Twitter wins battle over ownership of 'tweet' trademark
Published 12/10/2011 | 15:11
The word "tweet" is to become a registered trademark of the online messaging service Twitter, it has emerged.
Executives at the firm said they had resolved a long-running legal dispute over ownership of the term by US advertising company Twittad.
Twittad allows a network of 27,000 Twitter users to be paid to tweet advertisements from their private accounts.
The firm was the first to lay claim to the word “tweet” in 2008 when it trademarked the phase "Let Your Ad Meet Tweets". It later argued that because Twitter's own users had come up with the term themselves it was entitled to seek ownership.
This week, James Eliason, the chief executive of Twittad, revealed Twitter had agreed to drop a lawsuit against his company which sought to stop Twittad obtaining trademark of the word.
In return, Twittad, based in Des Moines, Iowa, would transfer its registered trademark of “tweet” to Twitter, he said. He declined to disclose whether Twitter had reached a paid settlement with Twittad, citing a confidentiality agreement between the companies.
Twitter spokeswoman Lynn Fox said in a statement: “We’ve arrived at a resolution with Twittad that recognizes consistent use of Tweet while supporting the continued success of Twitter ecosystem partners like Twittad.”
The social networking service Twitter allows people to post or “tweet” messages of up to 140 characters online. The site currently publishes more than 200 million tweets a day
In its legal applications last month, Twitter argued that “tweet” was already “famous” as a Twitter term before rival firms filed trademark applications.
It argued Twitter was the rightful owner and to award ownership of the term to another company “threatens to block Twitter from its registration and legitimate uses of its own mark.”
The US Patent and Trademark Office has twice suspended Twitter’s own attempts beginning in April 2009 to trademark the term.
On Monday, Mr Eliason, who runs a number of start-up companies, said Twittad would continue to use its original tagline: “Let your ad meet tweets.”
“The moral of the story is to make sure you trademark and patent-protect everything,” said Eliason, 32 years old.