The popularity of WordPress nourishes a thriving ecosystem of plugin and theme developers and designers, as well as thousands of businesses that offer WordPress-related services. The WordPress economy is worth many millions of dollars. And, it’s largely an open playing field. With a little knowledge and hard-work, it’s relatively easy to get started as a professional offering WordPress services.
When professionals start a WordPress business, it’s in their interest to associate that business with the WordPress brand. When a potential client is looking for WordPress services, they will Google for “WordPress”. Businesses that can associate themselves with the WordPress name benefit from that association and the trust that Automattic and the WordPress community have built over more than a decade.
Including “WordPress” in the name and the web address of your business sounds like a no-brainer, but in fact it’s a very bad idea. The WordPress Foundation, which holds trademarks on the WordPress name and related logos has a clear policy where its trademarks are concerned: it will act to prevent any commercial entity from making use of its trademarks, up to and including legal action.
According to the WordPress Foundation trademark policy, businesses may not use WordPress’ trademarks in the name of their business. They can promote WordPress-related services using the WordPress name, but they can’t use “WordPress” anywhere in the name of their business.
That might seem rather harsh, and it’s certainly been a controversial policy within the WordPress community, a controversy that hit the headlines again recently when Automattic acted against organizations using the “Woo” trademark. But, from the perspective of the WordPress Foundation and Automattic, it makes perfect sense. The WordPress name is valuable. That value would be degraded if everyone — especially dishonest people — were able to do business under the name WordPress. WordPress doesn’t want to be associated with bad actors.
So, if you’re starting a WordPress business, what should it be called? You can call it anything you like, as long as it doesn’t infringe on a trademark owned by another organization, including the WordPress Foundation. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of WordPress-focused media outlets and software developers — WP Tavern, WPBeginner, WP Total Cache, WP-CLI — use the “WP” abbreviation. The WordPress Foundation explicitly states that using WP in a business name is allowed (and even encouraged).
Personally, I’d want to come up with something original and unique for my business — there are many permissible ways of associating a business with WordPress without putting it in the business name. But, if you do want to go that route, use “WP” and not WordPress, or you may well receive a letter from the WordPress Foundation’s lawyers.Posted in: Webmaster, WordPress