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Twitpic Shutting Down Over Trademark Dispute

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the what's-in-a-name? dept.

Twitter 81

First time accepted submitter exiguus writes As of September 25th Twitpic will be no more. Twitter, allegedly, has threatened to deny them access to their API. Noah 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." Resources will be made available to users to download their videos and photos, but a date when that function will be available has not been made available. "We'll let everyone know when this feature is live in the next few days."

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Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831801)

"We can't fend them off so we're going to commit seppuku"?? That makes no sense - what's the real angle here?

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | about two weeks ago | (#47831813)

Yeah Twitpic could have just changed their name??

Re:Wait, what? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831831)

Twatpic?

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832105)

Dumbasspics

Re:Wait, what? (1)

luckymutt (996573) | about two weeks ago | (#47831867)

That was my first thought.
Companies have changed names in the past. It shouldn't be a big deal. In fact, they could have gotten more attention/users if the headlines was ""Twitpic" changes name to "xxxxxxx" because twitter is being a twat.""
or something.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831905)

"... twitter is being a twat."

I suspect "twatpic" has already been taken.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Known Nutter (988758) | about two weeks ago | (#47831961)

Twatpic ...meh, definitely taken.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832251)

if you consider being correct being a twat, then sure.

Re:Wait, what? (3, Insightful)

Alrescha (50745) | about two weeks ago | (#47831877)

Apparently, all they have to do is stop trying to trademark the name (which is clearly derived from Twitter). That's it.

A.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about two weeks ago | (#47832167)

Apparently, all they have to do is stop trying to trademark the name (which is clearly derived from Twitter). That's it.

So how much free PR is this little "disaster" going to net them?

Feel free to check back on the 25th and prove me wrong (unless they're actually out of money).

Re:Wait, what? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about two weeks ago | (#47832729)

Apparently, all they have to do is stop trying to trademark the name (which is clearly derived from Twitter). That's it.

A.

It was pretty stupid of them to build a company around a name that they hadn't already trademarked. Nailing down your IP should be one of the first things you do.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | about two weeks ago | (#47833819)

They filed the trademark application back in 2009. The USPTO just hasn't gotten around to processing it until now.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833889)

Very clearly. It may be anecdote, but all my twitter-using friends have always been convinced that twitpic is owned by twitter.

A fitting epitapth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47836381)

Apparently, all they have to do is stop trying to trademark the name (which is clearly derived from Twitter). That's it.

Grandmaster Flash can sing at their funeral:

Twitpic admired all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
And it'll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh ..

Now their manhood is took and they're a punching bag
Spend the next two years as their service lags
Being used and abused by Twitter as well
Til one day, found hung dead in a cell
It was plain to see their business was lost
They was cold and their service swung back and forth
But now their site sings the sad, sad song
Of how they lived so fast and died so young ...

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831963)

I got an idea: "McPic"! No one will have a problem with that!

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833741)

AppleIncOfCaliforniaPic

Re:Wait, what? (3, Informative)

killkillkill (884238) | about two weeks ago | (#47832241)

It seems Twitter only wanted them to drop the application and not the name entirely.

Why do I feel like the entire business model of Twitpic was to sell out after receiving the valuable trademark? He didn't claim to get a cease and desist, barring him from using the clearly derived name for the derived service. Twitter seemed to be happy until Twitpic tried to get a legal stake in their name and asked for oppositional comment. Twitter drew a fairly generous line in the sand for a service that leaches off of theirs.

Protip: Don't become a legal threat to the only real value a company has (such as brand-it's not like the ability to post 140 characters at a time is an amazing feat) especially if your business is entirely dependent on them letting you play on their lawn.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about two weeks ago | (#47838461)

Right but why would you go through the trouble and not change it to something you could legally protect?

In the future twitter could decide to make you change it anyway, you're at their mercy.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831825)

Picture posts are a dime a dozen. When all you've got is the goodwill and brand recognition leeched off the trademark you're infringing on, you can only shut down and try something else when you lose it.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831833)

If they were infringing why didn't Twitter pursue that instead of threatening to revoke API access?

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831951)

If they were infringing why didn't Twitter pursue that instead of threatening to revoke API access?

Because fuck lawyers.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832007)

they did, they said we're cutting your api access unless you change your name and if you don't we'll sue you

Re:Wait, what? (2)

killkillkill (884238) | about two weeks ago | (#47832265)

FTFA

“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.”

Re:Wait, what? (1)

killkillkill (884238) | about two weeks ago | (#47832283)

They certainly could have, it's a pretty clear infringement. Whether it is genuine goodwill or goodwill for PR sake, they didn't. They even said they could continue using the name. They just couldn't risk giving Twitpic legal leverage with the name.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

Animats (122034) | about two weeks ago | (#47832889)

It's a pretty clear infringement.

No, it's not, according to the USPTO. It passed their examination for similarity within classification. A key point is that Twitter did not have an image service at the time the Twitpic application was filed. So, under trademark rules, Twitter was in a different business. Twitter has filed an opposition [uspto.gov] , and the schedule for a trial before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board was set.

Twitter was afraid that Twitpic might win.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47834617)

best post in this thread, thanks

Re:Wait, what? (1)

SumDog (466607) | about two weeks ago | (#47832171)

They started their service before Twitter had photo hosting. You had to use an external provider.

As Twitter tried to monotize, a critical part of that was getting rid of all this 3rd party stuff. They incorporated a lot of it directly into Twitter, put in API limits that killed apps like FalconPro, disabled their 1.0 API so people had to use the user-limited API... They're trying to kill off every 3rd party thing that originally helped them to get to where they are.

Twitter could chose to do something amazing instead. They could federate. Create open-source mini-servers that could communicate to each other and allow people to do twitter stuff from their own networks. They could shead their users, slim down, pay back steakholders and move onto different projects.

You cannot sustain infinite growth. Facebook and Twitter haven't learned this yet.

Re:Wait, what? (3, Funny)

Anrego (830717) | about two weeks ago | (#47832253)

So, uh, the basic business plan would be:

- Create small upstart service
- Grow it to be wildly popular with a huge user base
- Gradually figure out how to turn that into money
- Say "screw that shit", give up control and get rid of users as fast as possible
- Go into the soft drink industry instead?

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832553)

I believe identi.ca does this, they can even post to Twitter.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833781)

T

As Twitter tried to monotize, a critical part of that was getting rid of all this 3rd party stuff. They incorporated a lot of it directly into Twitter, put in API limits that killed apps like FalconPro, disabled their 1.0 API so people had to use the user-limited API... They're trying to kill off every 3rd party thing that originally helped them to get to where they are.

/quote>

Absolutely true. Twitter limits search query results unless you use a Twitter sanctioned third-party tweet history service. So if you want to perform any serious data mining of world events based on Twitter traffic you must pay a toll to the trolls. Every one of these social media outfits spits in the face of the users and anncilliary services which built up the value of the social media outfit.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831839)

I don't see what the real loss is. Photo hosting sites are a dime a dozen and easy as hell to draw up and deploy. What kind of jank operation builds a business around it?

Re:Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about two weeks ago | (#47831869)

Their business plan was "get acquired by Twitter", and that's not happening.

Re:Wait, what? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831957)

Mod up. This is the only explanation that makes any sense.

Re:Wait, what? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831993)

mod parent's parent up, parent is right

Re:Wait, what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832005)

mod grand parent up, grandparent is right.

Re:Wait, what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832229)

i can haz mod?

Re:Wait, what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832339)

It's mods all the... up!

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832853)

Reddit tards all aboard!!

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833229)

imgurian here. op is a fag. have my upvote sir.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Funny)

lucm (889690) | about two weeks ago | (#47832025)

The scene happens in the office of Twitpic.

The CEO comes back from a bathroom break and sees the light flashing on his phone. He checks his voicemail. There is a message from someone at Twitter asking him to call back.

The CEO instantly slams down a big red button that has been sitting on his desk since Day 1. Immediately, his closest collaborator, the COO, receives a cryptic Tweet: "it's happening!". So the COO runs to the cupboard, moves around a few boxes of microwave popcorn and poptarts, then finds a bottle of champagne that has been gathering dust for the last 5 years. He puts the bottle in the fridge, then runs around the office to ask everyone to immediately proceed to the conference room.

The whole team is sitting around the speakerphone. Most are running numbers in their head. 1 billion? 200 millions? 10 millions? Just like they do every night before falling asleep, they think about the house they will buy for their mom and how good they will feel about it. They think about the pool parties in Vegas. The orgies with rockstars and supermodels. Fast cars. Loose women.

Then the lawyer picks up. The team hold their breath. At first there is some confusion because the lawyer does not remember why he left a message, he has to go check his dayplanner. Everybody in the team is amazed about this. Some think that since buying a company is something so common that the lawyer can't keep track of potential acquisitions then it's a done deal and maybe they will get the money quickly. Maybe before Christmas. Maybe before the rent is due on October 1st.

Then the lawyer comes back on the line, and within 2 minutes the hopes and dreams of the team are crushed. They did not win the startup lottery. They failed.

Then one by one the team members leave the room, and the office. The CEO and the COO are alone in the room. But they refuse to give up. They open their laptop and go to www.whois.net. They try FacePic.com, GooglePic.com, and many other names. And when they finally get one, they decide it's time to "pivot". Fire everyone, create a new logo, spend a week to revamp the GUI. And then try to win the startup lottery again.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

guardiangod (880192) | about two weeks ago | (#47832285)

It is posts like this that reminds me why I never become an author.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833165)

Cue Nelson: Ha ha.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

228e2 (934443) | about two weeks ago | (#47833215)

You had me at rent due on the 1st.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about two weeks ago | (#47833393)

"paystherentpic.com" is still available...

Re:Wait, what? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about two weeks ago | (#47851331)

Posts like this make the all of the other crap on slashdot worth it.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832159)

It wouldn't surprise me if the reason they never got bought out was because of the name, even if no one involved consciously thinks of it that way. Twitter brass would see it as offensive (or whatever their pseudo-hippie-speak for it is), while other companies' brass see IP issues or think of them as too niche.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about two weeks ago | (#47831891)

Of course it makes sense. They can either cut their losses now, and leave with their profits. Or they can be sued into oblivion by Twitter, and let them, and the lawyers walk off with their profits.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

TWX (665546) | about two weeks ago | (#47832097)

Heh. We shouldn't let them, given the Citizens United ruling that says that corporations are people, this could literally be interpreted as suicide and that's a crime in a lot of places, and since they operate in a lot of places they should be prosecuted for suicide everywhere they commit it in!

What are we talking about again?

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833109)

Stupid partisan politics, apparently. That is, if by "we" you are referring to the voices in your head.

Pretty blatant trademark violation (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831897)

I honestly thought they were associated with Twitter. Their name is clearly trying to imply that they are, so this is a textbook case of why trademark law exists. Anyway, as another poster said, they could have just changed their name, so this is probably just them taking an excuse to shut down after realizing this wasn't a viable business anyway.

Re:Pretty blatant trademark violation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833617)

I honestly thought they were associated with Twitter. Their name is clearly trying to imply that they are, so this is a textbook case of why trademark law exists.

I thought they were just being honest, because even twits need a place to post pictures.

Re:Pretty blatant trademark violation (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about two weeks ago | (#47837695)

I actually agree with you, though it's apparently due to Twitter's objection to Twitpic's trademark *application*.

You'd think Twitter would just use the system the way it was designed to, and object to Twitpic's trademark application (it actually seems like they have), and even possibly fight AFTERWARDS (if it is granted) for it to be revoked, due to the confusion it is actually causing.

Twitter seems to be doing a "we don't like what you're doing, so making you unable to continue".

next startup (1)

NotInHere (3654617) | about two weeks ago | (#47831935)

The guy that wrote the blog post (founder of twitpic) just tries it with another startup: pingly [pingly.com] .

As it seems its not a replacement for email, but a new web interface, like gmail.

Wait, TwitPic != Twitter? (5, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about two weeks ago | (#47831941)

You mean they were different companies? Huh.

Re:Wait, TwitPic != Twitter? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about two weeks ago | (#47832185)

I think you might have hit on why this was an issue to start with...

Re:Wait, TwitPic != Twitter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833017)

When asked whether the allegations by Twitpic were true, a Twitter spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the social network has to protect its brand and trademarks. “We’re sad to see Twitpic is shutting down,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

I think the issue was simply, oh so simply, that Twitter didn't like TwitPic trying to register TwitPic as a mark. I don't know what TwitPic is doing, if this is a tantrum they're throwing or what. This seems so stupid, and this is coming from a non-Twitter and non-TwitPic user.

Inevitable (2)

enter to exit (1049190) | about two weeks ago | (#47831947)

There was a time when twitter didn't do anything other that links and text. When third-party twitter clients existed they used twitpic to display images.

Twitter doesn't allow third-party clients anymore (basically) and have their own image service embedded into their UI. Third party image services are just rendered as links in the official client. twitpic was dead in the water years ago.

The guy who owns it (It's a small self-funded business) should have seen the writing on the wall and taken the $10M he was offered years ago. I suspect when twitter tightened their grip twitpic's revenue, profit and users dissipated. In it's heyday it was allegedly making ~$700K a year.

Re:Inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47831967)

Ouch, they got the offer to get bought out years ago and didn't take it? Was it by Twitter? If the company whose name you are infringing on offers to buy you out, you take it.

Re:Inevitable (1)

butalearner (1235200) | about two weeks ago | (#47833667)

The guy who owns it (It's a small self-funded business) should have seen the writing on the wall and taken the $10M he was offered years ago. I suspect when twitter tightened their grip twitpic's revenue, profit and users dissipated. In it's heyday it was allegedly making ~$700K a year.

He claims they were making $1.5 million a year [techie-buzz.com] , actually. I could see why it might be tough to sell out if that's true.

I wish there was a way to disable images onTwitter (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about two weeks ago | (#47831985)

I did my best and modified my adblock to shut down Twitpic, but sometimes images from other hosts come through :(

I quit Facebook in part because my a few certain friends were posting stupid memes and clouding my timeline.

Most Twitpics are meme pix, and the rest are mostly shock pix. Neither of these do I want to see. Twitter should go the extra mile and have a way to disable images altogether.

Re:I wish there was a way to disable images onTwit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47834571)

umadbro.jpg troll.jpg

Re:I wish there was a way to disable images onTwit (1)

almitydave (2452422) | about two weeks ago | (#47835231)

There should really be a tag in HTML5. Is it too late to propose it?

<meme img="troll" caption="u mad bro?"/>
<meme img="therocksurprised" caption="twitpic isn't owned by twitter??"/>

TWIT.TV existed well before Twitter... (1)

surfdaddy (930829) | about two weeks ago | (#47832079)

Seems unfair - TWIT.TV existed well before Twitter.. Leo Laporte let them take the name "Twitter" and never sued them. Now years after Twitpic was around, Twitter decides to go after trademark Seems like Twitter can dish it out but they can't take it. Ah, the glory of our broken legal system.

Twitter the sock pupppet master (1)

tepples (727027) | about two weeks ago | (#47832113)

Remember when Twitter and his sock puppets [slashdot.org] used to gang up to promote GNU/Linux and bash M$ on Slashdot?

Re:Twitter the sock pupppet master (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832149)

Why would anyone track that nonsense?

Re:Twitter the sock pupppet master (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about two weeks ago | (#47832197)

Everybody needs a hobby...

to call you jews out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832409)

is your jewish heart broke?

Re:TWIT.TV existed well before Twitter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833099)

TWIT isn't a word (other than UK English for a silly person). Leo took the "This Week in" and added "Tech". The TWi+x is well established in the media. Twitter means trivial chat, or the sounds the birds make. Absolutely nothing in common with "This Week in". So get over it, Leo.

"twit" is a word in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47841001)

"Twit" is indeed a well known and widely used word in the USA. It means an "idiot" or "nitwit" but in a friendly way. 100 years ago it was also a word in the USA, but with a (somewhat) different meaning: a verb meaning "to remind someone of their faults" (see old Webster's dictionary at http://dictionary.x10host.com/... [x10host.com] ; it comes from the old English atwiten = "at + witan" = "at + reproach").

The comment by "surfdaddy" reminds me of how Apple Computer took its name from Apple Records, then essentially seized all control of the trademark "Apple".

Simple fix (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about two weeks ago | (#47832161)

Just rename it to TwatPick.

It All Comes Down to FAT CATS, Or (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47832223)

Democrat versus Republican

This is like a bell curve representing intelligence -- the distribution thereof.

On the left side, we have the dim-wits -- sure, some average, but trending to moronic. These are the republicans. On the right side, we have Non-dim-wits -- sure, some average, but trending to genius. I didn't create this distribution. It is what it is.

So what has this to do with fat cats? Simple. To rule the asylum one only needs to be a little less crazy. And there it is, in black and white. I leave the rest to you. And if you don't know to which side of the curve you belong, well, I do, and I don't know anything else about you.

Isn't there a service that... (1)

Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) | about two weeks ago | (#47832641)

checks whether your new product name means like goat humper in a foreign language? Or is a trademark? That wouldn't have helped the guy who came up with ISIS Wallet though...

They're abandoning it to launch "Email 2.0" (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | about two weeks ago | (#47832779)

AKA "Pingly" http://blog.pingly.com/email-2... [pingly.com]

"Pingly isn't just another email client, but a complete messaging platform built from the ground up to evolve all aspects of email. We're calling it Email 2.0"

Make of that what you will

They're abandoning it to launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833207)

I find it kind of funny that they abandoned one product with dubious worth with a name stolen from a more popular service (Twitter) to start another product with dubious worth with a name stolen from a completely different popular service (Summly).

Re:They're abandoning it to launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833615)

I've need heard of summly. That's not even a word. I have heard of ping.

Re:They're abandoning it to launch "Email 2.0" (1)

coofercat (719737) | about two weeks ago | (#47833467)

My employer's web proxy denies access to this link because it's categorised as "malicious sites". Make of that what you will ;-)

Re:They're abandoning it to launch "Email 2.0" (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about two weeks ago | (#47834633)

I'd better register Flingity-Flingity.com before somebody else adds it to their list of ridiculous, meaningless Web 2.0 names to use.

Pingly, Vimeo, Hulu, Bing, Twitter...they all sound like effeminate names you give your cat.

Gotta butch up the place. How about PixShitter...PixelHaul...FaceServe (does what it says on the box but probably would get sued by facebook)....PosterGun?

Re:They're abandoning it to launch "Email 2.0" (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about two weeks ago | (#47834643)

"Pingly" also sounds vaguely like a 6-year-old boy referring to his genitals

Re:They're abandoning it to launch "Email 2.0" (1)

almitydave (2452422) | about two weeks ago | (#47835323)

They make MySpace look brilliant for using actual words in an accurately descriptive way.

Also, Bing! [youtube.com]

Re:They're abandoning it to launch "Email 2.0" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47834719)

So it's Google Wave, then?

RIP - another useless service is gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47833049)

RIP - another useless service is gone.
Twitter, it's your turn now. Be gone!

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