O’Reilly Blasted Over Web 2.0 Suit

    May 25, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The man who popularized the phrase Web 2.0 over the past couple of years has been accused of dropping a lawsuit on an Irish non-profit organization for using the term in “flagrant violation” of O’Reilly’s trademark.

Valleywag posted a brief note on the brewing brouhaha between CMP Media, which works with O’Reilly Media, and IT@Cork, which has received a cease and desist letter regarding its just-around-the-corner Web 2.0 half-day conference.

Noted Irish technology blogger Tom Raftery posted about the out of the blue legal missive emanating from attorneys at CMP Media:

Basically O’Reilly are claiming to have applied for a trademark for the term “Web 2.0″ and therefore IT@Cork can’t use the term for its conference. Apparantly use of the term “Web 2.0″ is a “flagrant violation” of their trademark rights!

Ironically I invited Tim O’Reilly to speak at this conference last February and his response (which I received on 15th of February) was

I would love to be able to do it, but my schedule is just too full for an additional international trip.

So Tim was aware of the event in February but decided to wait until 2 weeks before the conference to set the lawyers on us.

As I mentioned, IT@Cork is a not-for-profit organisation and doesn’t have the resources available to O’Reilly – what do people suggest we do?

In some stories, reporting can’t replace simple observation of the response to an issue. So we’ll indulge in that now.

TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington, a lawyer himself, wrote on his CrunchNotes blog about the controversy:

I have to say that when I think of web 2.0, CMP is not the first name that pops into my head. O’Reilly and Battelle sure. CMP, no.

I sense that a lynching is about to occur in the blogosphere, and Tim O’Reilly is going to be the person lynched. Bloggers aren’t going to trouble themselves with the fact that this letter is from CMP, not O’Reilly (Tim may not know about it).

That’s an important distinction. O’Reilly the person has come in for criticism over the lawsuit, but it may be O’Reilly the company, in the form of CMP Media, that deserves scrutiny here.

One commenter on Raftery’s blog suggested changing the name from Web 2.0 to Web 2.1 for the half-day conference. Maybe the solution to the whole problem will be that simple.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.