I posted about this yesterday after I was sent a link to the post on Tom Raftery’s blog about O’Reilly sending lawyers after an Irish Conference. I was firstly shocked and secondly annoyed about it so I decided I’d keep an eye on it and see how this all evolved. Before this I never quite realised the power of blogging … it has really opened my eyes and the blog sphere is positively buzzing about this little doozey and O’Reilly are feeling the heat! From my spin through the blogsphere the first thing I note is a unanimous agreement that O’Reilly made a HUGE booboo by sending the lawyers in on this one as a first resort and so close to the date of the conference. This has achieved only two things, it has made O’Reilly look so bad that techies all over the web are vowing to take their book business elsewhere and given so much free press to [email protected] that their conference is sure to sell out! The second thing that even the few O’Reilly apologists I came across seem to agree on is that “Web2.0” isn’t really even a trademarkable term!

So, before I bore you all with my personal feelings on this great big mess I’ll just bring you up to speed on the facts of what have happened since my post yesterday. Firstly, O’Reilly ate some humble pie and rang [email protected] and apologised for sending in the lawyers before even talking to the organisers (good!), that was unfortunately followed by what Tom Raftery very sensibly calls “O’Reilly’s Mean Spirited Response“. There also followed some attempts by the O’Reilly PR department to save some face which just seem like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic to me; “Controversy About Our Web 2.0 Service Mark” and “More on Our Web 2.0 Service Mark“.

So, now that you’re up to date on the facts of the matter, lets delve into some opinion. I basically think the whole thing is insane. Web 2.0 is not a name of something, it is a descriptive word that describes a vast nebulous set of concepts and even ideal as well as being a common management buzzword. Try explaining to someone what Web 2.0 actually is. Do you honestly think you’ll use O’Reilly in that description? I wouldn’t. Web 2.0 is not about any one person and is certainly not about any one company. Web 2.0 is not trademarkable, it is a descriptive term used by web developers and IT managers all over the world all the time to describe an exceptionally vast and nebulous set of concepts and ideas. No one owns a word like that, it is a part of the language of IT.

O’Reilly point out that they don’t claim to own the term, just use of the word in conference titles. That is no better, it is in fact just as insane. It is literally like someone trying to prevent anyone else from using the term “Object Orientation” in the title of a conference. They are basically saying “you can have conferences ABOUT Web 2.0, you just can’t use that word in their name”. Pure insanity! O’Reilly are literally turning Web 2.0 into ‘the paradigm that should not be named’ or ‘you know what’. That doesn’t benefit anyone and certainly not O’Reilly.

O’Reilly claim to have breathed life into Web 2.0 and no one can deny that they have played a huge part in hyping it up but that does not give them a monopoly over it? Should that give them a monopoly over it? Ah, but Bart, you forget that the American government DID give them the right to a monopoly over it when it comes to conference titles so obviously they must be entitled to it … right? NO! The American administration made a mistake, the Service mark should not have been given. They have made mistakes before, they will make mistakes again and this is a mistake. I just hope the EU have the sense to deny them the Service Mark in Europe.

Now, those of you who know me know I despise the term Web 2.0 almost as much as the term Enterprise. That’s why I do see a silver lining to this cloud. I think O’Reilly are about to manage what common sense has failed to do for years, kill the term Web 2.0! That really is the ultimate Irony to me. If people are denied the use of the term “Web 2.0” in the title of their conferences they will simply come up with a new term and that term will be free to be used by all in all contexts so it will over-take and replace Web 2.0. O’Reilly can only loose out of pushing ahead with this policy. They have lost respect from a community who are almost as fanatical as Mac users and they stand to loose even more if the carry on with this doomed policy. Dig up Tim …. dig UP!