O'Reilly, Get Real
There was an O'Reilly-style way to handle the trademark issue: 1) Announce that CMP was about to receive the servicemark. 2) Note that, since the filing, many web 2.0 events have occurred. 3) Indicate their desire to strengthen the Web 2.0 Conference brand. 4) Ask the web community for feedback on how to proceed.
During this debacle, many bloggers have noted that they never liked the term, and please can we try a different one now. As you've gathered from the title of this blog, I think it's a fine moniker. The web has evolved; blogs and wikis are novel and genuinely useful, and advertisers are crawling all over it. Social networking is probably a fad, as are other aspects, like Writely and Basecamp, but it's all worth trying. And the web will evolve further, inventing tools that give ordinary users a web context for everyday work without forcing them into the clutches of third parties—that's Web 2.5, the always-on-you web.
The web community attracted unrelenting cynicism and bitterness after the dot-com bubble burst, and Web 2.0 is a way of telling the world that we're back, we're here to stay, we're here to change everything.
As I noted in a comment to John Battelle's defense of his partners' actions, the servicemark 'Web 2.0 <event>' (where event is a generic term like conference or workshop) was the wrong thing to trademark. Having done so, not foreseeing how widespread the use of 'Web 2.0' would become, it was the wrong thing to defend. Changing the name of your shindig to 'Web 2.0 Confab' or somesuch would have caused your partnership little trouble, and would have been defensible, both legally and morally.
Yesterday, assuming that O'Reilly couldn't be this clueless (or this), I came out in defense of them. Today, I'm joining the mass demonstration.
Seriously, would anyone be willing to help organize and/or speak at a Web 2.X Conference in the Bay Area for this fall?