Ryan, I appreciate your response. I cannot speak for Aral but I can
tell you that it has been very frustrating for us. I have been pulled
along by Twitter support for the last month by being told that "we may
be able to transfer the username when..." and then later being
rejected on the basis of not having a registered trademark (see
support tickets #807851 and #845485). I actually started this thread
because I came across the following information on your FAQ, and
realized that there are folks like you and Raffi who are working to
help app developers:

<Original_FAQ_Entry>
How can I reclaim an inactive Twitter account for my project or
application?

Email usern...@twitter.com and our support staff will get back to you.
Not all inactive usernames are available - we do give users a grace
period in which they can restore their accounts after they've deleted
them. Please be patient: these requests are not the top priority for
our support staff and it may take some time before you get a response.
</Original_FAQ_Entry>

When I followed these instructions, I was rejected immediately with
what seems like a standard automated reply. I think this is what Aral
was referring to about humans not being involved and not reviewing the
specific situation.

As for a constructive suggestion on how to evaluate transfers of user
names, how about criteria such as:

* User name was created but never used (0 tweets, etc) since account
was created X months ago
* User name has been inactive for atleast Y months (perhaps Y > X if
the account was once active)
* User name appears to be a name-squatting or spam attempt
(subjective, but perhaps you have criteria already)
* User name meeting the the above criteria is leading to brand/service
confusion among Twitter users
* User name meeting the above criteria violates "common law" trademark
(http://bit.ly/bYBuF3)

The point is that requiring a registered US trademark is very
unreasonable for the vast majority of us who develop applications for
Twitter. Please also understand that we are begging for the usernames
that correspond directly to our apps, and that this in turn will help
our users. I believe that Twitter Support has already spent as much
time evaluating and declining my tickets on the basis of "registered
trademark" as they could have spent on the criteria above. The only
difference is that they could have said 'yes', and there would be one
less inactive user name going to waste.

On Feb 11, 3:24 pm, Ryan Sarver <rsar...@twitter.com> wrote:
> Aral,
>
> I'm not sure where you get the idea that we don't care about developers and
> that humans aren't involved in the process. Raffi and the rest of the
> platform team actively respond to emails from developers at all hours of the
> day on both weekdays and weekends.
>
> As for the issue of handing over @usernames we need to have a rational and
> scalable approach to doing so. We can't just hand it out to one person
> because we like them more than another user. So if there is a dispute over a
> username we need to follow a standard procedure. We obviously love our
> developers and work really hard to support them in all the ways that we can,
> but there needs to be some process that works across the board. If you have
> a constructive suggestion on how that can be done other than just badgering
> the people trying to help you, then by all means work with us on it and we
> are totally open to coming up with a better solution. But to date, this is
> the best solution we have that scales to the number and complexity of the
> requests that we receive.
>
> I've always stated that we are open to criticism and feedback on how we can
> improve, but we ask that it be done constructively.
>
> Ryan
>
>
>
> On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 7:45 AM, Aral Balkan <aralbal...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Ah, so Twitter wants to see a *registered* trademark number?
>
> > (As an aside: why do you hate your developers, Twitter?) :)
>
> > The thing is, a trademark does not _have to be_ registered to be a
> > trademark. Products get trademark protection automatically.
>
> > I guess if I don't hear back, I'll have the IP law firm I use to write a
> > letter first. Cheaper than getting a registered trademark.
>
> > Of course, the best thing would be for a _human being_ at Twitter to say:
> > hey developer dude, we love you, sure we can do that... don't mention it!
> > :)
>
> > (I just don't get this impersonal "computer says NO" attitude towards
> > developers. Is this just the corporate culture at Twitter or are you guys
> > severely short-staffed? Thinking Twitter really needs to invest in developer
> > relations. Maybe get someone whose job it is to handle developer relations
> > and champion the needs of developers within Twitter?)
>
> > Aral
>
> > On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 3:28 PM, anilchawla <ani...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> >> Raffi, thank you for the response, but it is disappointing. I have to
> >> agree completely with Aral that these requests are not for "personal
> >> use". Some of us have hundreds/thousands of users around the world who
> >> use our apps as a means to participate on Twitter, and it is
> >> ultimately those users who are affected. In my my case, I have had
> >> several users mistakingly mention or try to follow this inactive spam
> >> account (http://twitter.com/tweetymail) thinking that it was
> >> associated with my service. In the meantime, I am doing the best I can
> >> to communicate with these users using another account.
>
> >> FYI, I did not have any success opening support tickets for
> >> brandsquatting/impersonation. Originally, I was told to wait until
> >> 1/31/10 for the username to remain inactive. When I complied and
> >> opened a new request on 2/1, I was immediately denied. It seems that
> >> brand-squatting/impersonation/brand-confusion are all irrelevant...
> >> Twitter wants to see a trademark number. I am a hobby developer who
> >> provides a free service completely out-of-pocket, and now I need to
> >> spend hundreds of dollars to register a trademark just to get access
> >> to a username that nobody ever used?
>
> >> I see that you have also replaced the text of the FAQ entry with the
> >> more generic policy regarding trademark infringement. This is too bad,
> >> but I guess it answers my original question -- the existing entry was
> >> no longer valid. I certainly understand that Twitter can't always
> >> transfer usernames to app developers who want them, but there are
> >> certainly cases in which a username (inactive/never tweeted/created
> >> for spam) could be put to better use. A blanket policy on trademark
> >> infringement may make sense for companies and large brands, but it
> >> does nothing at all to help the small-time hobby developers who
> >> contribute so much to the Twitter ecosystem.
>
> >> On Feb 10, 7:34 pm, Raffi Krikorian <ra...@twitter.com> wrote:
> >> > hi all, please refer to
>
> >> >http://apiwiki.twitter.com/FAQ#HowcanIreclaimaninactiveTwitteraccount.
> >> ..
>
> >> > We are unable to transfer usernames for personal use at this time. If
> >> you
> >> > believe a Twitter account may be squatting on your trademark and
> >> violating
> >> > Twitter's Terms of Service, please file a ticket athttp://
> >> help.twitter.com/requests/newregarding 'Trademark/Brand squatting'.
>
> >> > On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 4:05 PM, Kyle Mulka <repalvigla...@yahoo.com>
> >> wrote:
> >> > > I also have this problem and have gotten no response whatsoever from
> >> > > Twitter.
>
> >> > > Here's the inactive account that I'd like to have:
> >> > >http://twitter.com/twilk
>
> >> > > --
> >> > > Kyle Mulka
> >> > > Founder, Congo Labs
> >> > >http://twilk.com
>
> >> > > On Feb 10, 6:41 pm, Anil Chawla <ani...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> > > > Thanks, glad to know I'm not alone on this. I've looked at filing a
> >> > > > trademark but it is still frustrating to proceed through
> >> > > > lengthy/costly legal process in order to reclaim an inactive/spam
> >> > > > username -- especially for a completely free service. This entry in
> >> > > > the Twitter API FAQ is a glimmer of hope for app developers. I hope
> >> > > > someone at Twitter can help app developers get their specific
> >> > > > situation reviewed. In some cases, such as mine, it is an
> >> > > > all-around-win for the Twitter ecosystem to release these inactive
> >> > > > usernames.
>
> >> > > > -Anil
>
> >> > > > On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 5:17 PM, Aral Balkan <aralbal...@gmail.com>
> >> > > wrote:
> >> > > > > I had the same response :(
> >> > > > > Someone told me that the way to approach it may be to file a
> >> trademark
> >> > > > > dispute. This is what I'm going to be forced to do since it
> >> doesn't
> >> > > appear
> >> > > > > possible to talk to a human being at Twitter about this issue.
> >> > > > > All the best,
> >> > > > > Aral
> >> > > > > On Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 6:04 PM, anilchawla <ani...@gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
>
> >> > > > >> I develop and maintain a free Twitter application (http://
> >> > > > >> tweetymail.com) and I am desperately trying to reclaim the
> >> inactive
> >> > > > >> 'tweetymail' username because it is causing confusion among my
> >> users.
> >> > > > >> I was not able to get anywhere with Twitter support, but I came
> >> across
> >> > > > >> this entry in the API FAQ:
>
> >>http://apiwiki.twitter.com/FAQ#HowcanIreclaimaninactiveTwitteraccount.
> >> > > ..
>
> >> > > > >> I followed the instructions and emailed usern...@twitter.com.
> >> Five
> >> > > > >> minutes later, I received two simultaneous emails: 1) An
> >> automatic
> >> > > > >> notice indicating that support received my request, 2) An
> >> automatic
> >> > > > >> rejection indicating that Twitter is not releasing inactive
> >> usernames
> >> > > > >> at this time.
>
> >> > > > >> Have any other app developers had success with this process? Is
> >> the
> >> > > > >> information on the FAQ still valid? Can someone from Twitter
> >> provide
> >> > > > >> an alternate avenue for app developers to have a request such as
> >> this
> >> > > > >> heard?
>
> >> > > > >> The account I am seeking (http://twitter.com/tweetymail) has
> >> never
> >> > > > >> tweeted and has been inactive for at least 6 months.
>
> >> > > > >> Thank  you.
>
> >> > --
> >> > Raffi Krikorian
> >> > Twitter Platform Teamhttp://twitter.com/raffi

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