To be honest, I’m not really too worried what it’s called. SEO for ClassicPress works fine for me.
Having said that, it seems that there are rules or guidelines (official or otherwise) that says I, as a member of the CP community, am not allowed to use the word “ClassicPress” at the beginning of the plugin name - i.e. ClassicPress SEO. But, there are no such enforceable restrictions on people who have never contributed to the CP community.
So someone who has never invested in the development of CP can create a plugin that, to all intents and purposes, looks official.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not possessive about the name and I do understand the problem. It’s just that applying restrictions to the use of the word ClassicPress may have a limited impact for the reasons just mentioned.
Completely agree that a guideline is needed. I’d follow the same basics as WordPress – allowing CP as a prefix, but not allow ClassicPress in the name. Same for domain names. Reason being: end-user familiarity with the convention and to prevent (ClassicPress) brand dilution.
I don’t use ClassicPress or Classic in my plugin names. I agree that it can be misleading or imply endorsement, however, I also feel that is makes the names too long and unwieldy and, indeed, even seems a tad kitschy. So, to avoid any issues, I will be continuing to name my plugins “what they are” rather than “what they are and what platform they’re for”.
About the word “classic” in plugin names … I suspect this may give the impression that my plugins are forks or otherwise dated code. I’m working hard to ensure that Code Potent is viewed as a leading (and modern) developer in the space, so, I’m not taking any chances on the word classic.
Looking ahead, I’m also not using Code Potent as part of my plugin names. Why? Well, what if someone creates an extension for one of my plugins and wants to call it Code Potent Plugin Name Extension. I’d take issue with this for the same reasons listed here: it implies endorsement and dilutes my brand.
This is also true of WordPress, particularly when the developers are in far-off lands outside the reach of US copyright law. What we can do is not list those plugins (or authors) in the ClassicPress plugin directory. We already know WP isn’t going to allow them in, so, that base should be covered.
Yes, I do think formal guidelines on the use of ClassicPress and CP in plugin names would be helpful. That said, I accept they’d only really be of any use to community members or other developers who care enough to look for guidance on the CP website. It still won’t stop naughty John Doe from creating his “ClassicPress Advanced Security” plugin (as an example).
But, for the purposes of the community and other responsible developers, maybe it would just be easier if the use of ClassicPress and CP is restricted to core developments only. I know this has been mentioned before at some point somewhere - but so have many other things and as far as I’m aware, nothing has been formally accepted.
Yes, you’re right but there are quite a few differences between WordPress and ClassicPress. The former is a massive, mega-rich company with big lawyers (with a reputation for suing practically anyone), it’s a well-established brand, and “WordPress” is a trademark. ClassicPress is none of these things.
Going slightly off topic for a moment. What would happen if A.N.Other person trademarked “ClassicPress” and also forked the CP software? Could they then claim to be the “real” ClassicPress?
If the management committee set forth formal guidelines, how would they be enforced? (You mention the limits inherent in trying to enforce official guidelines in your discussion above so I sense you understand the dilemma.)
I think @timkaye is probably the best person to answer here, but I’m also interested in hearing from others.
Up to this point, the committee has talked things through on a case-by-case basis with the community member and reached a satisfactory compromise.
We definitely aren’t a massive, mega-rich company with big lawyers, and trademarking comes with its own set of issues and responsibilities. We’ve been deliberate in our decision not to trademark at this time for several reasons. Again, @timkaye is the right person to elaborate on this, but as I understand it:
Trademarks are not universal/international, so you must apply for a trademark in each country in which you want to be protected.
When you trademark, you are then obligated to actively police and prosecute cases of possible infringement. Failure to do so for every single possible case means you weaken your trademark and could essentially forfeit your rights as trademark owner, if the defendant in the case can point to other cases where you did not prosecute.
I may not be using the correct terminology but this is the general gist of trademarks as I understand them.
A trademark application requires that you list the “first use in commerce”, which is the date when the goods were first sold or shipped, or the services were first rendered. Since there’s a fairly extensive paper trail that proves that our ClassicPress happened first, they wouldn’t get very far in their trademark application, IMO.
I wouldn’t expect them to be enforced. It’s mainly so we don’t have to revisit this same question every time someone comes up with a new plugin and starts puzzling over what they should call it.
We just need something like the pirate’s code, ie " …the code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules."
Edit. It’s like the classicpress domain names. I have classicpress.net.au. I can use it for anything, and you can’t stop me. But at some point I saw it mentioned that you would prefer these only be for “official” projects, so I have it parked. Guidelines are for nice people.
I’ve just renamed cpvars to just vars. I think it sounds better and, even if vars is written exclusively for CP, it’s not related to CP.
My idea is to keep cpcompatibility as is, because it’s strictly related to ClassicPress (it fixes things to work with CP).
What do you think about?
About using ClassicPress as part of a plugin name I share 1stepforward 's concerns.
I do understand the dilemma Michelle and I know there’s no easy answer. I understand the difficulties with trademarks too.
Regarding guidelines, as @ozfiddler said, I think the main issue is that this is a question that won’t go away. It keeps getting asked, either on Slack or here in the forums. I know the guidelines won’t be enforceable but I do think they’d be a great help to everyone involved in the community. And if they were placed on the website, they’re there for everyone else to see too, should they be so inclined.
Would that also apply if someone tried to trademark ClassicPress in, say, the US given that ClassicPress is governed by UK law?
Sorry to raise all of this but to me, these are genuine concerns which I felt the need to express.
I don’t have much to add to what @BlueSkyPhoenix said. Good job, Michelle! But I can address @1stepforward’s question about whether an application to trademark ClassicPress in the US would be affected by the fact that “ClassicPress is governed by UK law”.
The first point to note is that only ClassicPress Ltd is governed specifically by UK law. ClassicPress Ltd is the entity that controls the purse strings, and the relevant law relates simply to how to conduct the operation of a company. So none of that is relevant to the issue of a trademark.
What matters for trademark purposes is not where the corporate entity is based or registered, but whether the extent of its activities and reputation is sufficient in the jurisdiction in which it is attempting to register the trademark.
But, really, this is all a bit of a red herring because registering a trademark is only the first step. As @BlueSkyPhoenix pointed out, a trademark will be lost if it is not consistently used and enforced. So there’s no mileage in someone else trying to register the trademark unless they plan to actually use and enforce it.
I have not been keen to have us set out formal guidelines (let alone rules) yet because I don’t think we have reached the point where we know what they should be. As Michelle says, so far we have negotiated in specific instances about the best way to proceed. I think this is an area where it is best to wait for a standard approach to develop organically. When we are reasonably confident we have reached that point, then I think some formal guidelines would make sense, together with an articulation of the consequences for not following them.
Thanks for the clarification Tim. It sounds like a minefield really.
Could it not be a “living” document, as most guidelines tend to be any way? I do at least think we’ve reached the point where guidance on issues such as the naming of plugins and themes would be helpful.
And as @james says, as a way of encouraging adoption of the guidelines, any plugins which violate the guidelines would not be accepted into the directory.