There has been a lot of information posted on the internet and various social media sites today about the usage of the word 'SharePoint'. Yes, a few sites have been singled out about their improper use of a trademark. This is a far cry from the sensationalism that is being widely spread about a massive crackdown. Community groups can absolutely continue to use the word ‘SharePoint’ as long as it’s in a referential manner. I’m enclosing a link to the general usage guidelines for Microsoft trademarks so anyone who's interested can read them. Below that is an excerpt containing the Social Media Guidelines. It's pretty easy to follow, the sky is not falling.

I would like to just end my portion of this post saying that we absolutely value our Communities and Partners at Microsoft and that will not change.

General Microsoft Trademark Guidelines

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/legal/intellectualproperty/Trademarks/Usage/General.aspx

Social Media Guidelines

The social media guidelines associated with use of Microsoft trademarks are quite similar to the app guidelines included above. Specifically, your social media account names and any and all pages or communities should not include any Microsoft trademarks. Any associated account, page, or community images should not include any Microsoft logos. The only exceptions to these requirements are if (1) you’ve secured permission from Microsoft through a license or equivalent (though such licenses are not generally available in this context); or (2) you’re using a Microsoft trademark (not including logos) to describe the purpose of your account, page, or community without suggesting affiliation with Microsoft. Finally, any social media account should not use the name or likeness of any prominent individuals within Microsoft.

For example, you cannot name your account, page, or community “Skype Forum” or “Microsoft Products.” However, it would be acceptable to name your account, page, or community “Forum for Skype Users” or “Information about Microsoft Products” as long as you do not use the Skype or Microsoft logos or otherwise suggest any affiliation with Microsoft.

Company, Product, Service, and Domain Names

Do not use or register any Microsoft trademark, including Microsoft logos, symbols, icons, or any potentially confusing variation thereof, as part of your company name, trade name, product name, service name, or domain name. Do not place your company name, trademarks, service marks, or product names next to, or combine them with, a Microsoft product name.

Update 1/4/2014

The SharePoint Team posted an update to their blog on the topic of trademark issues. Please check it out.

http://blogs.office.com/b/sharepoint/archive/2014/01/03/strategy-and-approach-to-the-sharepoint-trademark.aspx

Guidance

I've been asked for examples that can provide more guidance on this topic. If you have terms like 'Users', 'Fans', or 'User Group' in your name then that is ok. People should not be worried about imminent termination or anything like that. If Microsoft were to find an account that is problematic, we would work with the account owner to address it.

That being said, examples of acceptable use include the following:

  • SharepointLover
  • SharePoint Evangelist
  • Info for SharePoint
  • Feed for SharePoint
  • SharePoint User Group
  • SharePoint Interest
  • Focus on SharePoint

Any name that doesn't generate confusion that an account is operated or sponsored by Sharepoint is generally acceptable. It is important to note that likelihood of confusion is heightened by use of our logos. Please visit the page linked above for the General Microsoft Trademark Guidelines as it will have the most updated information available. If there's anything not addressed on that page feel free to leave a comment here with your question and I'll get it answered. Thank you.