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Leo Laporte
Question for you all. I have a trademark for TWiT® - first used in May 2005, trademark applied for May 2006 and registered March 2007. The trademark is in "Entertainment in the nature of visual and audio performances, and musical, variety, news and comedy shows." http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin...
Up until now there's been no conflict with Twitter itself because the brands were in different arenas. (We have, however, sent out cease and desist letters to companies using "twit" in their name and doing audio or video). But now Twitter is doing a TV show. The confusion between TWiT and Twitter is mounting. What do I do? Defend my mark? Or let my brand be swallowed by the big guy (even though we were first by several years)? I need your advice. What does the community think? - Leo Laporte
Defend your trademark, 99% of people will totally understand, you have to do it, or you'll loose it! - Chris Lloyd
Defend it. People that watch Twit Tv will also defend it. - Jason Rundell
Can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. Does TWIT still stand up as an accurate brand for all the new stuff you are doing with TWIT Live? Might be time to find a new visual/brand identity. - BryanSchuetz
At the SF MusicTech conference a lawyer called "tweets" "twits" repeatedly. Let's just say I think you should defend your mark and let TV chew up and spit out twitter. - Richard Walker
Bryan: The TWiT name carries alot of weight in tech circles, it will take alot of money/time/effort to make a completely new name for something that will probably outlast twitter anyway - Chris Lloyd
Incidentally, Twitter just got their trademark approved May 11, 2009 in the following "Telecommunication services, namely, providing online and telecommunication facilities for real-time interaction between and among users of computers, mobile and handheld computers, and wired and wireless communication devices; enabling individuals to send and receive messages via email, instant messaging or a website on the internet in the field of general interest; providing on-line chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among users in the field of general interest; providing an online community forum for registered users to share information, photos, audio and video content abut themselves, their likes and dislikes and daily activities, to get feedback from their peers, to form virtual communities, and to engage in social networking. FIRST USE: 20060831. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20060831" - Leo Laporte
There is nothing ideal about any aspect of IP law. - Richard Walker
Chris: I think Leo's name carries more weight than TWIT and (for me at least) he IS TWIT so I don't see it as quite such a big deal. - BryanSchuetz
Of course, there's a larger long-term problem because of the way that Twitter has weakened _your_ brand. It might be less expensive (and a better use of your time) to rebrand TWiT into something that strengthens your brand and moves it away from Twitter; avoiding any future problems (and there will be future problems). You can't fight Oprah. - Professor Messer
Leo - your brand, as most evidenced by your show and content is awesome - for a small group of peeps who have had a chance to discover it and enjoy. I'd use the overlap in marques to leverage Twitter in some type of promotional / service partnership, whilst still retaining your brand and the equity you've built. Don't fight em, join em, at least tactically. - Thom Kennon
Never give in to the big guy! - Brian Harper
Defend it Leo. You built the brand and they need to honor that. - Robert
I always thought calling the network the same name as a show on the network was wierd. But it's a recognized brand, and I wouldn't give in. Send some mails to all the twitvid.io's out there. - Anton
Is the BIG guy really that Big? Plus, with the way busines is changing one thing seems to remain the same...protectionism, let's sue someone it's easier. I'm suggesting your desicion is easy here Leo but in light of the landscape changing do you really have a chance? The other question to ponder is this, Twitter is the hot thing now but will it be 5 years from now and will it be true competition to you. Can you have it both ways and win? I don't know but it's a pickle no matter how you look at it. Good luck with your decision Leo. - Owen Greaves
speaking from a british point of view a twit is someone who is a little silly or stupid. I think your podcast can stand up against the everising onslaught of twitter. Why not rise above all this discussion and say what you are This week in technology, a fantastic poscast full of wit and essential information for gadget freaks such as myself. Let the owners of twitter gabble on, in my book baby creatures twitter and you are certainly no TWIT. - Chris Jennings
@ Professor Messer 'You can't fight Oprah' is not totally correct. You can FIGHT her, can you win? Maybe. I think, offline, Leo VS Oprah would go several rounds. Tweetfight says otherwise. - Jason Rundell
Defend it Leo. What's the use in having a trademark if others can infringe upon it. - TechListReport
Sorry to say, my girlfriend recently yelled at my for watching 'Twitter' when I was really watching TWiT live. Confusion does exist for people who don't fully understand what each service is. - Wo
The good thing about trademark law is that it's well established and legally documented. The problem with trademark law is that it's well established and legally documented. You need a brand to create awareness, and you need the trademark to protect your established brand. This one is sticky because TWiT is well established but it's going to be an expensive brand to protect. Twitter's legal team is certainly aware of the potential conflict. Fortunately, TWiT has the advantage of a quality product in sea of media-ocrity. It almost doesn't matter what you call TWiT, it'll rise to the top. - Professor Messer
@Jason Rundell, don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a cage match between Leo and Oprah (who wouldn't?). But it'll cost a lot of time and money. Sometimes it's better to be smarter than the legal system. - Professor Messer
Oh, and I think this is just the opportunity we need to resubscribe our iTunes and take over the top 10 lists. :) - Professor Messer
Can I ask - did TWiT exist before Twitter? Or did Twitter exist first? And - is your name TWiT based on Twitter, at all? - Chris Loft
Chris Loft: TWiT predates Twitter and comes from This week in tech... - Chris Lloyd
I think it's only right to defend your trademark Leo. You were there way before Twitter and just because they have gained significantly increased attention and media coverage, doesn't mean you have to lay down and submit to Twitter. I would defend your mark vigorously if I were you. You've worked hard to build your brand. - Marty McPadden
Chris Loft proves that there is confusion between the two. - Anton
Leo - TWit is an incredible brand and network of invaluable podcasts - you simply have to defend it - Robert Davies
Fight for it. When they try to get additional financing make your move. Asserting your trademark will cause them to settle or buy you out when they go public. - Alan Morris
I think that once you see the Twitter television show, you'll probably want to distance yourself as far away as possible. - Professor Messer
Defend your trademark. I get more intellectual engagement from the TWiT network of shows than I do from most of my Twitter community. - Eric Geller
Use whatever legal tools you have available to defend your brand, especially if Twitter is talking about crossing into audio/video. You have a strong product, and Twitter is creating brand confusion in the market. A hard line needs to be drawn between your product and theirs, and it's clear that they are not going to keep a respectful distance with TWiT. - Jason Miller
You have to rise above the emotion and make a business decision. How much will it cost you to defend versus how much will you gain? Simple cost/benefit. My guess is that this fight will cause you to lose focus on your work, be a financial hardship as you go up against a company with VC backing, and all for the "possibility" that you will win and maybe get some compensation from Twitter. Will you be enjoying life during this fight? Maybe Twitter will throw a few bucks your way to just go away. I doubt it. Start migrating your brand. It's not about what's right, it's about what you can live with. - Tom Sheppard
I thought twitvid.com was the new video netcasts Leo has been talking about, boy was I surprised! - Daniel Rinaman
It has to be defended.Giving up and letting another company take your brand, no matter how big the company or personal feelings toward the owner, can not be an option. You built your brand and should defend it. - David Z
Defend it Leo! - A Gunny named Slickback
Don't think you have much choice do you. You either protect it or lose it. If you don't at some point they will try the other way. - nef 919 from Nambu
You need to defend it Leo. You had the trademark first. - imperator3733
How about a name like LeoCast... No confusion there. - Rustic Thoughts
It's YOUR mark Leo and you have worked hard to make it as well-known as it is. Defend what's yours!! - Jim Connolly
Twitter will be virtually gone like Classmates and MySpace in a few years... Keep the name! - Rick Harvey
yes defend your trademark - Alfonso alatorre
Twit came before Twitter I think you should defend it. it is dumb anyways Twit and Twitter is not even the same word, it would be like CocaCola suing Coconut because of COC - URLREVIEWS
Twitter is going to be a realty show based on stalking celebrities. It wont last more than one season. - Rustic Thoughts
I say let it roll. Your a 'big guy' in your own field, but Twitter is bigger. Play off of them. You could be bigger. Look at all the petty stuff that Microsoft did..and where did it get them? Bad Press. - Gene
I think Twitter has the brand and you don't right now. Maybe Twitter should buy it from you or you should collaborate with twitter to monetize and add your TWiT to twitter - Amit 'zyaada' Mittal
I certainly think you should defend your trademark, isn't that why you registered? - dcale1965
I checked Twitter's own site and it looks like Twitter launched March 1, 2006. TWiT was around well before then. Being in tech, I find it hard to believe they hadn't heard of him. It was a big podcast even then. I knew of TWiT well before Twitter. This may seem like a dumb issue to some, but a lot of people I recommended the podcast to now ask me if "it's a Twitter thing." - JeffreyVC
Ev told me that when they were considering names for Twitter they knew about TWiT and decided it didn't matter. In their defense, they had no idea what or how big Twitter was to become. We talked about trademark early on and both agreed there was no conflict _as long as we were in different spaces_. And therein lies the rub. - Leo Laporte
Apple Computer and Apple records recently went through this -- what was the outcome there? - Brian Sullivan
I thought it wasn't clear infringement when Twitter came out but now that there is Twit video the infringement is very clear. I would defend. - Robert Scoble
Lawyers are expensive. Legal fights are draining. You could spend the rest of your professional life fighting this battle. I don't know what's been going on in the back channel, and you probably shouldn't say publicly, but if you haven't tried approaching the Twitter board members privately, you might want to. Lay out the facts carefully, and if you're open to a settlement, say roughly what you have in mind. I don't know if it's a good legal strategy -- I am not a lawyer, but as business person, it's what I would do. On the other hand, I've walked away from good cases many many times because I'm a creative guy, and life is short. I want to spend my time creating not fighting. - Dave Winer
"Clear Infringement". How exactly? It's a lose/lose for Twitter if they choose to encroach or even litigate. - Arawak
Yeah but Leo added video later. And now Twitter is adding video. The real issue is that there is no clear separation between a radio/video network and a social microblogging site these days. And our trademarking system is so ridiculous that these kinds of conflicts go completely unnoticed all the time. - JeffreyVC
I'd say it's time to either re-brand TWiT or defend it. Deferring the decision and just living with the confusion and ambiguity is no longer an option. - Ken Sheppardson
Defend your trademark - Lars Clausen
Defend your brand Leo.The World Wide Fund for Nature took on the WWF and made them change their name to WWE. If they can do it, so can you. - BRҰANSAҰS
The big problem with defending it... beyond the unfortunate fact that it's a drain on resources that could be better spent elsewhere... is it's not clear how you'd win. They're not going to change their name. They'll forever be Twitter. Is it sufficient to somehow "ban" them from ever doing anything in video? Enforcing that in perpetuity's would only raise your blood pressure. - Ken Sheppardson
I would take the emotion out of the equation -- find out what it would cost to defend and determine what it is worth to have exclusive/non-exclusive use (maybe some subjectivity here) and make the decision using that information. - Brian Sullivan
I say defend it but only so much as to bring more media attention to your brand... once you have the media's attention you can use that to change the brand identity if you so choose. Your followers myself included will stay fans no matter what you call your brand, but I think you have an opportunity to expand and use twitter as a means of gaining media attention! - Nathan McClain
If you don't do this you wont have a leg to stand on in the future when you need to really protect it. I can piss all over your trademark if you do not defend it. - David Lloyd
Leo: in a trademark fight what is the ROI? I am sure it will be very expensive and not sure you will get much in return but if you forced Twitter to change its name I am sure they would quickly settle with you. - Robert Scoble
I still think Twitter will be as irrelevant as MySpace in 2 years, but it's your brand to protect. - Mike Lewis
Ideal Outcome: A $$$ settlement sufficient to comfortably fund the rebranding of TWiT. - Ken Sheppardson
while bryan lee makes a good point, their battles took a long time to resolve. but, don't let this deter you. i would suggest you defend it. if anything, i see you have a strong case and whatever happens can be in your favour. it's possible twitter can concede in infringing in your trademark and may be even consider licensing through the course of the battle. but be very, very patient for any outcome to happen. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
Dave: wrong. Leo is who got me on Twitter. His marks were more popular and predated Twitter's. - Robert Scoble
Leo got me into twitter too! - Jim Connolly
I think Leo has a good chance at wining his case since he did register the copyright first. Twitter is still not a money making business. They are living off of VC money. They will probably not have the funds to mount a case since their money will be tied up with keeping twitter afloat. Am I right? - BRҰANSAҰS
Leo also got me on Twitter shortly after they went public. - Mike Bracco
regarding AMF, Inc. v. Sleekcraft Boats, 599 F.2d 341 (9th Cir. 1979) the battle was very different. one of the things found was that the company had an 'infinity' of other brands to choose. it's a very different situation in detail, although it looks comparable at face value. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
Or just have them become a premium sponsor. There used to be so much twitter talk before, I think they really should be owing you some gratitude for the traffic. - Arawak
As part of any settlement, you should demand Ev and Biz concede that individual Twitter entries are "Tweets", as embarrassed as they seem to be by that. They're net "twits" or "twitters"... they're "tweets". - Ken Sheppardson
i'm sure something can be negotiated with twitter. a lawsuit in this case would show you're just defending your trademark because they are encroaching in your territory. you're not taking them on what they are known to do, their core competency. rather, it's stepping into your own grounds. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
not doing anything on purpose may weaken your trademark. many court cases also end up not going through the entire ordeal. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
Yep, I agree the day has come where it's either fight or flight. And I don't mean that quite the way it sounds. :-/ - Ken Sheppardson
Defend!!!! - Mark Williamson from BuddyFeed
I don't think you have much choice. Either you defend it or you lose it. - Pascal Sijen
dave johnson: true, there's always a degree of uncertainty; but that doesn't mean giving up in defending one's investment in a trademark. it can be argued pragmatically and it's to the point where leo must defend his territory upon which twitter is encroaching. aye. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
I'm not sure you can win, are we aren't even sure what they're going to call it yet. If it ends up being Twitter.TV you have no chance to beat them. - DarknessFalls
There is even a shortening service called: http://twitpwr.com/ - The brand must be defended. - David Z
Leo: You must defend it or lose it. They need to know you also have the muscle behind you. I have the attorney that did all the trademark work for Terminator 1-4, Rambo, old timer who knows every angle. I have him on retainer and would love to join your cause. I can arrange a chat with him at no cost, then you can decide to move ahead, or if the cost seems to steep, I would be interested in partnering with you on the trademark. Fight on Leo! Let me know if you want to chat Thx Chad - Chad Harris
I'm of the opinion that twitter's initial success back in 2006 and 2007 was in part due to piggybacking on the brand name recognition that Leo had built over the years prior. - Chris Heath
I think defending it is what you must do, but perhaps take a different look at it all together and suggest some kind of mutual PR blitz leading into a partnership or new brand identity for TWiT. Just don't call it SyFy! - Aaron T. Harvey
The question here is would a "Reasonable person" confuse the two? I would like to think I am a reasonable person (even though I can't spell) and I would not be confused in the least. I love the Twit network and watch several hours a week, but I don't see the issue. - Rob
I agree that since Leo has been a twitter evangelist all these years, they should be able to strike an accord somehow. Maybe even partnering up on the whole Twitter TV Show since Leo has the video presence online. - BRҰANSAҰS
You have to defend now, or 5 years from now you'll have a weaker case against the twitty podcast network. - Robert Hafer
Rob, the question isn't whether or not you or I would confuse the two, but do the people who watch Oprah and maybe catch Leo on The Tech Guy confuse them...and they do. - Aaron T. Harvey
Aaron...Do you really think they would. Am I that out of touch with the "Normal People"? If that is the case then I guess I would have to conseed that to be an issue. But I am still not quite convenced. - Rob
Funny - I would enjoy the extra publicity - You have a loyal set of listeners - and none of us are confused. If people end up on your site -cause they are looking for twitter, maybe they will take a listen. People who are looking for podcasts on technology though i doubt will find twitter in a search. - Laurence Gold
Rob, I've seen it happen, even with people "in the know". People think that TWiT is somehow connected with Twitter because of the name. It's a mistake that, while not happening with everyone--and maybe not even the majority--can end up costing Leo and co. money. - Aaron T. Harvey
Protect what you worked hard to build - Shawn Hickman
Of course you should perfect TWIT for media and tech. You have the prior art, use. It's an obvious move for Twitter to exploit their 'brand' into media. You must pursue Leo. You have been a crusader for fair-use, but there are times (like this example) where fairness requires accountability. - michael sean wright
The commenter who noted that if you do not enforce your rights they may be weakened is generally correct. I suggest seeking an agreement that is mutually beneficial and recognizes your rights in the TWiT(R) trademark. - erik pelton
The problem with defending your trademark is the public backlash it can generate. Think O'Reilly and Web 2.0 or Apple and Profit Pod. But in this case, if you are indeed convinced that there is some infringement of TWiT by Twitter, I think you'd be doing us all a favor if you could somehow head off their plans for a celebrity-stalking TV show. - Dave
The problem is not really twitter, or a twitter video show, but all the people who says they just sent a twit. Also all the small companies with twit in their name, who are in the video/audio area. Twit radio, twitvid.io etc etc. I see no problem in protecting the brand. However it ends out you'll get a lot of publicity. - Anton
Leo, this could be an opportunity for you to come out ahead. Yes it's an awkward situation and yes you could fight this on legal grounds, but there's no win for you there. Here's a way for you to win. Today your brand is a split brand--split between "Leo LaPorte" and "TWIT." You can win by focusing more on building the Leo LaPorte part of the brand. "Leo LaPorte" doesn't equal TWIT, yr name is bigger than TWIT. I've been listening to yr podcasts for years, and always thought the TWIT acronym a bit odd and referred to your podcasts as the Leo LaPorte podcasts when I reco'd them to friends. I suggest you begin to slowly shift your marketing emphasis to "The Leo LaPorte Network," (LPN) with This Week In Technology as one of the many shows on the LP Network. Don't stop using the TWIT acronym, just de-emphasize it in favor of your name. TWIT's just one of yr many offerings. Your name is worth much more than the TWIT acronym. Just my two cents, best of luck, love yr shows! - Michael Metz
man you gotta defend your name and trademark,whats next a twitter podcast network? - cliff whitefoot
I think Ken Sheppardson sums it up nicely. I don't think you even need to retain a lawyer to start with the cease and desist letters, then see if they are amenable to a settlement, partnership or other remedy. It doesn't have to, and hopefully won't ever, come to a legal battle. However, it's clear enough that unless Leo hands them his mark and re-brands on his own dime, he must defend his mark in order to maintain his legal bargaining position, which definitely has some $ value attached, and which may be "cheap" to twitter at the moment, at their celebrity-inflated current "value." - Richard Walker
Its funny... in a way you helped make twitter the juggernaut it is today.... all the free advertisement that you have given them over the years....LOL.. Maybe they should return the favor - Nathan McClain
Hasn't Leo said he wants to add a second host to the network? Wouldn't it also confuse viewers if they were watching the Leo Laporte Network and the show was hosted by someone not named Leo? - Norm Corriveau
Leo, some other people have made good points, if you're going after Twitter your also going to have to go after the other sites with Twit in the name: Twitpic, Twitpwr and Twiteverything or your case will be thrown out. - DarknessFalls
DarknessFalls: he'd only have to do that if they all launched TV shows too. - Martin Bryant
darknessfalls, you're not getting the scope. it's about leo's twit trademark on video and what twitter plans to do that's associated with it. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
If you haven't done so already, explore the Apple case, both the legal and business issues that Apple Corps encountered. And if you DON'T defend your trademark, what's Plan B? Remember that Twitter (or its future owners) may someday sue YOU. - John E. Bredehoft from fftogo
Leo, take your mark and make them all change names. Is this Ustream show even official Twitter? it looks pretty lame, like they just used the word, visual branding like twitter.com. http://www.ustream.tv/channel... - rob
Don't sue unless you can find a business case and a lawyer to take the case on contingency with enough potential gain that it all wouldn't have been a big waste of time for a couple hundred dollars. But I am not a lawyer (IANAL). In fact, the grown up thing for twitter to do would be to link to you with an explanation that they aren't you and visa versa. - Eric Standlee
Defend yourself, Leo. - Devin Baines
Defend your trademark. Why else would you have filed it in the first place? - phil baumann
The best solution would be for Leo to produce the official Twitter show as part of the TWiT network. - Martin Bryant
The brand is big because of Leo yes, but having the TWiT brand is important. There are shows on the network in which Leo is not in. - Anton
Whats the question? TWiT is yours Leo, you need to protect it, the TWiT Army is not only at your back but with 60% of new Twitter accounts not coming back, all you have to do is hold out and wait on it to fold anyways. - Bush Williams
Anton, the band is TWiT - twit.tv? - TWiT netcast network... that is the brand... - Chris Heath
It is totally unfair, but I want to see all of your focus and money going towards content, not legal actions. You will be endlessly sending out C&Ds or worse as long as Twitter is popular. That said, I do think you should squeeze some money out of Ev in order to cede the brand. - invariant
Twitter offers more value to me than TWiT ever could. Sorry Leo, but this just seems like sour grapes. - Shannon
Leo: You should do a This Week in Law on this btw. - Anton
Shannon - how much value you get from either brand is not what is at question here. - Chris Heath
I'm not sure if this was already mentioned in the nearly 150 comments here, but Leo's link doesn't work. Here's a better link that I hope stays active: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin... - Eric Geller
+1 to chris' comment. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
You have a "defend or lose" obligation under trademark law. The TWiT brand has significant value, both from a revenue perspective and and the potential cost of re-branding al your sites, moving twit.tv etc., if you lose it. Protect the mark that secures your brand. Oh yeah, on that whole "big guy" theme: Because of your stable business model vs Twitter's Twitter's evolving one, an enforcement by you could prove a significant threat - imagine trying to do a merger or acquisition of Twitter while it's operating name is under legal challenge. - David Lounsbury
Shannon, the post asks for advice on how to be the best caretaker of a network and its trademark - your assignment of personal value should guide your own choices, but is irrelevant to the question at hand. How can it be sour grapes if failing to act now _could_ result in losing the standing of a trademark/brand which preceded those of other players who _may_ be crossing the line to the point of infringement. - Micah
TWiT offers more value to me than Twitter ever could. Sorry Shannon, but this just seems like sour grapes. - invariant
What a conundrum. I can't speak much to any legal considerations. But, on an emotional level, I would imagine that not defending and potentially losing the name must feel like smiling politely as an immigration official pins you with a random Anglicized name because your real, "ethnic" name is confusing to the masses in the new world, and making a fuss is to gamble the welfare of your family (common during the waves of migration through Ellis Island--my grandmother experienced this--and other ports in the first half of the 20th century). Leo, when TechTV went down, it hurt, but it wasn't your baby. I really feel for you regarding this dilemma. - Micah
@Ken Camp: Isn't twitter also a common english word which can't be trademarked? EDIT: Or Windows, for that matter? - invariant
invariant -- you mean like Apple? - Brian Sullivan
word, err, I mean Microsoft Word - Micah
So I think we've established that common English words can be trademarked. So what's the criteria? Has to be a noun? - invariant
of related note, i realise that twitter is indirectly facilitating twit offshoots upon registration. this is how: registering anything with 'twitter' in the username is *banned*. so, for a user already having their heart set on using twitter as part of their 'brand' might think of using 'twit' instead. this opens up a new can of worms figuring out who is using the twit name and doing video. like how they are doing now with 'twiter', they can stop it at registration to avoid further confusion. - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
I say defend it. If they are doing a TV show, they're definitely stepping on your toes. Nevermind that I can't imagine their show would be any good, but that's a different story... :) - Jan Ole Peek
What about TwiTips? If that isn't entertainment then what is? But seriously I own several trademarks myself and I know if you don't take action then you could lose the Tmark. You have a conundrum because Twitter is so popular. So I would recommend seeking a compromise so that you won't lose your mark and appear like the bad guy with the public. Perhaps a clearer definition of the terms to separate your mark and Twitter might be helpful. I would imagine Twitter is also seeking a Tmark (or at least they ought to) which would be helpful in clearing up any confusion. Don't forget you both have logos that are clearly different which helps as well. Remember, if they are seeking a Tmark you also have the right to object without going to court. I would give them a call and sit down for a friendly chat before considering legal action. - BLOGBloke
Other than I think he needs to see a surgeon to fix that lean to the left he has,... I love the guy and have been listening to him for about 15...16...dang probabaly close to 18 years about tech news I love the guy. And to top it off! He knows what he is talking about!! Leo makes am radio worth a listen on the weekends! - John Apostoli
TWiT is a network providing audio and video broadcast covering issues related to the tech field. Twitter is a social network used to connect people using the basic SMS tools. While people *may* confuse the issue by referring to Twitter messages as "twits, there is no evidence that Twitter has used or endorsed the term. Unless & until Twitter (as a company) starts using the term "Twit" as a noun referring to users of it's service OR TWiT begins a social network service & describes those messages as "twitters", there seems to be no infringement by either side. There needs to be a meeting/discussion between the founders of Twitter & Leo Laporte to agree on the terms/licensing of the terms; Twit,twits, twitters etc. As to those who call for "defending trademarks aggressively" I would refer you to the latest This Week in Law (TWiL) & the discussion of the OVERUSE of litigation to settle trademark issues.. - David J. Garcia
I've said this privately, but I guess I will say it publicly.Defend your mark. It is your livelihood. There WILL be confusion if it gets to TV, where people are not tech savvy and have no idea who you are - Francine Hardaway
Yes, it may be expensive, and yes, these fights are draining, Dave, but until the laws are changed (an entirely different question), Leo could lose part of his livelihood through the confusion, especially since he has advertisers who would probably want him to defend. Everything in the universe doesn't happen in Silicon Valley:-) - Francine Hardaway
David - until now that has been the case, but Twitter is planning on doing a TV show (which would definitely be infringement), which is why this debate is happening. - imperator3733
I would certainly want you to defend it but i don't think its gonna be possible for two reasons. First Twitter is a bigger, more powerful and certainly more loved brand with more money. and you were first to infringe the unofficial agreement by hosting Twit Army. in that perspective you might not be able to defend it legally.besides the audience you've built ain't gonna be affected by what twitter does.So consult a legal advisor & take best course of action. Best of Luck - Abhishek Sharma
I think if you approach it in good faith--initially without lawyers--you have a very good chance to work something out. Ev seems to be a very reasonable guy. Perhaps it's best to draft a strategy with counsel before any discussions though. What's really in your favor(perhaps legally, perhaps not) is that Twitter can't deny how your support and promotion for it was incendiary to the platform grabbing hold in the first place. I'm sure that could be demonstrated. If you were to examine transcripts of your broadcasts, data from your Twitter stream and the the simultaneous metrics of growth early on I'm sure you'd see a correlation. That has to count for something. The real questions: Is the confusion between your brand and theirs as big as you perceive it to be? Does it really dilute your brand? Is said confusion/dilution quantifiable and/or really costing you any money? - Gregg Scott
What's the point of a googlefight here Nate? - Chris Heath
Sorry but the Google fight site is loaded with pop-ups that even show through popup blocker. - Usman Bashir
Usman, I didn't get any popups (using chrome on winxp) but still it's a hideous site - Chris Heath
Twitter has a lot of investment, but I'm not sure all of that is liquid money. You may be even in the money spent defending your Trademark. I say go for it. Do it now though if you do. - Jesse Stay
Leo must Defend! - Jim Mahon
If it was me, I'd defend it. While Twitter is still worth something! Talk to a lawyer first and see if you have a valid case. - John Frazer
I can't believe how long this thread has gotten! - BRҰANSAҰS
Seems like you are getting a lot of FREE promotion as a result of twitter. My bigger concern would be not having the twit.com URL to go with your brand name. That's a big issue! - Craig Shipp
@Craig, twit.com was registered in 1997, and it's parked. - rob
Defend it Leo. Things may get ugly, but sometimes they just gotta. - David Chartier from BuddyFeed
Fight for you trademark! Especially since they knew of your prior use and now they are doing a TV show which they should know is stepping on your trademark. - russellcoleman
Leo, FriendFeed community, let's get practical here - Twitter has more resources and probably a decent case defending against what you could file. It would be a blow to your image, to TWiT's image, and be bad press overall. You have a far greater chance of losing credibility than gaining trademark protection. You need to look into other strategies. - Ben Parr
There is no such thing as bad Press - Jesse Stay from email
I would thin kthat the thing to do is to gently but firmly convince them that they are infringing on your brand, that litigation would be damaging to both of you, losing community goodwill over the fight, and that it would be simpler, faster, and cheaper for both entities if they were to pay for your rebranding effort. Be prepared to present them with the estimated costs of litigation, and the estimated costs of your rebranding. If you can succeed on this path, it's a big win for you. You can develop a more powerful brand than you have now, on their nickel, and simultaneously rid yourself of the confusion between the two brands that will exist if you both end up keeping the current brands. It will do you no good to hang onto the TWiT brand in the face of video "competition" from Twitter. If they didn't have the momentum that they do, I would suggest that you just defend it, but that doesn't seem like the biggest win possible for you. - guruvan (Rob Nelson)
Defend your Trademark. It's the responsible thing to do as a buisness. - Donald Forth
what Kyle & guruvan said. Does anyone else think we need threaded comments for conversations like this right here? - Richard Walker
I'd defend the TWiT trademark. - Jonathan Bloom
I'm not as thunk as you drink I am - David Lloyd
Also there is this guy who has a "beef" with twitter http://twitter.co.uk/ - rob
@rob friedman - That guy says Twitter doesn't require you to validate your email address. Wow, that's ripe for abuse! - invariant
Defend. - Tony Meyer
Talk to a lawyer. - Zian Choy
More than a hundred comments, the community is twitting even on friendfeed. A legal action would be very difficult. You should first define your objective in doing so. Do you really want to protect your brand or settle for a lucrative compensation? Even if you get some sort of legal protection limiting Twitter to use or endorse the word "twit" to some extent, people will still be twitting. You may want to check out the Apple trademark case study between Apple & Beatles. Do you see any Apple logotype on iPhones or iTunes, except a tiny fine print used as a company name? They just use the apple icon. - Cem ARGUN
Maybe a dead issue? At least as far as the potential fight w/ Twitter, Inc. Mashable says Twitter responds no official Twitter TV show http://mashable.com/2009... - guruvan (Rob Nelson)
And now for something completely different... watch the meetup room if interested in seeing Spamalot in SF as a group... - Richard Walker
I would say defend it. Of course, I'm just a Twit.tv fan and not a lawyer. - Joey Gibson
You lose so much credibility with all this nonsense. - PC Easy from twhirl
'all this nonsense'?? wtf is that supposed to mean? - Chris Heath
Just leave it alone until they manage to make some real money off it, then litigate. That's how it's done you know. - Will Higgins™
Yeah this is nonsense. If you think you really have a case, then don't make a big stink about it on Friendfeed. Just go take them to court. - PC Easy from twhirl
Leo, I am a long time fan and constant listener to all of you work. You are a more than fair and wholly honorable man. You have had TWIT long before I ever heard of a twitter. Go with your heart Leo. I am behind you. I understand you would impede progress of any positive kind. But a cease and desist letter. Seems harsh. I think you have a winner. Let them buy the TM. Power to the people. Go Leo, you deserve it. You do only good. You are one of a kind! RodneO - RODNEY OLIVER
PC Easy: I don't think Leo's making a big stink. The idea that twitter would get into the tv/video business would be a big thing since they have a verbal agreement with Leo not to get into that business. This may be all for nothing, since the mashable article guruvan linked above states that twitter will not be doing a show. Leo was doing the best first step (imho) in asking the community for guidance in the event that the original reporting was correct (which it does not appear to be now). So moot point - Chris Heath
I think if I was you Leo I would try to license rights to them and get some mula out of it. Remember "Leo Laporte" goes a lot farther than TWIT does and most importantly ever will. - Eric VM
there's a current backlash on twitter trending topics right now w/ hashtag #notwittertv. the examiner has an unfavorable article here: http://www.examiner.com/x-264-C... even alyssa milano is against it: http://twitter.com/Alyssa_... - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
Its going to suck and bomb... guaranteed. - Rustic Thoughts
Maybe just sell it to them Leo for a gazillion dollars and retire. Keep the leaches out of it..meaning the lawyers. What the heck, Leo you are great at trend setting, you practically put twitter on the map. They owe you something.for all the pub you have given them since their inception. - John Apostoli
Defend. There's really no reasonable alternative. - Jason Clarke
You gotta defend it Leo. What's the point of trademarking in the first place. - Joel Lovato
You have to defend what is legally yours. - Michael Hansel
Twitter Responds: There is No Official Twitter TV Show- Mashable (May 25th, 2009 | by Pete Cashmore) -- http://mashable.com/2009... -- There is no official Twitter TV show—although if there were it would be fun to cast! In dealing with networks and production companies we sometimes have simple agreements. Regarding the Reveille and Brillstein project reported today, we have a lightweight, non-exclusive, agreement with the producers which helps them move forward more freely. See the full article - this probably doesn't deal with your main concerns though. - Chris Loft
Leo, suggest you go "open source co-branding" on this. Monetize your "twit" brand through creative brand licensing with emerging entertainment and multimedia microblogging companies that want to ride the "twitter" bandwagon. I can see creative corporate and individual co-brands like, TwitSounds, TwitFilms, TwitMedia, TwitCats, TwitBitch, TwitMechanic, etc... - Mike Schmidt
I don't want to over simplify this but if Twitter do branch into video and even streaming TV, surely the content would have to be substantially different to what TWiT already provides, otherwise they are at risk of spoiling their brand identity. Stay strong and true to the Tech news content and let Twitter, well do what ever they may do. Personally, I think it would be a mistake for them to go down this road. Time may be better spent further improving the existing service. - Kevin J Hatton
the mashable news is taken directly from the twitter blog: http://blog.twitter.com - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
Maybe it's a good time to Re-Brand. Twit has unfortunate connotations in some areas of the English speaking world. On this side of the pond a twit is an idiot. Until I became aware of Leo I gave TWiT a very wide berth. Branded simply as This Week in Tech it would have got my positive attention a whole lot sooner. Time to move onward and upward. - Gilbert Harding
This was copied and pasted but sums it up so well : Of course, there's a larger long-term problem because of the way that Twitter has weakened _your_ brand. It might be less expensive (and a better use of your time) to rebrand TWiT into something that strengthens your brand and moves it away from Twitter; avoiding any future problems (and there will be future problems). You can't fight Oprah. - Professor Messer - Fragtastic
A very worthy point - "I think that once you see the Twitter television show, you'll probably want to distance yourself as far away as possible. - Professor Messer" - Fragtastic
I'll admit to being a little slow on the uptake to both TWiT and twitter and it took me some time to figure out that they were different things. I was listening to TWiT before I found twitter, and at first I wondered if I was mixing the names up in my head. I think there is real potential for confusion between the two names. Good luck in whatever you decide to do, Leo. - Rick Reynolds
You could ride the wave of popularity Twitter is experiencing by allowing that confusion to blossom. Perhaps more people could start listening and watching your netcasts *because* of that confusion? - David Hepworth
You need to defend your brand, however since you know the guys at Twitter maybe you can come to some sort of agreement that is the best interest of both TWiT and Twitter. - Jim Lavin
I say defend the brand. I fully believe Leo and TWiT will outlive Twitter. It would be a shame to surrender the brand only to see it disappear in 1-2 years. - Martin Johnson
I say defend it, if you don't the that opens the door to other infringements. - Hunter
since you clearly took your name from This Week in Baseball, which deputed in 1977, should MLB defend their trademark with you? - glenn simmons
Defend it! definitely, the trademark is rightfully yours and you need to hold on to it...I like twitter, but I like TWiT even more... - Raymond
Glenn, you are wrong. There are many registered trademarks that contain "this week in" - russellcoleman
See what you have started Leo? Twitter TV is not a patch on what you do. Now if it was professionally done, with great audio then maybe, - Kevin J Hatton
Dealing with a similar issue (though not as big as dealing with Twitter). I say throw out a warning shot to protect your brand. Worst case they ignore you and you have to spend gobs of money to defend it. Best case they make you a $$ offer. - Brian Niles from Nambu
russellcoleman, exactly so why is Leo crying about twitter - glenn simmons
Glenn, because "Twit" is Leo's trademark in the area of entertainment in the nature of visual and audio performances, and musical, variety, news and comedy shows. - russellcoleman
Defend it! - Kiran Patchigolla
Sorry Leo, does that mean I can't call people Twitts? Does it mean no one in a television or audio show can use the word twitt? I mean Twitter...TWIT...they have 3 more letters and their brand is based on communication not entertainment. Give up the ghost against Twitter by now dude. IF they were doing what you were doing MAYBE but what you are saying is noone can use the letters T W I or T .... don't become the next Monster. - Sidney
Defend. No retreat. No surrender. - Barry Biddlecomb from twhirl
Sidney, it means they can't use twit as part of their brand if they go into the areas Leo's trademark covers. We are talking about branding here. - russellcoleman
Again, Twitter is a communication company looking to capitalize on providing television content the ability to have immediate interactive component...Nothing that TWIT does...so no infringement. Leo has always had the axe to grind with Twitter...if he was going to do something he should have done it immediately... - Sidney
My understanding is that Twitter is going to have a TV show and that may infringe. My point above was to the suggestion that no one could say the word twit. - russellcoleman
@Christopher Carr, I meant that twitting has become a generic expression going far beyond Twitter. Here on friendfeed we are twitting, an these lines are in fact twits... :) - Cem ARGUN
As an anecdote, until now I thought TWiT was something twitter related, and I basically ignored it for that reason. I have learned over time that I'm often not a good representative of anything, but there was certainly brand confusion in my case. - Robin Barooah
At first, yep, I thought Twit spawned Twitter. But in a few nanoseconds, I knew otherwise. But in the mind of 'ordinary' (horrible term, sorry) user coming at Twit from Twitter surely they'll get the idea. But Twitter is SO pervasive, I'm glad that you've decided to take advice. I know nothing, but I feel you should protect your brand. Don't change your name. Change the game. On another tack, you checked out http://audioboo.fm ? - John C Wesley Barker
"Again, Twitter is a communication company looking to capitalize on providing television content the ability to have immediate interactive component." - Sidney That is exactly what Leo's doing - Anton
news of twitter tv just hit the local abc news. they mentioned there's already direct opposition by celebrities ashton & demi who (according to their tweets) will quit twitter if this reality show sees the light of day (paraphrasing). this could mean -as they say & putting it lightly- 'my enemy's enemy is my friend?' odd yet amusing opposition from the hollywood. however, no mentions of twit and leo. :-\ - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
Twitter can look to capitalize on providing television content the ability to have immediate interactive component all they want. But I don't think they should do it in a way that can cause any confusion between them and Leo's network. - russellcoleman
Sorry the only confusion people have had is what Leo has brought to the table himself. He should have stepped up long ago if he felt Twitter was going to create confusion and admittably it has and TWIT and Twitter don't even cross streams. I know for one if Leo wastes his money on litigation I for will be disappointed and believe it will harm the TWIT brand. - Sidney
i know this thread is too long to read for many. re-quoting what leo said here for those who keep saying he should have stepped up long ago: "Ev told me that when they were considering names for Twitter they knew about TWiT and decided it didn't matter. In their defense, they had no idea what or how big Twitter was to become. We talked about trademark early on and both agreed there was no conflict _as long as we were in different spaces_. And therein lies the rub. - Leo Laporte" - sɹǝɥʇɐǝɟʞɔɐןq
Very tough choice. I think these comments provide you with a fairly good sample of public opinion from people in tech, but it would be interesting to get input from the rest of the world on Twitter who have never heard of TWiT. It certainly won't cost much to send in a warning shot so they take notice and to demonstrate defense of your TM, but I would follow that up with a request to have a friendly chat with them and see if something can be worked out. If they are assholes about it, let everyone know and make a business decision. - Phil Ashman
If he fights and loses, at least he defended it, which is required to keep it. If Leo does nothing, he could lose it. - Bwana ☠
How do people feel about Monster Cable suing companies that use the word Monster in their name? I feel the same here...except that Twitter just happens to have the same four LETTERS as Twit, as the beginning. They arent using Twit as a standalone word. C'mon. - Andru Edwards
The only justification I can see in Leo going after Twitter is so that he can at least show he is defending his TM so he doesn't lose it as Bwana said...otherwise I think it is a losing game that will be a waste of resources that TWIT could utilize in other productive pursuits. - Sidney
The Monster Cable example doesn't really work. They were suing companies that were in different spaces. Now with Twitter doing a TV show, that is in the same space as TWIT and Leo has the trademark for it. - Mike Child
Everyone should read this: http://blog.twitter.com/2009... It has been linked a few times in this discussion up above, but bears linking again based on recent comments - From what I can tell, it doesn't look like twitter will have a tv show - so this whole point is moot - leo may have to defend his trademark against these 'other' shows if they use the word twit in their name, but i don't think they will - Chris Heath
Leo -This is a battle that will be HELL. Yet, it is critical you fight it. I had a couple situations very much like it in telecommunications late '80s early '90s. I should have fought. Give them a run for their money. It will cost you $$ and resources. But, with Twitter's new direction - man - you're a journalist at heart... You already know - you've got to fight for your right! - Arleen Boyd
Man this is a tough position to be in. Honestly, I can't see TWiT or Twitter changing brands/names. However, Leo, you were first and you have the trademark to back it up. I say defend it! - Doug Jones
Biz responds to the Twitter TV show on the blog: http://blog.twitter.com/2009... - Doug Jones
not reading the thread befire i comment... but seems to me that TWITTER does not equal TWIT. what else is their to know? - sull
Leo, I think the law is very clear, if you don't defend your trademark you may lose it. - David Angel from twhirl
Leo a firestorm is brewing over twitter tv http://www.nydailynews.com/tech_gu... - dday
Make them pay you a million in cold hard cash for the TWIT name and change your name to TWIG - This Week In Goodness :-) - Richard Bitting
When you see such services as "TwitThat" (http://twitthat.com/), with that spelling of "tweet", there is an incredible amount of confusion waiting to happen ! - arnaudt
arnaudt, good point. and again... TWiT does NOT = twitter - so leo has no case. twitter themselves dont use 'twit' in any way. they barely if at all use 'tweet' in any way. they began as 'twtr' in like 2006. twitter is NOT an abbreviation for anything as TWiT is. twitter is not solely behind producing an entertainment property.. they are granting rights to others to do so and in some cases may have some joint involvement. but the name of the 'show' wont be called 'twitter' and may not even contain 'twitter' or 'twit' or anything else related. a tagline might, however. there is no case here imo. - sull
sull, TWIT does NOT have to = twitter for Leo to have a case. People just have to be confused enough to adversely impact, or even potentially impact, Leo's business. - Chris Gardner
Chris, i think it does for him to have a 'good' case. You cannot prevent Twitter from letting media entities use twitter as part or their 'shows', even if twitter as some levell of partnership. In the end, it will cost Leo money to lose a trademark case. Proving, for example, that an MTV show tentatively named 'what you're watching' that uses twitter and facebook etc as fundemental components for audience interaction has any negative effect to the TWiT podcast. - sull
sull, there just needs to be a likelihood of confusion. The Court there announced eight specific elements to measure likelihood of confusion: Strength of the mark - Proximity of the goods - Similarity of the marks - Evidence of actual confusion - Marketing channels used - Type of goods and the degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser - Defendant's intent in selecting the mark - Likelihood of expansion of the product lines - Chris Gardner
Oh, and TWiT is not just a podcast. It is a live streaming net video network. There are on and off talks to take to cable also. - Chris Gardner
Chris, thanks for pointing those elements of liklihood. Still, i think that even for the case to have a leg to stand on, twitter would need to have a 'show' specifically named in a way that may cause confusion. That has not happened. Trying to prevent the word 'twitter' from being used at all in marketing and branding via "visual and audio performances" because of the TWiT trademark seems a stretch and will prob result in negative publicity for Leo. Anyway, maybe we'll see. Interesting. - sull
sull, agreed interesting. Also, this will probably not go anywhere near the courts. Ev Williams and Leo know each other and get along (not many in the industry that Leo does not get along with). They will work things out. - Chris Gardner
For those who are unaware, people have to take action to protect their brands otherwise they lose their trademark. My suggestions and observations: 1. Look for win-win 2. It all seems moot anyway http://blog.twitter.com/2009... tho this is a fascinating thread 3. If twitter did ever go ahead with this it would be a fairly simple compromise for them to slightly change the name they'd intended to use. They probably wouldn't want to go into battle. 4. If it comes to it get *advice* (& suggestions & options) from a really good trademark lawyer. Make it clear that you don't want a battle. - Isha (Marysia)
You need to defend it. I don't know that you'll stop twitter from launching their show but you have to fight it to keep your trademark valid. You for sure need to go after twitvid.com and twitvideo.com! - The Griff
Defend the trademark. It could make the difference on winning a future trademark case with another company. - David Ebaugh
Defend it. It was your long before Twitter was even around. Like someone else said what is the point of calling your network that if as soon as a bigger fish comes along you cave. Don't give in to the man Leo! - Mr. Thomas
Leo. I am not a lawyer and don't play one on the Internet. It sounds like you have no real case against Twitter, but the producers of the rumored tv show are a different story. Even then, it depends on what they are doing with the subject matter. Is it *about* Twitter, or simply about people who use Twitter? Will they ever use the term, "twit" in the show? It certainly couldn't hurt to talk to @Ev about who they are and his involvement. You must defend your trademark, or why did you get one (as someone has pointed out). - Jake Overton
Let's not forget that use of anything in an editorial context is considered fair use. - Ryan Brodkin
I also feel that you have an opportunity for even more publicity if you can work the TWiT shows into the TV show, joining them rather than fighting them. You will get publicity either way, but there seems to be a high road and a low road (or perception thereof). Good luck and keep up the great shows. - Jake Overton
Leo fight them. - johnny
we neec to fight for TWIT - Richard Thomson
So far I don't think there is a conflict with Twitter, unless there is a Twitter TV show. Although you should fight sites like http://twitvid.io . Plus if you win, you could have an awesome domain for video downloads when you want to offer them. - Mister IQ
It seems your problem isn't with Twitter but with the other companies. As you said, you have sent out cease and desist letters to them already. You should definitely defend what is yours. You might be able to address Twitter, but I would say go through the companies. If they continue, you can take them to court. Elisa Jed | http://www.djtgiftshop.com/default... - Elisa Jed