Twitter Won't Stop Fighting To Trademark 'Dronie'

from the droning-on dept

You know the word “selfie” by now (whether you like the concept or not), but what about “dronie”? It seems that, back in 2014, Twitter, of all companies, decided to try to make “dronie” a thing, combining drones with selfies (i.e., photos of yourself, taken from drones). It even set up a twitter feed for @dronie and tried to highlight examples of such things — focusing on a campaign around the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The concept did drum up some fairly lame press coverage (because of course it did), with some puff pieces on “dronies,” pretending that it was the next new thing — even though it was just a Twitter marketing campaign. Never mind the fact that others apparently had been using the term before Twitter started in.

Either way, Twitter then applied for the trademark on “dronie” because nothing says cool, hip internet slang, like registering a trademark for a term you’re trying to convince people is totally “the next thing.” Especially when the word has already started to enter the public lexicon. Twitter had originally applied to register DRONIE (on June 20, 2014) as used in connection with drones and toys, as well as when used with an enormous list of related goods/services, including downloadable software via the internet and wireless devices for downloading, searching, tagging, viewing, etc. photos; telecommunications including messaging and chat services; online community forums for users to search and chat about pictures of others; education, including providing training, entertainment, sporting and cultural activities, providing on-line electronic publications; scientific and technological services and research and design relating thereto; and online social networking services….

On September 10, 2014, much of the original application was refused. Perhaps most importantly, registration of DRONIE in connection with drones themselves was refused on the grounds of descriptiveness. Twitter seemed to have been investing considerable sums of money in naming its actual drone “Dronie,” by registering a Twitter account “@Dronie” and heavily promoting that account using its drone and the Twitter account during the Cannes Film Festival that year.

The DRONIE trademark application was also refused for use in connection with games and toys, including video games. It is unknown if there were Dronie toys and games sold at that event (or otherwise), but such merchandising would have logically been on Twitter’s agenda if Dronie the drone became a “character,” as such. Merchandising is a highly lucrative aspect of the exploitation of entertainment characters.

Dronie’s hopes and dreams of flying the red carpet again seem to have been dashed not long after the September 10, 2014 refusal, if its Twitter feed is any indication: Dronie the drone has not taken wing (at least not on Twitter) since October 27, 2014. Here’s the last Dronie tweet:

And since then… nothing. Even Ok Go has moved on from drone videos to more impressive Zero G videos.

But Twitter won’t let go.

Twitter has appealed the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) refusal to register the word DRONIE as a trademark used in connection with a long list of goods and services. This list of goods/services being appealed, already shortened from an even longer original list in Twitter’s June 20, 2014 application, includes an appeal to register the mark in connection with (in summary form):

software including mobile apps, online community forums for searching and discussing multimedia content; entertainment services, namely, aerial photography and videography for the purpose of capturing photos and videos of others, objects, scenery and events, and distributing and displaying the photos and videos for entertainment purposes; hosting an interactive website and online nondownloadable software that enable users to search, watch, share, critique, rate, interact with and comment on multimedia content, namely, photos and videos of others, objects, scenery and events via a global computer network and other computer and communications networks; providing temporary use of online non-downloadable software and applications for accessing streaming audio and video files, and multimedia files, namely, photos and videos of others, objects, scenery and events; and providing computer databases and searchable databases in the field of social networking featuring photos and videos of others, objects, scenery and events.

These goods/services were rejected originally on the grounds of descriptiveness and indefiniteness of the descriptions.

On March 10, 2015, the six month deadline after the September 10, 2015 refusals, Twitter gave up the fight to register DRONIE as used on drones and toys/games and video games. It deleted entirely the classes of goods in which these belonged (classes 12 and 28). However in that March 10, 2015 response, Twitter continued to fight to register DRONIE as used in connection with the other remaining categories such as software, online community forums, messaging, training, etc.

Many of these remaining other goods and services were again refused in a September 10, 2015 Office Action. That action, however indicated that registration for some of the remaining goods/services would be reconsidered for those if Twitter would agree to a narrower specification as dictated by the USPTO in that Office Action, such as adding specific limitations that the good/service being registered was limited by in the field of photos and videos of others, objects, scenery and events. That Office Action was final; Twitter’s choices were to agree to the goods and services with the goods/services limited as dictated by the USPTO, or appeal to the TTAB.

Twitter has apparently chosen to appeal — rather than letting the matter drop to the ground, like the company appears to have done with the whole dronie concept. A brief is due on May 9, 2016. More detail regarding the Twitter DRONIE trademark (and related domain name) will be forthcoming here or in my blog at Thomson Reuters.

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Companies: twitter

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Comments on “Twitter Won't Stop Fighting To Trademark 'Dronie'”

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12 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How do they hope to monetize the term?

“First, how is it you can trademark a term you don’t invent?”

Ask Facebook or Apple and while you are it maybe try to create a site that has anything to do with people talking to each other and ends with”book” or try to open a restaurant and call it Apple-something. In both cases people have been sued for using words that were there before.

I think it was sketchbook or something where engineers (students) could register and talk about stuff, sued, down. And the Apple thing was a coffee, restaurant thing that was there since the 80s or 90s which iirc actually won the case but still… they got sued.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

What happened to altruism?

When was the next new thing NOT a marketing campaign? Like this instance, someone stumbled across something, strained to name it, then strained harder to ‘own’ it, or at least the ‘creation’ of it. In the future, they will strain to control it and manipulate those that try to use it.

I understand that they feel compelled because if they don’t someone else will, and nothing cannot be owned. So sad for society.

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