For social media fans, Twitter is a great tool for staying informed on the latest news, sharing your personal adventures with your followers, or getting in fights with strangers (maybe that last part isn’t so great). And because Twitter has become a huge platform, with 271 million active monthly users, third parties are quick to integrate themselves with the site to try and take advantage of the huge market it offers. Just about every blog and news site you’ll read offers you the ability to post a story to your Twitter feed. Sites like Bit.ly offer link-shortening services so that you can share without running into the 140-character limit, and platforms like Instagram and Vine allow you to share what you’ve uploaded with them to your Twitter account. Unfortunately, due to a trademark scuffle, that list of apps will drop by one by the end of this month.
Twitpic, a site that allows you to upload your pictures and videos to Twitter, will shut down on September 25 after six years of service due to a legal dispute with Twitter. Twitter has demanded that Twitpic abandon its trademark application related to its brand or have their access to Twitter’s application programming interface (API) revoked. In a blog post on the shutdown, Twitpic founder Noah Everett stated:
“Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe wholeheartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic.”
In a statement on the matter, a Twitter spokesman said:
"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.”
While Twitter does allow for third parties to build around its application using their API, their brand policy does have specific restrictions related to naming applications, products or domains, with one of the specified 'Don’ts' being “Apply for a trademark with a name including “Twitter,” “Tweet,” the Twitter bird, transliterations or similar variations thereof.” While the shutdown will undoubtedly be a disappointment to fans of the site, Twitpic has seen its usefulness take a hit after Twitter introduced its own picture uploading feature to the app in 2011. Twitpic’s case can serve as a cautionary tale to app developers and other businesses that integrate with larger platforms about the need to understand company policies and user agreements as it relates to trademarks or other intellectual property.
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