Is Twitter getting twitchy? Picture sharing site Twitpic has revealed it is shutting down to avoid being embroiled in a costly trademark dispute with the social media giant - and it's not the first one to have done so.
According to Twitpic founder Noah Everett, the Silicon Valley corporation contacted Twitpic's legal team “demanding we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API” (application programming interface), which allows the two sites to communicate with each other.
This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO [US Patent and Trademark Office] since 2009.
Twitpic was at a late stage in establishing its trademark when Twitter “implied we could be denied access to their API if we did not give up our mark”, Everett said.
Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic.
Its last day will be September 25.
Twitter has issued a statement saying it is “sad” about the closure, adding
“We encourage developers to build on top of the Twitter service, as Twitpic has done for years, and we made it clear that they could operate using the Twitpic name. Of course, we also have to protect our brand, and that includes trademarks tied to the brand.”
This isn't the first time Twitter has done this.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its provocative name, background service Destroy Twitter, which sent more than a million tweets a month at its peak, has already shut down, citing the same API issue:
Similarly MetroTwit – a Windows desktop client site with more than 400,000 users – was shut down in March:
So could others be at risk?
Without the full details, it's difficult to know the precise trademark issue, but it does appear to centre on the 'Twit' part of a client's name, which hopefully means the likes of Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and so on are safe.
However there are several out there that do make use of that prefix.
Twitterific could, for example, be on the hit list. The use of the bluebird – trademarked by app owner The Icon Factory – could also present a problem for the company.
Twitdom, which also makes use of the bluebird in its logo, could also find itself under threat.
Watch this space...