The Wikimedia Foundation announced that it successfully obtained orders preventing four sites, which advertise paid Wikipedia article editing, from using the Wikipedia trademark. The sites are wikipediapagecreators.com, getawikipedia.com, getonwikipedia.com, and onwikipedia.com.
The foundation, which has been battling undisclosed paid editing, considers getting the orders a “victory for free and neutral knowledge”. As the foundation notes in a blog post, such editing has been a “hot topic” over the past few years. They even had to fire an otherwise respected employee over a paid editing scandal.
The sites in question reportedly offered to create Wikipedia pages starting at $799 per article to “enhance the overall business reputation” of clients, and “exploited” Wikipedia’s logos.
In the blog post, Wikimedia Foundation Legal Counsel Yana Welinder writes:
This exploitation allowed the Foundation to enforce the Wikimedia trademarks, counteracting the sites’ business practices. We contacted the owner of these websites and asked that they cease using the “Wikipedia” trademark to promote their businesses. After months without change to the websites, and no response to our messages, we filed UDRP complaints with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The complaints explained that the registrant of the domain names was violating Wikimedia’s trademark rights.
In two administrative panel decisions, WIPO found that the domain names in question were confusingly similar to the “Wikipedia” trademark, that the registrant had no rights or legitimate interests in the domain names, and that the registrant was using the domain names in bad faith. The panels ordered that all the disputed domain names be transferred to the Wikimedia Foundation. You can read a summary of the decisions here and here.
These decisions are a victory for the integrity of the name “Wikipedia”, which symbolizes the reputation and goodwill created by the hard work of thousands of independent editors and content providers. The Wikimedia Foundation registered “Wikipedia” as a trademark in order to ensure its use is consistent with our mission. Trademark protection allows us to prevent abuse of the “Wikipedia” marks by those trying to take advantage of the value the community has imbued in those iconic representations.
Last month, the foundation introduced changes to its terms of service aimed at addressing the problem of black hat paid editing. More on that here.
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