What is Twitter? What’s a Tweet? Can I be Tweeted? Will a Tweet hurt? Twitter is a micro-blogging portal that allows for sharing messages and links that are 140 characters or less and it is being talked about everywhere. This buzz is causing clients to ask questions, similar to those above, about what this space means for them. The majority of these questions seem to be surrounding trademark rights with Twitter profile names. Similar to the domain name “squatting” from the early 90’s, people are registering Twitter names for brands that they do not represent.
First, it is important to remember that as social media continues to take over the on-line space companies need to be registering their names on these sites. If a company is proactive about this process, the issues surrounding trademark violation will not occur. Second, let’s be honest, very few companies have the resources, time, or ingenuity to realize they need to be doing this. That being said, there are many things a company can do to reclaim their trademarked Twitter name from its current owner.
The first thing a company should do when it finds their trademarked brand has been taken on Twitter is see when the last tweet was sent from the account. If the account has not had activity for 30+ days and the company can prove the trademark, the company can work with Twitter directly to retrieve the account. If the account is being actively used the company should personally reach out to the person who has it. Simply ask them to turn the profile over to the company and reference the trademark rights. It is important to note that the company will likely fair better by playing nice and offering a complimentary something to the person for their time and inconvenience. If the profile is not surrendered after these efforts legal steps can be taken to retrieve the account. Another thing to consider is that if the person who owns the account is not causing detriment to the brand it may be timelier to simply create a differing variation of the trademarked name and begin Tweeting from the new account.
—Ted Risdall, Risdall Marketing