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Twitter contests ad company's 'tweets' trademark

If you aren't a bird, you can't use our word

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Twitter said that a trademark belonging to Twittad "threatens to block" it from registering "tweet" as its own "legitimate" mark, according to the company's legal submission to a district court in San Francisco.

Twittad owns the trademark "Let Your Ad Meet Tweets". It is a company that "offers online advertising services specifically for use on Twitter and in connection with Twitter's services," Twitter's legal filing said.

Twitter is a micro-blogging social network website that allows users to post messages up to 140 characters in length. These messages are called "tweets".

Twittad's trademark should be cancelled because it was registered for purposes the company does not use it for and because it exploits the popularity of Twitter, the social network said.

"Such use constitutes trademark infringement [under US trademark laws], given Twitter's prior use and widespread consumer recognition of the 'tweet' mark," Twitter's legal filing said.

"Use of 'Let Your Ad Meet Tweets' as a mark to identify Twittad as the source of any services identified in the registration would be likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source of the parties' offerings," it said.

Under US trademark law, trademarks should not generally be issued if another mark exists and is therefore likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception.

Twitter said that it had placed "considerable investment" in the word "tweet" and had filed an application to trademark it to protect the investment and "goodwill" associated with the word. The company said that prior to its launch, "tweet" was only associated with "birdsong" but that it had become "widely adopted by consumers and media outlets to refer to Twitter" since.

Twittad's registered trademark would confuse consumers into thinking the 'Let Your Ad Meet Tweets' strapline belongs to Twitter's existing "family of marks", which include "Retweet" and "Tweetdeck", Twitter said.

"[Twittad's] ... registration unfairly exploits the widespread association by the consuming public of the mark 'tweet' with Twitter, and threatens to block Twitter from its registration and legitimate uses of its own mark," the social network's legal filing said.

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