Meta, the $150 billion online giant, has landed themselves in hot water over their new social media platform ‘Threads’.
Threads was launched by Meta in July 2023 as a rival text-based conversation app to X (formerly Twitter), gained immense popularity by linking the app directly to Instagram and currently boasts over 130 million users.
However, Threads’ increased popularity and impressive fast-paced growth hasn’t come without controversy; Meta has been served a 30-day notice period to immediately stop the use of the name ‘Threads’ in the UK by Threads Software Limited (“TSL”), a UK technology company. The company states they trademarked the name ‘Threads’ in 2012 through JPY Limited for its cloud-based messaging hub software and has demanded that Meta stops using the Threads name with immediate effect, otherwise they will seek an injunction from the UK courts. TSL have said that the legal representatives of Meta approached them in April 2023 to make four offers to purchase the domain ‘threads.app’, but every offer was declined making it clear that the domain was not for sale. Pursuant to this, they further claim that following the announcement of Meta’s Threads platform in July 2023, TSL was removed from Facebook. Meta has not yet provided a comment on the matter.
What if TSL hadn’t properly protected their IP?
Vicky Lowrie, Litigation Partner at Square One Law, said:
“This case really underscores the significance of appropriately registering valuable intellectual property assets for a company, whether it’s a company name, design, or a unique production-related patent. Registering a trademark transforms it into an exclusive and valuable commercial asset while serving as a deterrent to potential infringers (Meta, in this instance, being a notable exception).”
Should this matter reach court and had TSL not registered the ‘Threads’ trademark, they would face incredible difficulty proving any infringement as they would have to rely on common law and passing off action for protection – a significantly more expensive and time-consuming process.
How could things pan out?
So long as TSL can prove that they own the exclusive right to use the trademark for ‘Threads’ in connection with the provision of its cloud-based messaging hub and that Meta’s use of the trademark has caused or is likely to cause confusion with their company, they will have a strong case should the matter go to court. If TSL is successful in their request for an injunction, Meta would be required to immediately stop using the name ‘Threads’ for their UK social media app and could be required to pay damages for the period they have been in infringement of TSL’s trademark, depending on the loss they have suffered resulting from the infringement.
What should you do if you want to protect your IP?
If you are concerned about IP protection or litigious action regarding IP infringement, you should seek proper legal advice from professionals. Businesses often don’t realise what IP they have, and it’s important that you protect this as soon as you’re able to so you can prevent any potential infringement. TSL protected their IP seemingly through the proper channels and with appropriate advice, and so have a strong case in protecting it.
Our commercial team can guide you through the process of protecting your IP and our dispute resolution team can help you to defend it. If you think you have something you’d like to protect or are worried that someone may be undermining what you believe to be yours, get in contact touch.
Article by: Niamh Elkin-Pybus & Vicky Lowrie