A few weeks ago Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API. This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.
Twitpic was well known as the place to post images for Twitter, before Twitter began offering their own image service. However, many users were loyal to Twitpic and continued to use the service. Twitpic also allowed animated GIFs while Twitter only began supporting it a few months ago.
It is very unfortunate that Twitter waited until this late in Twitpic’s trademark application process – five years – before deciding they had an issue with the trademark and threatened with an API access removal.
We originally filed for our trademark in 2009 and our first use in commerce dates back to February 2008 when we launched. We encountered several hurdles and difficulties in getting our trademark approved even though our first use in commerce predated other applications, but we worked through each challenge and in fact had just recently finished the last one. During the “published for opposition” phase of the trademark is when Twitter reached out to our counsel and implied we could be denied access to their API if we did not give up our mark.
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.
There are definitely many users upset with Twitter’s delayed issue with the trademark. Twitter released a statement saying that their issue wasn’t with the use of the Twitpic name, but rather with the trademark status of it.
We’re sad to see Twitpic is shutting down. 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.
But with the number of users declining due to Twitter offering what people had to use Twitpic and other third party services for originally, the company might have felt it was the right time to sunset the brand.
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