Twitter Finally Allowed to Trademark “Tweet”

    November 3, 2011

    Twitter now has the rights to “tweet,” according to Law.com.

    On Tuesday, Twitter dropped its trademark infringement suit in San Francisco federal court against Iowa-based Twittad, in which it claimed Twittad’s trademarked phrase “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets” was blocking its own registration of the “tweet” mark.

    Twittad, an online advertising company, transferred trademark rights to the word “tweet” to Twitter in exchange for a dismissal. Twittad’s Twitter account, which had been suspended, is now back up and running. And Twittad can continue to use its tagline, “Let your ad meet tweets.”

    Twitter filed its first trademark application for tweet in April 2009, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) records. Twitter’s request was suspended, or put on hold, in January 2010 because applications for “tweetmarks,” “cotweet” and “tweetphoto” had already been submitted.

    Twitter tried again in August 2010, and the PTO declined to grant the mark, citing the conflict with Twittad’s “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets,” which was registered Oct. 20, 2009. Twitter amended its application, and it too was put on hold.

    The word “tweet” refers to short “micro-blogs” of 140 characters or less that are posted on Twitter’s social media platform, that commonly address the question of “what are you doing?”

    Twitter’s delay in seeking to obtain trademark protection over the word “tweet” caused the social media site to expend time, money, and effort to seek a resolution with Twittad.  However, Twitter’s likely vacillation over whether to seek trademark protection at its outset is a situation faced by nearly all new businesses.

    Every upstart business faces difficult decisions on how to allocate its resources. Often times, spending time and money on protecting intellectual property during a business’s inception is outweighed by the need to redirect resources towards the “bricks and mortar” to get the business off the ground.  However, it is critical for businesses to consider the value of their names, logos, business practices, and other intangible property as early as possible in order to avoid costly litigation and negotiations in the future – as Twitter engaged in here.


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