I remember months ago having this discussion on Trademark with a colleague specific to social media. I argued that fans whether well intentioned or not, should not be permitted to use the trademarked name of a business as part of their own business identity or url. Why? It creates brand confusion and also exposes the owner of the trademarked name to unnecessary liability.
The latest news about a site called “Twittermoms” appears to support my reasoning. Twitter has served notice to the CEO of Twittermoms that use of “Twitter” next to “moms” is in contradiction to Twitter’s Trademark Policy, creates confusion and is misleading to the public. Essentially, Twitter is saying, “Sorry you can’t use our name.”
The question is, will the public think “Twittermoms” is a part of Twitter, hence confusing the public? Yes and no. Social media norms, it is not unusual to see fans adopt a name like “Twittermom.” But the fact that we can also answer the above question with a “Yes” is precisely why “Twittermoms” is agreeing to change its name to “Social Moms.” It can cause confusion and many less savvy social media folks might believe “Twittermoms” and “Twitter” are affiliated.
“Twitter mommies beware! You are no longer allowed to be “Twittermoms,” according to, well, Twitter. The popular social media mommy community, Twittermoms.com, was asked by Twitter to change their name to be in accordance with Twitter’s trademark policy — no one can use the Twitter name in their business or url. “To an average person, there could be confusion,” said Twitter spokesman Matt Cohler. “That’s why TweetDeck is TweetDeck and not TwitterDeck.” Mr. Cohler said there shouldn’t be any misconception about which business is Twitter and which business is not.
Though the request seemed reasonable to TwitterMoms.com CEO Megan Calhoun, when she first got the email from Twitter HQ, it made her heart stop. On the blog post to her community of 30,000 moms, she sounded a little sad: “After more than two years of operating a public fan site dedicated to nurturing, supporting and promoting Twitter to the ‘mom’ community, they asked us to change the name of our web site for trademark reasons.” But Mrs. Calhoun said it was an opportunity for growth. “When I launched TwitterMoms, I wasn’t launching a business,” Mrs. Calhoun said. “We have outgrown the name so it was perfect timing for us. . .”
Advertising Age has the full story.