Home Twitter Issues New Guidelines for the Tweet Trademark

Twitter Issues New Guidelines for the Tweet Trademark

Late last week, Twitter updated its blog to call attention to the fact that along with the updates to “New Twitter,” that the service has updated the look of many of its logos, buttons, and widgets. But that “new look” seems to point to certain legal ramifications for others that may utilize Twitter’s name and trademarked terms in their own services. Apparently, using the Twitter name to manipulate folks into “get rich quick” schemes is forbidden. Bummer.

But in what seems to follow on a rather unfortunate series of events for Twitter’s developer ecosystem, the announcement may not bode well for startups that have thus far associated themselves – in name and in logo – with Twitter and its Tweets.

How to Tweet (and Refer to Tweets) without Consulting Your Lawyer

The list of guidelines is designed, according to Twitter, “to help you use our marks without having to worry about negotiating an agreement with us or talking to our lawyers.” So here’s what you can do, according to Twitter, without having to call in legal counsel. How companies like Twitterific, with its iconic blue bird, will need to respond, remains to be seen.

Apparently we’re not supposed to use screenshots of people’s Tweets without their permission (but here’s a link to my boyfriend’s recent Tweet where he totally checked in via Foursquare without my permission. I am definitely going to sue.)

Twitter wants to retain control of its mark on merchandise, which is understandable, as far as the “Twitter” logo goes. But it goes one step father, saying that “if mentioning ‘Tweet,’ you include a direct reference to Twitter (for instance, ‘Tweet with Twitter’) or display the Twitter marks with the mention of ‘Tweet.'”

Impact on Developers?

The new guidelines also say that using Tweet in the name of an application is only acceptable if the app is designed to be used exclusively with Twitter, something that, as Techcrunch’s MG Siegler notes, doesn’t bode too well for Tweetdeck. Twitpic, and other services that start with Tw- or Twit- are, however, “generally okay with us.”

And the T on “Tweet,” just so you know, should always be capitalized – because Tweeting is Important, much like the googling and facebooking we all undertake.

Since it’s original posting on Friday afternoon, Siegler’s post has been updated multiple times with clarifications from Twitter, suggesting that the initial guidelines may not have been penned with the utmost precision — small consolation for developers who are working within the Twitter legal and linguistic ecosystem.

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