UberTwitter, the popular Twitter client for mobile devices, was forced to change its brand to UberSocial, last week, after a long dispute with Twitter. Twitter claimed that UberTwitter was infringing its trademark, as well as other misdemeanours.
Twitter is vigilant in protecting its name and has suspended hundreds of applications in violation of its policies. ‘TweetDeck’, another app, will most likely also have to change its name as Twitter works through its rule breakers.
There’s a lesson for new businesses here - take care when naming your products and services, or suffer the consequences.
This case, and the recent case of ‘Dave’, the popular TV station, having to change its name after a counter action by another company already trading as ‘Dave’ ,demonstrate the importance of registering your company or product’s trade mark.
Also, even if your product isn’t an international sensation (yet), the name it is registered under as a trade mark could become incredibly valuable if a competitor wants to use it.
For example, when Apple was launching the iPad, a company in Brazil was using the name already for a portable defibrillator used in local hospitals. As the name was registered in Brazil, the trade mark was safe and Apple could not force the company to cease trading and re-brand - a costly process for any business - which it could have done otherwise. For small businesses who haven’t got round to registering their own trade mark yet this should be a wakeup call.
Brand naming is not a random activity – you need to make sure that you are aware of the basics of trade mark law and also use designers who understand trade mark registration to save you or your client hundreds or maybe thousands or pounds in the long run.
To check for free whether your company or product name can be trade marked, www.trademarkdirect.co.uk