twittersquatting

November 8, 2008 ·

remember in the early days of the web (crica 1995) opportunistic schemers would buy up url's in the hopes to cash in on other people's trademarks only to have a short boon before it got litigious and not worthwhile? looks like there are still some who think this model is viable to this day, just in different shapes.

when i was recently setting up my slingbox, i ran into some tech issues. having looked at their website and not finding a solution, i sought other channels, one being twitter. i followed a thought that since dell and comcast had a few customer service reps on twitter, maybe more companies were following suit.

so i searched twitter for 'slingbox' and came across this:


now people are squatting on twitter names, much like they did domain names. did no one learn? one nuance though to the whole thing that will prove this to be not as easy a task to ameliorate: twitter is a free service. the trail is a lot easier to follow when someone pays like they did with domains. it could also be argued that twitter assumes people's 'handles' or 'nicknames' which may not be seen as a trademark for the companies like a domain would be.

there's also the matter of whether companies care. twitter is still very small, and only has a cult following right now. no one knows how mainstream it will get. do companies feel that twitter is a valuable signpost that they need to defend their brands in? if so, where does it end? How many variations of their namesakes can they snatch up so others don't? i believe companies should protect their trademarks, but only up to a point. twitter is never going to be the destination point that a url would be. i believe twitter could be a valuable asset to a company, but there's many who likely don't feel that way.

i wish there was a simple reporting feature to twitter as this afront to intellectual property and branding sickened me. i hope twitter can suss these hacks out, and all like them. i did a few other searches to see what other companies are going to have to trot out their lawyers and slap these hacks with some kind of cease and desist order or shutdown their accounts.

here's a few examples of companies who are likely being squatted on (a random sampling of brand names i find as i peer around my immediate surroundings):
probable squatting
canon, linksys, chrysler, microsoft, adobe, apple, mcdonalds, warnermusic, ebay, coca cola, nike, budweiser, ikea, google, xm radio, vonage

definite squatting
playstation, xbox, samsung

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