So the powers that tweet—Biz Stone, Ev Williams, et al—have applied to trademark one of their contributions to mass culture. Specifically, the word “tweet” itself. Stone explains the move in more detail:

The ecosystem growing around Twitter is something we very much believe in nourishing and supporting. There are lots of really awesome services and applications out there like TweetDeck, TweetMeme, Tweetie, BackTweets, Tweetboard, and others that we absolutely love as do many users. However, as the ecosystem grows there is also the possibility that confusing and potentially damaging projects could emerge.

We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of “going after” the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter. In fact, we encourage the use of the word Tweet. However, if we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important.
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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.