Be Careful How You Use The “T” Word

Twitterdummies_I’m talking about the company that starts with “Twit” and ends with “er”, and seems to be the hottest social media site around these days. A year ago I would mention that I was using Twitter to friends and family and I would get a strange look. Now it seems everyone wants you to follow them on Twitter: radio and TV stations, news shows, companies, and the list goes on. I even had a few friends sign up for Twitter, “just to see what it was all about.”

Lately with all the news breaking about the death of Michael Jackson and others, and the happenings in Iran, Twitter seems to be the way a lot of people are getting the news. The information may be short, but it can happen in real time. I heard a story about someone sending Twitter messages from Iran and someone else commented that their comments were pretty short. The person replied that “140 characters seems like writing a novel when you are being shot at.”

It’s no wonder that Ev and the team over at Twitter want to protect their name and brand. In a blog post today, they stated, “We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of ‘going after’ the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter…”

They also state, “Regarding the use of the word Twitter in projects, we are a bit more wary although there are some exceptions here as well…”

I started with Twitter over two years ago when it was mainly a way to keep up with your friends over SMS. (That is where the 140 character limit came from.) At the time it was mainly the A-list bloggers who had accounts and the rest of us geeks came along for the ride. At the time there didn’t seem to be any business plan to monetize the service.

Fast forward two years, and to my knowledge Twitter is still not generating any income, but I think that will change soon. With all the attention it’s getting and all the commercial companies looking at Twitter as a cheaper way to provide customer support and keep in touch with customers, the Twitter team must be finalizing plans to support these commercial customers by having them dig into their pocketbooks. I’m sure ads will come to the site as well.

People new to Twitter (i.e., on-air news people) don’t know what to call these Twitter messages: twits or tweets. Today’s Twitter blog posting clearly shows that the official term is “tweet.” I know this makes Leo Laporte, the owner of the TWIT (This Week In Tech) podcast, and who also owns the TWIT trademark, a happy man. There has been past discussions between Leo and the Twitter team about how similar the names, TWIT and Twitter are, and I’m sure today’s posting was an attempt to clear that up.

Oh, I almost forgot: you can follow me on Twitter at



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