O'Reilly's mean-spirited response

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for all the supportive comments and posts on the whole IT@Cork Web 2.0 conference vs. CMP/O’Reilly’s legal dogs. I’d love to respond to everyone but as my son Enrique was born on Tuesday morning, I don’t have as much time to devote to this as I should.

CMP/O’Reilly’s have responded on the O’Reilly website and they have faxed us through a document to sign (below).

Is it just me or are they still not getting it? They are asking us to sign a document saying we won’t hold any future events with the term Web 2.0 in the title. If we run an event on Microsoft Windows, would Microsoft would send us a cease and desist letter for using their trademark in the title? Of course not, how is this any different?

And why should we sign a document tying ourselves to that?

O'Reilly's response

UPDATE: – via Gavin I see that Twenty Major has posted an alternative response to O’Reilly’s C&D – Warning – NOT WORK SAFE.

49 thoughts on “O'Reilly's mean-spirited response”

  1. I admire your dedication to the cause Tom 🙂

    I would be inclined not to sign, but I’m no lawyer and not fit to give legal advice.

    There is a lot of support out there…. You could make a stand and have an entire global community behind you. Not that I’m asking IT@Cork to be martyrs or anything….

  2. Well done Tom… It is obvious that they never considered your determination and the huge impact that the blogosphere could generate. Good to see they’re backing off…

  3. The position they have taken may be a little fragile, considering that the application for ‘Web 2.0’ as a trademark in the EU was not filed until the 23rd March this year (see http://oami.europa.eu). Note that the mark has yet to “acquire distinctiveness” and I’d be intrigued to see how CMP can argue it has distinctive meaning in Europe, even for conferences.

  4. I don’t understand! This issue has certainly raised a storm of comments, but I call your bluff: Why would you choose an event name that was identical to an established, well-known conference if you didn’t mean to cause confusion? And if you truly do not mean to cause confusion between that established conference and your own fledgling event, why wouldn’t you gladly agree to distance your future events from theirs? Would you still call next year’s event “Web 2.0” if the intervening O’Reilly event of that name was a total disaster and a laughingstock in the industry?

    Let’s call it straight here. “Web 2.0” can be generic when discussing an web era but non-generic when describing an event. “Computer Dealer’s Exposition” also sounds blandly generic, but you’d never have gotten away with using that name when Comdex was in its heyday.

    (Full disclosure: I’m writing two books for O’Reilly, but my post would be identical if I were not).

  5. It gets better.

    It seems the organisers were a little unsure as to what they planned to protect and for what they would apply. The USPTO database clearly shows an application for Web 2.0 being made in late November 2003 as a trademark for events. Yet, the following year, MediaLive was claiming that the longer, and arguably fairer version was the claimed trade or service mark:

    MediaLive International, Web 2.0 Conference, … and associated design marks and logos are trademarks or service marks owned or used under license by MediaLive International, Inc., and may or may not be registered in the United States and other countries.

    Even today, the service mark noted on the conference’s website is for Web 2.0 Conference (not just on the phrase ‘Web 2.0’). I cannot find references to service or trade marks other than for O’Reilly in the press releases. If they don’t know what they’re trying to protect, they’re going to have trouble protecting it.

    I guess they planned to have Web 2.0 Seminar, Web 2.0 Workshop, Web 2.0 Love-In as follow-ons. But MedaLive (and CMP) then went the wrong way about doing it. This may be an attempt to shut the stable door…

  6. Tom

    Tell them politely to shove it. Until their trademark application is accepted at EU level they have zero rights or jurisdiction here. It’s typical of the legal departments of US companies that forget that Europe and Ireland are NOT part of the US and that US law has no jurisdiction here.

    Michele

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  8. Hi tom

    Chris Tyler – you are correct, You don’t understand.

    Cork IT has a board I assume Tom. Refer this to them – that is what they are there for. Now get back to your family in the real world 🙂

    keith

  9. As more comes to light it seems that they really planned this memegrab from the outset.
    Its a kinda clever hack exploiting goodwill and trust and all – very black hat.

  10. Yeah, it looks like to me that the trademark isn’t on “Web 2.0” but, rather, “Web 2.0 Conference.”

    So, change your name to “Web 2.0 Symposium” or “Web 2.0 Workshop” and then you’ll stop getting emails.

    Or, make it “IT@Cork’s Web 2.0 Workshop.” That definitely removes all confusion (part of trademark fights is whether or not it could potentially confuse anyone).

  11. Get your own “Tim O’Reilly, Original Web 2.0 Asshole” graphic here:

    Tim O'Reilly

    It’s Creative Commons licensed and all, feel free to use it all you like!

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  13. Guys,

    In their original cease and desist notification they said

    CMP has a pending application for registration of Web 2.0 as a service mark…

    So it is Web 2.0 which is service/trade marked. They went on to say

    … and from making any further use of our mark, or any mark that is confusingly similar to it

    That rules out Web2, Web 2.1, and probably rules out Web 2.0 Symposium as well.

  14. It’s pretty generic isn’t it? I’m not an expert in law but it seems too generic to me for a word that is so loosely used. It was all over the place in JavaOne last week. I don’t think that they sent a letter to Sun…

  15. Tom, sounds like your stuck on Web 2.0 because you garnered a bit of popularity from your problem. O’Reilly is letting you use it this year. It’s time to move on. Pick Web 3.0 next year. It’d be a hit, if not at least a laugh. You can even play on the “we’re not Web 2.0 theme.”

  16. I agree with Keith – change the name as Scoble suggests and get on back to enjoying life with your new baby. There are more important things here than getting swept up in this maelstorm.

    I have a feeling the event will be well attended now though – wish I could make it over myself but we have prior commitments here in the valley.

  17. Tom, sounds like your stuck on Web 2.0 because you garnered a bit of popularity from your problem

    On the contrary Randy – right about now with the new baby, I could do without all this hassle. I am stuck on this because I think it is wrong that any company try to trademark a term as generic as Web 2.0 (and anything that sounds like it according to their C&D).

    I agree with Keith – change the name as Scoble suggests and get on back to enjoying life with your new baby.

    Chris, as I pointed out already – the names Robert suggested are contain the phrase Web 2.0 and therefore cannot be used (except now by IT@Cork).

    Darren – thanks

  18. I think your best action with American legal posturing is inaction. CMP is entitled to attempt a global reach on the conference trade but that effort is toothless inside the EU.

    Effort might be better spent in focusing some of the noise generated around an alleged trademark infraction to ensuring Irish tech developers actually attend the event.

  19. Not entirely toothless. Both Ireland and the US are signatories of the Madrid Protocol.

    That said Robert’s right: just use ‘Symposium’ or something instead of ‘Conference’. Here’s something I posted up on Damien’s blog to explain why I don’t think they’d try and push this to court:

    However, I very much doubt that if this went to court that CMP would have a leg to stand on seeing as (a) they’re using the mark so that their conference won’t get mixed up with others (which is what trade and service marks are for), but the conference names are different enough (sharing only the ‘Web 2.0′ element) that they couldn’t be confused; (b) the O’Reilly /CMP conference is primarily targeted at North America, whereas the IT@Cork conference is targeted at Ireland: there’s no overlap of market; (c) O’Reilly have, through their promotion of the phrase ‘Web 2.0′ as a general concept, inadvertently managed to water down the brand.

    My gut feeling is that Tom and the rest of the IT@Cork crowd will be vindicated and that O’Reilly will come out with their credibility somewhat bruised. CMP: nobody really likes them much anyway.

    Give ’em hell, and don’t sign!

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  22. Put up a Legal Campaign defense fund page with a Paypal account on it and ask every blogger to spread the word. You would have a $200,000 legal defense fund in about 48 hours.

    AND file the trademark in Ireland as was suggested above.

    And change it to “workshop” from “conference”

    This is hilarious. Sorry to hear that it hit at the same time as the new baby. Make your new son proud!

    Good luck!

  23. I think that that what happens when you let lawyers deal with the event.

    I wonder if Tim O’Reilly asked to register “Web 2.0” as a trademark.

    If he did, then I’ll do my best to buy books from other publishers, because he is definitely not what he makes of himself.

    But I am not sure he was even aware to the whole thing. After all, layers writes it. Some of them are both idiots and devilish.

  24. To hell with O’Reily! By all means, just call it Web 2.0.1 or something stupid like that in order to get around their BS games!

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