co Is Piggyback Branding Dangerous? |

Megan Calhoun thought it would be cool to use Twitter to connect moms from around the world. It was. And she built a successful website and business around this niche at There’s just one problem. Twitter didn’t like it.

This is a particularly useful topic considering that so many businesses use Twitter in their name. Third-party applications, social bookmarking sites, and other social tools get their start using Twitter’s API. No problem. But then they go the extra step to put “Twitter” in their name. That’s a bad move.

Twitter has a right to protect its trademark. And so does every other company. If you think you can piggyback off a successful name brand to build your business and brand, think again. Not many companies will appreciate this. You can get an impression that you are connected to that more successful brand when you are in fact not connected at all. So is there a danger in piggybacking off another brand? changed its name to A new website is in the works.

When changed its name to SocialOomph in August 2009, they gave this explanation:

We decided to change our name to allow for future expansion into other social media solutions, and to ensure that our brand does not conflict with any current or future legal rights of the Twitter organization.

To allay any speculation, we want to make clear that this is an unsolicited, proactive and preemptive action on our side.

I guess they saw the writing on the wall. And you should too.

If you are planning to use a technology, API, or a tool that was developed by another company, make sure that you put some thought into your brand name. Don’t assume that you can use the name of the brand of the other company within your own. You will likely run into legal trouble. Consult an attorney when in doubt.