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May 26, 2006


Thanks for the shout-out, Rick. I went out of my way to try to help the bums before the truth came out. I just could not believe O'Reilly could have this big a brain tumor. Surely the lynch mob was jumping the gun. Surely they would back down quickly. Surely... I was a fool.

Now I want to run a "Web 2.X Conference" across the street from their next blab-fest. Anyone wanna help?

An Open Letter to Tim O'Reilly

May 26, 2006

Borrowing the words you once wrote to Jeff Bezos, we now write to you in strikingly similar fashion to request that O'Reilly Media, Inc. cease all attempts to prevent others from using the term "Web 2.0" for any purpose including "arranging and conducting live events, namely, trade shows, expositions and business conferences in various fields, namely, computers, communications, and information technology" and "organizing and conducting educational conferences, tutorials and workshops in the fields of computers, communication and information technology." It is our belief that this trademark application should and will not be accepted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and further, that even were it ultimately found valid, such trademarks serve only to hold back further innovation in this industry.

Web 2.0 is a clever marketing slogan. However, the trademark application fails to meet even the most rudimentary tests of genericity. Web 2.0 has clearly become generic, as evidenced by the more than 79 million search results found via Google for the term in question. It is clear that in the minds of a substantial majority of the public, the term �Web 2.0� denotes a broad genus or type of product and not a specific source or manufacturer as was claimed in the cease-and-desist letter sent to IT@Cork.

We believe that the rapid innovation on the World Wide Web and Internet platform that has created so much new value for the public (as well as for O'Reilly Media, Inc and its shareholders) will be choked off if companies that the short-sighted rout of claiming trademarks on terms that have become commonly accepted as generic in nature in an attempt to keep competitors from using them. Ill-advised trademarks and other attempts to limit the use of generic web terms for private advantage have put the whole software development and standards process into a precarious state.

We urgently request that you clarify your intentions with regard to trademarks, and avoid any attempts to limit the further development of what has become known as Web 2.0 applications or any part of the industries surrounding them.

Hans Omli

Note: While I don't intend to ask others to sign a petition at this point, I expect you will agree that 10,000 would be an easy milestone given the tremendous outcry across the blogsphere. Suffice it to say, I would expect much less than five days. We look forward to your open conversation with the community.

Here is a tip for Tim O'Reilly:
*Pull back the covers, get out of the bed, put the money on the dresser, and get the hell out of the motel room.*

It is pretty clear that CMP Media and O'Reilly came up with "Web 2.0" as a name for their conference back in 2003 and filed an application to trademark it then. Only problem was, that "Web 2.0" became a generic term in the subsequent years. Interestingly, the USPTO has already allowed the trademark to be registered. CMP Media is probably just waiting to receive it's shiny new trademark certificate and registration number.

The blurb they have posted on O'Reilly Radar isn't really an apology. Their 'cease and desist' is meaningless without an actual trademark registration, and they know that. They are allowing IT@Cork to use the term "Web 2.0" this year not because of any remorse, but because they can't stop them from using it until they have received their registration number.

I believe that CMP Media and O'Reilly will become much more aggressive on defending the term "Web 2.0" for conferences/events. Even using "Web 2.X" or "web 2.5" etc in the name of any conference would be a violation of their trademark as it would be 'deceptively similar'.

Get your own "Tim O'Reilly, Original Web 2.0 Asshole" graphic here:

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

maybe a quasi-good business move to protect the franchise but a bad strategic move from a goodwill, we-the-people-of-the-people point of view. it strikes me that o'reilly already has the "value" of web 2.0 because it is a term widely associated with him - something that gives him cache and a wide following as a web 2.0 thought leader. why he needs to own "web 2.0" is puzzling because, among other things, it seems to anti-web 2.0 given o'reilly contends web 2.0 is about collaboration and sharing.

I read an excerpt of your article here:

I didn't read the rest, but I feel obliged to tell you that your use of "whomever" in the following sentence is incorrect:

"Whomever is in charge of O’Reilly Conferences owns this problem and owns the responsibility for this issue."

That should be "Whoever."

Ouch. Please don't tell my Mom, she is a law prof and used to be an english teacher. I'm gonna hear about this one.

Thank yous for stoppin around. :-)

Ugo Cei (who is speaking at OSCON) has already stepped up and posted something defending O'Reilly:

As you say,

"makes O’Reilly look like just another big company with all the same tired nonsense"

What happened to the cluetrain ? Funky Business ? Marketing is a conversation ?

Just another day in the corporate process. For a company which is such a standard bearer. You would have thought they would tie in their communications a bit more centrally, so the message is better crafted.

Sara needs to do a bit a saber rattling and get a grip on communications. Maybe O'Reilly is growing too quickly ?

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