Well, here’s one that’s giving some PR person somewhere a migraine: SPIN Magazine has sent a cease and desist order to the user behind the Twitter handle @Spin – a Portland Oregon man who happens to be a DJ and is in no way trying to squat on the “SPIN” brand or misrepresent himself as affiliated with them. Stay classy, SPIN.
Gothamist got its hands on the actual cease and desist order that Eric Rice, current owner of @spin, received last week.
The cease and desist claims that Rice has infringed upon SPIN’s trademark by using the @spin handle. The law firm representing SPIN writes that he “has caused a significant amount of confusion among our client’s customers,” and that individuals on Twitter looking for @SPINmagazine (which is SPIN’s current handle, and a verified one at that) “frequently get redirected to @SPIN.”
They also cite several tweets meant for SPIN magazine which used the @spin handle as their mention.
Now, one problem I see with this is a poor understanding of how Twitter really works. People don’t get “redirected” to a username. If they really want to reach out to a particular brand, in this case SPIN Magazine, they do a quick Google search or visit the official website of that brand to discover the brand’s Twitter handle. Of course, some people will go with their gut and make up an @username in the hopes that it’s the right one, but anyone really interested in interacting with SPIN would have done the 3 milliseconds of research to look up their username.
Of course, this is common sense, and that often doesn’t apply to big companies looking to throw their weight around. SPIN magazine likely wants to improve their SEO clout by grabbing a better Twitter handle they can use around the web, as, in fact, the current owner of @spin speculates. Gothamist got a statement from Eric Rice about the issue:
“I can only speculate that a company that wants a better URL for their social media presence might resort to a cease and desist approach against an individual, since the specter of facing a legal situation could be too foreboding. I’m actually curious if they’ve pursued all the other similarly named people or companies—and there’s a lot of them. As far as hearing from them before? Nope, not in all the years I’ve been yammering on Twitter or any other services with my nickname—which is why this whole thing is so surreal to me—it feels like an attack on my personal identity. All because some people dialed a wrong number, essentially.”
But wow, if this is how SPIN deals with its online presence, they’re throwing out every piece of advice any Twitter veteran could give them. Respect your community? No thanks. Be open and transparent? Nuh-uh. Take the time to think about your actions before you tweet? We’ll go one further and send a cease and desist without thinking it through!
Honestly, this is just plain bullying. Trying to scare an individual – who has been using the same Twitter handle since 2007 – away by threatening legal action, when that individual is clearly not misrepresenting their trademark in any way, won’t endear SPIN to its Twitter community. They’re working against themselves here: by using threats to “improve” their Twitter presence by getting a better username, they’ll most likely just offend more users than they’ll gain, even if their cease and desist is successful.