Twitter: Using Tweet is OK, Twitter Might Not Be

Filed as News on July 2, 2009 12:55 am

Twitter has applied to trademark the word “Tweet” says the official blog. They think it is an obvious attachment to the Twitter brand, but say they have no intentions of going after users of the word.

We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of “going after” the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter. In fact, we encourage the use of the word Tweet. However, if we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important.

That’s good, I think. It is also good that they come clean and say that they are “a bit more wary” about the use of Twitter in projects. So cancel that Twitter Herald project and find another name, you might get in trouble otherwise.

In all seriousness, any service or product that wants people to build things around it need to be crystal clear about these things. It is not only completely unnecessary to have to send a Cease and Desist to enthusiasts, it is also really poor PR. Twitter knows that, apparently, but they should probably make sure those promised guidelines and such get rolled out soon.

The Twitter blog post was sparked by a blog post by Robin Wauters on TechCrunch, who got to read an email conversation between a Twitter API team member and a third-party developer.

So maybe we should all poke Twitter a bit more so that they can come clean with some rules about their trademarks already?

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  1. Twitter: Using Tweet is OK, Twitter Might Not Be | Cookee Ninja - Business, Technology, Internet, WorldJuly 2, 2009 at 4:00 am
  2. StevieB’s Shared Items – July 2, 2009 at Lost in CyberspaceJuly 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm
  3. By Andy Merrett posted on July 2, 2009 at 6:12 pm
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    I get companies needing to trademark stuff but if you’re going to call yourself something that’s a word in any language, and the actions your users do is also a word (twitter and tweet are both English words) then you’re asking for trouble.

    I guess it’s a matter of context. Good job Twitter isn’t planning on suing those who use their “trademark” – I’d love to see them file lawsuits against every bird in the world! :)

    Reply

  4. By Thord Daniel Hedengren posted on July 3, 2009 at 6:00 pm
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    You know, that would be hilarious indeed!

    Reply

  5. By dean collins posted on July 3, 2009 at 7:21 pm
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    I use the word twitter in my product http://www.MyTwitterButler.com

    So sue me.

    Cheers,
    Dean

    Reply

  6. By Tom Geldner posted on July 4, 2009 at 12:12 am
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    Wasn’t “tweet” a user-created description? If so, that would make it indefensible as a trademark, assuming Twitter got the registration through.

    It’s a mistake to assume that companies can’t trademark common or in-use words. Nike and Apple are good examples of companies with in-use word names and exceptionally solid trademarks. Likewise “macintosh” for products.

    Reply

  7. Twitter Claims Ownership of Retweet, A New Debacle In The Making? | The Blog HeraldAugust 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm
  8. By Sam J posted on August 20, 2009 at 11:19 pm
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    @Dean: “So sue me” eh? Looks like they did (or at least threatened to)! Never mind

    Tiwtter Trademark in Trouble Too

    Sam

    Reply

  9. By dean collins posted on August 20, 2009 at 11:43 pm
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    lol – yep, i was wondering if someone in Twitter Inc was taking this a little too personal.

    At the moment i haven’t heard any factual confirmation of Twitter inc suing any other application for using their name. (i’ve counted about 20-30 of them)

    I also haven’t heard Twitter trying to stop the sale of any application that uses their API either.

    Their claims that anyone using the API to autofollow is breaking the terms of service is ludicrous, dont want that function to be available….dont offer it on the API – simple really.

    It became apparent in a conference call that their lawyer didn’t realise that the http://www.MyTwitterButler.com application is still restricted by the limited imposed by Twitter API (eg can only send 250 direct messages per day etc).

    I think they really need to appreciate that it was third party developers that amde them as big as they are today.

    Cheers,
    Dean

    Reply

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