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Should TWEETY PIE Claim Prior TWEET Rights?

Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 10:53am
The Original Tweeter?
Global fame means maintaining a global ‘police watch’ on use of your trademark registrations, which for Twitter Inc, is a major task.

Twitter Inc has succeeded in securing a trademark registration in the UK for TWITTER, TWEET and RETWEET, but has had to oppose quite a few conflicting applications in the UK.

In a district court in San Francisco, Twitter is having to oppose a trademark registration (LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS) belonging to Twittad that threatens to block Twitter from registering TWEET as its own legitimate" mark.

Twittad is a company that offers online advertising services specifically for use on Twitter and in connection with Twitter's services.

Twitter Inc considers that Twittad's trademark registration should be cancelled because it was registered for purposes the company does not use it for and because it exploits the popularity of Twitter. According to Twitter Inc, such use constitutes trademark infringement given Twitter's prior use and widespread consumer recognition of the TWEET mark and use of the trademark LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS to identify Twittad’s services would be likely to cause consumer confusion. Under US trademark law, trademarks should not generally be issued if another mark exists and is therefore likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception.

Twitter said that it had made a considerable investment in the word "tweet" and had filed an application to trademark it to protect the investment and "goodwill" associated with the word. It has certainly done so in the European Union. At least, Twitter has secured enough trademark registration muscle to prevent and argument that the word Tweet has become generic although policiing those rights on a global basis will be a constant struggle for the company. Even in Europe, whilst many twitter-related trademarks have successfully been opposed or withdrawn, there have been a number of successful registrations such as TWEETABILITY and CARTWEET, for advertsing and related services.

Twitter’s position is that prior to the launch of its social networking platform, TWEET was only associated with "birdsong" but that it had become "widely adopted by consumers and media outlets to refer to Twitter" since.

All of this rather overlooks the fact that Tweety Pie was the first real tweeter.

Methinks maybe Tweety Pie has prior rights!

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