Twitter is a very common and popular social media platform. It has recently been in the news for a major reason. It is trying its best to trademark the word “subtweet”. The word means a tweet that is directed at someone without any mention of their Twitter handle. It is typically used as a form of mockery or criticism against someone. If we put it in the pre social media terms, it means talking about someone behind their back. Twitter filed this trademark on October 30, 2015. It was put up for opposition on November 19th.
A Trademark is nothing but a recognizable name, symbol, sign, or something like that which is able to distinguish a particular product to come from a definite source. It is like a commercial mark. The trademark would mean a lot to this company. It will prove to be a commercial mark in a way that the Twitter’s control of the word would be exclusively in the commercial settings. As such, if they are able to get the word trademarked, no one else will be able to name their new product “Subtweet”, or sell anything with the name “Subtweet” on them.
A Twitter spokesperson said,” When you need to protect your namespace from people who would misuse it. #keepingit”.
The main reason why someone would go for trademark infringement is the “likelihood of confusion”. This is basically how likely it is that a customer would expect Twitter to be a source or a sponsor of the thing that is being offered commercially. Saying that something is a “subtweet” would not fall under the same category. But, if you sell a shirt with “subtweet” on it, it will. People consider trademarking to be a big deal because not enforcing it could make the mark grow weak. This would make it harder to enforce it in courts.
Actually, other words like “Tweet”, “subtweet”, and “tweetstorm” have been coined by the users themselves referring to any specific activity on the website. Twitter has been trying to trademark a few of them in the past, but to no avail. They have not always been successful in their trials.
Even the word “Tweet” could not be trademarked by the company. This was because the word has been in use for a really long time. The word has now become almost synonymous to Twitter, but the trademark did not happen. Later, the company also tried filing for vocabulary related to the Vine video platform, like “Viners” and “revine”.
If the proposal is left unopposed, this company would become successful in gaining all rights to the word “subtweet” in a few months’ time. Then, the word would belong to the company for use in all kinds of commercial contexts.
The move to file a trademark for “subtweet” came just after Jack Dorsey was announced to be the permanent CEO of the company. The word was published on November 19th by the US Patent and Trademark Office to invite any kinds of objections.