Earlier this month, Charlie Sheen began his attempts to trademark slogans like “winning” featured on his twitter account. But can his tweets – limited to 140 characters or less – be afforded protection under copyright law? Probably not.
Generally, short phrases face an uphill battle when it comes to satisfying copyright’s requirement of requirement of originality. While slogans or short phrases may be entitled to trademark protection, they generally cannot be worthy of under section 37 CFR s 202.1(a). Tweets also generally fail to meet the requirements that qualify as an “original” work of authorship because most tweets are simply updates on what a person is doing or a brief factual statement. While it may be possible to copyright a series of tweets if the content is organized in a unique and creative manner (as a compilation), a single stand alone tweet is unlikely to be sufficiently creative to be afforded protection.
Sorry Charlie. Your chances of trademarking “tigers blood” is significantly better than getting it copyrighted.
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Ethan teaches social media CLE programs to lawyers, law firms, and legal associations. He can design a one hour, half day, or full day workshop at your office, firm retreat, or conference that will be approved for both ethics and general CLE credit. Learn more about how Ethan can be your social media law keynote speaker at your next conference on topics related to social media and the law.