Twitter recently released new guidelines for use of the Twitter trademark. The guidelines are very thorough and cover trademark usage including:
- Promoting your own account
- Talking about Twitter in publications, on TV, at conferences
- Displaying Tweets in your broadcast or online
- Writing a book about Twitter
- Using Twitter screenshots
- Merchandise/manufactured items
- Using the Twitter marks in your ad/marketing campaign
- Naming your application/product, applying for a domain
- Visual design of your website or application
- Other things to know about the Twitter trademark
Twitter has been on the receiving end of a tsunami of bitch-slapping responses following publishing these new guidelines. Yesterday, Silicon Alley Insider published a post called Hey Twitter Enough Of This Crap About “Here’s How You Can Use The Word Tweet.” The vast majority of the new guidelines have to do with the usage of the word “Twitter” and its logo. Twitter has a trademark on the word “Twitter” and it is clearly trying to get its arms around usage. Just because 100 million plus people use Twitter doesn’t mean it can be a trademark gang bang with feathers flying all over the place. I’m sure well over a billion people drink Coke every year, but nobody is outraged over the rigid trademark guidelines Coca Cola established and enforces. Trademarks are everything to big brands. From Google to Apple to Target to BMW to McDonald’s, trademarks ensure the brand equity is not misrepresented, leveraged or stolen in ways that would harm the brand or benefit another company. Why should Twitter be held to a different standard? Because they have a bird in their logo? Seriously, if I started a technology company called GoogleGaggle, does anyone think Google might have a right to get pissy. Or if I started a new blog called SiliconAlleyInsiderButInBoston, do you think SAI would be OK with that and perhaps link to my site. Doubtful. I bet I would have a lawyer up my butt waving a Cease & Desist faster than I can type the word “help” in a Tweet.
So why all the outrage over Twitter’s new guidelines. It appears the bulk of it — which I agree with — is in response to how Twitter is attempting to dictate the usage of the word “Tweet.” At issue is that Twitter doesn’t have a trademark on the word Tweet. They have tried to trademark Tweet, but have failed repeatedly. Unlike “Google” which was a word that became common vernacular because the company introduced it to us, Twitter is trying to abduct a word that has been around since man heard the first bird open its beak and let out a sound. OK, that is a slight exaggeration, but you get the gist of what I am trying to say.
Maybe Twitter is attempting to abduct the word Tweet as a possible monetization strategy and is taking a page out of Lindsay Lohan’s playbook of perceived infringement. Remember when Lindsay filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against E-Trade in response to its 2010 Super Bowl commercial referencing “that milkaholic Lindsay?” Lindsay settled the suit and it has been reported she made a pretty penny on the deal. How can that be? There must be a million girls named Lindsay who were born long before Ms. Lohan. How is it that Lindsay Lohan can somehow stake claim on a name she doesn’t have a trademark on and actually leverage it financially through a legal claim? Not sure but the answer must lie in the same vault that hold the answer to the question Why does CBS still stand behind Charlie Sheen?
What do you think about Twitter trying to dictate the usage of the word Tweet?
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