Infringing trademarks ruffling Twitter’s feathers?

By Joseph Mandour on July 22, 2011

mandour twitter San Diego, CA – Many people have questioned what has seemed to be a relaxed attitude from Twitter in regard to policing its trademarks. Now it appears that the five-year old social networking and blogging service is beefing up protection of its brand. Is this an agressive business tactic or a smart marketing strategy?

According to federal trademark law, a trademark owner must police its trademark by preventing others from using it without permission, or risk losing rights to it. Twitter doesn’t seem to be intent on haulting others from simply using the words twitter, tweet, or other variations of the name especially for other trademark classes where confusion is not likely. Twitter is more interested in free licence agreements for use of the words for applications and websites that promise to solely promote Twitter services. Information on guidelines for use of Twitter’s trademarks can be found here: http://support.twitter.com/forums/26257/entries/77641.

Twitter’s trademark guidelines prohibit applications for trademarks which contain the words “twitter” and “tweet” (or similar variations thereof). With regard to TweetDeck.com which has created a similar looking bird logo, this is arguably in violation of Twitter’s trademark guidelines. Other companies such as Postup.com seem to be eager to comply with Twitter policies. Formerly called Tweetup.com, the company changed its name after making the move to promote other social networks.

Thus far, Twitter has done a good job of walking softly while carrying a big stick. We will see if the inevitable ramp up in trademark policing efforts happens with Twitter.

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