The implication, earlier today, was that Twitter was venturing into TV as the way they were going to make their money – the idea was that all the money would be made from licensing, as opposed to that pesky ad sales stuff that Twitter claims they know nothing about.
I’ve really only followed two stories this Memorial day – one is the continuing saga of the FTC vs. the blogosphere, and the other is this Twitter thing.
The Twitter TV venture was particularly interesting to me because of the idea that it theoretically infringes on Leo Laporte’s trademark of TWiT. There are several places where discussion broke out about that.
- Leo’s original Friendfeed thread.
- Leo’s other Friendfeed thread.
- SiliconANGLE blog post.
- the SA comments.
- This offshoot of the SA blog post on Friendfeed.
The bottom line from the discussion seems to be that neither side of the case is clear cut, but if Twitter is in any way making financial gain here, it’s obvious that Leo ought to try to defend his trademark, and will likely receive either points in the company or part of the proceeds of any such venture.
Twitter has tried to cut that off at the pass by issuing a non-denial:
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.
It’s important to note that while they said the agreement was “open” and “lightweight” and “non-exclusive,” they never said “we’re not making money from this.”
The fact of the matter is that Twitter is giving their blessing to these occurrences, and it changes nothing (but the size of the pocketbook that Leo could theoretically attack) as to whether or not Leo should protect his trademark.
It’s also somewhat non-sequitur in the context of this post, but I think it might be helpful if I quote a bit of my comments here:
[W]hen I was a kid (about 13 or 14), I was a witness in a Federal trademark suit between an ISP called Neosoft and a software maker named NeoSoftware. The ISP was suing the software maker for rights to the name because they said it caused brand confusion.
It turns out that the suit was dismissed by the judge because it was revealed during the case that the ISP was planning on moving into software sales.
The point being, the burden here lies on the aggressor, the one trying to expand the scope of their brand, and the favor lies in the one who actually holds the trademark. Leo has a double-whammy here – he’s already doing broadcast and video – something that Twitter wants to expand into.
I think Leo here has a very good case should he want to pursue it, and he’s either going to end up with points in the company or a percentage of all profits derived by the name.
Leo’s trademark is designated for broadcast and multimedia. Twitter toed that line with their existing service, but have clearly given their blessing to cross that threshold. A heads up and a clearing of the air with Leo is at least in order.