California
18 January 2018
Reporter: Barney Dixon

TWiT sues Twitter for trademark infringement


TWiT.tv, is suing Twitter for breach of contract, unfair competition and trademark infringement, stemming from a deal the two companies made in 2007.

According to TWiT’s complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on 6 March 2007, one of Twitter’s co-founders Evan Williams appeared on TWiT’s net@night programme alongside TWiT owner Leo Laporte, and discussed his new company, Twitter, which was to be a text-based microblogging service.

The two acknowledged the similarity of the Twitter brand and TWiT mark on the show, and later agreed to a basis of coexistence between the two trademarks, conditioned on each company continuing with its own unique distribution platform.

Twitter’s would focus on communication through unique 140 character bursts, and TWiT on the distribution of audio and video content via streaming on the internet.

The lawsuit alleged that in 2009 Twitter was reportedly planning to expand its services to video content under the Twitter brand, contrary to the previous agreement.

Laporte contacted Williams, who had become Twitter’s CEO, with his concerns. Williams responded that the news reports were “not accurate” and said: “Don’t worry: we’re not expanding to audio or video under the Twitter brand.”

However, in May 2017, Twitter announced “premium video content” that was coming to the platform. This “video content” includes the streaming and downloading of video content over the internet.

In July, TWiT sent correspondence to Twitter demanding that it cease its plans to expand the use of the Twitter trademark. Since then, it said it has “engaged in communications with the goal of informally resolving this dispute”.

“These efforts have not resolved the dispute and Twitter continues its expansion into TWiT’s business in breach of its agreement with [TWiT] refuting its representations and promises made, and infringing on [TWiT’s] intellectual property rights”.

TWiT argued that Twitter’s use of the Twitter trademark in connection with these new products is “a breach of its promise to and agreement with TWiT and Laporte, and creates a likelihood of confusion with the TWiT mark”.

TWiT is seeking damages and all gains, profits and advantages derived from Twitter’s video streaming platform.

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