Where are the lawyers 2.0? Or, “the parody defense”

Where are the lawyers 2.0? Or, “the parody defense”: There are some giggles about whether there is actually a conference (or is it a parody website?) taking place next month in Tyson’s Corner called, “The New New Internet Web 2.0 Conference.” I assume (like Dave) there really is a conference planned, but I suggest its organizers keep the “parody” rumors alive. Why?

A few days ago, Tim O’Reilly wrote on his weblog:

“I’m also pleased to report that CMP has agreed to narrow the scope of enforcement of the Web 2.0 trademark registration. It will only seek to protect the Web 2.0 trademark if another other Web 2.0-related event has a name that is confusingly similar to the names of the actual events co-produced by CMP and O’Reilly, such as our events “The Web 2.0 Conference” and “The Web 2.0 Expo.” This is consistent with my original understanding about why the trademark filing was made. I must confess that I’ve always thought that the point was simply to protect the event names, as evidenced by the fact that we have always put the trademark notice at the end of the conference names on the website that O’Reilly produces, “The Web 2.0 Conference.”

As the Tyson’s Corner conference is calling itself The New New Internet Web 2.0 Conference*, this appears to be the type of infringement Tim describes. As the conference is prominently displaying the logos of such companies and institutions as Microsoft, Google, TechCrunch, Jobster and the Harvard Business School, I believe there is clearly the opportunity for CMP and O’Reilly to display “harm” and to claim damages.

Admittedly, I am not a lawyer and I only play one on this blog. However, from my legal Lazy Boy, here’s my advice to the Tyson’s Corner folks: Claim you are using the phrase “Web 2.0” as commentary and parody of the O’Reilly/CMP conferences — and call in Rageboy as an expert witness. You could use one of my favorite legal cases, Suntrust vs. Houghton Mifflin to defend your usage of the trademarked term, Web 2.0®.

*From the source code of the Tyson’s Corner conference website:

<title>The New New Internet - Web 2.0 Conference</title>

meta name=”keywords” content=”Web 2.0, the new new internet, web 2.0 conference, Business web 2.0, 2.0 business conference, Web 2.0 IPV6, Business 2.0, conferences”
meta name=”description” content=”Our intent for The New New Internet Web 2.0 Conference is to bring you absolutely the best speakers and presentors on the topic of Web 2.0 and how it applies to the enterprise.”

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  • RB

    Excellent idea! I stand ready and willing to collect the expert witness fees.