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Where content meets technology

Sep 30, 2009

Another flower war

Not quite the War of the Roses, there is a little skirmish happening between Magnolia International (as in the CMS company) and Ma.gnolia (the off-again, on-again social bookmarking site). The squabble began shortly after Ma.noglia's recent resurrection (it had shut down in February 2009) when Magnolia International issued what appears to be a Cease and Desist order. It is a little unclear because it was written by Magnolia's CEO, Pascal Mangold (not an attorney) and it seems to be more of a request than a demand.

I am no trademark attorney but, since that hasn't stopped anyone else, I figured I would weigh in from a common sense perspective. I understand how Magnolia International would want ma.gnolia.com to be out of the picture. They probably also want ExxonMobile to stop using magnolia.com. ExxonMobile probably wasn't paying attention when, then Obinary International, Magnolia registered magnolia.info to market their new open source CMS.

Does Ma.gnolia have the right to use their domain? I don't know. There are very specific legal distinctions to determine legal and illegal trademark infringement but I don't think it really matters. In the real world, it happens all the time. This is why you try to grab all the variations of your domain (.net, .org, and .biz as well as -sucks.com, -sucks.net, and -sucks.biz) when you are branding your company. You do your best to claim your little spot on the web and you work with what you've got. Getting lawyers involved is an expensive distraction.

I am sure that Pascal knows all this and that is why he wrote his own letter. Hey, it was worth a try. Maybe this will lead to a negotiation for Magnolia to purchase gnolia.com. Who knows how serious Ma.gnolia is about their business. Personally, I don't think I would use a bookmarking service that had a track record of closing down and opening up again.

This is not a particularly interesting story. What would be more interesting is if Magnolia International went after ExxonMobile. What the heck is ExxonMobile doing with that domain anyway?