California - After years of applications and re-filings with the USPTO, social networking service Twitter, Inc. has finally received a trademark for the word 'tweet.' Launched in 2006, Twitter allows users to post 'tweets,' or text posts of 140 characters. Tweets may be shared online and read by other Twitter followers. Twitter, though often criticized as a simplified Facebook, gained a large following upon its launch. As of 2011, Twitter users post over 200 million tweets a day.
Twitter has become especially popular in the celebrity community. It is now common for news sources to rely on celebrity tweets for the latest gossip. For example, singer Wyclef Jean announced his intention to run for President of Haiti by tweet.
Since 2009, Twitter has been engaged in litigation with social branding and advertising company Twittad over the trademark rights to the word 'tweet.' Twittad functions as a sponsored advertising system that allows businesses to advertise their products and services on Twitter through Twitter users, who are often paid for their Tweets. Twittad's slogan, a registered trademark, is "Let Your Ad Meet Tweets." Twittad initially applied to register the trademark slogan in 2008. It's trademark application was unopposed and the USPTO registered the trademark in 2009.
Twitter, Inc. began attempting to register TWEET in April of 2009 but was rejected by the USPTO on two occasions. In response to the rejection of its trademark application, Twitter, Inc. filed suit against Twittad claiming that Twitter had priority over the trademark, TWEET, and had established secondary meaning. Twitter argued that it had made the term famous and that consumers associated tweets with Twitter. Pointing to the Webster's Dictionary definition of 'tweet,' Twitter claimed that a 'tweet' is a message posted on Twitter.
The litigation recently came to an end as Twitter has agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for the trademark rights. Twitter and Twittad reached a settlement wherein Twitter receives the rights to the trademark TWEET and Twittad may continue use of its "Let Your Ad Meet Tweets" slogan.