for the trademarking of Wikipedia and Apache. Proponents of ‘Freenet’ know what happens when a companie comes along and trademarks your name out from under you. But there is a very big difference between this and using a trademark to prevent anyone from using the term at all (in this context).

While I do not condone the tone of many of the comments, I remain, after Tim’s post, sympathetic with them. The public was misled, and what was commonly believed to be a term anyone could use, was revealed after the fact to be private property, and moreover, property that would be (and may still be) enforced with lawyers’ letters.

I believe that this issue is a long way from being resolved, as the continuation of comments two weeks after the reply suggests. I am certainly not satisfied.

• Jaclyn

Tim, due to the fact that you’ve made false claims and misread documents numerous times, I suggest your lawyer respond now.

Also, since the controversy broke, I’ve paid more attention to your writing. Almost of all your posts refer to topics you know very little about, yet you choose to discuss the issues. I wouldn’t call you unintelligent, per se, but I pushed Timo to tell me why N has a relationship with O’Reilly. When you write about science particularly, it’s obvious that you know nothing at all.

• Dave G

I just got an email from O’Reilly Media announcing the new book “Unicode Explained”. I want this book! But, I must remain true to my principles…. must resist….

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Dave G, in response to a polite request like that, what can I say?

• Dave G

Just say, “I see the light — it was wrong for ORA to try to claim an exclusive right to use the phrase “Web 2.0″ in conference titles, regardless of how we spin it. And I’m either going to make CMP see the light, or else publicly denounce them and disassociate myself from them to the greatest extent that’s legally possible at this time.”

That would do it for me.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Unfortunately, Dave, it wasn’t wrong. No one was using the term when we chose it for the name of the conference, and we gave it its current meaning. That’s how trademarks work.

However, I *am* convinced that now that Web 2.0 has taken on that wider meaning, that it’s not a great idea to continue to assert it as a trademark. I said from the first that Cory Doctorow’s thoughtful comments on the subject were fairly convincing to me. We launched a movement, not just a conference, and we need to let go for it to continue to flower.

And as a result of that kind of thinking, I’ve been engaged in lots of productive conversations with CMP about how to resolve the issue moving forward. I’m not ready to make any announcements yet, though, and abusive comments like yours make me less willing to do so, not more, since if CMP does decide to let go of the trademark claim, I’d like it to be after the dust settles. I don’t want people who think that making insulting comments on a web site is a substitute for reasonable discussion to be able to say that they were the cause of any change.

If, and I say if, CMP goes along with a move to drop the trademark, it will be because of the persuasion of reasonable voices, not because of insults.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Tim,

I really don’t care for the more unpleasant language used here either – but whether or not CMP decides to give up its trademark claim is irrelevent to the obvious fact that the claim is unenforceable; whether the C&D notice sent to IT@Cork was warranted (under under EU law it seems such harrassment could result in a valid counter claim against CMP); and unfortunate feeling that the people or organisations you refer to approvingly here seem to be financially connected to you.

My prediction? CMP will drop their claim because they’re wrong in law.

• Dave G

If, and I say if, CMP goes along with a move to drop the trademark, it will be because of the persuasion of reasonable voices, not because of insults.

Oh please. You and they will do it out of self-interest. Whatever value the “Web 2.0″ meme has left is fading, and it’s fast on its way to becoming a punch line — all because of this fiasco — and you guys know that as well as I do.

You of all people, Tim, understand the value of a brand. Of all of the technical publishers out there, ORA is the only brand that I ever felt any type of loyalty toward. Sure, the other ones publish decent enough books, and I’ve bought many tech books from other publishers (I’m probably an above-average consumer of tech books) but I always would thumb through them pretty thoroughly before plunking down my forty to seventy dollars. And, more often than not, I was looking at them because I couldn’t find an ORA book on the same subject in that particular bookstore. Because of that loyalty, ORA is by far the best represented imprint in my collection of tech books.

But brand mentality cuts both ways. Now, because of this, ORA is an anti-brand in my mind — one to be avoided. And I think it may be my former loyalty to your brand that causes me to react as strongly as I am, and use words like “evil”, “malevolent” and “prick”. I feel betrayed somehow; I had formerly thought of you as one of the guys in the white hats, and now you’ve shown me what a naive fool I was.

So even if you guys do relent on this issue, I’ll never be the loyal ORA customer I once was. I’ll cease my own personal little boycott and will probably buy ORA books in the future, but to me you guys will be just another publisher, and I’ll buy your book only when it’s the best choice out of the three or four comparable ones I’ve browsed through on the couch at Borders.

And as far as the Unicode book goes, I doubt that a comparable book exists, but I realize now that would have been an impulse buy. I have no burning need for it, and so far I’ve been able to learn whatever I’ve needed to know about Unicode from online sources or my current books. So overall, this experience has probably been a good thing for me.

• http://www.davidarussell.co.uk/ David Russell

A rather half-hearted attempt to save your company from oblivion. Half-hearted and ineffective. Enjoy obscurity in the ranks of the copyright-abusers.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

… just wondering.

• http://davecormier.com/edblog dave cormier

thanks for the link david. yes, this does present an interesting issue. these guys are in the states, where CMP actually does have rights. but, then again, these guys are likely to be pushovers… it’ll be interesting to watch (or not watch)

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

The flap about the Web 2.0 Conference trademark has shaken my faith in the collective intelligence of the blogosphere
– Tim O’Reilly

I think the blogosphere got it about right. Eh, Tim?

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Oh, and this Web 2.0 conference:

is sponsored by PWC and Ernst&Young, keynote from the CEO of RedHat. Maybe they can afford lawyers. Maybe that’s why CMP haven’t served a C&D.

If Tim or CMP lawyers got into a battle with their lawyers, hey, wouldn’t we all benefit.

The term ‘Web2.0′ is damaged goods now and that’s CMP’s and O’Reilly’s doing. Collective intelligence indeed…

• http://my.opera.com/tinilam tini_lam

What is create weblog from web2.0?

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Would anyone like me to publish here the untrue and unpleasant allagation made today by Tim O’Reilly?

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

‘You’ll notice that the TM mark that O’Reilly actually puton its web page was for the actual conference name: The Web 2.0 Conference.’

- Tim O’Reilly

And you’ll notice that this isn’t CMP’s trademark registration

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Tim, you haven’t replied to my last post; I think your statement could do with some clarification.

When it was pointed out that CMP’s conference website was innacurately representing their supposed servicemark, and after I asked you how long it might take to sort that out, you indicated that it was being amended.

Now, you’ve switched your position without acknowledgement and seem to be making a virtue of an egregious mistake by saying that the TM mark on the conference website was for the full conference title, ‘The Web 2.0 Conference’.

But that phrase is not the phrase that has been claimed as a servicemark. So are you now trying to extend or add to CMP’s supposed but indefensible trademark claim by the backdoor?

I strongly object to this continuing misrepresentation: by you of the legal position; by CMP of their actual trademark claim; of your previous untrue assertions that the W3C had trademarked ‘HTML’, ‘CSS’ (they hadn’t); that you needn’t respond sensibly to me because I’d used inappropriate language (I hadn’t); and that you sent to me unsolicited confidential information.

I’ll continue to advise people they’re perfectly entitled to use the phrase ‘Web 2.0′ as they feel fit, without reference to you or CMP; and I’ll publicise the fact that CMP and you defend the initial unwarranted trademark claim and the subsequent bullying.

• disillusioned web developer

Why bother with Web 2.0, when we can’t get Web 1.0 right?

After all, I’m reading this blog on a widescreen monitor, running at 1680 x 1050, and all the text is in a narrow band down the middle of the screen.

Can’t people design their sites so that they get the content to scale correctly to fit the available space?

So let’s get 1.0 done properly, before worrying about how to do 2.0, trademarked or otherwise!

• http://www.cloudsoup.com david jones

Could you clarify what you and CMP think their servicemark is for? The phrase ‘Web 2.0‘ in the context of a conference (and other events), or the phrase ‘Web 2.0 Conference‘?

• http://Nuts kjpweb

It is astonishing how much energy and verbiage is wasted on an artificial term that has no practical meaning. And to go that far even thinking of trademarking it is … well nothing else but greed.

In that sense I truly hope that the term will go the way of all wordly things – in the dump.

Move something, do something, create something – but don’t fuss about something that’s not worth fussing about.

• http://www.lolife.com/ Michael

I think the truth is, as usual, in the middle. O’Reilly has, apparently, been trying to trademark some ridiculous terms, such as ‘website’ and ‘netizen’ which clearly casts them in a light of the big bad asswipes who want to own common terms. Thus, it may be understandable that peoples’ ire was raised by these reports.

I am pretty much anti-trademark and anti-patent. For example, I find it hard to believe I can’t publish a computer book with an animal on it or have a “1-click” shopping experience. I agree that companies should not be able to impersonate other companies’ work but the trademark and patent arms race that is going on sucks and it is not good for any of us.

But I take Tim at his word and don’t see any deeper than normal evil here. ;)

PS – I despise the phrase “Web 2.0″. I think it’s dumb. This is a continuum, folks.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Hey Michael –

Thanks for the measured response. However, even by your standards, we have never tried to own common words.

FWIW, the slashdot thread that just happened that brought up the old trademarks on Website and Netizens was typically uninformed. The trademark for Website — which was, incidentally, the first Windows-based web server, back in 1995 — was for a particular graphic mark — the name website in a kind of superman logo. It was not for generic use of the term.

I don’t remember the trademark application for netizens (it was back in 1994), but I believe it was a joint project with the folks who originated the term to create an online directory of net citizens — and was specific to that use.

Similarly, people on that thread brought up the O’Reilly trademarks on animal book covers. Once again, people don’t understand the concept of a trademark. It’s not for any animal on the cover of a book, it’s for a specific animal in a specific context — say, the camel for Perl.

And as to the people who say, “O’Reilly shouldn’t have exclusive rights to that association between perl and the camel, and the right to say who can use it”, I say, “why not?” Is there any conceivable reason for the camel to be associated with Perl besides the fact that it first appeared on our book cover.

The fact that the images are public domain is completely irrelevant. The words used in most trademarks are also in the public domain. It’s their particular context and field of use that gives them protection. Nike means victory in Greek. But in athletic shoes, it means one particular brand of shoes, because someone made that association, which didn’t exist before, through their commercial activity.

For what it’s worth, here are some common words that are in fact trademarked for a particular field of use:

Apple – for personal computers
Oracle – for databases
Windows – for operating systems
Red Hat – for versions of Linux
salesforce.com – for CRM systems
for Dummies – books for people who need to understand the basics of a new field (e.g. trademarks :-)

Tim O’Rielly,

I have read this entire string of comments and your initial response. What I see is double-speak coming from you. On one hand you say, I can see that Web 2.0, as a generic term by itself, is speaking to a group of technologies and is too widely applied to be a valid trademark, and in the next post apply your arguments defending your trademarking of the term Web 2.0 to names such as Apple who manufacture an actual, physical product.

I find such behavior to be pretty duplicitous as I have a hard time envisioning you as someone lacking the intelligence to keep these ideas differentiated in your mind. As a consumer I purchase those products I buy from brands (companies) I can trust. (Note to Tim, I long ago stopped purchasing MS products.) Since your name and your company’s name cannot be separated I will no longer be purchasing O’Rielly books. As I buy quite a few books a year(30+) this will result in a small reduction in sales of O’Rielly books as a large percentage of the books I have purchased have been O’Rielly books.

If I were the only doing so this would not hurt the profit margins of the O’Rielly corporation, but it seems quite clear from reading that I am not the only who will be doing this. So, do not be surprised at the drop in sales your company will experience.

Now, this drop in sales will be coming, not from the initial problem with IT@Cork, but from the deceptive way you have handled this situation. I would have thought that a man as smart as yourself would have long ago learned what politicians cannot seem to grasp: It’s not the original sin that causes all the damage, it’s the coverup. And that’s what you have been doing here, trying to cover up the actions of your company rather than just accepting responsibility and admitting to making a mistake. Speaking out of both sides of your mouth at the same time has not, does not, and never will, inspire confidence in the one doing the double-speak.

Your company would have lost far less money in the long run by just renouncing an unenforcable trademark when the firestorm broke–although a much better choice would have been to have given more thought to trademarking a generic term in the first place–than to have inflicted so much damage on your personal reputation and your company’s reputation in your own targeted customer base. I don’t know about you, Tim, but I find that very short-sighted. It seems to me that you have pretty much cut off your nose to spite your face.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

You seem to accept the idea of trademarks as OK for physical products. Why is something like a conference different? When we named the Web 2.0 Conference, NO ONE was using the term Web 2.0 to describe the phenomena that we named with that conference, just like no one was calling their computers “Apple” when Apple started using that name. (There are a couple of isolated mentions of Web 2.0 before we launched the conference, but with very different meanings. For example, the one earlier article that a lot of people pointed to defined Web 2.0 as the fragmentation of the web due to incompatible browsers!)

So we created a product (a conference) and gave it a name. Our partner trademarked that name. That name later came into wide use to describe the subject matter of the conference. Despite the many misinformed comments in this thread and on other sites like slashdot, CMP never made any claims to a trademark on the use of the term to describe the subject matter (the next generation of the web), just to using it for the name of a conference that might be confused with ours. There are lots of ways to do conferences on the subject of Web 2.0 without naming them as some variation of “The Web 2.0 Conference.” And that’s all that’s being protected.

Why is CMP’s attempt to protect the name of their product from competitors different from, say Google, trying to defend their name from genericization? Would it be a good thing if people could name alternate search engines Google because the name became generic? Are you boycotting Google? They’ve been sending out C&D letters too, to people who use google as a verb. Go do some reading on trademark law, and you’ll see that this is a basic requirement to maintain any trademark, not some exercise of evil.

I’m sorry that you think this is a coverup! I’m perplexed what you think I’m covering up.

If you feel you need to boycott O’Reilly, by all means do so. I applaud people of conscience. But I also believe that conscience needs to be informed by reason, and not inflamed by misinformation. Trademarks exist for a reason. Sometimes a trademark is overtaken by events and becomes generic (kleenex, xerox, and perhaps eventually google and Web 2.0) but until that happens, companies do their best to protect the brands that they created. This isn’t evil.

Think about it this way: Would you want to show up at a conference called LinuxWorld only to find out that it wasn’t really the original LinuxWorld put on by IDG but a knockoff that had no exhibitors and a poor conference program? Why is the Web 2.0 Conference any different?

• Anonymous

***cough*** Err, well, ummm… From your own post earlier in this thread, and the trademark itself on the USPTO site, you word marked “Web 2.0″, not “Web 2.0 Conference”. You may have described it as a conference but you most defintitely trademarked “Web 2.0″. This again is percieved by me, and quite a few other people, as duplicity. Why insist on saying you did something other than you really did?

Also, you knew you had trademarked just the phrase “Web 2.0″ but at the same time knew that the term had grown into a usage in the IT community that is very similar to your own example of kleenex while you waited for the trademark to come through. While you may well be within your legal rights because of how rapidly the IT industry as a whole moves, what is legal many times is just not perceived as right. Take a look at MS’s current anti-piracy campaign for an example. A lot of people are moving away from MS products even though MS may well be within their “legal” rights.

Legal is not necessarily perceived as right in many situations, because in many cases what is legal isn’t just, fair, or equitable. And, when “legal” isn’t seen as right in the eyes of the majority of your customer base just who do you think has the most to lose? Your customers or your company? All the arguing you do about your legal rights isn’t going to change how you’re being percieved, except for the possibility of being seen in an even more negative light.

If you think your “legal” rights are more important than your existing, hard-earned reputation, and the good will of your customer base, well, good luck with that choice. It’s not one I would make but you’re certainly free to make it. Take a good read around the internet and see just how popular the O’Rielly name has become. Even many who say they “understand” what you did say they will never forget it when buying books.

Oh, and as to your other arguments on trademarking have you seen me say you shouldn’t have trademarked O’Rielly? That represents your company, not a buzzword or meme. It is representative of a legal entity, just as the names Google and Apple are. Web 2.0 has nothing in common with O’Rielly, Google, and Apple in that respect. It most definitely is not a legal entity, or even an illegal entity. It’s a collection of technologies.

All of the above aside don’t you think that just identifying conferences on Web 2.0 issues that are sponsored by O’Rielly as “The O’Rielly Web 2.0 Conference” with the name recognition you have in the IT community would have been/would be just as effective as going through all the legal hassle of trademarking a common phrase and all this resulting very bad PR? I don’t know of anyone who could possibly have confused a conference by that name with anything but the publisher of what have been pretty universally considered as the best books around on open source subjects.

I just think you and your partners over-reached in a money grab, got caught with your fingers in the money jar, and now you have lost a lot of the good will that has been built up around your company’s name. You may not like or agree with how you are being perceived, but like it or not people are perceiving your actions that way.

There’s only one way to change that perception, and it isn’t by arguing for your legal rights.

The above post was written by me. It just didn’t get posted that was as previewing and editing it wiped out my identity but I didn’t realize it until after I saw the finished post.

• Yancey Landrum

Put me down for Web XP. Note the date.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

As to the broadness of the trademark application — you’re right that there’s a discontinuity between what O’Reilly thought was being trademarked (the name “Web 2.0 Conference” — as evidenced by the placement of the TM symbol we’ve always had on the conference web site) and what CMP actually applied for, which is much broader. That wasn’t actually a “power grab” — it was just that MediaLive (now CMP) filed before we’d nailed down the final name of the conference, and as lawyers do, put in as broad an application as possible. I’ve been working to persuade them to take our interpretation of what we ought to be protecting, and believe that’s what they’ll come to.

There’s no “duplicity” here — definitely some confusion between partners. But I believe that since this came out, I’ve been very clear about what we were trying to accomplish, and the contradictions between the way the term got uptake and the simple name of the conference.

Again, I fail to see duplicity in attempting to protect the name of the conference even if the term “web 2.0″ has since (because of the conference) come into common use. Was Xerox duplicitous in their (ultimately failed) efforts to protect xerox? Is Google duplicitous in their (likely to fail) effort to protect google? (Once something is in the OED, it’s not likely to survive as a trademark, but Google is still trying.) So why is CMP (and by extension O’Reilly, as I try to explain their thinking) duplicitous for trying to protect a product name we created, even as it is being overtaken by common usage?

I agree that it may not be the right decision, but as I’ve said many times before, it’s not solely mine to make. And I think it’s enough of a judgment call that I can see arguments on both sides. I have no problem with people telling me it’s a bad business decision. But I tend to discount people who tell me that it’s evil, when there is evidence of similar trademark issues all around us.

As to your argument that O’Reilly (not O’Rielly, btw), Apple, and Google are company names, and not the same as product names, I’m surprised that you think only companies are deserving of trademark protection. Should Wendy’s be able to offer a “Big Mac”? Should Microsoft be able to offer an operating system called “Mac OS”? Should Microsoft be able to rename IIS “Apache”?

As to product trademarks, are you aware, btw, that many of the terms that make up the web suite of technologies were originally trademarked? CERN applied for a trademark on HTML, for example. It was eventually abandoned, but was originally sought because it was important in the early days, before HTML was firmly established as a standard, to make sure that it wasn’t diluted. The W3C now admits them as “generic” but they were originally trademarked.

Clearly, when a product name becomes so closely associated with a big idea that it gets used as a general term (kleenex, xerox, and perhaps soon, google), it eventually loses its trademark protection. But in the interim, companies do make an effort to protect the value they’ve created.

I repeat: Web 2.0 started as a conference, and only later became the name for the cluster of technologies. We make no attempt to police its use to describe the technologies, and only lay claim to the use for conference names.

As I’ve noted many times, there are lots of ways to do conferences on Web 2.0 without calling them variations of “The Web 2.0 Conference.” I fail to see why that is so terrible.

And I also fail to see “the money grab.” A money grab would be trying to get licensing payments from people for using the term. All we tried to do was to get people from calling their conferences by names that were confusingly similar to ours.

It’s certainly true that calling it “The O’Reilly Web 2.0 Conference” might have been effective. But unfortunately, it wasn’t an option, since it isn’t in fact the O’Reilly Web 2.0 conference. It’s a partnership between O’Reilly, CMP, and John Battelle.

• Dean Hill

While I understand the need for Trademark protection, I don’t believe that trademarks should be allowed on generic terms. Even for specific portions of a market. Trademarking something like “The Software Development Conference” is ludicrous. Names like SoftDev or SoftDevMent could be created to make the name special.

I also believe that Tim is being very genuine in his attempt to resolve this issue. Threats and insults towards him serve no purpose. If people just calmed down, detailed some reasons for the disagreement and let Tim deal with the situation, they would probably find that shortly the trademark would have been dropped.

Cheers

Dean

• http://www.MarillaAnne.com MarillaAnne

Well, I just stopped by to see what the real geeks were doing with all this who-ha … I’d forgotten until Google reminded me that I’m eternally linked to this post … Unless I step out my front door into the real world, then the link breaks.

Psst … hey … as a near geek who stands between real geeks and real life computer users … i’ve got a news flash for all of you guys … even near-geeks are rolling in the floor in tears when hearing “Web 2.0″ … ok at least it garnishes a rolling of the eyes … too much expended energy to roll in the floor … and I’m pretty sure that’s the RL’s (Real Lifer’s) over there chuckling.

But here’s the real deal …

The Real Lifer’s in my world are having a blast creating things … real things … with their computers. The very short of it all is that Real World users are still much more interested in producing things for the REAL world. Things that can be handled and placed and viewed in the REAL world … in the physical company of other people.

Amazing amounts of these stuff’ns are actually derivatives of gathered information from the Internet … but they are not produced on the Web 2.0. I don’t think that Web 2.0 will ever produce a tatted collar. Someone may produce a better way for tatters to stay connected usuing some of the newer languages but that’s just an expansion of the original internet … nada new … What’s tatted? … oh go google it ;-D

I’m starting to think all that web 2.0 means is that we’ve moved from the agricultural age to the industrial age to the informational age which people are using to recreate the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Really. I mean it. Go Google and stop asking me what all these words mean.

This resistance and misuse of Web 2.O is a disappointment to a great many web 2.0 developers who can’t get people to stop using the old stuff that “works perfectly well and I don’t want to learn something new. The people who know me, know how to find me. If they don’t know me or someone I know … do I really want them to find me?”

There are a great many information collection sites that are bummed because hey … people are just not willing be manipulated into dumping info in just to be flamboyant … it ultimately gets boring … well unless one can gather an audience that claps … but most people don’t have the real life social skills that it takes to accomplish this on line.

I haven’t done the research but I suspect that Web 2.0 data-creation failure-exceptions are sites where one person encounters another person in need and feels a compelling reason to fill the information gap.

The other problem with these Real Lifer’s … in all their audacity, they still expect people to show up in the REAL world and interact. I mean why is it that the “best” Internet friendship / love / partnership stories always end with a face to face meeting?

All they care about is making the connection … to a person or info. If your Web 2.0 does that … they’ll listen … IF they’re currently without a supporting community … in real life … OR IF they can better support their Real Life commuinty.

Ok and Tim, you need to drop me a private note … because I’ve spotted something on here that I am just sure some teenager posted while using your ID … I am just sure of it!

You guys are doing a great job of being … something else … something else not good …

really … carry on … i was never here … well except Google will tell on me … then what?

pam

Tim,

I think there’s a disconnect between perception and whatever your motives were/are. You alone know them. I don’t and other’s don’t, but in today’s world of unethical businesses people, including myself, are very suspicious. We are hit almost daily with corporate scandals of one kind or another and sometimes the innocent will be judged guilty in the court of public opinion.

If you’re doing the best you can to rectify the situation, good for you. I have nothing personal against you. I have just been stating how I saw things, and I think how many others saw them too.

You have pretty much convinced me you’re being honest so the following isn’t really about this particular situation. It’s about trademarking as seen from a regular person’s perspective.

Is a Big Mac a specific product? Is Web 2.0 product? You can put your hands on a Big Mac. You can’t put your hands on a Web 2.0. Trademarking that is similar to trying to trademark “how” to make a hamburger. Every cook will use the same steps and the same technology although they each end up with hamburgers that taste and look different. The same with Web 2.0. All the developers pretty much have to use the same group of technologies and similar coding, but the developers all come up with distinctive products (web sites and pages) as the end result. I think that’s why, from so many people’s perspective you have been seen as doing something wrong. You’re seen as trying to take over for yourself the common process that everyone must use to reach different endpoints.

Remember, it’s not what you meant to do, it’s what you are perceived to have been doing that caused a huge reaction.

BTW, I have been enjoying this conversation with you. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

• http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

Question: do you think it’s right for Apache and Linux to be trademarked? They aren’t physical goods either. How about a fictional character like Harry Potter?

Remember also that trademarks are limited to a field of use. I can have a conference called Linux whatever, because Linux is a software product, not a conference, but I can’t name my operating system Linux unless it meets Linus Torvalds’ criteria, or call my web server Apache unless it’s the software from the ASF. You can have a Web 2.0 web site or software product or technology without infringing on CMP’s Web 2.0 trademark, because it’s only for conferences.

• http://www.cloudsoup.com David

Ignore what Tim says – too many Web 2.0 conferences are being ignored bt CMP/O’Reilly for this trademark to stand.

I am a big Web 2.0 fan… You were completely justified in what you did and it just got blown out of proportion. THANKS!

• Cheryl Bowen

Is there a Numeric entity that works in all browsers for a Service Mark?

• Laraine_Mae

Anyone looked at the US Patents website lately?

STAMPEDE WEB 2.0 PERFORMANCE SERIES

FILM PRODUCTION WEB2.0 VIDEO CONFERENCING