Twitter says: “you can only Tweet with Twitter”

Tweet-(with-Twitter)-in-the-binImportant new advice was issued by ISBA to its members today which highlights the requirement to respect Twitter’s trademarks. I’ve reproduced the guidance, which ISBA’s Director of Public Affairs, Ian Twinn, describes as “probably fairly commonsense (sic) stuff”, below:

  1. Companies may promote their own Twitter pages by using the phrase “Follow us on Twitter” or “Follow us on [approved Twitter logo].”
  2. Companies may not integrate the Twitter logo into their own logos, nor may they create their own Twitter logos or in any way manipulate the approved Twitter logos.
  3. When referring to Twitter, the name should be used in its entirety, and the phrase “Tweets” should be used to refer to messages on Twitter.
  4. Screenshots of third party’s Twitter pages cannot be used without permission from the third party.
  5. Finally, when asking consumers to “Tweet,” companies must include a reference to Twitter or display the Twitter trademarks in connection with the use of “Tweet.” For example, if asking a consumer to send a “Tweet” to enter, the call to action may be phrased “Tweet with Twitter” to enter. Most significantly, Twitter has stated that it considers not only the Twitter name and logos to be trademarks, but the term “Tweet” as well. As such, companies should ensure that when using “Tweet” the appropriate reference to Twitter is made.

The inference is that Twitter is staking a long overdue claim over its trademarks and clearly wishes to avoid seeing the words Twitter or Tweet enter into the common vernacular, thereby undermining their value as trademarks.

It’s a timely reminder to marketers that we must respect others’ trademarks as we would wish others to respect our own. In our rush to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the social web, some of us may have forgotten the basic courtesy, if not legal obligation, to only use others’ trademarks as we are permitted to do.

Check your web sites, check your blogs. If you’ve asked anyone to Tweet, makes sure they’ve been explicitly asked to “Tweet with Twitter”. And my advice would be that the same logic should be applied to other branded social tools as well, be it a Facebook “Like” or a “Scrobble”, even where any potential future trademark ownership is not yet in clear.