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Twitter, Inc., Learns a Lesson in Trademark Registration
New businesses are cautioned to register theiras soon as they conceive of trademarks they intend to use. Although some may be tempted to save on registration fees and rely on common law protection, Twitter’s recent lawsuit against Twittad demonstrates why new businesses should file their trademarks as soon as they intend to use it.
Twittad is an advertising company specializing in targeting Twitter users to promote products via a “tweet.” Tweets are 140 character microblog postings that are displayed to the online followers of the user. In July 2008, Twittad filed an intent to use application for the phrase “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets” and filed a statement of use in 2009. Like all marks, the phrase was published in the Official Gazette for Trademarks for opposition. No one opposed it, so registration was granted.
In 2009, Twitter filed for “Tweet” but the USPTO declined the registration because the marks “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets” and “Tweet” are confusingly similar. Twitter filed its motion for declaratory judgment to cancel Twittad’s mark.
Although the case recently settled, Twitter could have saved significant legal costs and time by registering the “Tweet” mark earlier. The benefits of registration include a legal presumption of ownership of the mark, nationwide priority for the exclusive use of the mark, ability to record the registration with the Customs and Border Protection Service to prevent importations of foreign, infringing goods, ability to use the ® symbol, and the ability to bring a claim against an infringer forinfringement under 15 U.S.C. 1114(a).
[Photo under Creative Common’s license; http://www.flickr.com/photos/eldh/5858249526/]
Twitter, Inc., Learns a Lesson in Trademark Registration,