The WordPress Foundation Sues Jeff Yablon for Trademark Infringement

Jaff Yablon, who owns and operates The WordPress Helpers, is being sued by the WordPress Foundation for trademark infringement. Reported first by Domain Name Wire, the WordPress Foundation wants Yablon to stop using its trademarks, dismiss the opposition proceeding, pay the foundation for any profits related to use of the WordPress trademarks, pay up to $100,000 per infringing domain name, transfer the domains and pay other fees and damages.

The WordPress Foundation oversees and manages WordPress trademarks. In its trademark policy, it states no website may use WordPress in its top-level domain name without explicit permission.

Permission from the WordPress Foundation is required to use the WordPress or WordCamp name or logo as part of any project, product, service, domain or company name.

Yablon owns the following domain names which violate the policy, TheWordPressHelpDesk.com, TheWordPressTrainers.com, TheWordPressTeachers.com, TheWordPressDoctors.com, and TheWordPressTutors.com. All of the domains forward visitors to The WordPress Helpers.

The WordPress Helpers Website

The WordPress Helpers is a site devoted to the WordPress project. It features articles on WordPress, tutorials, and philosophical discussions surrounding the software. A portion of the site lists stores recommended by Yablon for people to purchase WordPress products. He also sells WordPress educational services for a flat fee.

WordPress Helpers About Page
WordPress Helpers About Page

Shortly after launching the site in January 2015, Yablon was contacted by the WordPress Foundation’s lawyers concerning his domain name. According to Yablon, he negotiated with the Foundation to try to use the domain name. Negotiations failed and on June 18th, 2015, the Foundation filed the lawsuit.

Lawyers Battle it Out

The United States Trademark and Patent Office is a public website where visitors can discover and file for patents and trademarks. On November 7th, 2014, the WordPress Foundation submitted an application to register the WordPress character mark which consists of standard characters, without claim to any particular font, style, size, or color.

WordPress Standard Character Mark
WordPress Standard Character Mark

Here’s an example of where the mark is already in use.

WordPress Mark in Use
WordPress Mark in Use

Once applications are published to the Trademark Official Gazette, parties who believe it will be damaged by the registration of the mark may file a notice of opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. If no party files an opposition or extension request within 30 days after the publication date, then a certificate of registration will be issued eleven weeks after the publication date.

On May 5th, 2015, Yablon filed an opposition request stating that if the Foundation successfully registers the mark, his company and others would be gravely and adversely effected. The Foundation’s lawyers responded on June 19th, 2015, by asking the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to suspend the registration process until the civil lawsuit in the District Court has completed.

On June 21st, 2015, Yablon filed a motion requesting default judgement and objected to the Foundation’s request to suspend the preceding. The case has yet to play out in court but lawyers from both parties are  battling it out in the public sphere.

A Conversation with Yablon

I spoke with Yablon on the phone for over an hour to figure out why he’s put himself in this position. During our conversation, I determined that he’s intelligent and has a good understanding of trademark law. He believes the WordPress Helpers website furthers the WordPress project by being an informational resource.

Using WordPress in his domain name is a business decision that allows people to instantly know what his site is about. He genuinely cares about the WordPress project, its community, and respects the Foundation’s rights to protect its trademarks.

He also told me that he’s not out to make a buck or prove a point. He’s defending his business from an entity that has a domain policy, not a law. He stressed that he’s not a villain as many in the WordPress community have made him out to be.

Near the end of our conversation, he said he just wants to run his business with his current domain name and is willing to make any changes to his non-affiliation disclaimer the Foundation deems necessary.

What’s at Stake

If Yablon gets the United States Patent and Trademark Office to deny the Foundation’s trademark and can win his lawsuit, it would make it easier for others to use WordPress in top-level domain names. It would be a crushing blow to the Foundation and limit its ability to protect WordPress’ branding.

Public opinion on Twitter, the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, and other social outlets suggest an overwhelming majority of people are in support of the Foundation. It will be interesting to see how the case concludes and what legal precedent it may set for others.

107 Comments


    1. Hi Jeff,

      I’d suggest deleting such comments to stop people from littering in your comments section. Matt, shame on for such blatant comment spam.

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  1. WordPress gives us so much. And does not ask for much in return, save for not using WordPress in a domain name. I, for one, think that is a great deal. And I am more than willing to go along with it.

    And well done Matt, above!

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    1. re: “And does not ask for much in return,”

      Matt M’s suggestion / request a couple months back was that everyone “give back” 5%, yes? So given the WP base, care to attach a dollar figure to that collective / aggregated 5%?

      Hint: I’m gonna guess it’s more than “not much.” ;)

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  2. Personally, I’m a bit fatigued by WordPress.org, Matt Mullenweg, Wordcamp and all the rest of “official” WordPress bullying us all.

    Just got notification that if we don’t make ALL our code GPL, we can no longer sponsor or present at Wordcamps (we’ve been a Gold or Silver sponsor in Bratislava for each of the past three years, presenting every year).

    We’ve got at least a dozen free plugins but I see no reason why we should be obligated to make our commercial code GPL. And if we don’t, I see no reason why we should not be allowed to continue to support the WordPress project.

    So kudos to Jaff Yablon for learning about trademark law and standing up to our new Big Brother.

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    1. I was under the impression this GPL rule had been in place for many years actually, I’m surprised and confused that this wasn’t public knowledge. You can’t speak, never mind sponsor, at a WordCamp if your items are not 100% GPL.

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      1. Exactly, I was lazy and couldn’t be bothered to look it up, so well done you Sir.

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      2. Hi Jeff,

        Thanks for the link.

        I guess I missed that story back then: too busy coding client sites and those GPL plugins. I enjoyed reading the post and found it interesting that Pippin almost ended up getting banned. I can’t read through 384 comments to figure out why he didn’t. It’s very frustrating to have made such a contribution both financially and in terms of effort (we helped with publicity for Wordcamp Slovakia twice) and to be kicked in the teeth as we don’t agree with EVERY single principle of Matt Mullenweg.

        WordPress slowly feels more like a cult than a community.

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      3. re: “WordPress slowly feels more like a cult than a community.”

        I for one would like to see an open discussion as to what exactly “community” means. The word gets casually tossed around a lot. And, as you noted, it might in many cases be the wrong word.

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    2. I really don’t understand why businesses that are so opposed to the GPL are so adamant about using WordPress as a platform to build their business on. There are so many opportunities and yet you want an entire ecosystem to adjust to your business’ preferences.

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    3. re: “Personally, I’m a bit fatigued by WordPress.org, Matt Mullenweg, Wordcamp and all the rest of “official” WordPress bullying us all.”

      There was a time WordPress felt like Radiohead. But now, as time slides on, WP feels more and more like Lady Gaga. Not that one is better than the other per se. But they are two very different creative beasts with two very different sets of ideals.

      If you’re still sold on the Radiohead-based brand, the new Gaga approach can certainly create fatigue.

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  3. In fact, some people have vocally called for him to be flogged in public because of his actions.

    It seems odd to mention this, but not say who it was.

    Is your personal relationship with the person who tweeted this the reason you haven’t attributed it to him?

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    1. No, I just didn’t think it was necessary. Browsing Twitter, it appears the tweets have been deleted so I’ve removed that part from the post.

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      1. His tweet – already seen by those who have followed this story – demonstrates the vicious pack-dog mentality that exists in some elements of the WordPress community.

        I’m glad he took it down, he should also apologise for it – rants like that do real damage to the community.

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      1. Yes, Marcus. He sure should be. Or prosecuted. Which do you think would be more appropriate?

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  4. I think Pippins problem is with Envato. I do find this interesting: Matt: I have forgone profit for principles many times and been lucky pretty much every time.

    I think many Developers have.

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    1. WordPress.com and Automattic have many ways of cheating:

      they allow certain plugins to be considered in compliance of GPL which are not in compliance of GPL
      allowing the bundling of multiple plugins into one massive JetPack, putting many individual developers out of work (free bundling this is straight out of Microsoft’s playbook btw), a tactic allowed to Automattic and Automattic only.
      moving everything to “services”. There’s no reason that nearly all of JetPack requires login to WordPress.com but it does. Then Automattic bundles and sells your data or analysis of said data on to others. Who knows what Automattic will do later with your data? They owe a lot of money to a lot of venture capitalists with very sharp teeth.
      not release their own code. I.e. Automattic have lots of great code they entice and sell to their VIP customers but that code is never officially released. Those of us enabling small businesses don’t have that luxury.

      All in all, Matt Mullenweg’s/Automattic’s stance on Wordcamp is perfect hypocrisy. I’m glad someone is challenging Automattic and WordPress.org. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

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      1. Hi Jeff,

        Is there any particular reason WP Tavern is stripping html ul and li tags? Oh yes, you are using JetPack. How are we supposed to format lists around here? Just checked…My comment above doesn’t make much sense without it’s unordered list. I’ll repost my comment with Markdown syntax. If that works, please delete the above comment.

        Thanks!

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      2. “Automattic have lots of great code they entice and sell to their VIP customers but that code is never officially released”

        Howdy, Alec — I run the VIP program at WordPress.com. I’d love to know what you’re referencing specifically.

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      3. Good news is, that you can build your company/service and do things better than Automattic.

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      4. Not when the deck is stacked in Automattic’s favour, we can’t Peter. Bundling fifteen plugins (fifteen is it now) gradually rising to twenty and to thirty and finally eliminating any other commercially interesting plugin with an Embrace, Extend, Extinguish bundle.

        Slowly boiling like frogs all of us are. Fortunately some of us have thermometers with us. Alas, like Cassandra our fate may be to have our predictions ignored until it’s too late.

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      5. Alec, you’ve been full of a lot of talk for this entire comment thread, but you have yet to provide evidence to back up your claims — even after repeated requests for you to explain them. Kindly justify your allegations, sir.

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      6. Tin Foil much? The more ranty you become, the further you dilute your intended message.

        You serve an awful lot of FUD with little to no evidence. Sometimes that type of behavior is called irrational (at best) or delusional (at worst.)

        Please clarify exactly how Automattic, the WPF, or Ma.tt have become evil overlords?

        PS: Yes, the Oxford Comma still exists as a thing.

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      7. @Toby,

        George has been ranting too. And your point remains valid no matter who is doing the ranting.

        @George Stephanis,

        Apart from said ranting, you might have had me, except that point 6 of the guidelines regarding “Serviceware” plugins makes half of Alec’s case for him. The last sentence says: “This will be handled on a case by case basis and our judgment on any given case is final.”

        In other words, those in charge get to say what’s right and what isn’t, and don’t you dare complain.

        That’s not a guideline; it’s an immunity clause.

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      8. @KTS915:

        I’m not ‘ranting’, I’m providing a comprehensive response, backed in facts — not baseless allegations.

        And that last paragraph is there for when things are a judgement call. While the judgement is final, I have yet to hear of a single judgement explained — ever — that I don’t understand and agree with. I’d be delighted to hear a counter example, though, rather than arguing about theoreticals. :)

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      9. @George Stephanis,

        You don’t do irony, do you?

        Otherwise, you’d never have put these latest two paragraphs together. In the second, you attempt to justify a provision where a decision-maker gets to validate his own opinion. While, in your first paragraph, you attempt to do just that! Who’d have thought it, eh?

        Out in the real world, you don’t get to judge your own behavior. And yours sure looked like a rant to me.

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    2. WordPress.com and Automattic have many ways of cheating:

      * they allow certain plugins to be considered in compliance of GPL which are not in compliance of GPL
      * allowing the bundling of multiple plugins into one massive JetPack, putting many individual developers out of work (free bundling this is straight out of Microsoft’s playbook btw), a tactic allowed to Automattic and Automattic only.
      * moving everything to “services”. There’s no reason that nearly all of JetPack requires login to WordPress.com but it does. Then Automattic bundles and sells your data or analysis of said data on to others. Who knows what Automattic will do later with your data? They owe a lot of money to a lot of venture capitalists with very sharp teeth.
      * not release their own code. I.e. Automattic have lots of great code they entice and sell to their VIP customers but that code is never officially released. Those of us enabling small businesses don’t have that luxury.

      All in all, Matt Mullenweg’s/Automattic’s stance on Wordcamp is perfect hypocrisy. I’m glad someone is challenging Automattic and WordPress.org.

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      1. Argh. Markdown format didn’t work properly either. At least the above is somewhat readable. Oh, for WordPress native comments!

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      2. 1 Which plugins do you speak of are not in compliance with GPL?
        2 Which developers have been put out of work as a result of Jetpack?
        3 I’m not a big jetpack user but some functions are handled better through a service, such as anti-spam. Nothing stops a user from not using Jetpack. I just pick what best fits the use case.
        4 They release tons of code and contribute back in many ways (core, sponsoring etc). Their Github is a goldmine. This is quite a ridiculous view to take, to put it lightly. I have been playing with the p2 theme for years, my favorite theme – it’s an Automattic project that I have a lot to thank for.

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      3. Howdy, Alec.

        So, a couple points:

        JetPack

        It’s Jetpack. Lower case p. If you’re going to misrepresent us, please at least spell it right. <3

        they allow certain plugins to be considered in compliance of GPL which are not in compliance of GPL

        How so? That’s a pretty serious allegation, especially considering those in charge of the Plugins Repo on .org (Pippin, Mika, Otto, etc) don’t work for WordPress.com/Automattic.

        allowing the bundling of multiple plugins into one massive JetPack, putting many individual developers out of work (free bundling this is straight out of Microsoft’s playbook btw), a tactic allowed to Automattic and Automattic only.

        Only Automattic is allowed to make a plugin that does many things? That’s patently false. As a counter-example, take a look at this: https://wordpress.org/plugins/woocommerce-jetpack/ — (despite the name, it is not run by WooThemes, Automattic, or Jetpack)

        Also, regarding your allegation that we’re “putting developers out of work” — I didn’t realize that just because Jetpack did something means that noone else can do it as well? Like how we do Contact Forms, so Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7 can’t exist. And how we do Related Posts, so YARPP and all of these other options — https://wordpress.org/plugins/search.php?q=related+posts — are clearly not in use by anyone at all.

        We do a lot of things to drive the platform forward — providing a common set of use cases, but as we’re trying to satiate the basic need of most users, we can’t go nearly as far in depth as many dedicated plugins are able to. Our goal is to keep WordPress a comprehensive easy to use platform, so users can grow with it, and then likely move from using Jetpack for Contact Forms — by way of example — to something else like Gravity Forms. It’s called building and growing an ecosystem.

        Moving everything to “services”. There’s no reason that nearly all of JetPack requires login to WordPress.com but it does.

        Actually that’s a patent falsehood.

        Related Posts is based off the WordPress.com Elasticsearch instance, which preforms the latent semantic analysis to find related content. You can’t do this without an Elasticsearch index.

        Publicize uses third-party API keys stored on WordPress.com to push new posts to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and other authenticated services.

        Photon uses WordPress.com servers to cache and serve up your images as a free CDN for users. Without connecting to WordPress.com and agreeing to the TOS, we would not have the right to serve up your images.

        Enhanced Distribution lets the WordPress.com servers automatically submit your content to Google and other web indexes as soon as it’s published to get your site found.

        Jetpack Comments uses WordPress.com accounts as well as Twitter, Facebook, Google to authenticate for comments using WordPress.com API keys without granting access to your remote accounts to random sites that happen to use Jetpack. This is a huge security win.

        Jetpack Protect leverages the Jetpack network to nip brute force password attacks in the bud before they get a chance to break in to your site. This requires secure connection to WordPress.com servers to exchange the data.

        The JSON API lets you use the WordPress.com JSON API to manage your site — something that required shared keys and authentication to happen.

        Plus Likes, Notifications, Uptime Monitor, Single Sign On, WordPress.com Stats, Spelling and Grammar Check, Subscriptions … all of which require authentication and secure communication to WordPress.com servers.

        So again — how exactly is it that Jetpack doesn’t actually need to connect to a WordPress.com account to do all this?

        Then Automattic bundles and sells your data or analysis of said data on to others. Who knows what Automattic will do later with your data? They owe a lot of money to a lot of venture capitalists with very sharp teeth.

        So it sounds like you’re opposed to the idea of third-party services in general? As any company could get bought out then your data could belong to unknown third party services?

        You’ve been making some very serious allegations with zero facts to back them up.

        not release their own code. I.e. Automattic have lots of great code they entice and sell to their VIP customers but that code is never officially released. Those of us enabling small businesses don’t have that luxury.

        What code would you like that we haven’t released? Matt’s stated policy is that he has no problem with us releasing pretty much any code that we feel worthwhile — with the exception of passwords and secret keys and such.

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      4. I realize it was a heat of the moment response to the whole thread, and you needed to get your points out in the comment before you forgot them, but Jetpack vs JetPack is not a spelling issue, it’s a capitalization issue. :D

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      5. Thank you tw2113, I couldn’t take the rest of the post seriously because he’s correcting someone else when he needed to be corrected as well. Apparently mistaking a capitalization issue with a spelling issue isn’t a big deal, but a capitalization issue is. This is a useless comment and should be deleted, but I just had to say it, that comment rubbed me a very wrong way. Nose is way too high.

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      6. Just pay attention to everything after the first item, that’s the meat of the comment and should be digested.

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      7. “they allow certain plugins to be considered in compliance of GPL which are not in compliance of GPL”

        “How so? That’s a pretty serious allegation, especially considering those in charge of the Plugins Repo on .org (Pippin, Mika, Otto, etc) don’t work for WordPress.com/Automattic.”

        I can answer that with a couple simple examples. Neither of these plugins offer any workable features without a paid account to the service:

        https://wordpress.org/plugins/displetreader-wordpress-plugin/

        https://wordpress.org/plugins/dsidxpress/

        We are wondering how it is we will be able to get our IDX Realty plugin published in the WP Repo, since, like these, it doesn’t offer any workable features with the license key they get from our Pippin make EDD License method.

        These are just a couple of examples. I have been working with WP for about 5 years now and have run across many others.

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      8. Okay, so here’s the guidelines, just as a refresher for anyone unfamiliar with them:

        https://wordpress.org/plugins/about/guidelines/

        The plugin itself must be all GPL-friendly code. Which those are. It says nothing about the external API that it interfaces with needing to be public GPL code — otherwise any plugin that connects to Twitter, Facebook, Google, or others would be allowed. Kinda silly.

        But when you’re talking about plugins that connect to external services but don’t do anything apart from that, I think you mean serviceware plugins, which are addressed by point 6 — which for convenience, I’ll copypasta here:

        6. “Serviceware” plugins are defined as plugins that merely act as an interface to some external third party service (eg. a video hosting site). Serviceware plugins ARE allowed in the repository, as long as the code in the plugin meets all other conditions. These are allowed even for pay services, as long as the service itself is doing something of substance. Creation of a “service” which does nothing but to provide keys or licenses or anything similar for the plugin, while the plugin does all the actual work, is prohibited. Moving arbitrary code into the service so that it can appear to do some work is also prohibited. This will be handled on a case by case basis and our judgment on any given case is final.

        Basically, if you’re moving some functionality to cloud services, you should have a reason for it being on cloud services — not just to collect user data by making them authenticate. In the case of Jetpack, there’s absolutely tons of reasons, and we don’t do anything in the cloud that could be done just as easily on client sites.

        It basically comes with the philosophical distinction of not putting arbitrary restrictions on code. That kinda violates the spirit of the GPL.

        Does that make sense? I’d be happy to try explaining again if you can clarify what points are confusing.

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      9. Thanks for the hands on examples, Johnny. There are even worse ones for those looking.

        George, more than half of what Jetpack does on the Cloud could be done locally. This includes Related Posts, Contact Forms, Publicize and Enhanced Distribution.

        This “need” for everything to go through WordPress.com services is exactly what I mean by tilting the playing field. Matt has found a loophole easily exploited at scale. And that’s exactly what he has had Automattic do.

        I don’t know if you are sincere in your self-righteous indignation George or if you are just paid to whitewash the money stains off of this purportedly noble endeavour. In any case, what Automattic and Jetpack is doing is anything except something for the community. It’s straight exploitation of a gradually fenced in audience.

        Google and Facebook have followed the same playbook. Feed the masses freebies until they fall asleep and then lock the door. It works but it’s hardly open source and it’s hardly community.

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      10. I still don’t understand how Jetpacks adds up to the kind of malicious agency you are projecting it to have.

        If jetpack is popular, it’s improving user experience for the entire market – especially those that are starting out with WordPress and want/expect certain features out of the box without having to hunt down individual plugins.

        If you don’t like Jetpack, it’s not mandatory. Hell, it’s open source, you can fork any subset of functionality and create a paid product if you so wish. And it’s really easy to compete with Jetpack if you’re targeting certain functionality.

        Whatever leverage Automattic has (huge .com userbase etc), also has downsides for smaller outfits to exploit. There’s no way it can compete with a laser focused developer or team that is completely focused on a single user group with a narrow problem. It has to satisfy a large userbase (hard and constricting!) rather than simply convert a small devoted group of users. And many WP oriented businesses thrive on focusing on a subset of users.

        I am glad they are focusing on growing the user base – that translates to more niche customers for commercial developers.

        Personally, I prefer small plugins and plugins that don’t require a 3rd party connection and that’s how I largely select what I use. But I can see the benefit in Jetpack’s approach.

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      11. George Stephanis said: “It says nothing about the external API that it interfaces with needing to be public GPL code ”

        So that’s the loop hole then? Bury your core code behind an external API, put the necessary fluff in the actually plugin and then that’s okay?

        Legally/ technically that feels fine. But it also feels like it makes the rich richer. That is, if you’re able to do such technology magic, you’ve skated the law. However, if you’re not so versed – and just an average Joe / Jane dev – then you’re screwed.

        Ouch. Feels ugly, dirty and perhaps dated. Is this where WP is headed?

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      12. Alec:

        George, more than half of what Jetpack does on the Cloud could be done locally. This includes Related Posts, Contact Forms, Publicize and Enhanced Distribution.

        Did you even read my comment? Related Posts, Publicize, and Enhanced Distribution are completely dependent on the cloud infrastructure of WordPress.com. I detailed precisely how, if you had taken the time to actually read it.

        Related Posts is based off the WordPress.com Elasticsearch instance, which preforms the latent semantic analysis to find related content. You can’t do this without an Elasticsearch index.

        Publicize uses third-party API keys stored on WordPress.com to push new posts to Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and other authenticated services.

        Enhanced Distribution lets the WordPress.com servers automatically submit your content to Google and other web indexes as soon as it’s published to get your site found.

        Related posts /can/ be done via complex MySQL queries based purely on taxonomies locally, but that’s far more taxing on local webservers, and outsourcing it to WordPress.com’s Elasticsearch index lets us reindex on the fly as new posts are published and have the much added benefit of using Latent Semantic Analysis — which looks at the actual content of the posts, and find related content, instead of basing it purely off common taxonomies. Much, much easier for legacy sites to migrate to.

        Why are you so eager to ascribe ulterior motives to people? I’m really trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that there’s just some misunderstanding, but with the dogged determination that you seem to have to misconstrue every good act as a knife in disguise, it’s getting hard to believe that this is something other than a personal grudge against Automattic for some unknown slight.

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      13. George, the whole point is that Jetpack is making API services out of items which could be executed directly (and even better) from the plugin itself. A WordPress publisher can just as easily authenticate to Google+, Facebook and Twitter without third party services. Heck we’ve even created the fastest social services plugin (in private beta on high traffic paid sites) in the world, Pretty Social which does just that with absolutely no need of any intermediate API service.

        That’s just one example. The same applies to related posts (why doesn’t Automattic do some work on efficient semantic indexing and release it to the COMMUNITY under GPL while we’re on the subject) . Requiring an API service to submit content to search engines is beyond ridiculous. Any junior programmer could build that into local PHP faster and better than putting it through an external service. Again, why isn’t Automattic leading the way with some public code for content distribution?

        I picked only a few examples, low hanging fruit. One could take the entire Jetpack apart piece by piece as unnecessary serviceware. As Jetpack belongs to Automattic, unfortunately, the playing field is not level and community objections are steamrolled.

        If Automattic wanted to play fair (and it’s clear Matt/Jetpack/VC’s don’t), you’d unbundle Jetpack and let each plugin compete on its own merits. Most of Jetpack would place third or fourth or worse in its respective marketplaces.

        I believe you are paid for your time lambasting anyone who voices any objection to Jetpack’s borg-like behaviour by Automattic. I’m writing on my free time, so please pardon me the brevity of my reply.

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      14. I believe you are paid for your time lambasting anyone who voices any objection to Jetpack’s borg-like behaviour by Automattic. I’m writing on my free time, so please pardon me the brevity of my reply.

        I’m paid on salary (so there is no ‘on the clock’ ‘off the clock’), but this isn’t any task that I’ve been assigned or asked to do. I’m responding on top of all my other duties, so this is equally my own time spent replying to you here.

        George, the whole point is that Jetpack is making API services out of items which could be executed directly (and even better) from the plugin itself.

        Okay, for starters, do you even know what Elasticsearch is? I keep mentioning Latent Semantic Analysis, do you have any concept of what that is, or how difficult it is to do? You can learn a bit by reading up on the ElasticPress plugin that the fine folks over at 10up have put together — but that’s not feasible for most users, as it requires running your own Elasticsearch instance. So we run a large instance in the cloud to make users lives easier.

        If you find any ‘Junior Developer’ that can build performant, solid, latent semantic analysis engine in PHP that can run well on a $5/month shared host against a MySQL database, please let me know, because that would be worth tens of millions easily.

        Yes, remote sites can post directly to FB, Twitter, etc with the right API keys, but that’s the trick — they need to go to each platform, set up a _developer_ account, get api keys … a lot of added confusion that most folks don’t want to do or have the understanding of how to do. So we just extend the Publicize infrastructure that’s already been in place for WordPress.com sites to support self-hosted Jetpack sites as well. We make user’s lives easier and less complicated.

        If Automattic wanted to play fair (and it’s clear Matt/Jetpack/VC’s don’t), you’d unbundle Jetpack and let each plugin compete on its own merits.

        If you don’t like a feature in Jetpack, you don’t have to enable it. That’s why we built it modularly. But as for why they are bundled, I wrote this post a while back — I really need to finish part two of it, but: http://stephanis.info/2015/01/31/why-jetpack-isnt-a-collection-of-plugins-part-the-first/ should give you some understanding of why Jetpack is bundled, and it’s not to try to take over the world.

        https://cloudup.com/cGHOf_70uur

        One could take the entire Jetpack apart piece by piece as unnecessary serviceware. As Jetpack belongs to Automattic, unfortunately, the playing field is not level and community objections are steamrolled.

        We build it, and we build it as we believe best benefits the community — But as it’s GPL, you’re welcome to spin aspects off to standalone plugins, as some folks already have: https://wptavern.com/jp-bot-the-silent-bot-behind-the-jetpack-module-extraction-plugins — note that those have not been ‘steamrolled’.

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      15. George, do you just believe if you keep telling us again and again that it’s okay for Automattic to autoactivate new modules in Jetpack, it’s okay to send all your data through WordPress.com servers, it’s okay to make your entire website dependent on a fake free service (Automattic can cut people off or start charging any time they want, as Automattic notably have done with Akismet – after wiping out every other competitor via the free service), someone will believe you?

        Thank you for the link to the other conversation about Jetpack including how and why Automattic is not playing on a level playing field.

        Hopefully you can find time for a critical reading course to help you with words like “unfounded”. In each case, I’ve provided specific examples to back my distaste for Jetpack’s borg approach.

        Apparently resistance is futile. Where is Hugh when you need him?

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      16. Hopefully you can find time for a critical reading course to help you with words like “unfounded”. In each case, I’ve provided specific examples to back my distaste for Jetpack’s borg approach.

        Absolutely. You’ve failed repeatedly to provide any evidence to back up your claims, such as:

        they allow certain plugins to be considered in compliance of GPL which are not in compliance of GPL

        Which plugins do we consider fraudulently in compliance of the GPL? Names and links please.

        allowing the bundling of multiple plugins into one massive JetPack, putting many individual developers out of work (free bundling this is straight out of Microsoft’s playbook btw), a tactic allowed to Automattic and Automattic only.

        What plugins has the .org plugins team (not Automattic) rejected for bundling too many features? Citations, please.

        Also, can you give me the name of any specific developer put out of work by the fact that we release code and services for free?

        There’s no reason that nearly all of JetPack requires login to WordPress.com but it does.

        Factually proven wrong in subsequent comments.

        They (Automattic) owe a lot of money to a lot of venture capitalists with very sharp teeth.

        What venture capitalists do we ‘owe’ money to? Some companies own shares in Automattic, but what money do we ‘owe’ any of them? Amounts and company names, please.

        Automattic have lots of great code they entice and sell to their VIP customers but that code is never officially released.

        What code do we ‘sell’ to VIP customers?

        Those of us enabling small businesses don’t have that luxury.

        Really? Because I can provide you tons of examples of small businesses that sell code to their customers.

        Here’s a few:

        * GravityForms + AddOns
        * NinjaForms AddOns
        * UkuuPeople AddOns
        * Easy Digital Downloads
        * Paid Memberships Pro
        * Pretty much everything else on https://proplugindirectory.com/

        Automattic can cut people off or start charging any time they want, as Automattic notably have done with Akismet – after wiping out every other competitor via the free service

        Akismet’s free plan has always been free for “personal, non-commercial sites and blogs” up to a specified number of checks per month (and I don’t think we even care for occasional overages).

        What non-commercial, personal site or blog using Akismet was asked to start paying for it because of usage?

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  5. As I understand it, you can’t use WordPress in the TLD but you can in the subdomain. That is, TheWordPressHelpers.com is not allowed, but TheWordPress.Helpers.com is. Technically, again as I understand it, both instances qualify as domains; domains that support websites. That is, to most people the difference would be negligible at best.

    The point being, if The Foundation’s intention is to eliminate confusion then allowing WordPress in a subdomain feels they may have left themselves open to sending conflicting messages; a disconnect that might, with the right legal argument, favor Yablon. Gray area and law tend to end up a roll of the dice.

    I’m certainly not taking sides. Personally, since using simple ol’ WP allows for a shorter domain name, as well as, for example, a shorter Twitter @handle, I would go with WP. Sure, WordPress spelled out is clearer but a biz model built on the name alone should probably have a Plan B. That is, WordPress in the name isn’t going to be enough.

    p.s. For anyone who is interested WordPressLawSuit.com was available as of a few minutes ago. :)

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    1. Yeah that is similar to my thoughts, you can even have websites like as an example
      https://tutorials.wordpress.com/ (Just an example I quickly searched but heaps out there like this)

      Hosted by wordpress.com and they don’t stop you which these sites if made nicely on wordpress.com would look a lot more offical people learning about wordpress as they wouldn’t know how wordpress.com worked.

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      1. Building anything on a subdomain (where someone else controls the TLD) is building on quick sand. This is not good business advice Jay (perhaps as business advice it works for a secondary promotional site, like an old school content farm) for a primary website.

        Any day Automattic (or any other TLD holder) tires of your site or would like to be in your business, your subdomain is toast.

        As a tiny example, all of Geocities just went offline one day. In the Geocities case there wasn’t even malice involved.

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    1. Sounds like advice coming straight from Redmond in the nineties and the noughts. I.e. if you don’t give in to us at Microsoft, our lawyers will annihilate you. Is this the spirit of open source? Is this the kind of “community” we are?

      There’s a very good case that WordPress is not a registrable trademark as it’s in common use. Microsoft did win the Windows trademark case in the end but it was a close call and looked like open judicial corruption at the time.

      I’m not quite sure why you are siding with bullies Michael.

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      1. You do realize you are comparing Microsoft at the peak of its monopoly days with a non profit foundation that is designed to protect WordPress, the free open source project that millions of people benefit from?

        Let that sink in a bit longer…

        And by the way, if not the WordPress Foundation, what other entity is going to actually do the ‘fun’ work of protecting the project? Do you suggest it should just be the Wild West where any other commercial business can do as they please with the WordPress name/logo/brand?

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      2. The head of the Foundation is also the millionaire CEO of Automattic – a company valued at $1-2 billion

        If the Foundations trademark claim was to fail, it could potentially cause problems for Automattics profits if other companies are allowed to legally offer hosted WordPress solutions with “WordPress” included in their domain names.

        A logical question to ask is why Matt decided to launch legal action against this guy, when plenty of others use WordPress in their domain name, or in product names like “WordPress SEO by Yoast”

        It’s purely because Yablon filed a notice of opposition to their trademark claim, so Matt retaliated by launching a law suit that threatens Yablon with financial ruin.

        It’s a clear attempt to scare Yablon – you drop your opposition to the trademark claim, we’ll drop our lawsuit against you. Matts lawyers must be concerned that there might be merit to Yablons opposition to their trademark claim, hence the use law suit as a scare tactic to get him to drop the opposition.

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      3. Did I read that right? The WordPress foundation took action to prevent Pagely from the “identification of services” provided including hosting for WordPress? Wow. That’s a head scratcher…

        Fast forward 3 years and many hosts, including Pagely, offer hosting for WordPress. It’s largely seen as a great thing for the WordPress ecosystem.

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      4. “You do realize you are comparing Microsoft at the peak of its monopoly days with a non profit foundation that is designed to protect WordPress, the free open source project that millions of people benefit from”

        I have to say that in Alec’s original comparison the biz model is irrelevant. Someone’s making money somewhere because WooThemes just got picked up by Automattic for a serious pile of coin. The fact that the foundation is a non-profit doesn’t really factor in to Alec’s points. In fact some might argue that using a non-profit to fight the battles of a mega-entity is kinda shady, or at least in poor taste.

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      5. Any other casual allegations would you like to throw in there?

        When I reach that billion dollar level valuation I’m totally going to start a non-profit foundation to do my bidding, what a brilliant thought. Thank you, sir.

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      6. @Peter Knight,

        What “casual allegations” is @mfs making?

        “When I reach that billion dollar level valuation I’m totally going to start a non-profit foundation to do my bidding, what a brilliant thought. Thank you, sir.”

        You don’t get out much, do you? That’s been standard behavior for some wealthy folks since at least the time of the Rockefellers. Do keep up.

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      1. Not that I take ANYTHING as gospel, but if you read that decision is pretty much looks to be written with a case like this in mind. Of course, that’s my side; my worthy opponents would no doubt argue otherwise.

        Then again, as it’s possible to indict a ham sandwich (http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/11/25/sol_wachtler_the_judge_who_coined_indict_a_ham_sandwich_was_himself_indicted.html), this should surprise nobody.

        Ham placed firmly in cheek, let me repeat: I’m actually very much on WordPress’ side and at TWPH we’re promoting the platform, not hurting it.

        Wish more people understood that.

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      2. Answer Guy, I’m curious where you stand on this: do you think it would help or hinder WordPress in general if there were dozens if not hundreds of sites who are using WordPress in their root domain. Good businesses, bad businesses and the like? Do you think that would make life easier for prospective WordPress users, especially if many of the sites come across as ‘authorative’ looking sites? Because if one business can do it, so can others.

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      3. Peter, this is the crux of the WordPress argument; they need to be in control of their own destiny and (even if they acknowledge that they would benefit from such a thing) it isn’t what they want. OK, we can all agree with that as an idea.

        I’m not going to talk here about the opinions that the WP legal team and I have shared with each other, but suffice it to say that issues like that have be discussed. AS THEY HAVE BEEN HERE AND ELSEWHERE.

        Speaking purely from a “what is my opinion” perspective, I believe that WP is at a point in their growth where they benefit from greater awareness. They can’t possibly reach the 50% market share they claim they want without a huge public-awareness effort, and this is the reason they’re putting such an emphasis on Jetpack, as Ma.TT acknowledges.

        SO: if we can stipulate that they still need to be able to shut down the bad guys, we’re down to a discussion about whether it’s better to shut down EVERYONE they can because at a certain size it’s too hard to flesh out the bad guys. And in that argument it doesn’t matter that I’m a GOOD guy, right?

        At that point this really does become about arcane stuff like trademarks. But trademarks are what they are; they provide protection, but they cut both ways. The “technicality” that some people have said I’m trying to take advantage of is the same technicality that WP is using to say “we don’t want to have to work so hard to find the bad guys even if that’s the right move right now, since good guys help us”.

        Final point: as with most things legal, this isn’t about “right”, it’s about technicalities. So here’s the big technicality: for the trademark holder, the downside of having one is that you are OBLIGATED to protect the trademark against ALL “infringers”. Who wants to start listing all the domains that have “wordpress” in their TLDS? Now who wants to guess whether WP is aware of all, or most, or even some of those but hasn’t gone after them?

        And if you are demonstrated not to have done the job, you lose the trademark.

        BTW, let’s be clear: if the trademark I opposed gets approved and WP has full word-and-characters protection do you think they’ll continue their policy that using the nine letters in or as a subdomain is allowed? For that matter, do you think they’ll be able to make that decision if they want to keep that trademark?

        Wait, you asked me yay or nay and I went off, so: yay, because right now they need the help.

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      4. That’s the whole point. Other businesses besides Automattic should be able to use the WordPress name. The Automattic/Foundation attack on Pagely above is an incredible and perfect example of the horrendous bullying the community faces from Automattic.

        Many of us have contributed enormously to WordPress. There’s no reason at all it should be winner take all as Automattic seems to want with exclusive use of the name WordPress, secret sauce VIP hosting and bans from Wordcamp for competitors.

        As others have mentioned, Yoast is a favoured child of the WordPress.org honchos. He’s allowed to shamelessly profit off of the WordPress name. Apparently a support ticket for his GPL plugin costs $700. Why should Yoast be allowed to profiteer and others not allowed to offer reasonably priced support using the WordPress name?

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  6. The only thing that surprises me here is that the Foundation didn’t register the trademark until Nov 2014.

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      1. Which raises the much bigger question of what the Foundation is for.

        If it took them four years to realize that WordPress should be registered as a trademark, then clearly the Foundation’s trustees aren’t up to the job and ought to resign.

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  7. is this the first time they have sued over domains? I know its a general rule, but was it ever enforced? lots of wordpress domains

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    1. I tried to research this question and to the best of my knowledge, Jeff Yablon is the first person to be sued for infringing the WordPress trademarks. Knowing Matt, suing someone or a company is equivalent to the nuclear option and is done as a last resort. I could not find another instance where the WordPress Foundation filed a lawsuit concerning trademarks.

      There are also no public statistics for how many times the Foundation has successfully or unsuccessfully obtained a trademark violating domain through cease and desist letters or other legal paperwork. That to me would be an interesting statistic and would expose the efforts the foundation goes through to protect the trademarks via the domains.

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      1. does this mean if you had the domain prior to 2014 you are ok? not sure about the law on that

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      2. Trademark law doesn’t stop you from using a word as part of your domain, or referencing other brands as you see fit, as far as I know. Trademark is about protecting a certain brand and making sure people know the source of the product you are representing. Multiple disclaimers throughout the site make it very clear they are not affiliated with Automattic. Having a policy isn’t the same thing as controlling the law. Everyone who runs a wordpress site does or should know the difference between a domain like thewordpresshelpers.com and wordpress.org, especially with the disclaimers spelling it out through the site. I for one wouldn’t want apple to start suing everybody with mac guru in their domain name, or have the right to, since they don’t claim to be affiliated with apple and there is no reasonable cause for confusion.
        For example, http://www.the-mac-guru.com and http://www.themacguru.net clearly complement apple, not directly compete with them. I think what Facebook does, try to sue obvious parody or fan sites is an attack on free speech too.

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  8. Trademarks on the WordPress name.

    Trademark filed March 1, 2006 is for:

    – IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Downloadable software program for use in design and managing content on a website. FIRST USE: 20030328. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030328
    – IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Software solutions, namely providing use of on-line non-downloadable software for use in enabling internet publishing. FIRST USE: 20030328. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030328

    Trademarks filed Nov. 17 2014 is for:

    – IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: electronic publishing services, namely, publication of video, text and graphic works of others via the Internet. FIRST USE: 20030328. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030328
    – IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: clothing, namely, t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, jackets, pullovers, tank tops and shorts. FIRST USE: 20060700. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20060700

    Looks like links to Patent searches don’t work, but you can search here: http://www.uspto.gov/trademark

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  9. It would be interesting to see what implications this has for other uses such as twitter handles, facebook pages, linked in groups, etc, as the same rules should apply there also, shouldn’t they?

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  10. I for one am siding with WordPress Helpers on this issue. Just because their policy and guidelines are spelt out on the website does not give them legal right to enforce it.

    Furthermore, they are going to have to prove it was damaging. Everyone here is saying that it’s to protect the WordPress project but the website is not even “damaging” their name. How do you damage a non-profit organisation? It’s about the same as flipping off Peta or creating petasucks.com. I fail to see how they are protecting the organisation the owner of WordPress Helpers even states on every page he has no association with the Foundation or Automattic.

    If this was a case about him buying WordPress.io then I could see this being a meaningful fight but they don’t have the right to go after anyone who uses the name WordPress in their URL.

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  11. Regardless who “wins” the lawsuit, this WordPress Helper guy isn’t winning any friends. I think he probably will win and it will actually allow folks to confidently use “WordPress” in domain names but the way he’s gone about it is by acting like a know-it-all with no respect for anyone who disagrees with him. I will say it is a good topic to bring to light and finally settle in front of a judge, but there ways to be less of a jerk about it.

    Personally, I would never do business with him or help promote anything he’s involved in and I think that’s an important thing for anyone running a business. The last thing you need is enemies, especially ones with a lot of money on their side. Almost worse than enemies is simply having influential people in your niche who are indifferent towards you.

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    1. Chris, thanks for that. You’re not the first person to voice such an opinion and I take it seriously.

      OTOH: we’ll never know; the way things “started” back in November put this on an ugly path. And I wish I’d done it differently, if only for the issues with the community.

      But I also believe I’m doing a lot of people a favor (clearing up use of the nine letters), and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so had this started any other way.

      I sincerely appreciate the feedback, even though “you would never do business with me”.

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    2. Hi Chris, I am presuming you are attributing your comment to your being an influential person in his niche. I find it interesting that you mention a trait many people attribute to WordPress core participants, ie; “know-it-all with no respect for anyone who disagrees…” and they haven’t fallen on hard times.

      No, I believe that the internet is big enough for all types, including people who choose not to do business with other people whom they disagree with.

      While I wouldn’t be doing business with the “WordPress Helper guy” simply because I don’t need to. I would promote his right as (well as yours) to do everything within his constitutionally guaranteed rights to do.

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    3. @Chris Wallace,

      “… but the way he’s gone about it …”

      He registered some domain names. That seems a pretty run-of-the-mill thing to do. How else would you like him to have “gone about it”?

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  12. Yablon should get props for standing up to the Man. The WP ecosystem benefits from the core platform it rallies around, and as a result, benefits from it. But it’s a symbiotic relationship in that the foundation (and Automattic) benefits from as well (it benefits the most, apparently).

    His sites clearly, unambiguously, unmistakably state non-affiliation with the foundation or Automattic and the like, and does not purport to be WordPress itself, but a site that supports it. Sure, he stands to benefit from it (all claims to not profiting from it notwithstanding), and likely already is, given all this publicity (no such thing as negative publicity, hey?). But putting out a GPL-licensed, open source product and profiting as a commercial entity (valued at more than a billion dollars no less) and throwing this under the aegis of the “foundation” is in bad taste at best.

    That he has WordPress the name in the domain has never been the issue (WordPress SEO by Yoast being a clear example), save only that Yablon stood up to try and put a kibosh on their filing, is why the foundation used this retaliatory option. Wonder how Linus Torvalds would feel for all the sites that carry his baby’s name.

    You can’t blame the foundation for trying to skirt the issue by attacking Yablon elsewhere and doing it with this lawsuit, but Yablon has firm ground to stand on.

    TL;DR. “There’s no APPLICABLE trademark.” WordPress in this case isn’t harmed by Yablon’s use. Technically or not it’s within the spirit of fair use. It’s their fault it took them this long to file the trademark and have someone block/dispute it.

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    1. Unsurprisingly, I love this reply, so thank you.

      Allow me to make a couple of points:

      First, I never said “I’m not trying to make a profit”, I DID say I’m not trying to profit off anyone else’s name/property.

      Blurry line? Maybe. And it’s ultimately the only thing this argument is about, right? But I’m being clear, as I always have: I HELP them, not harm them.

      Re: the question of the Foundation being the entity in this fight rather than Automattic Inc: In my opinion, setting that up was a pretty smart pre-redirect; it gets people talking about a complete non-issue “capitalistic pig vs charity!!!!!!”. But it’s also complete nonsense.

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      1. > Re: the question of the Foundation being the entity in this fight rather than Automattic Inc: In my opinion, setting that up was a pretty smart pre-redirect; it gets people talking about a complete non-issue “capitalistic pig vs charity!!!!!!”. But it’s also complete nonsense.

        Who’s framing you as capitalistic pig? Or is this about framing the issue as David vs Goliath, big business vs small business?

        Why isn’t there more talk about how this affects WordPress as whole. If one business can come in and use WordPress in its root domain, then others should be allowed to and will. Newcomers and novices will be more likely to be confused, this could threaten the platform and its growth. It also gives some businesses an unfair advantage over others. What’s bad for the project, is probably not that good for the all the people that are able to make a living working with it.

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      2. Peter, if the “he’s a corporation fighting an evil fight against a charity” hasn’t been put forth here, I apologize. It certainly has been put forth in various places.

        What has been suggested here is that transferring the trademarks Automattic once owned to a charity certainly appears tactical rather than altruistic. And I’ve never seen any real explanation other than “shrewd business move” for why that was done.

        Oddly, I get attacked for making what we only ever intended as a shrewd business move. Irony is fun, right?

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  13. A few years ago Toyota who owns the trademak for “Lexus” sued Tabari, who is an automobile broker for Lexus brand car, for using the domains buy-a-lexus.com and buyorleaselexus.com.

    In the end Toyota lost because of the legal concept of “Nominative Fair Use”. Its was ruled that:
    1. Use of “Lexus” was needed to readily identify Lexus brand cars
    2. The references to “Lexus” in the disputed domains were not more than necessary i.e. not excessive
    3. There were no false suggestion of sponsorship or endorsement by the Toyota in the disputed domains

    I do see a lot of similarities between both cases

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  14. I’ll regret this, I know I will. To avoid Jeff name confusion I’ll be a little formal here.

    *I wish I had more coffee, coffee is good*

    My question to Mr. Yablon is a simple one: what do you hope to accomplish using those “nine letters” in your domain name? A short and concise answer would be appreciated even though I’m posting a whole essay here.

    I’ll preface that question and ask anyone replying to put aside the following vitriol:

    * anti-Matt
    * anti-GPL
    * anti-Jetpack
    * anti-Automattic
    * anti-core team
    * anti-establishment
    * anti-anyone-connected-with-WordPress-in-any-way-volunteer-or-not

    The WordPress Foundation has very clear and unambiguous guidelines for using the WordPress in any domain name.

    http://wordpressfoundation.org/trademark-policy/

    That’s something that is respected by the community not necessarily because the community is legally bound to but because the WordPress Foundation asked people not to do that.

    Just because you think you can legally do something does not mean you should.

    For example, as an amateur photographer I know I can capture images of anyone on the street in NYC. And if anyone asked me to I would without hesitation delete that image of them. That’s the respectful and community thing to do regardless if I had to delete it or not.

    What I would not do is get into an argument about my rights or engage the person I snapped with “Let me use your image, here’s a model release form.” If they refused I would not say “I offered you a compromise, why won’t you negotiate with me?” It would not matter; I do not try to compel people to do something they clearly do not want to do.

    IANAL but there’s two possible outcomes here. Mr. Yablon prevails and there will continue to be a flood of people going against the foundation’s wishes. There currently are hundreds of domains out there with those nine letters it them. They are also among the most disreputable, spammy and worthless hive of scum and villainy the Internet sees today.

    If Mr. Yablon loses? Well that could be very costly to him personally. If there’s someway he can avoid that outcome then I suggest he takes that option now.

    No matter what the result is for this case people will use, support and continue to make a living with WordPress. This “issue” doesn’t really impact the community one way or the other.

    What he may not be aware of is that had he followed the established norms for the WordPress community and just had a WordPress support/consulting business then he would be welcomed with open arms. There’s not any gaffe that can’t be overlooked and passed over.

    This is a community about cooperation and friendly competition. Not everyone agrees with decisions made by all groups in the community but meet these people and interact with them. They’ve all got good intentions. I assume that Mr. Yablon does too but I can’t see much past trying to use the domain to make a quick buck.

    Mr. Yablon’s website does not representing anyone except one person. I do not believe he is doing this for the community, he’s not the David in a Goliath fight. That’s just a misrepresentation.

    So back to my question for Mr. Yablon: What do you hope to accomplish using those “nine letters” in your domain name?

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      1. Dan, and Jan:

        I did answer. You need it simpler? Fine, here it is:

        “I hope to help WordPress Grow”

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    1. @Jan Dembowski,

      That’s a very fair question.

      Nevertheless, I think your analogy is flawed. Like you, I would delete the image of a person whom I’d photographed but who didn’t want me to use the image.

      But here’s where the problem lies. What if, before going out to do some amateur photography, you or I decided to adopt a policy that we would use such images? Would that make us free to impose that policy on others?

      That essentially is what the WordPress Foundation has done here.

      Your comment that “Just because you think you can legally do something does not mean you should” is a sentiment I wholeheartedly share. But it applies to the Foundation just as much as to any individual.

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    2. Jan, did you just turn this into a morals conversation? I think you know from our prior dealings that nothing productive would happen if we went toe to toe on that.

      So while I appreciate that you said “hey everyone,let’s stay on point”, you also kinda went off point. One more irony in the whole debate.

      What I hope to accomplish isn’t really germane unless my answer is something high-handed and moralistic. I’ll not insult you nor put forth a fake-sounding argument.

      I DO believe that WordPress’ position re “wp but not wordpress” (and) “wordpress in your subdomain is OK” is ridiculous. I DO believe I’m helping not just the community but WordPress (arrrrgh … Automatic … arggh … everyone) by advancing this conversation.

      But I also believe that if the wordmark I’ve contested is issued it’s likely that there will be clamp-downs on those things next, so yeah, man, I’m trying to protect a whole lot of people besides me against that happening.

      And that’s not a moral position; it’s a legal and business one.

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      1. Why not just skip to the top (or the bottom) and just focus on this question:

        What do you hope to accomplish using those “nine letters” in your domain name?

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      2. Both Mr Yablon and I have provided substantive answers to that question, Jan. Mr Yablon would like to build his WordPress support business at TheWordpressHelpers.com.

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    3. According to trademark law cited above (Lexus case), Mr Yablon is allowed to use the word WordPress as long as he makes clear that he is not associated with Automattic. Which Mr Yablon has.

      Why should Mr Yablon (or me or you) be allowed to do this? Here’s a few reasons.

      Personally I have a big issue with Automattic walking off with our collective intellectual property (the rights to use the word WordPress in relation to our consulting, hosting or coding services). I have another issue with Automattic telling me what license I have to use on my commercial code (or banning my company from Wordcamp after sponsoring Wordcamp Slovakia three times). I have further issues with Automattic trying to eliminate the pro plugin market via the fake free Jetpack borg collection. I have more issues with favoritism within WordPress.org for favoured developers like Yoast.

      For all my admiration for the origins of WordPress and our open source community at the beginning, it seems to me we are no longer playing on a level playing field. While Matt Mullenweg is the flavour of the day for his apparently high minded altruism that all code should GPL, those of us who have been developing WordPress from almost day one remember that when the high minded Mr. Mullenweg ran hidden gambling and porn links at WordPress.org for big payola. Google intervened and Mr. Mullenweg was overcome with remorse and removed the links.

      Apparently Mr. Mullenweg has reformed since. This is comforting to know: successful criminal rehabilitation is an important component of a healthy society. On the other hand, now that Mr. Mullenweg has aligned himself with VC (well known for their altruism, the importance they place on the GPL and their deep respect for the open source community), it would seem prudent to scrutinise his and Automattic’s actions rather carefully.

      In this context, Mr Yablon (and all of us who have contributed to WordPress’s success) should be able to use the name WordPress in our products and our domains as long as we are clear that we are not associated with Automattic or WordPress.com in any way. I can just see the case for not allowing any top level domain which is just WordPress by itself (as that could confuse visitors about whom the site belongs to).

      In my opinion, the foundation should content itself with enforcing the existing strong “not associated” protections and stop bullying individuals who are using the word WordPress in good faith. I salute Mr. Yablon for standing up for all of us.

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      1. Hi Peter,

        Thank you for taking a personal interest in me (although I believe the topic of conversation is the WordPress Foundation, The WordPress Helpers, Automattic – and by extension its CEO). We put up a free article spinner many years ago to save people from being scammed into paying for much worse solutions when content repurposing was all the rage. People seem to like it so we leave it there for them to use, although it’s been a very long time since we’ve used it internally.

        Another one of our free tools which really seems to help people and would probably be of more interest to you is our online Pandoc translation tool. If you are not familiar with Pandoc, it allows you to convert html to Textile to Markdown to Latex among other formats. As we were big Basecamp users before switching to Teamwork, we were doing a lot of Textile to Markdown conversion for awhile.

        I hope our Pandoc Online will make your online life as a writer easier too!

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      2. Too bad you didn’t create an open source plugin from your article spinner like a commenter on your site requested. I understand it worked great just as a service. Hey, quite the idea, a 3rd party service.

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    4. This sounds like the stupid arguments from the past where people talked about the “spirit of the GPL” to prevent people of forking etc. Eithers its ok according to trademark law to do as Yablon or its not. Thats the basic question and the only question of any relevance. Nothing concerning him as a person, quality of the work, or anything else regarding anything else but that basic question is of any interest. He could be the friendliest o thef friendliest and a completly moral outstanding citizen or a complete and utter ahole it would still not have any bearing on the legalities.

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  15. I think everything that can be discussed regarding the case has been discussed. Why Jetpack, Automattic, or GPL was brought into the discussion is beyond me. Also, plenty of people confusing Automattic with the Foundation. Some people see them as all the same when they’re not. I think it’s time to close the comments and wait to see how the case plays out. Then we can start all over again.

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  16. Commenting on this post has been disabled to retain what little sanity I have left. We’ll meet again at the conclusion of the court case.

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