Because a soirée is an event and CMP Media has a trademark on it. Well, sort of. The reality is a bit more bizarre.
The story so far is that CMP sent a letter to a not-for-profit IT group in Cork, Ireland, which has a half-day conference on Web 2.0 in early. Foul, cried the CMP legal team. Web 2.0 is our trademark (at least for events). It's our precioussss and we was gived it. Evidence was preferred of a service mark application to the US Patent and Trademark Office, made in 2003. Later, they followed up with one made in Europe under the harmonisation rules - but not until March of this year.
Oddly enough, there was a "Web 2.0 - Hip or Hype" seminar that was scheduled to take place only two days later. It was not organised by CMP or O'Reilly, the other company involved in this little wheeze, I might add. Oh dear, it seems the company might be trying to trademark something in Europe that is already a generic. But it gets better.
In the US, the organisers of the Web 2.0 Conference were a little unsure as to what in the name they planned to protect. The USPTO database clearly shows an application for Web 2.0 being made in late November 2003 as a trademark for events. Yet, the following year, MediaLive, the events company that applied for the mark and which was later bought by CMP, was stating that a longer, more precise phrase was the claimed service mark:
MediaLive International, Web 2.0 Conference, ... and associated design marks and logos are trademarks or service marks owned or used under license by MediaLive International, Inc., and may or may not be registered in the United States and other countries.
Even today, the service mark noted on the conference's website and in the event's logo is for "Web 2.0 Conference". From the application, I guess they planned to have Web 2.0 Seminar, Web 2.0 Workshop, Web 2.0 Love-In as follow-ons. Whatever the plan, it looks as though MediaLive (and CMP) went the wrong way about doing it.
Now, having brought the collective ire of Web 2.0 boosters upon themselves by nastygramming the organisers of a conference that was unlikely to threaten their $3k a pop, invitation-only event, the people behind this wheeze will have to explain just why they applied for a trademark and, for more than two years, made no visible attempt to enforce that version. Oh, and then picking as your victim a conference in a jurisdiction where your claim to distinctivenes is much weaker. It hardly strengthens the IP protection case.
Mind you, if it means the end of Web 2.0 as a popular phrase, I say: "Go lawyers".