long have you been at Twitter?
I have been here a little over a
year. I came on as Twitter’s first trademark
counsel, and manage the trademark, domain and marketing
practices here. Prior to that I was at Amazon for three-plus
years in Seattle, and before that I was at the firm of
Kilpatrick Townsend in the New York office.
Being the first was definitely
something that attracted me. To come in and really rethink
everything and build a team from scratch was super exciting for
me. Twitter as a brand is also used in ways that a lot of
brands are not, and to tackle those was really exciting.
The Twitter brand is probably one
of the most widely used in the world. People use it to refer to
it as Twitter, but they also use it to indicate the source of
where their user handles or hashtag campaigns may be. People
use it for marketing purposes. People use it in the media to
denote where a specific article may be, so it is on just about
every media channel so you can share articles.
It is definitely one of the most
widely used brands. So fair use is super important to me
because we can’t go out and license each one of
these specific uses, individuals and brands. I want all those
individuals and brands as much as possible to use our bird logo
to refer to the platform. But many countries don’t
explicitly recognize fair use of logos. Clearly there is no
user confusion. People don’t confuse these people
as being Twitter, they are referring to the platform. So I
don’t believe that such use should harm our brand
in any way so long as they are using it to refer to the
platform. But I think that the law isn’t quite
Twitter’s main brands?
Our main consumer brands are
Twitter—we obviously have a number of brands under
Twitter like the bird logo, tweet and retweet—and we
have our Vine service, which is our video app, and we just
launched Periscope, which is a live streaming video app. Those
are our consumer-facing brands. Then we have a lot of other
brands that are largely developer and business-to-business
How do trademarks fit into
the company’s overall strategy?
They are extremely important. The
Twitter brand is our most valuable asset in the company. The
bird logo is a symbol of not just this platform but of the
company itself. Most importantly, the brand also means a lot to
our users and other brands. People use that not only as their
marketing platform but to refer to their online presence in
some cases. So it is important to us to preserve the brand for
others to use. That is our chief purpose here: to protect and
allow others to use the brand.
What is your strategy for
how you use outside counsel?
We use outside counsel globally
for a variety of trademark, domain and marketing issues,
whether that is prosecution or enforcement. What I look most
for in outside counsel is an understanding of the product and
technology, especially when you are doing things that
haven’t been done before. I know the phrase is
used frequently, but I look for thinking outside the box,
thinking about everything, such as how do we rethink how to
enforce a trademark. And I look for a passion for what we do.
Passion and personality mean not just a lot to me, but to the
company. We have a series of core values and one of them is to
recognize that passion and personality matter. I actually have
it emblazoned on my laptop. That’s my
favorite of the core values. So when I look at outside counsel
I want someone who has passion and lots of personality.
Generally people who have that are
probably closer to the product and those people tend to be
younger than the more senior people at law firms when we are
looking at outside counsel.
What countries cause the
most issues for you?
The places where we face the most
issues are less IP focused than they are free speech focused.
We are a free speech platform. We define ourselves as a real
time information network. But certain governments have blocked
access to Twitter. One of our core values is reaching everyone
on the planet, and we can’t do that if governments
have blocked access to Twitter.
What are you looking forward
to at this year’s INTA Annual
You can kill all of your birds
with one stone. It is a great place to meet your global counsel
if you have issues. It is the only place and the only time
where I can really get anybody in the same room. On the Friday
before the Annual Meeting we are going to have our first
outside global summit. We are going to have everyone in the
same room and for two hours we are going to talk about Twitter,
we are going to talk about what it is, everybody is going to
tweet something, we’ll talk about what issues we
Are you seeing any impact
from the launch of the new gTLDs?
I’m involved at INTA
on the new gTLD Subcommittee. Some days I think I live and
breathe gTLDs. But honestly right now we are looking at gTLDs
just in terms of registrations from a defensive standpoint and
for possible marketing use.
We have had some challenges that a
lot of others have faced, such as premium pricing. A few of our
brands were on the name collision list where ICANN blocked the
ability for us to register those names. We have all the same
issues that the brands have with .sucks and some of the other
TLDs that have been somewhat controversial. But has it had a
huge user impact? Not yet. Nothing more than any other brand
has to face.