Is Twittersquatting the new cybersquatting?
It might not be, but it's certainly proven to be more than annoying for Coventry First. Coventry First is a leading company in the secondary life insurance market. Essentially, Coventry buys rights to life insurance policies and resells them to investors.
Coventry was understandably not amused when a Twitter user opened up a new account with the username "coventryfirst." The @coventryfirst Twitter account has been posting somewhat morbid tweets cheering for death.
An example of @coventryfirst's tweets:
"horrible weekend..no plane crashes (they make a lot of money), no earthquakes :-("
Coventry First has now retaliated against this "Twittersquatter" by filing a lawsuit against the user. Coventry also served Twitter with a subpoena to find out who owns the @coventryfirst account.
The basis for the lawsuit are allegations of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, violations of the federal cybersquatting laws, and unjust enrichment, according to the complaint that was filed in federal court in Pennsylvania.
Coventry's suit isn't the first suit against Twitter users. Baseball manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter after a user set up an account using his name and sent out derogatory tweets - but the lawsuit went nowhere, reports PaidContent.org.
And, other businesses have faced the ire of Twitter users in the past, with someone setting up a @BPGlobalPR after the massive gulf oil spill last year, according to Reuters.
Whether or not Coventry's lawsuit will fly in the face of these previous cases - where Twitter and Twitter users have come through unscathed - is probably unlikely. And, the @coventryfirst user is taking note of the lawsuit, as he or she tweeted last night:
"informed of the lawsuit. im distressed & distraught. it's causing a lot of pain and suffering. hope they're not doing it just for fun"
To prevail in the Twittersquatting lawsuit, Coventry will likely have to prove that somehow @coventryfirst is creating brand confusion in the minds of consumers. An uphill battle, maybe, considering at the time of writing @coventryfirst only has 14 followers on Twitter.
- Insurer sues Twitter imposter who cheers death, mayhem (Reuters)
- Beware of Brand Impersonators on Twitter (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Tools for Archiving Your Twitter Tweets (FindLaw's Technologist)