Posts tagged Trademark

Report: Brands May Lose 10K to 60K Visitors Per Month To PPC Trademark Bidding

BrandVerity’s Q4 study looks at trademark usage in paid search across 10 industry verticals.

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Twitpic, Already Sidelined By Twitter, Shuts Down After Trademark Spat

Millions of photo links across Twitter will soon succumb to linkrot. The service Twitpic, once a primary avenue for posting images to the microblogging service, is shutting down.

So get ready to export all your photos, because as of September 25, they’ll be gone for good.

In a blog post, Twitpic said it is winding down because of pressure from Twitter over its name. It claims Twitter demanded it drop its application to trademark the Twitpic name, originally filed in 2009. If it didn’t, Twitter allegedly threatened a death sentence of sorts. Technically, it would have cut off Twitpic’s access to the application programming interface (see our API explainer) that lets users post links to Twitpic images directly on Twitter. 

See also: Twitter Kills The API Whitelist: What It Means For Developers And Innovation

“Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours,” Twitpic founder Noah Everett wrote. So the company decided to close down instead.

Twitpic hasn’t provided a way to export photos yet, but Everett said the option will be available within the next few days.

The Mark, Not The Name

Twitter says Twitpic was free to continue using its name, but defended its trademark request as necessary to protect its brand. As a Twitter spokesperson put it in a statement emailed by the company:

We’re sad to see Twitpic is shutting down. We encourage developers to build on top of the Twitter service, as Twitpic has done for years, and we made it clear that they could operate using the Twitpic name. Of course, we also have to protect our brand, and that includes trademarks tied to the brand.

One possibility for Twitter’s intransigence on this point: If Twitpic won a trademark on its name, that might have set a precedent for other companies to similarly claim other variations on names starting with “Twit” name. That would obviously be an undesirable outcome from Twitter’s perspective.

So why didn’t Twitpic just keep the name and drop the trademark suit? A company’s unique identity is tied to their brand, and by trademarking a name, it ensures no one else can use it. Had Twitpic caved on this point, there wouldn’t have been anything to stop other companies from using its name in potentially unwelcome ways.

Twitpic could have also chosen to rename itself. Considering Twitter roadblocked the initial trademark attempt, though, it likely would have run into trouble with any other name bearing a resembance to “Twitter” as well.

Twitter-Centric Photo Sharing Apps Are Basically Pointless, Anyway

There may be another reason Twitpic chose to throw in the towel—namely, the fact that its service was apparently dwindling in popularity as Twitter itself shouldered it aside.

Twitpic and similar services such as yFrog rose to prominence five or so years ago by giving users a way to share photos directly on Twitter. But when Twitter dropped support for third-party photo sharing applications in 2012, and then created its own Instagram-like filters for images, third-party applications fell by the wayside.

Until recently, Twitpic remained the best service for uploading animated GIFs to share with friends, as Twitter didn’t support them. Then Twitter unveiled in-line GIF support, and Twitpic’s best argument for sticking around disappeared.

Twitpic might not have the resources to battle with Twitter over trademark issues, but it also may have just resigned itself to the inevitable: Twitter has rounded out its features to the point that users don’t need third-party photo services.

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ALS Charity Drops “Ice Bucket Challenge” Trademark Attempt

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Association’s attempt to trademark the phrase “Ice Bucket Challenge” met with a chilly response from Internet critics. It has now withdrawn its applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  

On Friday, the ALS Association announced that since July 29, it has received more than $109.9 million in donations—a 3504% increase from the $2.8 million it received during same time period last year. Those invited to participate in the in the Ice Bucket Challenge have 24 hours to either donate money or take a shower under a bucket of ice filled water, optimally posting video proof of the challenge met on the Internet. As the donations and more than 1 million videos posted on YouTube and Facebook show, many chose to do both. 

The origins of the ice bucket challenge are unclear, though its been utilized in benefit of other charities both before and during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s viral reign. The predecessor “Cold Water Challenge” that started making the rounds in mid 2013 was often issued to benefit cancer charities. 

The ALS Overreaches

Other charities dedicated to support of sufferers and research of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), benefited from donations inspired by social media phenomenon. The ALS Association however, received from the lion’s share, and on August 26, the nonprofit filed two trademark applications with the USPTO. The first was for “ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE” and the second for ALS ICE BUCKET.

“This is why we can’t have nice things,” was one of the more, ahem, charitable criticisms repeated on Twitter after trademark attorney Erik M. Pelton posted about the ALS Association’s USPTO filings on his firm’s website under the pithy headline, “Let the ice bucket trademark challenges begin.” Many, however, didn’t spare the organization their own icy criticism:

On Friday, the same day the ALS Association thanked donors all over the world for their $100.9 million generosity, it also pulled its trademark applications. The ALS Association provided ReadWrite with the following statement: 

The ALS Association filed for these trademarks in good faith as a measure to protect the Ice Bucket Challenge from misuse after consulting with the families who initiated the challenge this summer. However, we understand the public’s concern and are withdrawing the trademark applications. We appreciate the generosity and enthusiasm of everyone who has taken the challenge and donated to ALS charities.  

In his trademark blog post, Pelton delineated the reasons he felt the ALS Association’s trademark attempt was inappropriate. These criticism included the fact that the phrase “Ice Bucket Challenge” isn’t associated exclusively with fundraising for the ALS Association. He also questioned whether if successful, the nonprofit would prevent others from using the ice bucket challenge for other charitable causes.

But Let’s Consign These Guys To An Icy Hell

On the other hand, perhaps we should have taken the ALS Association at its word. It’s hard to escape that feeling when you see how many outfits are trying to profit from the viral phenomenon.  may very well wish to protect the the game that sent its donations skyrocketing from those who seek to profit from it personally. Look no further than the Ice Bucket Challenge Halloween costume for an example of why we really can’t have nice things:

“ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a serious illness that destroys nervous cells and lives,” reads the description for this pile of plastic and tulle with a $40 price tag. “The Ice Bucket Challenge is the latest craze in “slacktivism” that helps raise awareness and donations to fund research in the ongoing struggle to end this terrible disease.”  

Google Play has a host of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge-themed apps. Amazon offers an ever-increasing inventory of “I Survived The Ice Bucket Challenge” apparel for everyone from infants to adults. There are stickers and magnets too, including the “Lindsay Lohan Photo Fridge Magnet, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” ($2.99), which originally promised “side boob” but now merely assures the potential purchaser of “Highest Quality Magnet Available.”

None of these product descriptions offer much indication that your purchase will benefit anyone but the profiteers offering them. It’s enough—almost—to make you ask the ALS Association to reinstate its application. 

Lead image of Benedict Cumberbatch taking the Ice Bucket Challenge via YouTube screencapYouTube screencap

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AdWords Click Fraud Service Found Using Google’s Trademark, Promoting Itself On YouTube

How’s this for brazen? For at least two years, a Russian hacker has been running a cheekily-named click fraud service called GoodGoogle, promoting it in videos on Google’s YouTube and using Gmail accounts to correspond with customers. Online security expert, Brian Krebs, recently…

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BrandVerity Offers Feedback From Google, Bing On Paid Search Trademark Complaints

Brands aiming to protect themselves from trademark infringement in paid search are often met with white noise after they submit complaints to the search engines. They typically aren’t told if any action was taken — and even more frustrating, if no action was taken, why. To help solve…

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