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.

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Companies: sun valley

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Comments on “Guy Sues Twitter For Taking Away His Twitter Handle”

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artp (profile) says:

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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