Twitter sues third party over 'tweet' trademark

Summary:Twitter is suing a third-party developer over the use of the word "tweet". After years of allegedly owning it, Twitter wants it to call its own.

Twitter is, thankfully, not getting itself embroiled in the patent row that most other technology organisations are fighting over. Instead, it is fighting for a trademark -- and an important one at that -- over who should own the word "tweet".

The Twittad service got there first and registered the word "tweet" before Twitter had managed to, and now Twitter wants it back.

Twittad, a marketing company using Twitter as its promotion audience, trademarked the service, "Let Your Ad Meet Tweets", but Twitter is filing to sue the company as it believes it deserves the trademark more.

The microblogging service has been liberal in who gets to use the word "tweet" in the past, but developers for Twitter hit a roadblock when Twitter filed for trademarks of the word in both Europe and the U.S., to stop such developers using the word to describe their products.

The complaint says that Twittad "unfairly exploits the widespread association by consuming public of the mark "tweet" with Twitter, and threatens to block Twitter from its registration and legitimate uses of its own mark".

It goes on to discuss the origins of the word, highlighting that of its origins, through birdsong.

But Twitter was late to the party and did not realise the impact that a simple word could have on society. Just as we "Google" something, Microsoft wants us desperately to "Bing" something, "to tweet" has become a historical point to which we refer to a message on the microblogging service.

Arguably and on the face of it, Twitter probably deserves the trademark more. If it were not for the service to begin with, the "tweet" would have never have been a 140-character length message broadcast to the world; saving a whole load of trouble for birds and feathered animals who may no longer be legally allowed to make a sound.

The meaning of the word is not going to change; solidly wedged within the slices of society. But, if Twitter succeeds and registers the word as their own, it will granted give the company a better control of something they clearly created in the first place.

Twitter already has the word "tweet" in the dictionary; what more does it want? Another 100 million users on the site, perhaps. If Twitter wins, who knows of the madness that could come of this:

"Twitter sues birds after infringing trademark with birdsong; Pigeons fall mysteriously silent".

Related:

Topics: Legal, Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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