back into the shade

Somebody help me out here. Why exactly are we meant to be jumping for joy at the ‘news’ that the wordpress trademark has been taken out of the hands of Automattic and back into the hands of… um, Matt? I mean, yeah, obviously we didn’t want Google or whoever to get their mitts on it if Automattic gets acquired, but it’s not like it’s been gifted to the community or anything. If there is any evidence that anyone is involved in this mysterious Foundation thing other than Matt and whatever lawyer or accountant helped him fill in the forms, then Google isn’t giving it up without a fight. Jane wrote a couple of blog posts for it so maybe she’s involved in some capacity, but, really, everything is so hopelessly vague that there’s no telling, and when there’s no telling it’s generally because Matt has sole control and doesn’t think it’s worth his time to explain.

Where’s the accountability? How do we know that the ‘foundation’ isn’t going to use trademark violation as a weapon in the GPL jihad, using it as an excuse to shut down anyone promoting non-GPL code or documentation? We had a reasonable expectation that Automattic wouldn’t do that because they’re an actual legitimate business, with a board of directors and all that jazz, and the money men might have a shot at keeping Matt’s weirder impulses in check, but now nobody else gets a say in how the trademark’s used or how abuses (real or imagined) are handled. And somehow this gets spun as a great day for open source. Awesome.

22 Comments »

  1. Andy Beard said

    Toni mentioned the trademark covers products not just domains in my comments section 4 years ago.
    Good to see that finally in an official (proviional) policy on a new domain.

    Give it another 4 years we might see the ® mentioned on various related sites, WordPress.com and othr Automattic properties complying with other trademark users in exactly the same manner (footer of every page to avoid confusion) and in the WordPress logo.

    • I expect 3.1 will amend the notorious capital P filter to convert all mentions of wordpress in posts to WordPress® ;)

    • drmike said

      Um, Andy, why are you linking to a blog that’s been ToS’ed?

      • Andy Beard said

        Technically that blog wasn’t ToS’ed because it happened a number of months before there were any terms of service in place.
        For quite a few years that also prevented logging in as that account.

        If you go to the my profile page it has my external blog listed there from Gravatar.com so you would assume that is what is going to be used in some way when commenting.

        Nope…

        You have to also go to personal settings.

        That I did yesterday – I went to change it from the blog that I was using for beta testing to one that still exists, hit save, and it reverted to the dead blog.
        It “took” only on the second attempt to change it.

        I must admit I am tempted to continue using a link to that dead blog everywhere I leave a comment on WordPress.com

  2. I don’t think you’re being wary enough about how easily a company can go wrong. Remember when people didn’t snicker at Google’s motto?

    Automattic could sell to a company that doesn’t give a darn about WordPress as standalone software or as a community. I’d rather be in the positioning of arguing with Matt than with Faceless Web Behemoth Inc. Sure, it would be better if the foundation were more broadly based, but I still think Matt is less of a wild card than Automattic is. Matt doesn’t have investors who could sell off control of him.

    Getting the trademark out of the hands of a for-profit company was a good step. Maybe not the last step in ensuring that WordPress has a bright future, but a good one, nonetheless.

    • I was on livejournal; I know exactly how wrong things can go when a previously non-evil company gets acquired, though as a wordpress.com user I would be far more worried about the implications for this site than anything which might happen to the trademark or the standalone software (I’m pretty sure there’d be more than one fork to choose from if Automattic ever went to the dark side.)

      Thing is, if I have to admit Automattic shouldn’t be trusted with something as relatively unimportant to me as the wordpress trademark, I also have to admit I shouldn’t be entrusting any content to wordpress.com, and I really can’t be bothered to self-host this thing.

    • Mark, could it be that you just demonstrated the kmain weakness of the GPL?

      But yes, everyone knows my point of view and this is the first and a long overdue move. I think I first wrote about this in 2007, thanks Automattic. Let’s now fight another 3-4 years to get a balanced board, of people who believe in WordPress but also dare to stand up and discuss their own views, for the WPF.

      • Let’s try a correct link this time: the main weakness of the GPL.

        • hakre said

          I do not see the similarities between WP and MySQL here. MySQL is GPL v2 licensed, WP is GPL licensed. That makes a difference.

          • It doesn’t if WP is GPLv2 licensed. The main topic in Greg’s entry is about the protection and trademark though. In those cases the GPLv2 is useless, something I have previously pointed out more than once. Until recently Automattic could retire the name at any point (now Matt can do so).

            • hakre said

              WordPress is licensed under GPL, no specific version specified. For the implication of this statement, please refer to license.txt that ships with wordpress, which is a copy GPL v2.

              This is not only my personal opinion btw:

              We cannot say that WordPress as a whole is GPLv2 (i.e. “GPLv2 only”). Go back to saying just “GPL.”

              Mark Jaquith, WordPress Lead Developer (Source)

  3. drmike said

    A quick check of the US Trademark database shows that the trademark is still within Automattic’s hands. No transfer has occurred yet. Last update was back in 2006. Can’t give a link since they’re not static urls.

    Having said that, I don’t know how long a transfer takes or what the process is. I would think though that such an announcement wouldn’t take place until it was a done deal. I’m sure though that fanboys will start flooding my own blog with hate comments yet again.

    I will give points though as this was something Matt said he was going to do back 5 years ago when the idea of a non-profit first came up. Just hope it actually occurs.

    • drmike said

      Amazed no one else has noticed this. I guess the fanboys are just too blinded to notice this oversight.

    • hakre said

      That’s the same I saw when I last checked it and so I was wondered to read a day or two ago about the “passing of ownership”. I’m a bit late on this topic, but please see WordPress Trademark passed over to Foundation – Again?.

      It’s interesting to see that even the professional press did not check the official records – for the cheerleaders I don’t wonder.

      For the overview, I made a collection: Trademark and Servicemark of Automattic Inc. and WordPress Foundation.

      To be fair, this might be related due to the fact that things might take some time with a government agency (at least in germany it’s said so). I have no clue how long the database takes to be updated at the USTPO. The electronic document system says about 48 hours, but that might be in the outgoing direction only. And for incomming? I just have no clue.

  4. Aphrodite said

    Well, waiting for the transfert of buddypress.org too so… and the wordpress.org /.net also, since they are personnaly owned by Sir Matt. That would be a good “courageaous” act….

  5. drmike said

    Hmmm, just had a thought about the foundation:

    http://whois.domaintools.com/wordpressfoundation.org

    Yup, controlled by Matt as well.

  6. Aphrodite said

    LooooooL ! The Matt Fundation so !

  7. […] back into the shade (that girl again) […]

  8. drmike said

    Still a negative on the trademark transfer. Amazed no one else has noticed this.

  9. drmike said

    Three months later, it;s still owned by Automattic. Amazed no one has still not noticed this…

    • Andy said

      Automattic have been too busy importing 1,000,000 Microsoft blogs stuffed to the gills with affiliate and “SEO” links.

  10. Marcus said

    A technical question: LMAO
    If a user uses WP then issues his theme under GPL 3 wtf ?

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s