Over the past year, I have become aware of a number of plugins using the name WP-Members (or a derivative thereof). This has come to my attention in the form of support issues posted in the wordpress.org forum and tagged wp-members. Often these are the result of unresponsive support and “buyer beware” issues, for example “[Plugin: WP-Members] Broken upon install — support not helpful — don’t buy.”
While that specific post has since been removed at the request of the original poster since it was not in fact referencing WP-Members, it makes evident a more important issue. The plugin this user was actually referencing was not mine, but rather a plugin called wp-Member, offered by SmartMediaPro, and this is not the first occurrence of such confusion.
The Original WP-Members
The original WP-Members is the plugin developed and released by me. It is maintained in the official WordPress Plugin Repository. It is both free and open source. If a user of the forums on wordpress.org tags their post wp-members it will be tagged to my plugin (and my attention). In contrast, these other plugins are commercial in nature and are not open source. And they are using the same name or a derivative of WP-Members.
It is very clear that this amounts to what is known in trademark law as “confusing similarity.” A similar concept is “likelihood of confusion.”
Date of First Use in Commerce
My date of first use of the name WP-Members precedes that of these commercial vendors. I have, where possible, referenced third party links for date claims. I find this to be more accurate and reliable than the time stamp on an individual blog.
When the original WP-Members plugin was released publicly, there were no other membership-focused plugins for WordPress of which I am aware, let alone any called WP-Members. ( read the May 31, 2006 beta release announcement | also documented by third party archive.org). This predates the next earliest subscription/membership type plugin that I know of (WordPres-PayPal Membership) by 6 weeks.
It was first bookmarked on delicious.com on June 27, 2006. WP-Members was approved and added to the the official wordpress.org repository on 12/15/2007 as documented in WordPress’s subversion tracking.
I am doing what I can to create clear separation. Understand that I have absolutely no relationship with these vendors nor their plugins. Additionally, based what I have outlined above, I do not believe they have a legitimate claim to the name WP-Members. In order to protect my interests and my good name, trademark registration of the name is pending.
Although a commercial, pro version is in development, The Original WP-Members will remain a free product. Both will continue to be open source. If you didn’t get it from wordpress.org or butlerblog.com/wp-members, it is not the original.
Notes On Specific Products/Sites:
SmartMediaPro / wp-Member
In summary, I view SmartMediaPro to be infringing on our mark. The biggest problem here is that it causes confusion with users in the marketplace and in the WordPress forums. The official WP-Members is open source and free and is available here.
I have a full statement on the product known as wp-Member that can be read in its entirety here.
Infringement of the Mark to Fraudulently Sell Another Product
This one is more frustrating. Caveat emptor! There is a specific person holding themselves out to be WP-Members under the following names that is actually fraudulently selling a version of YourMembers and calling it WP-Members. [Statement by Cambridge New Media Services] Please note that this person has absolutely no association with me whatsoever. Additionally, since the product is obviously a rip-off of someone else’s work, the plugin is not the same either:
* Possibly others