WordPress Trademark Update: 10th September 2010
Ownership of the WordPress Trademark has been transferred to the WordPress foundation , and there is evidence that this also will increase the scope of what is covered.
It is not just domains but also products.
Update: 15th November 2006
WordPress Tutorials I believe have come to a level of understanding with the guys at Automattic. For full details please read about it @ WordPress Tutorials (business as usual)
I have also changed the tagging of this post such that it doesn’t appear as a related post to other WordPress posts on this blog
First of all a general overview of the current WordPress Trademark discussion, and then my own theory as to why Automattic have selectively approached 2 legitimate services to stop using the WordPress Trademark.
Current Discussion on WordPress Trademark
A month ago I voluntarily changed the domain name due to the WordPress Trademark for my WordPress Plugins site, so that the domain being used did not include the word “WordPress”.
I believe they have a right to defend their trademark, and that it was good for the longterm nature of my business to support their wishes.
Over the last few days there have been many reports about Toni, a representitive of WordPress / Automattic writing an email to website owners using WordPress in their domain name.
Here are a whole list of sites discussing this problem:-
Andy Wibbels first posted about the trademark emails.
Blogging Pro made some mistakes assuming WordPress was a registered trademark, a mistake not made by Toni the Automattic representitive.
Kenneth Stein goes into some of the issues and questions Lorelle on WordPress involvement (Matt quickly cleared up any misconception in the Automattic relationship with Lorelle)
Matt has been portraying a “squeeky clean” image of WordPress and Automattic since the small incident last year.
Denis has a post on this subject at Semiologic
The biggest problem is that WordPress for at least the last year have been very slow in providing official information and “terms of service” for their products.
When WordPress.com was in beta, and even after launch, there were no terms of service available.
I had a WordPress.com blog I was testing with BlogAutoPublisher, especially some errors in xml-rpc (not the fault of BlogAutoPublisher). I had made 4 original posts, and had grabbed 4 WordPress related articles from one of my niche sites that happened to also have some text link advertising inserted in the middle of the articles.
My blog was shut down with no notice, reason, or notification
Now there is the domain name issue. I think Andy Wibbels summed up my thoughts on this extremely well.
“Spammy Sites” using the WordPress Trademark?
Here is one quote from Matt (from the Blogging Pro post)
The only folks we’ve sent any notes to is products I consider spammy that we don’t want associated or using the name, whether we had a trademark or not. If someone asks me before starting something, I point them to the page on WP.org, and I’ve even offered to pay for a new domain if they’ve already registered one.
This isn’t a new problem, as this long thread on the issue back in March proves
But here is a quote from Toni (from Andi Wibbels’ post)
And then there are few out there that are making money from reselling WordPress or selling SEO packages. We’ve contacted those to stop using WordPress as part of their domain because they are commercial ventures that are in no way connected to WordPress or Automattic.
And following on
BTW, here’s an example of the type of site that I’ve contacted: wordpressvideos.com
There we get another great quote from Matt in the comments
There is no campaign, and only TWO sites have been sent notes like the above since this entire policy started months ago – wordpresstutorials.com and wordpressvideos.com.
So the current targets are Brandon Hongs WordPressVideos.com which has been online for well over one year. Brandon provides over 100 training Videos for WordPress.
Sherman Hu’s WordPresstutorials.com is a similar site, but in this case is a subscription service constantly adding new content, with what I have heard is a vibrant members community.
Sure these sites are making a living from providing a service to WordPress users, but they are not “spammy sites” – they are commercial sites providing a service that Automattic don’t offer… yet
The WordPress support forums are actually quite an intimidating place for a newbie, as are many online forums. The Wiki is very imformative, but still quite disconcerting for a newbie.
Thus there is a need for sites such as these that provide a relatively cheap service, often to people running online businesses.
I am sure the cost is far cheaper than purchasing corporate consulting services from companies that specialise in providing such services for WordPress.
That is actually the way many Open Source projets such as WordPress are funded. Provide the free software, and monetise it with corporate services. That is how the core development of WordPress is funded, both by Automattic and some of the other core developers.
A Question of Competition
Note these are my personal views, not based on any fact, but this is what I would do personally if it (“WordPress”) was my business. This will probably be looked on by many as some kind of WordPress conspiracy theory heavily denied, but it makes in my opinion serious business sense, and the founders of Automattic are highly intelligent, and have commercial and legal advisors.
There are over 100 domain names registered with the word “WordPress”. Many of those domains might be for more “spammy” services or tools. (though note a tool is a tool, and can be used in many cases in a none spammy way, just like WordPress)
Thus why these 2 sites?
I think it might be, at least partially because they offer a service that competes with services that WordPress or Automattic might want to offer in the future. It would be very easy to add a paid support area to one of the WordPress sites, that included video versions of lots of tutorial information.
Obviously it also reduces the market for higher end professional services.
These two sites have proven that there is a viable market for such a service, and obviously a service like this officially endorsed by WordPress would generate significantly more income than the very good 3rd party efforts.
The information provided would most likely be different, unless WordPress hired an affiliate marketing expert, and a few SEO experts to go along with the WordPress core training and support.
Conservatively there is a significant 6 or possibly 7 figure (projecting growth) monthly income possible from such a service on the official site.
It should be noted that Matt specifically stated “spammy products” and not “spammy use of domain name”. Those 2 sites are not “spammy products”. I don’t want to get into the legalities of this, but Matt might have just created a loophole.
I am not affiliated with either of the sites so far approached to change their domain name, but I do respect their services and believe them to be legitimate.
It is also important to note that I will soon be launching my own WordPress based membership service. There might be some cross-over in content, but my own service is primarily based on Custom WordPress plugins , possibly some unique themes, etc.
Update 1st November 2006
(for my fellow Internet/Niche Marketers/Bloggers)
I don’t normally return to posts and add content a few days after the original post, especially a post that has received so many comments. Obviously I make factual corrections when pointed out.As of now, this post has 29 comments, many of them from respected experts within the internet marketing community.
Not only have members of the internet marketing community (rather than blogging community) been singled out, but the whole ethics of internet marketing has been called into question.
Do you believe you are a “snake oil salesman” simply by trying to improve your sales of a product?
You could just read this post, read all the comments from people you respect, and decide you have nothing else to add, so you won’t comment, and noone will know you cared.
If you do care there is however something you can do.
- Write about this situation and link to this page. You won’t be alone in writing about this. As an example Michael Campbell wrote about it on his Internet Marketing Secrets Blog just yesterday. I am actually in shock – Michael even used a link without “no follow” 🙂
- Mention in your emails – many marketers mention their blog posts in their email letters. Michael Campbell has just mentioned this at the bottom of his weekly mailing.
- Social Networking, Bookmarking, Forums (I think you all know the drill)
Last time I looked John Reese had about 300 comments on his secret blog with a green blob on it. I believe that was mainly from his own list.
I am sure we can do much better than that here
So make your voice heard!
- if you post on your blog, and use trackback, it will give you a real backlink
- if you don’t have access to trackback, make sure you leave a comment with a link to your blog, or the post you made
- if you use a bookmarking service, leave a comment on the service as well. A site that gets 500 Diggs and no comments doesn’t show how much you really care about this
Whatever you do, do not use any form of spam
But only if you care… ?