Mar 18, 2016

Twitter Flies Into A Storm With 'dronie' Registration

You will no doubt have noticed that small and personal use drones have become increasingly popular and are increasingly in the news. Drones are now frequently utilised in the filming of events, movies and music videos and recreational ownership drones has soared. The recreational use of drones has created many legal issues, particularly in respect of aviation rules and the presence of drones around aircraft, and now trade mark law can be added to the legal issues that have arisen from drones.

Even more ubiquitous than drones, and possibly the trend of the last few years, is the selfie. Twitter has sought to capitalise on this by registering a trade mark for the word 'dronie,' being a combination of the two words, in multiple jurisdictions and has been met with varying levels of success.

Twitter first registered the word dronie in Iceland for goods in class 12 which includes unmanned and remotely piloted vehicles. Twitter then used this registration to claim priority in other jurisdictions under the Madrid Protocol. This allows a trade mark owner to use a single application to register a mark in all countries that are signatories to the Protocol. Twitter secured its registration in the EU, however its attempt to replicate this in the USA was refused.

The trade mark registration was refused in the USA on the grounds that the word dronie was descriptive, referring to the action of taking a video of yourself with a camera mounted on a drone. Twitter has now appealed against this refusal and it is interesting to ponder why the examiners in the USA reached a different decision to those in Iceland.

It will be interesting to watch the progress of Twitter's appeal though it could become redundant in any event. Twitter does not appear to have made much use of the mark and so it could become susceptible to revocation for non-use. There is also a danger that the mark could become generic and so become susceptible to revocation for non-use on that ground.

If this story raises any issues for you or your business or you want further information on what makes a mark descriptive or generic please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel and Co. on 0191 281 4000 or by email to

in: News, Trade Marks

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