Chris Pearson Loses Cybersquatting Case Against Automattic

First reported by Domain Name Wire, Automattic has won their Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) case against Chris Pearson. UDRP requests are a process established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the resolution of disputes regarding the registration of internet domain names.

Automattic Wins Thesis.com

According to findings by the UDRP panel, in late 2014, a third-party who owned Thesis.com approached Automattic and Pearson to see if they were interested in buying the domain. Automattic won the domain by bidding $100K.

Soon after winning the domain, Pearson filed a UDRP request with ICANN seeking relief requesting that the domain name be transferred from Automattic to himself. In June 2015, a three-member panel was appointed to review the case.

According to rule number five set forth by ICANN for the UDRP process, Respondents have 20 days to respond to the Provider. If a Respondent does not submit a response, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, the Panel decides the dispute based upon the complaint.

In a controversial move, the Panel accepted and reviewed Automattic’s late response.

The Panel notes that Respondent failed to submit its response within the requisite time period, failing to comply with ICANN Rule #5.  In its discretion, the Panel considered Respondent’s arguments in the late filed Response in the interest of justice.

Pearson satisfied two of the three burdens imposed under the Policy in order for the Panel to order transfer of a domain name from the entity registering it. Pearson failed to provide evidence that showed Thesis.com redirects to Themeshaper.com. In its response to the Panel, Automattic admitted to using the domain in this way but it appears to have had no affect on the Panel’s decision.

The Panel noted that if Complainant’s submissions are insufficient, it may request additional exhibits or information under Rule 12 but given the outcome, the Panel chose not to seek additional submissions.

You can view the panel’s findings in this public document. The panel concluded that the Complainant (Pearson) failed to establish all three elements required under the ICANN Policy and that relief shall be denied.

A party must satisfy all three of the burdens imposed under the Policy in order for the Panel to order transfer of a domain name from the entity registering it. Here, Complainant failed to establish that Respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith.

See Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. v. Samjo CellTech.Ltd, FA 406512 (Nat. Arb. Forum Mar. 9, 2005) (finding that the complainant failed to establish that respondent registered and used the disputed domain name in bad faith because mere assertions of bad faith are insufficient for a complainant to establish Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii)). Therefore, the Panel finds that Complainant failed to support its allegations under Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii) and finds for Respondent.

Therefore, Thesis.com is allowed to remain under Automattic’s ownership.

Automattic Strikes Back

On June 16th, Automattic struck back by filing a petition for cancellation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In their petition, Automattic argues that the three trademarks owned by Pearson, DIYTHEMES, THESIS THEME, and THESIS, should be cancelled.

Petition for Cancellation
Petition for Cancellation

When questioned about the Thesis.com domain and petition to cancel Perason’s trademarks, Automattic responded with the following statement:

Chris Pearson tried to seize a domain Automattic owns through the UDRP process. As part of defending ourselves we have dug into the trademarks that were being claimed by the aggressor, as that was the basis of his claim.

We’re happy the panel ruled in our favor. We think Thesis.com is a cool, generic .com that could be used for a variety of things. Just because you have a small WordPress theme doesn’t mean you have a right to seize generic English word .com domains.

I’ve reached out to Pearson for comment but have yet to receive a response.

Automattic’s Interest in Thesis.com Remains Unexplained

There are a lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered. For instance, why did Automattic participate in the bidding process for Thesis.com when it has nothing to do with WordPress.com or associated services?

The turbulent history between Matt Mullenweg and Pearson in 2010 nearly resulted in a lawsuit over GPLv2 compliance. The statement from Automattic fails to clarify why the company pursued Pearson again years later by bidding on a domain relevant to his business, apart from stating that it’s “a cool generic.com”. Going after Pearson’s trademarks in order to have them cancelled raises questions as to whether the move is motivated by retribution.

We’ll keep a close eye on the trademark cancellation petition and if there are any updates, we’ll let you know.

110 Comments


  1. Sigh. How can we expect more out of the community as a whole when things like this occur from such a big player in the community as Automattic? No matter how much one may not like Chris Pearson, this whole thing just does not seem right at all. I thought the Thesis war was put to rest a long time ago. Obviously not. The whole thing just makes me sad that this type of thing has actually happened.

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    1. I’m still scratching my head as to why Automattic got involved with Thesis.com to begin with. Makes no sense to me.

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      1. It makes sense. But for all the wrong reasons.

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      2. Yeah, but that’s assuming that’s why Automattic did it. Even though everything points one direction, it’s hard for me to conclude that’s what’s going on without hard evidence or a statement from Matt Mullenweg that confirms it.

        This is one of those situations where even if they had no intention on getting involved with Pearson, they did and it doesn’t look good no matter how you spin it.

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      3. Yes it is assuming Automattic’s intent but it’s not like it’s some kind of crazy jump-off-a-bridge speculation here. I agree with Carl — this is just sad.

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      4. Am I missing something? In what way is the Petition for Cancellation defensive? It was filed after the UDRP case was decided.

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  2. I don’t know Automattic’s domain portfolio, but I don’t recall them being in the business of purchasing cool generic .com domain names.

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  3. I may be misunderstanding the situation here, so please feel at liberty to correct me:

    – Automattic buys a domain name for 100k
    – Pearson tries to take the domain.
    – Automattic uses their legal resources to keep the domain.

    If that’s the case, this seems reasonable enough to me. Automattic can choose to buy whatever it wants. Free market and all of that. They paid for the domain, so it’s their right to protect it from being taken away.

    Good job Automattic?

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    1. How versed are you in the history of WordPress? Do you know what happened back in 2010 between Pearson and Matt? I understand what you’re saying and it’s a response I’d expect from someone who doesn’t know the history here.

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      1. I know the history. But I don’t see how it’s relevant. People (corporations are people too, remember) can buy something for whatever reason they want. If that reason is piss somebody off, then legally speaking it’s no less meritorious than any other reason.

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      2. I don’t think anyone is saying what Automattic did was illegal, they’re saying it was unethical.

        It’s possible to be a jerk without breaking the law, but that doesn’t make it acceptable behavior.

        ( Note: I don’t know any details about the case beyond what’s in this article, so I don’t really know what to think about it, and I’m not picking a side; I’m just trying to make the general point that it’s not ok to be a jerk, even if it’s legal. )

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      3. I’m not sure you understand what ethics means. It certainly doesn’t mean “don’t step on other business owners’ toes.”

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    2. I’m not sure on what planet you think this scenario is reasonable. This appears to be orchestrated and vindictive and based on animosity and a grudge that goes back years. There isn’t anything good about this. It’s very disappointing and not something i’d expect to see from Automattic.

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      1. Automattic and DIYThemes are competitors (WordPress.com premium themes, WooThemes). It’s in their economic interest to destroy DIYThemes. That’s how business works.

        You’re a successful business owner, I’m sure you understand the importance of having a competitive advantage over other WordPress form plugin providers. You advertise on Google AdWords because you want to capture a bigger portion of your market. Surely you also realise that each sale you receive is a sale that a competitor *doesn’t* receive. Why do you get to fight your competitors, but Automattic doesn’t? Smells like a double standard.

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      2. Ethics. Some people do actually have them. I’m not going to debate this any longer. It’s obviously pointless to do so.

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      3. I’m all for healthy competition, but there’s a dirty way to do that and a clean way. This has dirty written all over it and that’s IF it was the purpose.

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      4. You’re also forgetting, or at least not mentioning, the fact that Automattic has massive influence over the WordPress Foundation; the same entity that sets the trademark policy for domain name use of the term “wordpress”.

        Even if it is “business”, it’s also blatantly hypocritical for Automattic to do something like this.

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      5. Healthy competition and business doesn’t have to be a fight. I don’t want to be in business if have to view it in that ugly way. I’m so grateful I found a place where I don’t have to.

        I aspire to get to the point where Carl sees me as a competition. But I know Gravity Forms got to be where they are by getting in early and consistently delivering awesome products. It would be stupid and short-sighted of me to try and tear them down after all the great things they have done for our ecosystem.

        And yes, Thesis may have been doing it wrong, but the high road was on protecting the freedoms of the GPL, not taking away a domain name that could have helped them make money in this space.

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  4. I’m glad that you waited For Automattic’s response before publishing. It confirms they did this for all of the worst possible reasons.

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  5. Thanks Jeff for pointing this story out.
    It doesn’t look like all want to sing Kumbaya all the time.
    I really don’t understand what the motivating factors are. Seems very strange to me.

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  6. The part that caught my attention was this:

    “Respondents have 20 days to respond to the Provider. If a Respondent does not submit a response….In a controversial move, the Panel accepted and reviewed Automattic’s late response.”

    If I understand this correctly, Automattic was late, but was accepted by the Panel?

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  7. Thank you Jeff Chandler for sharing this with us, and for having the courage to not try to spin this.

    This definitely looks bad for Automattic and for Matt Mullenweg, even if they try to spin this, and if what we are thinking is true; then this would somewhat prove some of the things that a certain person (who seems to have left the community a few years ago maybe, but I could be wrong) predicted and told and warned some of us about years ago about a certain person.

    I imagine if this person was around today, this person would say: “I told you so.”; I was hoping that we were wrong/mistaken, but it does not seem that way with how things have been going recently (the last few years) and based on some of the things that happened and that did not happen in the past that this person mentioned to us.

    It seems that this person predicted what was coming and left early before things got any worse but I could be wrong, I have been trying to stick around, but it is getting harder and harder to do so sadly; but I am still here, and I still try to help sometimes by reporting bugs and giving suggestions and continuing to blog every day.

    Anyway, keep up the good work Mr. Chandler.

    -John Jr

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  8. Thanks for the great article about this subject.

    I am on the edge on this one, but it does look like Automattic is just “bullying” Pearson, especially when they take that extra step and want to cancel his trademarks. Really?

    Does anyone know if Automattic has bought more domains to redirect to themeshaper? And if so, how many?

    Obviously Thesis can’t be the only “cool, generic .com [domain]” they have been interested in.

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  9. If you replace every reference of “Automattic” with “Matt” it makes it seem awfully personal.

    I understand Automattic is a corporate entity, but it was founded by Matt, it’s run by Matt, and the “debate” years ago was between Chris and Matt.

    How can you claim you’re for open source, democratization of online publishing, yet use gestapo-like tactics in an attempt to crush competition?

    WordPress (the software project) and Automattic may have been started by Matt, but it’s grown to the size it is on the backs of developers like Chris and countless others. It’s sad to see an article like this (especially the trademark cancellation petition) during a time when the overall mood in the community is down.

    You would think the de-facto leader of the overall WP community would be working harder to bring the community together, not divide. Or is Automattic big enough now that it doesn’t have to care?

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    1. Hubris comes before the fall. Though I’ve been very critical of the Jetpack Borg plugin, Automattic’s exploitation of WordPress.org as an advertising platform and the GPL as a guise for serviceware, even I’m shocked by the vindictiveness and pettiness of this move.

      Funny now that Matt Mullenweg is in the billionaire’s club, his company is allowed to submit their defence late. The crooked scales of justice.

      Two things are clear:

      1. Matt Mullenweg really should hand over the thesis.com domain immediately to Chris Pearson to save at least a bit of face and credibility as leader of the (apparently) open source WordPress community.
      2. We need BusinessPress (a stable, publisher focused version of WordPress and non-Automattic fallback) more than ever.

      Kudos to Jeff for running this story, in spite of WPtavern’s ownership. If MM or Audrey Capital decide to squeeze Jeff and Sarah as a consequence of this story, Foliovision is happy to commit a minimum of $100/year annually in support for an independent WordPress news platform.

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  10. “Automattic’s Interest in Thesis.com Remains Unexplained”
    I can’t imagine….

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  11. It is antics like this that make me want to avoid Jetpack and anything coming from Automattic…

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  12. I think these folks need to just hug it out. Squabbling over a silly domain name seems beneath them.

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    1. Its not just domains its all his trademarks as well. They intend to destroy him from looks of it.

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  13. Plot twist: Automattic gives Chris Pearson thesis.com for Christmas

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    1. That would be the right thing to do Paul. I hope you’re right. And some people at Automattic should take a long hard look at the way they are doing business, while there is still time.

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  14. OT but this trademark policy – do they try and enforce it worldwide? I can only see WordPress being a registered trademark in the US, so fail to see how it could affect country-specific domains. E.g. .cn, .tv, .fr

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  15. People seem way to fine with this behavior. After all the recent post about community behavior and so forth Automattic setting out to destroy someone else on a personal grudge seem to be okay from the active WP Community. From the outside looking in one would get the impression that this is all very cult like in behavior. Chris is not one of “us” so treating him badly is fine.

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    1. 35 comments in six hours and almost every single one is upset, disappointed or strongly opposed to this action.

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      1. If it were unique commenters I would agree with you but it aint. If there is one case where lurkers should come forward and comment this would be it.

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      2. Speak of a lurker and one shall appear ;)

        I make my living using WordPress and this just saddens me. It sends the wrong message. There is clearly an undercurrent of revenge and it does make you wonder about the future of the platform if this is what we can expect from the stewards.

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  16. Wow. This is getting kind of ugly and definitely puts a big black mark on Automattic in my opinion. Always thought quite highly of them, but this just seems malicious and unnecessary.

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  17. Matt Mullenweg a vindictive person? No can’t be possible. /s

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  18. This appears to be incredibly petty (and disingenuous) on Automattic’s part, and it seems pretty clear that ICANN showed fairly heavy favoritsm toward Automattic and against Chris Pearson.

    Automattic wants that domain name for one reason only: to damage Pearson’s business. And ICANN helped them get away with it.

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    1. I agree it is petty but I don’t think there was any favoritism there.

      The decision of the panel was based on the fact that the word Thesis was too generic …

      Unfortunately, legal does not mean right

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      1. No favoritsm? ICANN 1) broke their own rule, allowing Automattic to file a late response, then 2) ignored in that response Automattic’s admissuon of using the domain name in a manner that directly impacts/competes with Pearson’s business, in order to rule that Pearson failed to prove the element of harm.

        That’s just the way I see it.

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      2. Certainly it’s petty, yafred, but there are clear grournds to suspect favoritism.

        1. Automattic were allowed to submit their defence late.
        2. Automattic admitted violating the missing third pillar to lose the domain but the panel did not accept their admission.

        As Jeff wrote:

        Pearson satisfied two of the three burdens imposed under the Policy in order for the Panel to order transfer of a domain name from the entity registering it. Pearson failed to provide evidence that showed Thesis.com redirects to Themeshaper.com. In its response to the Panel, Automattic admitted to using the domain in this way but it appears to have had no affect on the Panel’s decision.

        The panel ignoring their own guidelines twice to award the domain to Automattic looks like favoritism to me.

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  19. Thesis is Jeff’s baby, and Matt stole it. I assumed there were laws to protect Jeff. Obviously money trumps logic or justice.

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  20. A suuuuuper tasty tidbit from the debate 5yrs back:

    Chris: “I don’t want people to make money off my good name.. that’s a poor business decision”

    Matt: “You are very lucky the developers of WordPress don’t feel the same way as you”

    I guess a few years changes things, as now they clearly want to use his good name for their own promotion. Insaaaaane.

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  21. “We think Thesis.com is a cool, generic .com that could be used for a variety of things.”… but in this case it’s the name of a WordPress theme, and it’s being forwarded to Automattic’s theme site.

    This feels petty and makes me a bit sad.

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  22. Having once been treated with rudeness so inexplicable by Pompous Pearson, on a forum at his site, years ago — my heart beats with pleasure hearing that maybe Pearson is enough of an ass to inspire others to stay on his snarky tail. Maybe Auttomattic is doing it – “just for the fun of it!” Well, no law says I can’t enjoy my fantasy! Go get that jerk! He’s a stain on the WordPress community!

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    1. That’s a pretty vicious reaction to rudeness, Fredrix. While I don’t care for Thesis (and we did build a few clients sites on it) and I’ve never felt much affinity with the man behind it, personal dislike remains a poor excuse for corrupted business ethics.

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      1. Vicious? Odd choice of words! In fact I’d say it’s a vicious and possibly overly emotional choice of words on your part. That said, I didn’t say rudeness should be a basis for corruption. I was just expressing amusement that Pearson’s bad behavior brought some part of this on himself. I’m not campaigning for sainthood. But I was shocked and stung by such unprovoked rude treatment in his very own forum. And for an extra chuckle – it was right after Pearson’s watching his Pearson in a wife-beater t-shirt videos. So I’m just amused. Not vicious at all.

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    2. I daresay that Chris Pearson does not hold a monopoly on rudeness, pomposity, or jerkish behavior in the WordPress community. Even a cursory following of #WPDrama will demonstrate that the community is a rather large, glass house in that regard.

      Besides, I don’t think that rudeness, pomposity, or being a jerk causes one to forfeit legal rights, such as trademark, due process, and equal protection.

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    1. Sorry, Benjamin, but equating Automattic’s behavior here to being “snarky” really misses the point entirely.

      Automattic’s conduct is an abuse of power. Pure and simple.

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  23. No matter what your feelings are regarding Pearson and his efforts. This just seems petty and aggressive. Why did Automattic buy the domain in the first place? Buying a domain that is the name of a known theme in the market to redirect to your own theme web site smells really bad and is something I hope that Matt and the Automattic team rethink. What is the business case for buying this domain for $100,000 for them?

    Sadly seems like this is more about a feud than any actual business case. Extremely upsetting.

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  24. Hey Jeff aren’t you worried about being fired airing all these dirty details? Doesn’t Matt pay your salary? What a way to bite the hand that feeds you! Better get the resume ready.

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  25. Automattic may not have committed any legal infractions, but it is a very disappointing display of character coming from a leader of a community that is normally very good about collaborating and creating symbiotic relationships.

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  26. ICANN can’t legally decide if the word Thesis, as used in thesis.com, is “too generic,” since that is decided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which gave the Thesis trademark to Pearson. Having the trademark alone gave Pearson the legal right to obtain ownership of thesis.com without satisfying any other critieria. If ICANN is accountable to the court system, then Pearson would have the ability to sue them perhaps citing the fact that ICANN has no legal right to decide against a trademark holder. Keep in mind the United States Patent and Trademark Office has their own criteria that must be investigated and met before issuing a trademark, which then provides a legal basis to protect it.

    With this case ICANN lost ALL credibility, and should have an oversight committee look into how they are deciding these cases. Further, ICANN should be investigated to see if there is an element of corruption, which is materially hurting companies like the one owned by Pearson.

    The bottom line, this decision needs to be investigated for wrongdoing.

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    1. In corruption it takes two to tango. If Matt Mullenweg pulled some strings or made some calls (or even had his lawyer do it for him), he’s equally guilty of subversion of the justice system as the panel who broke and bent the rules to make the award to Automattic.

      Really, what’s needed here is a public apology and a simple restitution of the thesis.com to Chris Pearson. Either all or half of the original acquisition costs would be fair compensation for the malicious damage to Pearson’s business. So either Automattic should give Pearson the thesis.com domain or charge him $50K for it.

      Matt Mullenweg apologised once and took down the hidden gambling and porn links off of WordPress.org when Google caught him with his hands in the cookie jar.

      Does MM still have the courage to admit wrongdoing and do the right thing now?

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      1. Do you have the courage to not be a prick and turn every thread into this site into an attack on Matt?

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      2. Bill, I’m not the one who poached a competitor’s trademark domain and then bent the ICANN rules to shut him out. When I do, then would be a good time to come after me.

        Automattic and Matt Mullenweg are caught up now in a web of hypocrisy:

        * throwing everything but ninja assassins at Jeff Yablon in a similar case
        * abusing the GPL and WordPress.org rules via Jetpack serviceware
        * monopolising WordPress software to promote Automattic software and ads
        * monopolising WordPress.org to promote Automattic software and services
        * kicking long time open source and WordPress contributors out of Wordcamp for having 2% of their code as not GPL (none of his business frankly)
        * pushing through new interfaces without any community consensus, while aggressively deprecating longstanding functionality with little notice (Menu Customizer)

        When Matt stops doing most of these things, I’ll go back to being a silent supporter of WordPress. Foliovision have paid thousands to Automattic over the years for Akismet and Vaultpress. Foliovision have been a silver and gold sponsor, presenter and media partner for Wordcamps in 2013, 2014, 2015. You didn’t hear a peep out of me (aside from bug reports or more nice pro level free GPL software in WordPress SVN) while my company has been working full time on WordPress since 2006.

        Something rotten in Denmark, Bill. It’s time Automattic and Matt Mullenweg are held accountable for their actions. Hopefully he/they will come to their senses while there’s still time and start working with the community again as equals. Double standards are not cool, double standards are not leadership.

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      3. @foliopress You are fully allowed to criticize Matt Mullenweg and everyone in Automattic (and related companies) all you want. It is part of free speech. Criticizing is not personal attack.

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      4. throwing everything but ninja assassins at Jeff Yablon in a similar case

        I haven’t seen any new comments from Jeff in recent days. Are we sure the ninja assassins haven’t, in fact, been sent?

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  27. Seems like all of the above, plus just a total waste of money. Nice to have that amount of cash to throw around at random. I wonder what the accountant has to say.

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  28. 11hrs after the first comment hit on this post and still no reply from MM. That is unusual as he normally is not afraid to share his opinion, especially since he owns WP Tavern.

    Stealing the domain is one thing, now going after the trademarks is really not done.

    Automattic = MM = EVIL

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    1. If any legal action is pending it’s not unusual at all. Automattic provided WPTavern with a statement. Any good lawyer would advise you not to comment beyond a short statement like the one provided. But the community does deserve to know the whole story from both parties when it can be told.

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    2. I wouldn’t say Automattic is evil. Let’s not forget that it’s a company filled with intelligent employees working hard on various projects that may have had no say in the matter.

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  29. This concerns me greatly. Assuming this is what it looks like, whatever your opinion is on Chris and Thesis, having the de-facto prime influencer and unelected leader of the WordPress project acting against a specific company in this manner paints a dark picture of the future.

    I’ll wait patiently for Mr. Mullenweg to step up and explain this action.

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  30. This is truly disturbing behavior. Anyone waiting for a statement from Matt is just waiting for spin. There is no way to spin this that isn’t bad. The only move that saves any face is giving the domain to Pearson. Even if you dislike the guy.

    We all know that won’t happen. It’s good to know what kind of a person Matt is, this speaks volumes.

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  31. Here we go…

    1) Just because your product is named whatever, doesn’t mean you automatically get the corresponding .com (or .ca/.pe/.hr/etc…) unless you registered the trademark. Google owns every Google.CCTLD out there.

    2) So from domain wire I get that Chris Pearson created Thesis (I never used it, just like there are thousands of themes/software that I haven’t used, don’t have the $$$ to buy everything out there), decided to license HIS product the way HE wanted, Matt didn’t like it so he throws a fit.

    3) Who is next Matt Mullenweg/Automattic/WPF/etc…is going to go through?

    4) Are they going to go through EVERY theme/plugin that has a fee?

    5) What about all the themes/plugins on wordpress.org that are the “lite version” that have a “PRO” version?

    6) My interpretation is that Matt Mullenweg was upset that Chris Pearson was charging a fee for something Matt Mullenweg wanted free.

    7) A license fee, an upgrade fee for the “PRO” version of a theme/plugin, is all the same.

    8) There are hundreds of themes/plugins that have code based on WordPress code, is Matt Mullenweg going to go after them?

    9) So how much does the code have to be different so Matt Mullenweg does not get upset? 50% different? 90% different?

    10) How similar was WordPress 0.7 from b2/cafelog?

    11) There is yet another fork of b2/cafelog: b2/evolution, I wonder if b2/evolution & WordPress share similarities since they have a common ancestor

    12) If Matt Mullenweg has a problem with other licenses fees then WordPress.com shouldn’t charge for upgrades.

    13) I wonder if there is out there similar service to WordPress.com using WordPress. Isn’t that what GPL would allow me to do? No I won’t do it, in fact, I am going out to lunch after this.

    14) Yes this seems petty and it looks like bully tactics, Isn’t WordPress supposed to be democratizing the interwebs?

    15) Yes I will find someone to hire Jeff Chandler & Sarah Gooding if Matt Mullenweg fires Jeff Chandler and Sarah Gooding.

    I have typed Matt Mullenweg more times in this comment than I have in the past 12 months.

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    1. “Just because your product is named whatever, doesn’t mean you automatically get the corresponding .com (or .ca/.pe/.hr/etc…) unless you registered the trademark. Google owns every Google.CCTLD out there.”

      Pearson did have registered trademarks surrounding Thesis and he still lost the ICANN case. I still can’t wrap my ahead around how he lost this case.

      After losing the domain dispute, Automattic moved to petition having his trademarks canceled with the USPTO.

      There are two parts to this story. It’s not just about the domain name. It goes beyond that. They are petitioning to cancel his trademarks on technicalities such as registering them under his own name instead of his companies name.

      It’s a sad state of affairs.

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      1. Carl,

        see #14.

        I wonder if Matt Mullenweg will go after the owners of internet.com. Since WP is on the internet and they sell internet domains just like Automattic’s WP.com :-) (a lot of sarcasm here).

        Yes I smell a lot of bull s h i t here in Matt Mullenweg’s direction.

        Many startups when they grow big enough they get on a high horse, maybe Matt Mullenweg needs to get off his?

        I wonder how much of the WordPress code is actually from Matt Mullenweg versus others in the WordPress circle.

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      2. Well, Matt initially registered the WordPress trademark under Automattic, Inc., then gifted it to the Foundation, who in turn granted license (supposedly) to Automattic to use it for WordPress.com

        So maybe Chris registered the Thesis trademark and then crafted a licensing deal with DIYThemes, LLC to use it.

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  32. All of you should be grateful for Matt. Without HIM, none of YOU would even be in business! Including the arrogant Pearson. Remember where your money comes from. You would be nowhere without Matt.

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    1. @Steve,

      It must be great to have a crystal ball. Unfortunately, yours is apparently cracked.

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    2. This is the most ludicrous comment on the whole string. WordPress is a tool. WordPress doesn’t solve problems without people. If WordPress didn’t exist, we’d use a different tool.

      I’ve been saying this all week but people saying things like this is like a carpenter treating his hammer as if it was a God. If the world ran out of hammers would we stop building things or would be pick up a rock and beat the nail in?

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      1. And what “tools” would you use?! Joomla? Drupal? What a joke! Stick to carpentry, Kiko.

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      2. The people who use WordPress are not great developers because we use WordPress. It is the opposite. WordPress is great because of the people who use WordPress. Never forget that.

        If WordPress were to disappear tomorrow, I would be fine, because I’ve chosen to learn how to solve problems first and write WordPress code second. Like all good tools, it’s just one of many that is ready to serve a specific purpose.

        Try a little tact next time.

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      3. WordPress is what it is because of the community as a whole. All the themes. All the plugins. All the contributors. You also forget that Matt had a co-founder and didn’t fork b2 and create WordPress on his own.

        Saying the community should bow down to Matt, allow him to simply do what he pleases, and that we owe him everything is outrageously absurd.

        It’s a symbiotic relationship and works both ways. Matt would not be where he is without the WordPress community and contributors.

        That certainly doesn’t mean neither he or anyone else wouldn’t have been successful doing something else. But WordPress is what it is because of the entire ecosystem. Not because of any single individual.

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    3. *facepalm — (Walks away just shaking my head)

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    4. You’re forgetting the 100’s, 1000’s of volunteers worldwide that helped build WordPress (the software) into the application it is today. As a result, WordPress.com and Automattic have grown exponentially. Automattic, Matt, Audrey Capital, etc., none of them would be here were not for developers around the world building and promoting the WordPress brand.

      Until this point in the game it has been largely a symbiotic relationship, but that seems to be changing.

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  33. This post is great introduction to UDRP cases:
    http://bedrocksf.com/top-10-things-you-need-to-know-before-you-initiate-a-domain-name-dispute/

    Look at Part 3, and you’ll see that Chris had to prove Automattic was guilty of one of these:

    1) Registered the name for the sole purpose of making money by selling the domain name to the complainant
    2) Prevented the trademark holder from registering a domain name
    3) Prevented the trademark holder’s online presence
    4) Disrupted the trademark holder’s business, or intentionally attracted internet users by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark.

    That’s a very high bar:

    1) This is automatically out – Matt never tried to sell
    2) Doesn’t apply here as it was already registered.
    3) Didn’t happen
    4) Highly unlikely, unless they could prove ThemeShaper could be confused with DIYThems.

    Regardless of the ethics, this seems to have been an open-and-shut case in legal terms.

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    1. The ethics involved are exactly what most people have a problem with, especially given who is involved. With an open source community like this one, ethics are extremely important. It’s sad to see something like this happening. Very sad.

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    2. Actually, it’s not open and shut. He lost on a technicality. He lost the third point of the case. He lost because of this:

      “Complainant claims that Respondent’s use of the disputed domain name is to divert and confuse customers and potential customers. The Panel notes that Complainant did not include an exhibit showing that redirects to a webpage owned by Respondent. ”

      The Panel ruled in Automattic’s favor because Chris’ team didn’t given the evidence that Automattic is redirecting the domain. Never mind Automattic admitted to doing this.

      I take that back, it *was* an open and shut case…for Chris. Had his lawyers submitted a screencast of thesis redirecting to theme shaper, he probably would have won.

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  34. Syed Balkhi buys WP.org, and redirects it WPBeginner.com

    Matt calls this “sketchy”, despite ‘WP’ not being trademarked – https://twitter.com/photomatt/status/614439531480240128

    Automattic splurges 100 grand on Thesis.com, redirects it to ThemeShaper.com, then tries to cancel Chris Pearsons trademark claims.

    Matt thinks this is fine.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    1. The more years I live, I realize there is only one standard in this world… The double standard!

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      1. Kiko, you are free to leave WordPress. No one will miss you.

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      2. Whatever Mister Steve, you may as well just put anonymous. I’d be glad to have a chat with you in person any time.

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  35. A lot of misinformation on this thread. I don’t want to address all of it, but can clear up a couple of things:

    On the TM challenge: this was done on June 16, as part of our defense. Not sometime later, after the UDRP decision was made. The challenge was a part of our defense, simply because Chris was asserting his TM against us, and those trademarks are very likely invalid. We pointed that out, and made this challenge, as part of the process.

    On the “lateness” of our response, what happened is this: we and Chris (through his lawyer) mutually agreed to extend the deadline for our response. Together, we sent in a letter to the panel to let them know…but there’s a special form for extensions that you have to use. We included all of the required info in our letter, plus a sentence or two more. The ICANN bureaucrats noticed this a few days later, noted it in the record, and we resubmitted the extension, a couple days after the deadline. It was very much a technicality, and something that’s quite common. It’s also very common for the panel to say “no big deal,” like they did here. Based on prior cases, it would have been more shocking if they did the opposite, and rejected our response because it was “late”. In any case, the rules say that the panel has the discretion to accept or not accept if late. So either choice would have been within the rules. Nothing nefarious about what they did.

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    1. Thank you for the clarification. Now, I think everyone here needs to eat some humble pie. There was never any “conspiracy”. Automattic is simply running their business. Just because some of you don’t like the outcome, doesn’t mean they did anything wrong. It is OK to ask questions, but now that the FACTS have been revealed, the case is settled. Chris Pearson lost and for good reason. The additional bonus of him being a douche-bag and getting a taste of his own bullying is just icing on the cake. Hope y’all are hungry!

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      1. Steve… I mean Matt… I mean Steve…. you are a great example as to why the community is rising up against these tactics.

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    2. Thank you Paul for chiming in and providing some clarification on a few things. I will say though, we wouldn’t be here talking about this today had Automattic chosen to ignore the opportunity from the third-party to purchase the domain. Maybe one day, when the legal proceedings are finished, we’ll find out the answer to WHY Automattic and or Matt chose to purchase the domain in the first place. To somehow understand the thought process that would lead someone to believe that it would be a good thing to do.

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    1. The thing to remember that the WordPress “community” is actually much bigger than Chris & Matt. There are many people who bend over backwards helping each other succeed in life and business in using WordPress. #WPDrama can suck up so much time and it helps to be reminded that there are some high quality people within our greater WordPress community (and many of them don’t even seek the limelight).

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  36. Not to light a powder keg here but does the trademark cancellation petitioning seem like patent trolling in other clothes? I read through the official petition and it really seemed to boil down to some weird sense of “moral crusading” on the part of Automattic in line with their “cool generic .com” reasoning from the domain name proceedings and fully based on their win therein. Would Automattic have taken these actions if instead DIYThemes had initially won the bidding process for thesis.com and the whole GPL-sue-debate hadn’t occurred? Is Automattic going to file trademark revocation paperwork for all marks that they deem to be “cool” and “generic sounding”? If the answer ends up being ‘no’ to these questions then their actions have to be seen at this point in time as retaliatory.

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  37. This “tit for tat spat” makes me very sad. This whole thing is a BUMMER and a STAIN for the WordPress community. It’s not right. I wonder who “WIN THE FIGHT”. This needs to stop for the sake of the community and WordPress.

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  38. At this point, with over 100 comments, I think it’s time to close them down. What has to be said likely has been said by someone at this point. The thing to do now is wait and see how the Petition for Trademark Cancellation progresses and wait for any legal proceedings to finish.

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