Mountain View, CA (PressExposure) October 26, 2009 -- The controversy over Trademarkia
At the heart of the controversy is a new website called Trademarkia (www.trademarkia.com) that has built a unique historical record of U.S. trademarks filed from 1870 until today. Trademarkia was built using 6 million pre-Great Depression historical logos, names and slogans that were never publicly searchable on the Internet, even by the United States Trademark Office itself. Since the site's launch last month at the TechCrunch50 conference in San Francisco, Trademarkia's employees have been contributing content on Wikipedia by correcting and adding anecdotes on historically famous trademarks and businesses. For example, Trademarkia employees have been adding and correcting details of famous trademarks such as the board game Connect Four by Hasbro all the way to the origins and brands of Morman Church. In addition, Trademarkia employees have been adding background details on more current issues such as the history of Google's Gmail service and Apple's recent disputes over its use of the words Mighty Mouse using government information released on the Trademarkia site.
However, unlike other contributors, Trademarkia is a commercial business that makes money from registering new trademarks and letting consumers reapply for expired trademarks after finding them on their free search engine. Therein lays the controversy. In a new forum started last week by Wikipedia's elite editors, a Wikipedia editor writes been that a Trademarkia executive has been adding links on different pages that link to Trademarkia in a manner that violates Wikipedia policy.
Craig Newmark from Craigslist Chimes In
At the recent BizTechDay Meetup conference in San Francisco on Friday October 23, Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist chimed in during his keynote address and offered some of his own advice on Trademarkia. Craig commented that he believes that sites like new startups like Trademarkia that leverage government data and make the data more accessible to people are potentially very valuable and important to democracy. Craig contributes to a non-profit group called the Sunlight Foundation that helps government departments open up access to information such as the data Trademarkia has leveraged. Craig comments that sites like Trademarkia can help to make governments more efficient, transparent, and less susceptible to corruption by bringing information to people in more direct and transparent ways. Craig believes that trends in news on sites such as Twitter and Trademarkia bring news to consumers rather than them having to search it out on their own. When asked on the Trademarkia controversy on Wikipedia specifically, Craig commented that he wants to research the issue more and get more involved on the issue directly on the Wikipedia community.
One highly regarded Wikipedia administrator "SlimVirgin" who has made more than 80,000 edits on Wikipedia says that "we seem increasingly to be dealing with people who are self-promoting, and it would be good if we had a page that prohibited it without exception. On the other hand, we don't want to exclude people who may be experts in something, so the wording would need to be just right. The writing would also need to be tightened generally." Trademarkia employees have made "good edits which just happen to add promotions of a particular web site." Another writes that to allow a business such as Trademarkia to mass spam Wikipedia is misguided because it violates Wikipedia's founding principal of neutrality. The editor goes on to say conflict of interest isn't just a matter of useful vs. non-useful, but about self-promotion in general. The Wikipedia editor writes that sites such as Trademarkia should not use Wikipedia to promote their own interests.