Twitpic To Shut Down After Trademark Dispute With Twitter

Twitpic is closing up shop September 25, and according to the company, Twitter is to blame. Founder Noah Everett wrote in a blog post Twitter has demanded that Twitpic abandon its trademark application or it will lose access to Twitter’s API, also known as application programming interface, which is necessary for Twitpic to work on the social media service.

After detailing Twitpic’s trademark history, Everett said the firm simply does not have the money to fight Twitter in court, so it is closing its virtual doors:

“We encountered several hurdles and difficulties in getting our trademark approved even though our first use in commerce predated other applications, but we worked through each challenge and in fact had just recently finished the last one. During the ‘published for opposition’ phase of the trademark is when Twitter reached out to our counsel and implied we could be denied access to their API if we did not give up our mark.”

Twitpic was the innovation that first allowed users to tweet photos. It was built specific for Twitter use and launched in 2008. Twitter has since created its own photo-sharing service. According to Time, Twitter has also reduced the number of companies that have access to its API.

As quoted in Time, Twitter expressed regret at Twitpic’s decision:

“We’re sad to see Twitpic is shutting down. We encourage developers to build on top of the Twitter service, as Twitpic has done for years, and we made it clear that they could operate using the Twitpic name. Of course, we also have to protect our brand, and that includes trademarks tied to the brand.”

While the news can be perceived as a large company squeezing out a smaller one, some commentators have suggested there may be other motivations behind Twitpic’s move.

Over at Techdirt, writer Mike Masnick claimed the decision hid deeper problems at Twitpic:

“The idea that you need a registered trademark makes no sense. The idea that you’d shut down the entire business just because Twitter opposed the trademark also makes no sense. It sounds much more like this was a convenient excuse for Twitpic to shut down while ‘blaming’ Twitter for something, but without pointing out that the real problem might have been back when Twitter built in its own photo hosting service.”

In addition, CNN Money writer James O’Toole saw issues with Twitpic’s terms of service, which he says got the worst-possible grade on a consumer protection project. Twitpic took credit for user photos snapped using the service and kept deleted photos.

Users will receive information about how to export their files and videos before Twitpic goes out of business.

[Image: Twitpic]