Twitpic might be in a bit of a pickle. In what looks like a cruel joke, its main competitor, ImageShack (the company behind the yFrog Twitter photo hosting service), went ahead and filed to trademark the name “Twitpic” before Twitpic did. According to filings from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via Trademarkia), ImageShack filed for the Twitpic trademark in August of 2009. Twitpic filed for the same trademark only in October of 2009. Both Twitpic and yFrog serve the same purpose: they are image sharing sites for Twitter. But it’s hard to see how Imageshack can justify its claim to the Twitpic trademark.
According to ImageShack’s filing, the application is in non-final action mode, which means that the USPTO’s attorneys are investigating the application since the documents and images that Imageshack filed don’t contain the word “Twitpic.” Meanwhile, Twitpic’s filing is in suspension mode, which indicates that the USPTO has suspended action on its application (perhaps pending its decision on ImageShack’s application). I’ve embedded all of the filings and correspondence to and from the USPTO below.
All in all, the situation is unfortunate, but still pretty funny. While ImageShack has been around for awhile, the company didn’t launch its Twitpic competitor until a full year after Twitpic launched in February, 2008. And to our knowledge, ImagesShack has never used the name Twitpic for any of its products. So this has all the signs of a competitive prank. Still, it’s a little surprising that Twitpic waited so long to trademark its name. And sadly for Twitpic, it looks like revenge is out of the question. ImageShack owns the trademarks for both yFrog and ImageShack. We’ve contacted both companies for responses.
Thanks to Justin Khoo for the tip.