News Column

Tweeter Trademark for Sale

June 14, 2013

A trademark and the web domains of the former Tweeter consumer electronics chain are up for grabs, and social media watchers wonder if a certain company with a similar name may bite.

"'Tweeter' is awful close to 'Twitter' as far as perception would go," said Chris Brogan, a social media commentator with more than 246,000 Twitter followers. "I could see that being a little too close to the brand, so they may choose to defensively buy it off the shelf."

Newton-based Hilco Streambank had planned to auction the Tweeter Etc. trademark and, and domain names last month as last-minute additions to a planned auction. But the company, which is marketing the intellectual property on behalf of the defunct Canton chain's lender, decided to give potential bidders more time for due diligence.

"We are not sure where interest will come from," said Jack Hazan, Hilco's executive vice president. "A buyer would obviously need to do their own diligence to determine appropriate use of the domains in light of Twitter's trademark rights."

Twitter trademarks include the Twitter name and logo, Tweet and Twitter bird, according to its website, which warns against registering web domains containing Twitter, "misspellings, transliterations or similar variations." The San Francisco-based company did not respond to the Herald's inquiry.

Laura Fitton, co-author of the 2010 book "Twitter for Dummies," is surprised that Twitter didn't already take steps to trademark "Tweeter." That name has been up for grabs since 2012, when its use by the bankrupt consumer electronics chain was cancelled.

"Twitter was fairly aggressive about securing the copyright for the word 'tweet,'" she said.

Apto Solutions Inc. tried to sell the Tweeter trademark and web domains in 2009 after Tweeter went bankrupt a year earlier. It field a lot of interest, but no offers that Tweeter's lender wanted to act on, vice president of business development Chris Re said. Apto also contacted Twitter at the time about the sale.

"They didn't extend an offer," Re said.

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Source: Copyright Boston Herald (MA) 2013. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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