Some Twitter users in Texas might be interested to learn that the company is involved in a lawsuit with another company called TWiT, which stands for This Week in Tech. Evan Williams, one of Twitter’s co-founders, had allegedly acknowledged to Leo Laporte at TWiT that the trademarks were similar and that there had already been some confusion. However, he had assured Laporte that they intended to remain a microblogging service and not move into the area of audio and video claimed by TWiT. TWiT says they reached a satisfactory agreement based on the fact that their distribution platforms were very different.
In 2009, Williams allegedly repeated this reassurance after Laporte expressed more concern about the company expanding into audio and video. However, in 2017, Twitter announced that it would start to include original video content. Two months after that announcement, attorneys for TWiT asked Twitter to stop its trademark expansion.
The lawsuit says that efforts to resolve the situation informally have been unsuccessful. It also says that Twitter has breached its agreement with TWiT, infringed on TWiT’s intellectual property, and refuted promises and representations. It is seeking an injunction that will prevent Twitter from using the trademark to distribute audio and video content.
Contract disputes can be a complex area of law, and while business owners may be experts in their particular industry, they might not be when it comes to these types of issues. Even for companies that have not entered into a written contract, a consultation with an attorney might be useful to find out what rights and obligations, if any, accompany more informal types of agreements, what actions might be considered violations, and how businesses might protect themselves.
Source: Tech Crunch, “TWiT is suing Twitter, alleging breach of contract and trademark infringement“, Megan Rose Dickey, Jan. 16, 2018