Twitter Files Lawsuit against Twittad for "Tweet" Trademark Registration

[ Photo courtesy of Svartling via creative commons license. ]

Twitter recently filed a trademark lawsuit against sponsored-advertising company Twittad for unfair registration of "Let Your Ad Meet Tweets."  

Twitter claims that in doing so, Twittad exploited the widespread association of "tweet" with "Twitter" and hinders Twitter from registering and legitimately using "tweet," according to the legal filing.

Twittad filed for "tweet" as part of its tagline "Let Your Ad Meet Tweets" back in 2008, when it was founded. The bootstrapped company has worked with companies like Land Rover, Sears and Motorola.

"From when Twitter launched through late 2010 there were no 'developer rules of the road' with regards to trademarking or using the word "Tweet," Twittad founder James Eliason [ @jameseliason ]  tells LAUNCH via email. 

"In fact, our trademark was up for opposition in Nov 08 - Oct 09 -- in which Twitter did not oppose the mark," Eliason continued. "We fully believe in free communication and in the Twitter network as a whole (especially all the third-party developers who helped grow the Twitter network). It is disappointing that Twitter suspended our Twitter account and that they have decided to file this suit against us based on the multitude of facts in this case."

Twitter is asking the Federal Register to cancel Twittad's registration, claiming that the "tweet" mark became widely known to the public beyond its dictionary meaning of "birdsong" only after Twitter's launch in 2006.

"Twitter's organic growth has taken many forms, including a widespread, dictionary-documented association of the word 'Tweet' with the use of Twitter," Twitter Director of Communications Lynn Fox tells LAUNCH via email. "It is in the best interests of our users and developers for the meaning of 'Tweet' to be preserved to prevent any confusion, so we are taking action to protect its meaning."

Twitter filed the suit Sept. 8, 2011 in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. 

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