Twitter Finally Wins Rights to ‘Tweet’ Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on October 11, 2011

California Trademark RegistrationLos Angeles – Two and a half years after initially attempting to trademark the word ‘Tweet’, Twitter has finally been awarded exclusive rights to the trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It all started when Twittad, a Des Moines, Iowa-based startup which is the largest advertising platform on Twitter, grabbed the word ‘Tweet’ first. Apparently, in 2008, one year before Twitter registered ‘Tweet’ with the USPTO, Twittad had registered the word in its slogan, “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets.” Twittad sells ads on Twitter by connecting advertisers willing to pay a price per tweet to regular users who fit their demographics requirements willing to be paid to “tweet” sponsored ads.

Twittad’s registered slogan competes with Twitter’s own Promoted Tweets advertising product. Although not stated in Twitter’s trademark infringement complaint filed just last month, it was most likely the motivation behind the lawsuit. Excerpts from Twitter’s complaint read:

“<em>Defendant’s LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS registration unfairly exploits the widespread association by the consuming public of the trademark TWEET with Twitter, and threatens to block Twitter from its registration and legitimate uses of its own trademark. In fact, it appears that Defendant has used LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS solely as a generic phrase to refer advertising in connection with Twitter itself, and as such it is incapable of serving as a trademark, rendering the registration subject to cancellation on that ground</em>.”

Luckily for Twitter, the judge agreed with its argument that “tweet” was a word that Twitter had made famous before Twittad registered the trademark. After the ruling, Twittad CEO James Eliason confirmed that Twitter has agreed to drop the lawsuit provided that Twittad hands over trademark rights. Eliason would not comment on whether money was exchanged for abandonment of the trademark.

“We’ve arrived at a resolution with Twittad that recognizes consistent use of Tweet while supporting the continued success of Twitter ecosystem partners like Twittad,” Twitter spokesperson Lynn Fox said in a comment.

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