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Twitter Fighting Twittad Over Tweet Trademark

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Screen capture of Twitter fail whale

Screen capture of Twitter fail whale

Twitter is chirping mad over the 2008 trademark registration of the phrase “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets” by Twittad, an advertising company with services for use on the microblogging king; now the company has brought suit in California to fight it.

Although Twitter owns the trademarks for “retweet,” “cotweet,” and “tweetdeck,” it apparently lost the race to solidify its ownership of the basic “tweet.”

The complaint filed by Twitter in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California alleges that “[t]he defendant’s registration unfairly exploits the widespread association by the consuming public of the market ‘tweet’ with Twitter and threatens to block Twitter from its registration and legitimate uses of its own mark.”

Attorneys for Twitter stress that before Twitter, “the ‘tweet’ mark was not generally known to the consuming public beyond its dictionary meaning relating to birdsong, and had no association with web-based social networking and communications services,” further showing just how closely related the term is to Twitter, the complaint maintains.

Specifically, Twitter argues that Twittad never used the phrase in question in commerce for any of the goods and services identified in the trademark application, making it ineligible for protection. Moreover, the complaint alleges, “’LET YOUR AD MEET TWEETS’ does not serve to identify Twittad as the source of goods or services under the mark.” Instead, the lawsuit avers, it is a “generic reference to a service that allows advertising on Twitter, or at most a descriptive statement lacking in secondary meaning.”

The overarching argument of Twitter, though, is that Twittad’s use of the phrase constitutes trademark infringement because of “Twitter’s prior use and widespread consumer recognition of the TWEET mark.”

Twitter is asking that Twittad’s registration be cancelled.

What do you think? Will Twitter twiumph?

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September 14th, 2011 at 6:00 am