WordPress is the best blogging software out there. Ever!
Now that we’ve cleared that, let me tell you about a controversy that my favorite blogging software has been involved in lately. WordPress is going the way of DIGG. Remember our JOAB post before about DIGG founders not wanting you to use “digg” on your site without permission? Well, Matt Mullenweg, one of the founders of WordPress, seems to dislike the idea of people using the WordPress term on their domains.
The WordPress Trademark domain name usage policy was added not long ago to the official WordPress site. The policy basically says you can’t use the name in your domain name without permission.
What isn’t clear is how you can use “WordPress” in your blog title, ads, or other usages while your domain name is something different like “word-press.net” or “wor-dpress.com”. There is a www.word-press.net that makes phpWordPress, whatever that is. The site is really vague about what it does last time I checked. Does that count?
There are also many other sites calling themselves things like make-money-with-wordpress.com and easy-wordpress-blogging.com, or variations thereof, so is WordPress sending these folks cease and desist orders?
If you are using WordPress in your domain name, stop. If you are using WordPress as the official “name” of your company, blog title, or otherwise, but not in the domain name, stay tuned for the official response on that one.
If you are using “WordPress” to name and promote your Plugin or Theme, such as XYZ WordPress Theme or ABC WordPress Plugin, that comes under “adjective” and not a trademark violation as I understand it. It’s using the trademark name as a description. Just don’t name your site “WordPress Plugins” or “WordPress Themes” as that turns the description into a business name, a violation of the trademark.
So there is clearly an issue of fair use and trademarks here, where on one end, people are supposedly free to use a term or a name assuming it’s in good faith, and on the other, people are restricted because someone else owns that name.
What does this mean, then? WordPress is getting even bigger than it is. It’s like Google, which has also recently been having issues with people using the term “google” as a generic verb to denote “searching on the Internet.” Yes, it’s flattering that your name has been incorporated into daily language as a verb. But if people are using that to identify something generic (and yes, even your competition), then that can be bad. Imagine saying “I’m going to google for some information on Yahoo!” That can be bad.
Will this get messy? Probably not. There’s community value in WordPress. Even my first statement cleared it all up. Don’t we all love WordPress? Well, probably the guys from SixApart or Blogger don’t, but still, WP is the blogging software of choice for a lot of people today.
[tags]wordpress, blogs, blogging, trademark, fair use[/tags]