Skip to main content

Twitter files trademark for commercial rights to the word 'subtweet'

twitter files trademark subtweet icon
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Twitter is trying to trademark “subtweet,” a word that refers to a tweet directed at another person without directly mentioning their Twitter name. Exhibit A: Kim Kardashian West’s subtweet directed at Amber Rose.

If you’re not familiar with the micro-blogging network’s lexicon, words like “tweet,” “subtweet,” and “tweetstorm” all refer to Twitter activity but were generally coined by users or in relation to user behavior. For its part, Twitter has tried to trademark them all, but not always successfully.

That begs the question, why would the company want to trademark a word that is colloquially used within the context of its platform anyway? A trademark is a recognizable seal, which officially marks a word as coming from a particular source. If successful, the word “subtweet” would belong to the company to use in a commercial context, which it would in fact be required to do in order to maintain its rights to that word.

Not imposing a trademark could lead to a weakening brand, which Gizmodo claims could explain Twitter’s intentions. Notably, the trademark filing took place on October 30, just weeks after Jack Dorsey was named permanent CEO of the company. Twitter had the following to say when prompted by The Verge about the decision: “When you need to protect your namespace from people who would misuse it. #keepingit.”

Twitter’s infamous battle to trademark “tweet” (which it lost due to the fact that the term had already been in use far too long, in particular with app developers) could have been the catalyst for its subsequent decisions to register filings for a whole host of words. Afterward, the company even began filing for vocabulary related to its Vine video platform (such as “Viners” and “revine”).

The word “subtweet” was published to opposition by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on November 19. If no one opposes it, Twitter will likely gain the rights within months. Any objections?

Editors' Recommendations

Saqib Shah
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Saqib Shah is a Twitter addict and film fan with an obsessive interest in pop culture trends. In his spare time he can be…
Twitter’s head of trust and safety resigns
A stylized composite of the Twitter logo.

Twitter’s Ella Irwin has resigned as the company’s head of trust and safety, confirming her departure to Reuters on Thursday.

Irwin stepped into the role following the departure of Yoel Roth in November, shortly after Elon Musk acquired the business for $44 billion.

Read more
Twitter ‘melts’ as it becomes first social app to launch a presidential bid
A stylized composite of the Twitter logo.

Elon Musk’s plan to make Twitter the first social media platform to host the launch of a U.S. presidential bid didn’t get off to the best start.

The idea was to launch a Twitter Spaces session with Republican hopeful Ron DeSantis at a scheduled time on Wednesday evening, but when the event was supposed to start, the online audience waiting patiently in the audio-only Space was met with a sudden screeching sound.

Read more
Elon Musk says he’s appointed a new Twitter CEO
A digital image of Elon Musk in front of a stylized background with the Twitter logo repeating.

Twitter owner Elon Musk has found someone to replace him as the company’s CEO, but he hasn't revealed who it is.

Musk tweeted on Thursday that the new CEO will step into the role at some point over the next six weeks.

Read more