To tweet or not to tweet

Ad Agency Twittad is using a slogan: “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets”. The slogan seems to be registered as a trademark as well.

However, Twitter claims that the word ‘tweet’ is a registered trademark they own. The microblog company is not amused, because they offer similar ad services as Twittad does.

It is unmistakably true that Twitter came up with the word ‘tweet’ in relation to their services, namely a 140-character long message. However, the question is whether the word ‘tweet’ can still be considered a trademark. It may have become generic.

This is a common problem when new products or services enter the market and have no generic name (yet). This was the case with the Sony Walkman. As a trademark owner you should always communicate the generic name (e.g. “portable cassette player”) in order to prevent your trademark to become the generic name.

Did you know that trampoline, escalator, petrol and videotape used to be trademarks? See our earlier post on trademarks that have become generic here.

Twittad claims the word ‘tweet’ has been included in dictionaries. Although this by itself does not constitute the trademark being a generic word, Twittad does have a good point. Although many people may associate the word ‘tweet’ directly with Twitter, do they conceive it as a trademark? And how long will this remain the case?  Twitter must pay very close attention and prevent others as well from using ‘tweet’ as a generic.

This is also the case for the name ‘Twitter’, that is already being used as a verb, rather than as a trademark.

MarkMatters.com is looking forward to all further developments in this matter.

For now, Twitter is ahead 1-0: they closed down Twittad’s Twitter-account.

Erwin Hauër

“Hoop is geen strategie.”

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