[wp-hackers] WordPress, Trademarks, and WordPress.com

Eric Mann eric at eamann.com
Thu Sep 16 22:23:28 UTC 2010

I just had a potential client bow out of a project due to a lot of confusion
between WordPress and WordPress.com. They asked for a WordPress plug-in, we went
through the standard process for bidding on custom development, then they said
"wait, but it has to work on this WordPress.com website ... will it work there?"
And that was the end of that job.
As most of you know, you can't install custom plug-ins on a WordPress.com blog.
Even though the site itself is powered by WordPress, it's still part of a
for-profit enterprise that uses a closed system to manage and make money from
member accounts. Unfortunately, most people coming in from the outside don't
realize that WordPress(.org) and WordPress.com are two different things.
This brings up an interesting issue from a trademark standpoint. Since the
WordPress Foundation now owns the trademark ... and they say we (as in the
community) can't use "WordPress" in business names, domain names, or "in any way
that suggests an affiliation with or endorsement by the WordPress Foundation or
the WordPress open source project."
Further, "under no circumstances is it permitted to use WordPress as part of a
top-level domain name."
I realize that Automattic had been using WordPress.com for a long time before
any of this happened ... but does that mean WordPress.com will be grandfathered
in to this new rule as an exception? What does that mean for the rest of us
running for-profit WP hosting sites? How significant is the name confusion
problem (WordPress versus WordPress[.org] versus WordPress[.com])?
(This was also posted to WordPress Answers Meta for
discussion: http://meta.wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/163/wordpress-trademarks-and-wordpress-com

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