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No. 179 Managing Intell. Prop. 101 (2008)
Police Your Marks in a Wiki World

handle is hein.journals/manintpr179 and id is 101 raw text is: Police your marks in a wiki world
Wikipedia has become a key source of information for internet users around the world. But it also
poses dangers for trade mark owners. Joshua Jarvis explains why
R      ecent court and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) decisions highlight
the importance of trade mark owners periodically monitoring and, if necessary,
updating trade mark information on Wikipedia, the community-authored
online encyclopaedia. As the name implies, Wikipedia is a wiki - a collaborativekipedia, the popular
website that allows anyone, using a web browser, to add to, modify or delete content               online encyclopaedia, has
that has been placed on the site, including the work of other authors. Wikipedia                   become a major source of
specifically allows even non-registered public users to add encyclopaedia entries and              information for internet
modify existing entries. This communal structure, along with a user-friendly interface             users across He glbe. The
and speedy, well-maintained internet servers, has led to several important corollaries.            combination of the web-
site's impressive reach and the fact that it is
Wikidly widespread                                                                comprised entirely of user-generated content
First, Wikipedia is popular, and is quickly gaining acceptance as the go-to website for  means that it warrants the attention of trade
fact gathering. One can type almost any noun into Google's search engine, and one   mark owners, who are often unawa  that
of the first search results to be returned will be a link to the Wikipedia page dedicat-  their trae marks may be featured on the site.
ed to the query. Second, Wikipedia is massive - at the time of writing, there are more  Furthermore, the US Tademark Trial and
than 9.2 million articles on Wikipedia, of which more than 2.2 million articles are in  Appeal Board has begun to accept Wikipedia
English. As a result, it is exceedingly likely that there are entries discussing your com-  entris as evitence in trade mark hearings,
pany's valuable trade marks, if not entries dedicated to a well-known mark or marks  evidence of the site's increasing credibility.
owned by your company. Third, Wikipedia entries are constantly changing as con-     This artie provides advice to elp IP owners
tributors shape them to conform to personal knowledge and - if contributors are con-  Monitor their marks effectivel on Wikipedia
scientious - reliable secondary sources. Finally, the opportunity for abuse and sabo-  to ensure that their IP rights are not being
tage is considerable. Even assuming articles are well-researched and accurate, vandals  abused.
and saboteurs can edit entries as easily as anyone else, and while such defacement is
generally discovered and remedied quickly, things can slip through the cracks.
Wikis in the courtroom
One might believe that such characteristics would render Wikipedia entries inherently
unreliable and inadmissible as a matter of law, but this is not necessarily the case. In In
re IP Carrier Consulting Group, 2007 TTAB LEXIS 66 (TTAB June 18 2007), the appli-

Wikipedia editing tips
* Wikipedia frowns on non-standard English
text formatting, including use of the (r) or
(tm) symbols within articles. Review the
Wikipedia Manual of Style for trade marks at
I-ofStyle_%28trade marks%29.
* The ability to edit anything - and to say
whatever you want - can be tempting. Edit
the page only as much as is necessary to
make information accurate. Bloated, unnec-
essary, and/or self-serving language is
quickly identified by Wikipedia editors and
deleted. Be aware of Wikipedia's guidelines
regarding neutrality, located at
Corroborate your claims with references. If
you add a sentence that says XYZ(r) is a

registered trade mark in the US and in
over 50 countries worldwide, then add a
reference to at least the US registration
* When submitting a page edit, Wikipedia
allows you to describe the nature of the
change. Use this opportunity to explain to
the Wikipedia community - especially those
who have spent time athoring the page -
why you are making this change. For exam-
ple, noting XYZ's status as a registered
trade mark. This makes it more likely that
the modification will be accepted by the
Wikipedia community, and especially previ-
ous editors of the entry.
* Wikipedia employs a robust tracking and
monitoring system for its entries. Anyone
can track who edited any Wikipedia entry,
and when. Register an account with
Wikipedia and make changes under that

account name. Unregistered authors are
logged by their IP addresses, which can
allow other Wikipedia users to find out who
edited the page. A company that edits its
own information can come across as self-
serving, and previous authors may be less
likely to accept the changes to their work.
The IP addresses of registered users, on
the other hand, are concealed from most
other users, If you anticipate significant
editing of one or more entries, it would be
wise to consider registering more than one
account and distributing editing duties
among them.
Although the English version of Wikipedia
has the most articles, you should bear in
mind that there are versions of Wikipedia in
several languages, and problem articles that
you have identified in the English version
may have foreign-language analogues.

May 2008 101

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