Twitter Trademark Infringement
Twitter has become one of the most popular forms of social media, with celebrities using the platform to communicate with fans—and even high-profile politicians regularly Tweet to the American public. Twitter has more than 330 million members, making it an important asset for companies trying to reach out to potential and existing customers.
A company of any size can use Twitter for both marketing purposes and customer service, directly addressing concerns Tweeted by customers and mitigating damage to the company’s reputation. Twitter, however, can also present problems if other parties use your trademark on their Twitter accounts.
Trademark infringements are common on social media, and each site has its own procedures for reporting and rectifying infringements. Unfortunately, getting a social media giant to address your trademark concerns is not always as simple the platform’s policies may make it seem. Oftentimes, the only way to have you situation resolved is to have an attorney contact Twitter on your behalf.
If you believe that someone is infringing on your trademark or copyright via Twitter, do not wait to start enforcing your rights. Discuss your best course of action with an experienced trademark and copyright lawyer as soon as possible.
Infringements Involving Twitter Handles and Hashtags
When you sign up for Twitter, you select a handle that identifies you to your followers and the public. If you have a particular brand or business name, it only makes sense that you would want that to be part of your handle. Often, however, a trademark owner tries to make a trademark into a handle but learns that someone else is already using the trademark as a handle on a different account that is not affiliated with the business.
This can cause several issues. First, Twitter handles are all unique and issued on first-come, first-served bases. This means that if another party is using your trademark, Twitter will not immediately grant you the same handle. In addition, the use of your trademark by an unaffiliated user can easily cause confusion among customers and clients. If the party with your trademark is Tweeting false information or opinions that do not represent the spirit of your brand, your business reputation may suffer if customers come across that Twitter account and mistake it as your company’s.
The good news: You can take steps to protect your trademark ownership on Twitter. Twitter does have a policy that prohibits the use of trademark-protected brands, business names, or other original materials in a way that can confuse, mislead or damage other users. If Twitter receives a report of a possible trademark or copyright infringement, it may:
- Allow the existing account holder the opportunity to include a disclaimer explaining that it is not affiliated with your business or brand.
- Revoke the handle and suspend the account if Twitter finds the account holder intentionally misused the trademark or created confusion.
In short, not all reported infringements will result in Twitter revoking the existing handle and awarding the handle to your business. Instead, it will investigate whether the existing use makes unauthorized use of text or images, creates confusion, whether the user has any rights to use that handle (for example, if it is similar to their own names or business names), or whether it falsely pretends to affiliate with your business or is Tweeting about your business.
Twitter can hurt your business if it allows the existing infringement to remain. An experienced trademark and copyright attorney who is familiar with infringement on social media can assist you in making a persuasive report to Twitter regarding your rights. A lawyer can also help you notify the third party about the infringement and take further legal action if necessary.
The matter of trademarks used in hashtags is also a frequent issue. Twitter hashtags are searchable and often used by businesses to convey easily identifiable information to their customer base. In some cases, courts have ruled that hashtags are descriptive devices and not something that specifically identifies or refers to a trademarked brand. If you have concerns regarding possible trademark infringement in hashtags, discuss your specific case with a knowledgeable trademark attorney who is apprised of these specific trademark laws.
Seeking Damages for Infringement
At first, someone using your copyright or trademark on Twitter may not seem like a big problem—but it may only be a matter of time before the infringement causes damage to your reputation and finances. In the event that someone has infringed on your copyright or trademark on Twitter and has harmed your brand, at typical first step is a cease and desist letter. In the event that a lawsuit is necessary, we can assist you.
California Twitter Trademark and Copyright Infringement Attorney
You should take swift action if you believe someone has infringed your rights on Twitter or any other social media platform. If you need the assistance of an attorney, please feel free to contact us. For the fastest service, please complete our contact form.