Twitter wins court tussle as Singapore tech firm fails in appeal to have bird logo trademarked

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SINGAPORE: A Singapore-founded tech start-up will not be able to register for its bird logo to be trademarked after a High Court dismissed its appeal, which was opposed by United States-based Twitter.

V V Technology, a technology start-up behind a mobile application that serves as a user's smart personal concierge, applied to register its application mark of a yellow hummingbird in September 2018.

In September 2019, Twitter filed its notice of opposition, and a principal assistant registrar ruled in Twitter's favour.

He found that V V Technology's application mark had been registered for a very broad range of goods and services, some of which overlapped with those for which Twitter's mark had been registered.

These include computer software applications, advertising, providing online forums and entertainment services. Its mobile application has not been launched yet.

Twitter, which was founded in 2006 and incorporated in the United States of America in 2007, has been a publicly listed company on the New York Stock Exchange since 2013.

It owns and operates the Twitter platform, one of the largest social networks in the world today, said Judicial Commissioner Goh.

Between 2015 and 2019, Twitter's approximate annual worldwide revenue under the Twitter brand ranged from US$22 billion in 2015 to US$3.46 billion in 2019.

The company spends a large amount on advertising and promotions, said the judge, with worldwide marketing expediture ranging from US$717 million to US$957 million a year between 2015 and 2019. 

The Twitter platform operates under its registered mark and its variations, with co-founder Jack Dorsey previously saying that "Twitter means a short inconsequential burst of information, chirps from birds".

The brand strategy since its founding has been towards cultivating a symbol of a bird as synonymous with Twitter and its goods and services, said the court.

Since 2006, Twitter has used and promoted a variety of bird logos in connection with its products and services.

THE DECISION THAT V V TECHNOLOGY APPEALED AGAINST

The principal assistant registrar found that the marks, if rendered in yellow and compared side by side, are visually similar. Both marks depict a bird in flight, both depict the side profile of a bird and both appear to depict a relatively small bird.

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