Web 2.0 Trademarks

Most of you remember the havoc in the blogosphere when CMP sent a legal letter to a non-profit organization to protect the joint CMP / O’Reilly trademark for the term “web 2.0” as used in conference titles. Tim was on vacation, the blogosphere went nuts, and the whole controversy spiraled out of control, and when Tim returned from vacation, he was able to calm the situation, but it was never permanently resolved.

Today Tim announced a narrowing of the scope of the web 2.0 trademark as part of an announcement about the Web 2.0 Expo and technical conference:

In conjunction with the announcement of the new Web 2.0 Expo and technical conference, I’m also pleased to report that CMP has agreed to narrow the scope of enforcement of the Web 2.0 trademark registration. It will only seek to protect the Web 2.0 trademark if another other Web 2.0-related event has a name that is confusingly similar to the names of the actual events co-produced by CMP and O’Reilly, such as our events “The Web 2.0 Conference” and “The Web 2.0 Expo.”

This is consistent with my original understanding about why the trademark filing was made. I must confess that I’ve always thought that the point was simply to protect the event names, as evidenced by the fact that we have always put the trademark notice at the end of the conference names on the website that O’Reilly produces, “The Web 2.0 Conference.” (Quote from the O’Reilly Radar)

This is a pragmatic approach to protecting a trademark without causing undue difficulty for the rest of the industry, especially when a term is becoming as common as “web 2.0”. One of Tim O’Reilly’s greatest strengths is seeing the big picture and doing the right thing for the industry as a whole.

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