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.