Between a meme and a hard place…

El Matador flags up an interesting story on how Tim O’Reilly has served a cease and desist order (details here) on an IT group in Cork for using a conference brand name already coined and claimed by him. The whole stink raised by the controversary has brought a conciliatory post from Tim (via Bohanna) at his own blog laying out what he sees as some of the paradoxical issues around his own service marked brand, Web 2.0:O’Reilly:

…neither CMP or O’Reilly is claiming the right to all use of the term Web 2.0, as some of the posters assert. We just want to keep other conference companies from putting on events that trade on the name and concept that we created. And don’t tell me it’s not possible to have a Web 2.0-related conference without using Web 2.0 in the name!


…there’s a real tension between the desire to protect the trademark on the conference and the desire for people to talk about, meet about, and otherwise engage with what has turned out to be the name for the next big thing in the computer industry. This is clearly a problem that we’ll need to figure out.

I’m really mindful of the fact that Web 2.0 has become so successful as a meme that we’re not looking at a traditional brand name situation. This controversy is also bad for my most important brand, my own name, especially since O’Reilly and not CMP is taking all the heat! So I’m going to be talking with CMP about this situation over the next couple of days, and will see if we can come up with a solution that will satisfy our reasonable desire to protect the name of the conference while taking into account the dual role of �Web2.0� — as a brand for our conferences and as a handy meme for discussions of this phenomenal technology.

  • Harry

    They know they’re in the shit, that they pissed off the worldwide tach-savvy community and they’re trying to back off delicately, while either trying to keep the name for use in ‘web conferences’ (i.e., still try to get keep the marque for themselves over the long term) or use this web conference baloney as a way of backing-off fully without losing too much face.
    If they try to ride this out and still keep the marque they will not be forgiven and O’Reilly will suffer considerable boycotts I’d say.

  • Aidan

    Tim O’Reilly did not serve the cease and desist. This is ironic considering how much emphasis he placed in his post on people actually reading through the whole thing rather than posting up ill-informed kneejerk reaction comments.

  • snakebrain


    It looks as though you’re absolutely right. Not being up on these things I wonder if you or anyone could clarify the relationship between O’Reilly and CMP.

    O’Reilly’s response was very good. Interesting to know that the term originated there too.