Insta-results

Originally posted 2012-07-31 13:09:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Some people, it seems.  You know what I mean.

Instapundit Twitter FeedInstapundit Glenn Reynolds mentioned casually to ten or a hundred thousand of his closest friends that he was having the darndest time freeing up his INSTAPUNDIT® trademark so that it could be used — by him — as a Twitter username.

Well he, with the help of Nina “No Stuffy Lawyers” Yablok — and, of course, more than a few of those friends all a-swarm — got it done.

The real problem, of course, is that for the most of the rest of us, there’s a real problem.  It went, originally, like this:

I was my usual happy camper self when, after Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, asked me to try to get the Instapundit Twitter handle back for him[.]  I found that Twitter had a special page for submitting trademark problems.  Instapundit is Glenn Reynolds’ registered trademark.

The Instapundit situation was unique in that it wasn’t a poacher or typical infringer who had taken the trademark as a Twitter handle. In our case, a fan had gotten to Twitter before my client and had used the @Instapundit Twitter account to push my client’s RSS feed through the Twitter account. Other than not being able to respond to direct tweets, this was OK with Glenn. He was going to use the account to do the same thing: push his RSS feed; he’s a big proponent of opening up the wild wide world of internet communications to everyone.

However, when Glenn modified his website, the RSS feed information changed. And the fan who had started the Twitter account never updated the link with the RSS feed. So the Twitter account with the Instapundit registered trademark is not tweeting. It’s dead, Jim.

And worse yet, the Instapundit trademark is associated with Glenn’s reputation as a very prolific blogger. Therefore, having a dead Twitter feed is beyond “not a good thing”; it’s a dilution of the mark’s value.

Direct tweets to the fan who opened the account resulted in no response.  We don’t know if the individual is dead or alive, bored or fed up, retired to a tropical island with no internet access, or what.

So I put in my somewhat simple trademark issue request on Twitter’s handy-dandy trademark issue form. And waited. And waited. Two weeks later I got an email saying they had received my form and would process it.  One small step for doing things right.

Two weeks after that I got an email with the subject line “Twitter Support: update on Trademark Issue – (tradename)” at 5:14 on a Friday night. The email said, “Please read this carefully and respond to confirm that your report as currently submitted is complete and valid or reply with the additional information required as described below. We will not be able to investigate further and this ticket will be closed unless we receive a response to this message.” It then had the same questions as on the original form I had submitted.  It did not clarify what question had not been answered to their satisfaction.

So I restated my case in slightly different terms, and sent back the email.  I received the exact same email again at 7:12 p.m., and again at 9:12 p.m., and again at 12:05 a.m. the next morning. I responded to all of the requests except the last one because I was pretty sure by that time that the LOLcats had taken over Twitter’s automated system.

I waited another 2 weeks and sent an email to Twitter’s support email again, basically saying “what’s up?” and I almost immediately received a reply saying, and I quote, “You tried to update a request that has been closed. Please submit a new request at http://support.twitter.com/forms. You can also visit our help center at http://support.twitter.com for self-help solutions to common problems. Thanks!”

Well sorry, but no thanks. I’ve done that already.

But I R an attorney. I know things.

As I mentioned in the comments, I had a similar problem when I tried, vainly, to talk my way out of an automated deactivation that occurred as I tried to make a Twitter account solely for purposes of this blog.  Twitter decided I was spam, for some reason having to do with the fact that I was “aggressively retweeting” or something.  Go figure.  I tried to explain myself, or to repent, but ended up in a loop, a dead-end — a “drop dead” end.  Unlike the case for Glenn Reynolds, for me it wasn’t worth pursuing.

But, really, Twitter should do better — even for the non-Instapundits among us.  I did have some interesting ideas for a legal claim, too.  But what can I do if things work out — even without my help?  Just keep hoping.  But, better yet, Twitter should have a process in place that simply allows registered trademark owners (which was not quite my case, by the way; this blog’s registered-trademark name is too long for a Twitter handle) not to have to go around in circles, or to resort to massive Internet “power” available only to a few, to at least get a human being involved in the process.

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Author:Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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