13 October 2011

It’s a Tweet for Twitter!

A long-running legal dispute over legal ownership of the term “tweet” has finally been resolved in the US.

Advertising company Twittad allows users to be paid to tweet advertisements from their private accounts. In 2008 it obtained a trade mark registration for the phrase “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets”, the first company to lay claim to a “tweet” trade mark registration.

Twitter has been trying to stop Twittad obtaining a trade mark for “tweet” and has this week dropped their lawsuit against them in exchange for Twittad transferring their “tweet” trade mark to Twitter. Twitter had argued that “tweet” was already “famous” as a Twitter term before rival firms filed trademark applications. It argued that Twitter was the rightful owner and to award ownership of the term to another company “threatens to block Twitter from its registration and legitimate uses of its own mark.”

The US Patent and Trademark Office has twice suspended Twitter’s own attempts to obtain a trade mark for the term. As pointed out by the owner of Twittad, James Eliason, “The moral of the story is to make sure you trade mark and patent-protect everything”. If Twitter had filed a trade mark application for “tweet” as soon as the term first appeared they could have saved themselves a lot of time and money.

Image ©iStockphoto.com/Tuomas Kujansuu

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