Bully Beatdown: Automattic Loses Trademark Cancellation Case

Remember when WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg used his company, Automattic, to purchase for $100,000 just to spite me?

Apparently, Mullenweg was unsatisfied by a questionable ruling that saw Automattic retain ownership of the domain. He wanted more.

In an attempt to twist the knife, Mullenweg directed Automattic to open a Federal Trademark Cancellation case to try and strip me of the following trademarks: THESIS, THESIS THEME, and DIYTHEMES.

After nearly two years, the trademark cancellation case is finally over, and I “won.”

What did I win? It would appear Automattic no longer has legal ammunition to bully me into submission, debt, or whatever other horrible outcome Mullenweg no doubt wishes upon my head.

Quite the prize, I know.

WP Tavern’s Editorial “Discretion”

As was the case during the kerfluffle, this most recent ruling has generated a lot of negative commentary about both Automattic and Mullenweg.

And just like before, WP Tavern is now actively removing (or declining to publish) comments that are either too favorable toward me or too unfavorable toward Automattic and Mullenweg.

To their credit, WP Tavern reached out to me for comment before publishing, but I did not see the email in time.

I eventually responded, but now that the censorship has begun, I have decided to publish my response here as an official statement on Mullenweg’s litigious inclinations and possible misappropriation of Automattic resources.

Official Statement from Chris Pearson

WP Tavern asked, “Are you doing or will do anything with the trademarks?” (now that I get to keep what was already mine…)

This process has taught me there is only one thing you can “do” with trademarks—use them as a legal cudgel to beat entities who infringe on them.

Before this rather educational experience, I thought trademarks were something you registered and then advertised in your site footer once your business reached some basic level of legitimacy.

Truth is, for most of us, trademarks are just another way a motivated party with too much money can screw with your livelihood.

That’s precisely what happened here, and as this outcome shows, Automattic was happy to throw money at this nothingburger for 2+ years, even though they stood to gain nothing!

The only potential “gain” was further sabotaging me and my business. This was always intended to damage Chris Pearson rather than lift up Automattic in any way.

If I were an Automattic investor or board member, I’d want to know why Matt Mullenweg was willing to spend $100,000 on and then spend untold thousands in legal fees for 2+ years, seemingly out of spite.

In my view, these actions are irresponsible at best and utterly incompetent at worst.

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7 comments… read them below or add one

nate August 8, 2017

Chris, I would not say that WPTavern is rigging the comment section, not based on comments like this.


Chris Pearson August 8, 2017

Nate, I didn’t say they were rigging the comment section—I said they were actively censoring it. The author admitted this on Twitter.


Rick Rottman August 9, 2017

I think the way moderation works on WP Tavern is every comment has to be manually approved by Jeff Chandler. It doesn’t matter if you’ve left hundreds of high-quality comments in the past, leave a new comment and it has to be approved first before it shows up on WP Tavern.

I think Jeff mostly verifies the comment doesn’t contain certain keywords before approving it. I don’t think he personally digests the gist of the comment before approving it. That’s why I think he will then go back later on and delete comments that have already been approved. I think people reach out to him behind the scenes and “encourage” him to delete the comment. That, or these people have admin privileges and do the comment deletion themselves.

It’s important to note that Matt Mullenweg owns WP Tavern. It’s not very apparent when you’re on the site. You have to do some digging on the About page to find this out. It’s not stated until the second to last paragraph on the About page that Matt Mullenweg owns WP Tavern.

At the very least, there should be a disclaimer on each and every “news” article involving Matt Mullenweg that he owns WP Tavern.


Michelle February 10, 2018

Based on my experience, Jeff Chandler from WP Tavern has always censored comments and removed any which are against any of their friends.

Also, when it comes to promotion, Sarah Gooding has always been selective in who she promotes and has never treated people in the WordPress community equally.


nate August 8, 2017

Sorry, I misunderstood.


Guru Sanket Biswal August 9, 2017

Sad to see stooping down to such a level. Pretty happy to see that justice prevailed :)

Keep up the awesome work Chris!!


Delwar Jahan August 12, 2017

And… congratulation to you. Nice job done.


Hoot and/or Holler

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