Twitter is going on the offensive in its attempt to own the trademark of its signature “tweet”.
The company has long been trying to register its “tweet” trademark in the US, but another third-party developer has actually beaten them to it: Twittad, an advertising platform for Twitter.
Last week, Twitter filed a lawsuit against Twittad in the hopes that this would force the company to cancel their current trademark of “tweet”, which is found in their slogan: “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets”.
Twittad received its trademark of the word “Tweet” in 2008, well before Twitter thought of applying for it itself. In the lawsuit filed last week, Twitter alleges that Twittad’s trademark wouldn’t even exist without Twitter in the first place:
“Defendant’s LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS registration unfairly exploits the widespread association by the consuming public of the mark TWEET with Twitter, and threatens to block Twitter from its registration and legitimate uses of its own mark.
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 mark, rendering the registration subject cancellation on that ground.”
TechCrunch reached out to Twitter to get more clarification on why they are seeking the trademark now, and received the following response:
“Twitter’s organic growth has taken many forms, including a widespread, dictionary-documented association of the word ‘Tweet’ with the use of Twitter. It is in the best interests of our users and developers for the meaning of ‘Tweet’ to be preserved to prevent any confusion, so we are taking action to protect its meaning.”
Twitter is rather protective over its trademarks. The company recently purchased re-tweet.com in order to maintain its “brand protection strategy” (the domain is still unused), and is in a battle with the owners of the Twiter.com (note the single “t”) domain.
It’s interesting to note that Twittad is an advertising company that 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. Of course, this conflicts with Twitter’s own Promoted Tweets advertising product. Although this isn’t explicitly state in the lawsuit, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was part of the motivation behind the legal battle.