My Trademark is Being Used As A Twitter Handle. Now What?

twitter handle trademark createprotect.jpg

Patrick Lewis contributed to this post.

What can I do if a Twitter-squatter creates a username using my registered trademark and holds it for ransom?

Twitter’s Trademark Policy

Using a company or business name, logo, or other trademark-protected materials in a manner that may mislead or confuse others with regard to its brand or business affiliation may be considered a trademark policy violation.
— Twitter Trademark Policy

If you have a U.S. federally registered trademark, you have options for securing the Twitter handle. Twitter’s policy prohibits third parties from using a third-party federally registered trademark as a username if the third party is using the account in a misleading or confusing way. Be aware that not every handle that is identical or similar to a registered trademark is a violation. There may be “fair use” factors that come into play in the instance of fan usage and parody.  

To file a trademark claim with Twitter you’ll need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Is someone impersonating my brand
  • Is someone infringing my trademark
  • Contact information for the brand owner
  • Your affiliation/relationship to the brand owner
  • The trademark registration numbers
  • The third-party Twitter handle
  • How the third-party is impersonating or infringing the trademark

Twitter’s Inactive Account Policy

Waiting may pay off in acquiring a Twitter handle. An account is deemed inactive when the user has not logged onto the account in over 6 months. When an account is removed, the username is up for grabs. However, it is difficult to tell if an account is active or inactive since activity is based on logins and not tweets.

Twitter’s Anti-Squatting Policy

If you receive a solicitation to purchase a Twitter handle that is the same or similar to your federally registered trademark, contact Twitter.  Twitter’s anti-squatting policy protects against “Attempts to sell, buy, or solicit other forms of payment in exchange for usernames are also violations and may result in permanent account suspension.”

Twitter evaluates the following factors in a “squatting” claim:

  • the number of accounts created;
  • the creation of accounts for the purpose of preventing others from using those account names;
  • the creation of accounts for the purpose of selling those accounts; and
  • the use of third-party content feeds to update and maintain accounts under the names of those third parties.

Twitter will not release squatted usernames except in cases of trademark infringement. It’s worth noting that Twitter may require proof of an attempt to sell a username in order to enforce its policy.

Practice Pointer

As your company or clients develop new brands, check across the social media platforms to see if the handle/username is available.  This can be performed as part of a trademark knock-out search. If the brand name is clear, then secure the social media handle/usernames.  An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure – or the hassle of trying to secure the Twitter handle after the fact.




Think Like A Fan - A TedX Talk - Building Your Fanbase

Our future as business people and artists is dependent upon our ability to think like a fan.
— Bob Moczydlowsky

Bob Moczydlowsky, Twitter's head of Music, talks about building a fan base by giving away the best of what you, the artist/talent, has to offer.  He discusses how Drake and Jimmy Fallon effectively use Twitter and other social media sites to connect with their fans. And, talks about how a $4 beer created "The Best Night Ever" for Kid Rock fans.

Moczydlowsky is charged with developing music-related partnerships and strengthening Twitter's relationships with influential artists.

What do you think? After watching the TedX talk, should artists/talent give away the best for free?

TED Talks are licensed under the Creative Commons license "Attribution - NonCommercial - NonDerivative"

2010 Social Networking Legal Issues: Be Careful What You Tweet

I had a fantastic time chatting with the Women's Section of the Tarrant County bar on some of the 2010 top legal cases that were based on social networking snafus. The article I wrote highlighting social networking and issues such as defamation, right of publicity, criminal law, jury selection, smart phones in the courtroom and lawyer advertising is found here.

If you click here, you will go to my Delicious page with tags to news articles that we discussed.

Social Media Marketing Workshop In North Texas

Women Business Owners of North Texas is hosting a Social Media Marketing Workshop on Wednesday, September 14 from 11 am to 2:30 pm at The Pourhouse Sport Grill located at 3350 Unicorn Lake Blvd., Denton, Texas. Click here to RSVP.

11:00 - Registration

11:15 - Session One: The Real World of Social Networking for a Small Business

In this session, we'll explore

  • The best social media tools and the advantages of using them
  • Being consistent, yet unique - defining your brand and carrying it across the channels

12:00 - Lunch and Panel Discussion

During the panel discussion, we'll answer audience questions as well as questions submitted through our survey.

12:45 - Session Two: Blogging and Microblogging

In this session, we'll explore

  • Setting up a WordPress blog
  • What blogging is and what blogging is not
  • 10 things to consider when blogging- structure, content, etc.
  • Microblogging, a quick definition

1:30 - Break

1:45 - Session Three: Making it work in the Real World

In this session, we'll explore

  • Time management
  • Tools for using your social media tools effectively

Our goal is to help those in attendance get answers to their questions and increase their level of knowledge about such topics as blogging, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. What should you participate in and why? How do you go about doing it?

Plan to be with us and invite anyone you know who may be interested in joining us for this extended meeting event. And the good news is that we are offering the workshop at the regular luncheon cost: $15 for members and $20 for guests with timely reservations.

RSVP by Thursday, September 9th, for a timely reservation. After that date, add $5 to the meeting cost, i.e. $20 for members and $25 for guests.


Tamera H.  Bennett, Bennett Law Office, PC

Louellen Coker, Content Solutions

Kristy Nolan, Southwest Airlines

Heather Steele, Blue Steele Solutions

Attorney Tamera Bennett Interviewed on CW33/Dallas Today

Tamera Bennett interview w Gisella Phelps
Tamera Bennett interview w Gisella Phelps

Intellectual property lawyer Tamera Bennett was interviewed today by reporterGiselle Phelps/CW33 regarding the proposed social networking policy for the Lewisville Independent School District (LISD). The news broadcast will air at 5pm and 9pm CST, today, June 10, 2010.

More about this trending topic can be found at the Dallas Morning News website here.  To view the interview click here.

5 Steps to Social Networking: Louellen Coker and Tamera Bennett

by Tamera H. BennettPosted October 26, 2009

“You Can Social Network: Five Easy Steps to Social Networking” Topic of Speakers Lawyer Tamera Bennett and Technical Writer Louellen Coker at WBODC’s November 2009 Luncheon, Tuesday, November 3rd Women Business Owners of Denton County will hold its monthly luncheon on Tuesday, November 3rd, at Oakmont Country Club, Corinth, Texas. " You Can Social Network: Five Easy Steps to Social Networking” will be the topic of speakers Tamera Bennett and Louellen Coker.

WBODC members Tamera Bennett and Louellen Coker will demonstrate how easy it is to dive into social networking. While they create a blogging platform for one member, they will discuss which networking platforms you should use, the difference between each platform, why and how you should use each platform, best practices in social networking, and the impact social networking can have on your business. While their presentation will focus on getting started in social networking, Tamera and Louellen will provide insights for social networkers at all levels of expertise.

Louellen Coker, President of Content Solutions, holds a Master of Arts degree in Technical Communication from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University. She has conducted several conference presentations, published several articles, and occasionally teaches technical communication at the college level. An active council member and former president of the Lone Star Community of the Society for Technical Communication, she has served as the President of the Women Business Owners of Denton County in both 2008 and 2009, and also serves as the Public Relations chairperson on the Family Resource Center of North Texas Board of Directors.

You can find Louellen on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Slideshare.

Tamera Bennett is a Trademark, Copyright and Entertainment Lawyer whose practice is located in Lewisville, Texas. Her clients range from rock star to leadership coach and financial guru to custom motorcycle designer. A licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee, Tamera assists clients across Texas and in Nashville, Tennessee. She received her law degree from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and her undergraduate degree in Recording Industry Studies from Middle Tennessee State University. Tamera was named a “2006 Best Lawyer in Dallas Under 40” by D Magazine.

You can find Tamera on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, Podcast, JDSupra.

Registration and networking begins at 11:30, with a luncheon and speaker to follow, 12 noon-1:00 p.m.  Register online at by Thursday, October 29, 2009. With timely reservations, the luncheon and program cost is $15 for WBODC members and $20 for guests. After October 29th, the cost is $20 for WBODC members and $25 for guests.

The Women Business Owners of Denton County is a non-profit organization established to strengthen women owned businesses economically, socially, and politically via energizing and expanding its members' centers of influence. Our vision is to create productive, interactive groups of business people.

Updates from Tamera Bennett Twitter Feed

Here are a few things I've been Tweeting about today.  Please follow me on Twitter. WSJ LAW BLOG Legal Liberals Ponder How Best to Lose: Since Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's departure, ..

CREATEPROTECT Producers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show Sued For Copyright Infringement

Time Warner Sued for Copyright Infringement. Unlicensed song masters in The Ellen Degeneres Show.

A&E Sued for Copyright Infringement of "Rocky Top"

WSJ LAW BLOG Russian Libel Case Ballooning Into Referendum on Stalin: An article in the Christian Sc..

How music became an industry: on 'Selling Sounds' - Los Angeles Times: How music became an industry: on 'Sel..

Protecting Twitter with T(w)ademark

by Tamera Bennett The news has been a twitter about Twitter®, the social networking site, filing a trademark application for the word TWEET, and the current status of the application being  suspended pending the outcome of prior filed third-party trademark applications that contain the term "tweet."

In researching this issue I found something  that should be of a little more interest to the folks at Twitter.  Take a look at the trademark below for TWEETPHOTO.  Does it look familiar to you?  Would you think this brand and the services offered are associated with Twitter?

Compare to the Twitter trademark:

There is a registered trademark for the word TWITTER without design owned by Twitter, Inc.   Twitter, Inc. has a pending trademark application for the stylized version above in black and white.  A black and white registration extends to protect a trademark used in color.

The TWEETPHOTO trademark application has been initially refused as descriptive of the services offered under the mark:  Providing a web site that gives computer users the ability to upload, exchange and share photos, videos and video logs.

In the initial refusal (office action) the trademark examiner stated:  The relevant definition of ‘tweet’ is “[a]n entry posted on the microblogging  service Twitter.” [.] The relevant definition of ‘photo’ is “photograph.” [.]  Thus, the term ‘tweetphoto’ means an entry posted on Twitter to which a photograph is attached.

Two points to ponder:

1.  Does TWITTER  have an actionable claim against TWEETPHOTO, not because of the word "tweet" but because of the look and feel (unfair competition claim) of the TWEETPHOTO mark?

2.  Has a trademark examiner just made a ruling that TWEET is generic as related to the services offered by Twitter?

Privacy, Libel and Copyright Issues In Social Networking

by Tamera H. Bennett There has been a lot of chatter lately in social networking circles regarding 1) right of privacy; 2) copyright; and 3) libel.

Right of Privacy: If I post something on FaceBook®, MySpace®, Twitter™ or any other social networking site, do I have a right of privacy, such that my comments cannot be re-published?  A California appellate court ruled last week that there is no right of privacy in our rants, praises, or anything else we post on social networking sites....

Read more at the Ask Before You Act Blog.

As always, thank you to the Ask Before You Act folks for including me in their panel of experts and allowing me to contribute to their blog.

UPDATED 5/13/09 Thanks to the California Defamation Blog for posting the amended complaint in the Courtney Love defamation case at

Legalish Topic "Follows" On Twitter


by Tamera H. BennettPosted December 12, 2008

This is part two of a post started earlier on how I gather legal/news information. Part one is here regarding the blogs I have on RSS feed.

I am right at the 60 day mark of using Twitter. What a crazy, fun, informative community. Twitter is an amazing resource for staying current on breaking news issues that relate to your practice. Many bloggers will feed there blogs directly to their Twitter posts. Other Twitter users do not maintain blogs, but aggregate news stories and post those on Twitter.

There is no way to list all the folks I follow and learn from each day, but here are a few of my tweeps:  This is from law Professor Michael Scott. He provides a roundup of daily copyright news. All things arts, tech, digital and IP related.  Updates on tax issues from a Texas tax attorney  A fashion and lifestyle blog for overachieving chicks. Hey, got a have a little fun in my day.  Great info on building a solo law practice. Attorney Victoria Pynchon is a must follow for ADR topics. She feeds two of her blogs into this link.  If you are building or supporting a law practice today, you need to be following Kevin O’Keefe. Kevin founded LexBlog and has incredible insight into how to use today’s technology to grow your business.  Great resource for launching and building your music business brand.  I'm not a patent attorney, but if you are you need to be following Dennis Crouch.  Grant Griffiths provides insight on designing blogs and use of other social media to build your brand.   Always a fun twist on government, technology and legal issues.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Enjoy and learn something new today.

Oh, and you can follow me on Twitter Here.