SharePoint Community: Cease and Desist Using SharePoint Improperly

Joel Oleson December 23, 2013 14
SharePoint Community: Cease and Desist Using SharePoint Improperly

<Update>I’m pleased to say @sharepoint has informed me this was an isolated incident, and according to a post on reddit they are working to restore the Facebook page. (Thanks for listening!)

This apparently is not a big crackdown on branding guidelines in the community like I thought it was.  I still think it is important to be familiar with the branding guidelines and try to be more compliant in our usage of the terms and logos especially if you plan to make money.

I do encourage Microsoft to clarify “Community Usage” and even find a way for us to use the logo in our community materials and even a way to use the product in our domain names without having to get permission.

In an effort to help clarify the intention of this post I have edited it to temper some of the language as it was called sensational.  It is my intention to educate and inform.

Joel 12/24/2013

</update>

Have you read Good bye SharePoint Community. It was nice knowing you?  Looks like Microsoft legal hasn’t been collaborating with Microsoft PR.  Definitely not good PR, and definitely not constructive for the community.  In this case it’s a rehash of some of what they started back in the early days.  I remember talking to one of the first SharePoint MVPs… Adam.  His company use to be SharePoint Security.  They came down hard and he renamed his company.  Another of the early SharePoint MVPs who shall stay nameless…  Remember SharePoint University and SharePoint Blogs?  Even SharePoint Experts?  SharePoint is often used in names and names of small companies.  Microsoft at times has allowed some of that to happen in the community, but be warned… the whip has cracked…. no longer!

 

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In the past there were times they’d go after the bigger guys I remember a time they came after Quest in how they were using SharePoint in the name of their products.  They even had a cease and desist to stop printing some of their stickers that had the name SharePoint on them.  I’m sure there were other companies as well that got the heads up to stop using the word SharePoint, or to simply use it properly.  It is Microsoft’s prerogative to control the use of their product names.  I think if we were to really go back in history we’d find that SharePoint wasn’t the name of the product until after 2007.  2001 was SharePoint Portal, and 2003 was Office SharePoint or Windows SharePoint, and SharePoint didn’t really exist as a brand until 2007.  There were strong usage guidelines that SharePoint was not to be used as a stand alone noun.  Ask Lawrence Liu… I think he spent days and days haggling on how he could create cool jackets for the SharePoint community.  Ooops can we call it the SharePoint Community?  Back in those days if it was to be printed it had to be called Office Community or SharePoint Portal Community or Windows SharePoint Community.  That’s even why we had to simply shorten things to MOSS. Just so we could get the branding police off our backs.  For the most part the branding police were simply watching the marketing team and larger enterprise companies making money with the use of the term SharePoint.

I know after my SharePoint blog started getting properly I got some odd looks from Microsoft people wondering if it was really ok for me to be SharePoint Joel.  For SEO purposes it was really helpful in the past.  I know it was.  Was I doing something wrong?  I wasn’t the first one to put SharePoint in front of my name in my domain name.  Having SharePoint as a key word for my blog was actually very important.  It’s become less important now that I’m doing more Office365 and Yammer, so now I’m happy to be more about Collaboration.  I’ve noticed even Christian has been using the Collaboration word more.  Such as with CollabTalk.  I’m now CollabShow.com and you could say part of that is because I’m expanding my horizons, but part of that is to avoid having either the branding police or Microsoft LCA come after me at some point saying I’m making money on their brand without paying them for the use of the word.  Have I ever made money on SharePoint.  H yeah. I’ve had a great run at it.  I have very much to thank Microsoft for much of my career, but I’ve also provided feedback every chance I get.  I think there has been at least an equal share that Microsoft has received from me for my evangelism work… No, I’m sure they’ve gotten the better end of the deal, but I’m not complaining.  I am thinking going after people in the community who are doing evangelism need to be left alone.  Really?  You’re going after SharePoint Magazine?  Is SharePoint Saturday next?

I’m shutting down all of my SharePoint Joel pages and social accounts.  They don’t comply.  It’s all CollabShow.com from here on in.

There have been many examples of people being asked to cease and desist, it’s best to get educated.

Here’s some guidelines straight from the trademark website for Office System (Yep, it’s that old.)

“Microsoft requires that its trademarks be used properly and under license, in appropriate circumstances. However, no license is required to use Microsoft names and trademarks to accurately refer to Microsoft software and services.”

“Incorrect:

  • Upload this to a sharepoint.”
“Do Not Use Microsoft Names or Trademarks as Part of Your Name

Microsoft names and trademarks may not be used as part of the name of another company or its products or services or as part of its domain name, even if your company creates add-ons or solutions for Microsoft software. This could create confusion about whether your company, products, or services are affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by Microsoft. Also, do not create and use variations of any Microsoft name or trademark; this could cause confusion and diminish the ability of Microsoft names and trademarks to identify and distinguish Microsoft software and services.

Using Microsoft Names and Trademarks to Indicate Compatibility

To indicate that your software or services are designed to be used with Microsoft software, use phrases such as “for,” “created with,” or “works with” before the Microsoft name, or use “based” after the name (for example “Outlook-based”). Your company or product name must be larger and more prominent than the Microsoft name or trademark, and the Microsoft name or trademark should be visually distinguished from your name (for example, in a different font or font style). This is important to avoid any implication that your products or services are produced, endorsed, or supported by Microsoft.

Correct:

  • Widget Software hosting Webs created with Microsoft Office FrontPage
  • Company XYZ CRM Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook
  • Company XYZ Backgrounds created for the Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentation software program
  • Widget Clipart for use with Microsoft Publisher software
  • Company XYZ templates created for Microsoft Visio diagramming software

Incorrect:

  • Wally Webster’s FrontPage Web services
  • ExcelQuick tutorial for Microsoft Excel
  • Pete’s PowerPoint Templates
  • Acme ISP Outlook e-mail
  • Visio Templates from Widget Web Services”

Wondering if you’ve been using the logo wrong for your usergroup or promotional materials for your blog?  You might be!

“Logos and Graphical Representations

Do not create any graphic or design out of any Microsoft name or trademark, and do not include Microsoft names or trademarks in any logos created by you or your company.

Web Identities

Do not include any Microsoft names or trademarks in a domain name or use them to brand your Web site.”

There are very few exceptions such as use with the certification logos and MVP logos, but be very careful around any usage of the SharePoint logo unfortunately.  Wish I could have used it for some magnets I was making for the community… Not without permission!


14 Comments »

  1. Mai Omar Desouki December 27, 2013 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I hope Microsoft would understand that they are doing a big mistake to their product first then to the community.

    … I have never seen someone using SharePoint logo in a bad way or something at all.

    At least they should notify us first, if we didn’t listen then they can warn about closing the page but not closing it suddenly !!

    • joleson@yahoo.com December 30, 2013 at 7:36 am - Reply

      Mai, the update is Microsoft is backing off in Bjorn’s case, and isn’t cracking down. So that’s good news for all. It is still important we know what the “rules” are around use of the term SharePoint and use of the logo. I’m hoping that Microsoft will also use this as an opportunity to build a “SharePoint, Office and Yammer” logo that doesn’t have the same restrictions for community use… would be great for infographics and such… just have rules that say how to use it in social media and for user groups.

  2. Scott December 24, 2013 at 11:30 am - Reply

    It is good to know, and I’m glad I haven’t been found guilty of anything. Still, is SharePoint Saturday an improper use of the word? That concerns me and would really be against Microsoft’s bottom line to become bad actors in the proselytizing of one of their top money makers.

    • joleson@yahoo.com December 30, 2013 at 7:39 am - Reply

      I agree it would be great to see more clarification. Things like SharePoint Fest, SharePoint Pro Magazine, SharePoint User Groups around the globe and yes many a SharePoint Saturday, now renamed SPSEvents.

      I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this since there are many who still care very much about the use of the brand… I applaud them for not cracking down when they obviously could.

  3. John December 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Now my blog’s name is more appropriate than ever. A true WTF…hosted on SharePoint Online. *sigh*

    • joleson@yahoo.com December 30, 2013 at 7:40 am - Reply

      Wow. Nice domain. Let me know how that one goes. Keep in touch.

  4. Chris Beckett December 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    As the artist formerly known as “SharePoint Bits” I got worried about this a few months back and also re-branded. Looks like I dodged a bullet…

  5. Andrew Vevers December 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    All seems rather strange to me. I strongly believe the community played (play) a significant role in the success of the platform.

    Without blogs, public forums and events, SharePoint wouldn’t have gained the traction it did over the past few years.

    This feels unfortunate, unnecessary and, frankly, ungrateful.

    Like your replacement domain though, Joel…

  6. Andrew Gilleran December 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    “You stay classy Microsoft….” The Redmond PR department might have to do a bit of work this Christmas. Yes it is a brand and a trademark but ithe community has driven SP over the years and Microsoft has benefited from that as well. I think it’s called a relationship.

  7. Veronique Palmer December 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    You actually just have to laugh at this, I mean really Microsoft, really?!?! Maybe it’s time to jump ship to Apple or Google…

  8. Shadeed December 23, 2013 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Very detailed post about the trademark policies that were not enforced but will stand to have a huge impact on how SharePoint community thought leaders approach naming their brands both from a personal and blogging standpoint.
    Having SharePoint in a domain name is great for SEO but for many SharePoint professionals, it provided an identity and sense of dedication to the platform. I hope this situation is sorted out as best as possible.

    • joleson@yahoo.com December 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks Shadeed. I hope Microsoft legal will revisit the difference between the community usage of the term SharePoint and those things that might harm the brand. It really has become a household brand. What if google started telling people to stop using google as a verb? Wouldn’t that be counter intuitive? It reminds me of the cost for singing “happy birthday.” I think that’s going overboard. Someone has to make money every time someone sings happy birthday? Really? What if Coke went after people that were using Coke to mean do you want a drink? I think sometimes the brand police simply need to back off and allow the term to take on a life of it’s own especially within the community.

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