Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm being sued by Twitter!!

So not only are Twitter fighting battles with Russian hackers they are now fighting their own third party API developer community !!

I received this email 30 minutes ago stating that Twitter is suing me??

Basically they feel that my application - does the following.

1/ That anyone using the API to auto follow people are breaching the TOS??

2/ That no one can use the word “Twitter” in their domain

3/ That somehow people might be confused my application is related to twitter even though every page is labeled

“Copyright 2009 © My Twitter Butler - Not related in anyway to Twitter Inc, if I owned Twitter would i be spending my time building this app??

Is this the end for Twitter 3rd party developers?

Have they forgotten that it was people like me who saw a need and built an application using the publicly defined Twitter API to add value to the Twitter ecosystem?

I have asked Twitters lawyers for a conference call tomorrow to clear up ‘WHY’ they feel anyone using the twitter API to auto follow people is an illegal act and will be looking forward to their answers about ‘WHY’ the twitter API was built in the first place if they want to sue people for using it.

Please tweet out this link -


Dean Collins
+1-212-203-4357 New York
+61-2-9016-5642 (Sydney in-dial).
+44-20-3129-6001 (London in-dial).



TEL 650.988.8500 FAX 650.938.5200 WWW.FENWICK.COM

August 11, 2009



Dean Collins


Re: Infringement of Twitter, Inc.'s Trademark Rights

Dear Mr. Collins:


DIRECT DIAL (650) 335·7656

This firm represents Twitter, Inc. ("Twitter"), owner of the TWITTER trademark and

the popular social networking and micro-blogging website at We are

contacting you regarding your violation of Twitter's Terms of Service ("TOS") and spam

rules, and your infringement of Twitter's trademark rights.

Twitter has recently become aware that you have registered and are using the domain, where you advertise and offer for sale the "My Twitter Butler"

software that facilitates aggressive and automatic following to Twitter users. On your website

you also claim to have used the same aggressive following techniques. This activity violates

Twitter's TOS and rules.

In addition to the above violations, you are also infringing on Twitter's trademark

rights by using the domain and the TWITTER trademark. As you are

likely aware, Twitter's extensive and widespread use of its TWITTER trademark provides

Twitter with strong and defensible rights in the mark, and has caused the mark to become

well-known, if not famous, in today's online marketplace. Twitter owns trademark

applications and registrations for its mark in the United States and numerous other countries

for use in connection with its online services, which will provide Twitter with exclusive rights

in the mark.

Twitter has expended significant time and financial resources to build up the

considerable customer recognition and goodwill related to its valuable TWITTER mark. In

addition, in order to protect its investment and valuable intellectual property rights in its

trademark, Twitter is required to prevent others from infringing or diluting the value of its

brand. In light of the importance and distinctiveness of the mark and the strength of Twitter's

legal rights to its valuable intellectual property, please be advised that Twitter is determined to

take whatever steps are necessary to protect its rights in the mark.

Having said that, at this time, we are willing to assume that you did not choose to

misuse Twitter's trademark with the conscious intent of infringing Twitter's rights or trading

off of Twitter's goodwill. Twitter is concerned, however, that your use of My Twitter Butler

and the related domain may cause confusion in the marketplace by suggesting that you and

your site are somehow affiliated with Twitter, or are endorsed, sponsored, or approved by

Twitter, which would result in an infringement of Twitter's valuable trademark rights.

In light of the above, we must demand that you immediately:

1. deactivate the website;

2. transfer the domain to Twitter;

3. comply with Twitter's TOS and rules, which includes stopping your aggressive

and automatic following and offering techniques and software for others to

aggressively or automatically follow; and

4. stop all use of the My Twitter Butler name, the TWITTER mark, or any other

name, logo, or domain name that includes TWITTER or any confusingly similar


Please respond to me no later than August 24, 2009, to confirm that you have

complied with these demands and to obtain domain transfer instructions. Twitter is hopeful

that this matter can be resolved quickly and amicably. If, however, you do not comply with

these requests, Twitter will be forced to consider suspending your Twitter accounts and take

such steps as it deems necessary to protect its intellectual property rights.

We look forward to hearing from you.




  1. Just read this dialog on ycombinator

    thought it might also be relevant to you reading here as well.

    Hi Guys,

    Yes bad choice of words 'sued' - threatened with legal action is a better choice of words, sorry first time being 'threatened with legal action so freaking out.

    this isn't a case of "change the name" they are telling me to stop selling the software!!

    So tweetlater, twollow, twollo etc etc Did they also receive the same email tonight?

    You know as much as i do from the pdf.

    As for the domain name - someone on the twitter dev list ran a quick search. They stopped counting at 21 names.

    A quick Google search reveals...

    and the list goes on...

    I'm open to all suggestion on how to handle this legally without costing money - lol i gave the application away for the first month, just started charging as had so many requests.

    Would prefer not to stop using it/selling it as plenty of people are finding it beneficial.


  2. Bugger!
    I hope all works out well.

  3. Isn't it lovely how they're already trying to throw their legal weight around before they've even gotten a business model in place? Welcome to *Web sue point oh*

    The using-the-api-to autofollow-people thing is not just random stinginess, however; Twitter is inundated with porn spam bots and I think they rightfully fear they could be overrun. As you are probably well aware, the porn bots auto-follow hundreds of users and are a bit of an annoyance to say the leas.) So they are desperate to try to stop this before it becomes a bigger problem.

    Of course suing (or even just threatening legal action on) legitimate developers is an bassackwards way of going about this, esp. since you really can't sue the pornbot mafia who play musical domains and generally operate outside the legal jurisdiction.

    Also it's not clear from the wording whether they are saying they don't want people using the API to autofollow or they don't want people using the API to "agressively" autofollow…?

  4. I wanted to send you a quick note to bring you up to speed on the legal issues facing

    As most of you know on August 11th I received a “cease and desist” letter from Twitters lawyers stating I had 14 days to hand over the domain, destroy all copies of the source code and to cease selling the MyTwitterButler application forever.

    Basically they said the API was too powerful for end people to use directly and people should be using the Twitter web site if they wanted to follow people (I’m paraphrasing in my own words).

    I’ve had two conference calls with Twitters lawyers and got my own legal advice and whilst I was in agreement to change the domain name (but not giving it away!!, I was just going to do a redirection) I wasn’t going to stop using or selling the MyTwitterButler software.

    Basically all of you deserve the right to interact with Twitter in a way that brings value to the Twitter community.

    As such……

    I'm back baby, “bigger and badder” than before - is now feel free to tweet it on, lawyers suck !!

    The application is now called and as you can see it has a new kick butt function that allows you to “Bulk Unfollow Users”

    If you have any questions feel free to get in touch.

    Dean Collins