Guy Sues Twitter For Taking Away His Twitter Handle

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Leonard Barshack, who founded BigFoot, which was a (quite popular) internet forwarding mailing service in the dotcom era, has apparently sued Twitter for taking away his username, @SunValley and giving it to the Sun Valley resort. Barshack, who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho, claims that taking away his username was a violation of Twitter's policies, because he didn't really violate Sun Valley's trademark. As Eric Goldman notes, this lawsuit has little likelihood of succeeding. Twitter claimed that the combination of using the name @SunValley with a sun logo similar to Sun Valley's, was a non-parody impersonation of the trademark holder.

Reading through the actual filing, Barshack, who is represented by his wife, Erin Smith, who also is a plaintiff, focuses on the fact that Sun Valley doesn't indicate on its website that its logo is covered by trademark. That's about as close to meaningless as you can imagine. Not only do you not have to show that it's a registered trademark, you don't even need to have a registered trademark (though, it helps if you're seeking damages) because common law trademarks are perfectly acceptable in most cases.

But, more to the point, Twitter has no legal obligation to let you keep your account. If it wants to take away the account and shut it down, it can. If it wants to change the name of your account, it can. I just don't see what the purpose of the lawsuit is, other than that Barshack is upset. I can understand that, and I might even agree that Twitter could and should handle disputes like this differently, but that doesn't give him any basis at all for a lawsuit. Not liking something that a company does isn't a reason to sue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Bad Mood Trolling, May 24th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    If not liking something a company does was reason to sue, OOTB, Bob, and AJ would be filing one a day to keep the reality away.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    A nice sentiment

    "Not liking something that a company does isn't a reason to sue."

    You must live in a different America than I do. These days, this is the *only* reason to sue.

     

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    DH's Love Child (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    And they know it

    "Not liking something that a company does isn't a reason to sue."

    And companies know it. That's why they tow VERY close to the legal line to screw customers left and right.

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    In America

    You can sue someone for breathing the same air you do: Oxygen infringement, or for looking drinking from the same stream, water infringement.

    Doesn't mean you will not win in court. Maybe you could get lucky and make a buck or two.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

    His biggest mistake? Not suing from East TX.

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 1:02pm

    I might even agree that Twitter could and should handle disputes like this differently, but that doesn't give him any basis at all for a lawsuit.

    Make it expensive to handle these disputes this way and they might do it differently.

    And seriously, how many Sun Valley businesses' logos don't incorporate a sun somehow?

     

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      dennis deems (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 1:16pm

      Re:

      This. I wish I could see an image of the logo he used. Twitter could simply have told him they were giving the handle to the resort under the terms of their agreement. Instead they accused him of impersonation. Someone who is accused of impersonating someone else ought at least to be given the opportunity to dispute the accusation.

       

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    Josef Anvil (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Bad Mike

    You stuck up for a trademark holder. You have officially confused the trolls.

     

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    artp (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Trademarked place names

    There are a LOT of trademarks that include place names. It hasn't stopped the Post Office. Yet. But it has stopped many small business owners from identifying themselves with their location. That is something that is so common across the world that it is - and should be - taken for granted. Unless someone sues you for it first.

    It makes no more sense than copyrighting numbers or single letters.

    I live in rural Amana, Iowa. If I start a busimess, I can't call it Amana Widget Central, because The Amana Society has the word "Amana" trademarked. It was first used when their commune came to Iowa in 1856. The word itself comes from the Bible - Amana is a place in the Golan Heights in Lebanon. When the corporation was formed in 1932, it acquired all property, separate from the church.

    Now that was fine as long as Amana's boundaries were coexistent with the land owned by the Society. But later on, the Post Office redistricted and gave my family's farm an address of Amana.

    This has been tested in court by a business in the village of Amana. They lost.

    The law needs to be loosened up. Who should be able to own a place name?

     

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    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Not liking something that a company does isn't a reason to sue.

    I guess it is when your spouse is an attorney.

     

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    Rex Rollman, May 24th, 2013 @ 3:05pm

    I kind of understand the anger this guy is feeling, especially if he was not using the account in a nefarious manner, but Twitter has the right to do this.

     

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    yasar tekeli, May 24th, 2013 @ 5:24pm

    Did you know that ancient bigfoot.com forwarding service still works?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2013 @ 12:11am

    The city of Sun Valley Idaho should be suing HIM for pretending to represent a whole city on Twitter. ;)

     

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