Twitter has issued new rules about how the rest of us can use the words “Twitter” and “Tweet,” MG Siegler of TechCrunch tells us.And the rules are right out of a handbook on how to take yourself way too seriously.
- Make sure 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.”
Naming your Application or Product, Applying for a Domain
Do: Use Tweet in the name of your application only if it is designed to be used exclusively with the Twitter platform.
Don’t: Use Tweet in the name of your application if used with any other platform.
In other words, if you’re TweetDeck, a company that was created shortly after the company called Twitter and helped to make Twitter the powerhouse that it is today, you have to change your name to, say, StatusUpdateDeck, because Twitter’s lawyers now say they own the word “Tweet.”
Now, Twitter’s lawyers will no doubt say that what they’re doing here is just laying claim to company property, the same way “Xerox” or “Kleenex” or “Google” might do.
But that’s crap.
Companies like “Xerox” and “Kleenex” and “Google” invented the names that later became generic nouns and verbs. In other words, the terms started as company trademarks and then entered the general lexicon.Twitter, meanwhile, just co-opted words that had existed happily for hundreds of years before its founders were even born, and it’s now trying to convert these words into company property.
Yes, Twitter’s lawyers will say here that they’re only trying to control the capitalised forms of these words, but that’s still weenie-like. As MG Siegler notes: “This would seem to be all about Twitter gaining the trademark to the word “tweet”, which they’ve been trying unsuccessfully to do. They also later note, “Please remember to capitalise the T in Twitter and Tweet!” As a commenter notes, it’s funny that they don’t even capitalise it in their own logo!”
(And are Twitter’s lawyers really going to be cool if “TweetDeck” changes its name to “tweetdeck”? Somehow we doubt it.)
More importantly, this whole “we own and can dictate how English words are used” thing just runs so counter to the grass-roots power-to-the-people “open” ethos that made Twitter what it is today.
Yes, by imposing ever-greater rules on how application providers can interact with the service, and by co-opting some of the most popular third-party applications, Twitter has already screwed over some of the folks who initially supported it and begun its transformation into a “CORPORATION.” But those moves were foreshadowed and expected, and they were arguably necessary to the company’s long-term financial success.
Trademarking the word “Tweet,” meanwhile, has nothing to do with the company’s long-term financial success (unless part of the financial model is expected to be suing people for trademark infringement.) It’s just annoying.
So, we urge you to rethink this one, Twitter.
If you want to trademark the company-name “Twitter,” fine. But lay off “Tweet.” And stop trying to dictate how people can and can’t use words that have been communal property for centuries. It’s way too early–and your company is still way too cool–to let lawyers take over.
See Also: Here’s Who Just Got Screwed By Twitter
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