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Publisher allows tech event use 'Web 2.0' in title
[May 30, 2006]

Publisher allows tech event use 'Web 2.0' in title

(The Irish Times Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)An upcoming technology conference in Cork has fallen foul of one of the world's largest publishers of technology books and has caused a major debate on the internet about trademarks.

[email protected], a non-profit support group for technology businesses in the Cork area, received a cease and desist letter last week from CMP Media, claiming it had exclusive rights to "Web 2.0" when used for conferences. The Cork conference was billed as "Web 2.0 half-day conference".

CMP Media works with leading US technology book publisher O'Reilly to organise the Web 2.0 conference, held in the US every year since 2004.

Although initially coined by O'Reilly, the term has become widely used for the next generation of internet technologies. The cease and desist letter was subsequently published on a popular blog maintained by Tom Raftery, one of the conference organisers.

Within hours, Mr Raftery's post became one of the most discussed on the internet, with many influential commentators criticising O'Reilly for filing a trademark on a term that has passed into common parlance in the technology sector.

As a result, O'Reilly published a clarification about the matter on its website and apologised publicly to [email protected] for the way the matter was handled.

"We apologised privately and do so again publicly to [email protected]," said Sara Winge, vice-president of corporate communications with O'Reilly. "We stand by our service mark, but realise this was not the best way to communicate it."

The next day, CMP's lawyers wrote to [email protected], allowing it to use Web 2.0 in the conference title for this year only. Mr Raftery said the backdown was a result of the support he received from other blogs.

"A massive company like O'Reilly can no longer push a small organisation like us around because blogs have levelled the playing field," said Mr Raftery.

O'Reilly was founded by Tim O'Reilly, who was born in Cork but has spent most of his life in the US.

Mr Raftery had contacted Mr O'Reilly in February asking him to speak at the conference, but he declined.

Mr O'Reilly is on holidays and staff at the company's California offices said that he was not available for comment.

A search on Google confirms that numerous other conferences have been organised with "Web 2.0" in the title, including a recent event in Dublin organised by Enterprise Ireland.

Ms Winge said she was not aware why the [email protected] conference was singled out. She said O'Reilly/CMP would continue to protect its trademark and would pursue organisations who use Web 2.0 in the title of their conferences.

The conference is being sponsored by Microsoft and will take place on June 8th.

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