Los Angeles – If there is one thing that Twitter does not seem to do well, it would be protecting its intellectual property rights. Just recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected Twitter’s “Tweet” trademark application for a second time.
Apparently, the word “Tweet” has already been registered by Twittad, a third party advertising service that utilizes the Twitter API (Application Programming Interface). “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets” was registered by Twittad in 2008, two years after Twitter posted its first tweet. The USPTO based its decision on Section 2d of the Lanham Act which states that a trademark that “ so resembles a trademark registered in the Patent and Trademark Office which is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive” cannot become a registered trademark. After its initial registration for “Tweet” was denied in December, 2010, Twitter re-filed its application which was denied yet again.
Twitter has over 175 million registered users who average 95 million tweets per day. With that being said, it is a little confusing as to why Twitter has taken such a laid-back approach to protecting its intellectual property rights . Not only did Twitter wait three years after its inception to register “Tweet” as a trademark, but it has been notoriously lenient with companies that have tried to use the word twitter or variations of it.
Twitter’s own trademark guidelines say not to apply for a trademark which includes the words Twitter or Tweet (or similar variations thereof). Maybe Twitter’s guidelines should have been posted long ago with the first tweet. Filing a trademark application back then wouldn’t have hurt either.
There may be hope yet for the social media site. Twitter can always try to challenge the Twittad’s registration by claiming priority of use. This would require that Twitter file a Petition to Cancel the the prior registration. It is more likely that Twitter will request that Twittad abandon its registration or become a licensee of Twitter which would allow Twittad to continue using its trademark.
With Twittad now in the catbird seat, Twitter may finally realize its need to be more aggressive with its trademarks.