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WordPress is a Registered Trademark of Automattic, Inc.

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Automattic has made their strong suggestion known for some time now, don’t use WordPress in your domain name, as it is a registered trademark. Well, it seems Andy Wibbels has an interesting story and opinion on the whole thing, starting with an e-mail an anonymous reader received from Automattic.

I work for Automattic Inc. We run wordpress.com and we own the WordPress trademark. We have noticed that you are using the WordPress name in your [domainname.com] domain and product without our permission. We are asking you to stop using our trademark to market your [services]. Please let us know how long it will take you to change the name of your site and product.

Honestly, I don’t see the major problem here. You have to defend your trademark or you can lose it. But Andy goes a whole different direction, saying that WordPress should allow use of the name as long as it is done with respect to the original trademark, and I see that as a great compromise.

They could offer a request to put “WordPress is a registered trademark of Automattic, Inc.” or some other notice so that consumers will realize that the domain owner are not representatives of Automattic, Inc. Sort of like what is on WordPressPodcast.org:

WordPress is a trademark of Automattic, Inc., used with permission. The WordPress Community is an informal user’s group dedicated to WordPress evangelism and is not officially affiliated with Automattic, Inc. or the WordPress Open Source project.

If you work for Automattic and know more about what is going on with this whole trademark deal, leave a comment with your e-mail address, and we can talk. I think people would love to know the full scoop and have a better understanding on what we can and can’t do with the WordPress name.

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Comments

  1. Andy says: 10/24/2006

    Can you point me to where they say they’ve made it known for some time now? I Googled a lot and didn’t find anything definitive or any ‘big official annoucement’… maybe I missed a memo. :)

    Reply

  2. David ) says: 10/24/2006

    I don’t remember where exactly I saw it, but for a while there was something somewhere on the WordPress.org page that said basically “please don’t use WordPress in your domain name…” I will look for it more but it was there.

    Reply

  3. monkeypup says: 10/24/2006

    So much for my planned website: WordPressAutomattic.com

    :)

    Reply

  4. Joshua says: 10/24/2006

    Reply

  5. Matt says: 10/24/2006

    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.

    Reply

  6. Matthew says: 10/25/2006

    What about blogging companies that use WordPress as its core and don’t say it outright (and who even sell their blogging services), such as http://www.i.ph? Is Automattic going to go after them for violation of GPL?

    Reply

  7. David ) says: 10/25/2006

    Thanks Joshua, and thanks Matt.

    Still sounds like the company word on this is: Don’t use WordPress in your domain name.

    Reply

  8. J. Angelo Racoma says: 10/25/2006

    Now imagine the trouble if Apple decides to go after all sites named AppleXXXXX or Google with sites named GoogleXXXXXX.

    Reply

  9. Eric Giguere says: 10/25/2006

    Google actually goes after such sites, either by sending letters or else suspending them from participating in programs like AdSense. I’ve been there already :-)

    Reply

  10. Andy Wibbels says: 10/26/2006

    Thanks David, I found that page – I was just hoping there’d been some announcement on the company blogs or developer blogs to say ‘We registered it, here’s the suggest usage.’ Everything else they do is always so clearly communicated.

    Reply

  11. Andy Beard says: 10/28/2006

    I believe your post is factually incorrect

    The Automattic representitive of WordPress worded things correctly, trademark and not registered trademark.

    WordPress have applied for the Registered Trademark, but they haven’t been granted it yet.

    This is copied from the trademark application

    “Published for Opposition November 7, 2006″

    I recently after consultation with Matt switched my WordPressplugins.info site to wpplugins.info.

    Full details of why are at

    http://wpplugins.info/10/wordpress-trademark-and-domain-change/

    I have been told by Matt it is ok to have WP in a domain name, and WordPress in a subdomain.

    I would point out that I approached Matt on this issue when I first discovered their views on this, and discovered the pending tradmark registration. I agree it is good for them to defend the trademark, and that it is actually good for my business that they do.

    @ Andy – I too agree that the information wasn’t too easy to find. My domain was 1 year old, and PR5 so not as easy to just drop and restart.

    Reply

  12. Dave Zan says: 11/3/2006

    Honestly I hope you and whoever you go after (like Sherman Hu) find a win-win situation, especially since both of you stand to benefit one another. But…I respect your position and understand, even if I don’t completely agree with it.

    Reply

  13. Jimmy Smurf says: 1/8/2007

    As someone above observed, there are trademarks, and there are registered trademarks. Furthermore, fr there to be a violation of a (registered) mark its necessary for there to be confusion within the class where the mark is being used. Yes, the CLASS. There are many classes which are used to describe the area of commerce where the mark is being used. 38 and 42 are often associated with the internet. If the mark is not registered in one of those classes, then there is NO legal confusion between the registered mark and someone elses use of a similar mark in class 38 or 42 activities.

    Something of an example: GM is the mark of General Motors. They probably have it registered in all classes, but imagine it was registered only in the class associated with “automotive industry”. That would mean someone using “GM Foods” (as in genetically modified foods) would be pefectly free to do so because the class associated with food industry would be completely different.

    The prose above is a very brief and incomplete introduction to the complexity of trademarks and registered trademarks. WordPress is apparently NOT a registered trademark. How long have they been using WordPress, and how long have YOU being using WordPress? They just might be violating YOUR trademark. You may not realize it, but simply using a word/phrase for a long time gives you certain rights, including the “trademark” right. Even if the other folks have registered their mark – if you’ve been using it in the same class of activities for eons, then you’re probably able to continue to do so.

    All of this to say that legally these issues are complicated and whats been written above shows almost utter ignorance of these issues.

    Reply

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  32. Sara says: 2/28/2009

    It’s interesting how Automattic / WordPress has a problem with other people using their trademark, yet they have absolutely no problem using other people’s trademarks to promote their Website. They’re currently using the trademark that belongs to our company (we’ve been using it for over 5 years now) to promote their Website. The page goes to a page on wordpress that promotes other things and their company. They have placed our trademark not only inside the link on wordpress, but also on the page itself. When we sent them a letter, they refused to remove it so now we have to file a trademark infringement lawsuit against them. It looks like they’re hypocrites. They don’t want others using their trademark, yet they have no problem using other people’s popular trademarks just to increase traffic to their Website. They are doing this with other popular words and phrases too just to increase traffic to their site. This is as dishonest and dirty as it gets, not to mention unethical. They seem to think because they’re a bigger company, they can get away with it, but they’re wrong. The law is the law.

    Reply

  33. anonymous says: 7/16/2010

    Is using WordPress within our own corporate logo legitimate if we are like a WordPress focused theme developer? http://www.ginga.com.au/

    Reply

  34. anonymous says: 7/16/2010

    For example… note the name is “Ginga WordPress Web Design”

    Reply

  35. WpHey ) says: 9/19/2010

    It’s good for both WordPress community and Automattic, I think.

    Reply

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