Twitter wins lawsuit over Singapore tech firm’s failure to trademark bird logo

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SINGAPORE: A Singapore-founded tech start-up is unable to register its bird logo as a trademark after a Supreme Court rejected its appeal, which US-based Twitter opposed.

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

In September 2019, Twitter filed its appeal, and a chief assistant registrar ruled in favor of Twitter.

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

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These include computer software applications, advertisements, the provision of online forums and entertainment services. The mobile application has not yet been launched.

Founded in 2006 and incorporated in the United States of America in 2007, Twitter has been a publicly traded 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, said Judicial Commissioner Goh Yihan.

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

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The company spends a large amount of money on advertising and promotions, the judge said, with global marketing expeditions ranging from $717 million to $957 million annually between 2015 and 2019.

The Twitter platform operates under its registered brand and its variations, with co-founder Jack Dorsey previously saying that “Twitter means a short insignificant burst of information, chirping of birds”.

The brand strategy since its inception has focused on cultivating a symbol of a bird as a synonym for Twitter and its goods and services, the court said.

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

THE DECISION FROM WHICH VV TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN APPEALED

The chief assistant clerk found that the numbers, when shown in yellow and compared side by side, are visually similar. Both marks show a bird in flight, both show the side profile of a bird, and both appear to depict a relatively small bird.

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