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June 12, 2011 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Where’s @towerbridge? Even for non-Londoners the account @towerbridge was a bit of "London flair" in their twitter stream. It was a bot mostly posting when the famous landmark opened and closed due to ships passing by, run by game designer Tom Armitage. Now it has been taken from him by Twitter and given to the official Tower Bridge museum, apparently on the basis of trademark infringement. Twitter users both in the UK and abroad are not happy.
posted by dominik (44 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Except that Twitter did contact him and he just didn't notice.
posted by dw at 10:51 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is all fine and great, except that I am the real dominik.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


dw: except that they contacted him only to let him know they had already suspended it, and didn't archive his tweets.
posted by honest knave at 11:48 PM on June 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Notice that almost everyone has unfollowed it now. Any marketing advantage to be had by taking over a popular twitter account has now been lost.
posted by honest knave at 11:49 PM on June 12, 2011


What's needed here is a parody account, then. @faketowerbridge? @towerbridgeHULK?
posted by jklaiho at 11:58 PM on June 12, 2011


We'll always have @bigbenclock.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:03 AM on June 13, 2011


The big mistake here was the approach that Tower Bridge took in reclaiming the name.

Taking something 'by force' is hardly going to endear you to your potential social media audience.

Surely had they approached him he could have changed name to @TowerBridgeBot or something. This just builds negative PR for the Tower Bridge business.
posted by sycophant at 12:25 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I should note...
I am not a Social Media Douchebag, and I am certainly not your Social Media Douchebag..
posted by sycophant at 12:26 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is "Tower Bridge" really a trademark? Who owns it? The City of London?

Hmm... How might the internet community rally against that particular trademark owner? Would London happen to be hosting any major quadrennial events that could be loudly boycotted, for example?

Is Lisa Simpson not a trademark?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:30 AM on June 13, 2011


“Tower Bridge” is a bunch of trademarks—a search of the Intellectual Property office turns up a wine business, a tobacco business, a microelectronics business, and others. The idea that some single entity owns @towerbridge is absurd. I’m close to this one and I’m still pretty peeved at Twitter, so I’ll just suggest that Eminent Domain (including the compensation and adequate notice parts) is a better way for Twitter to think about its occasional need to reassign accounts.
posted by migurski at 12:34 AM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I actually do think there are causes much more important to rally against and about than a novelty Twitter account, no matter how stupid the Tower Bridge exhibition people and the folks at Twitter acted in this case.
posted by dominik at 12:34 AM on June 13, 2011


…where compensation in this case might consist of a mutually-agreed-upon new account name, with all your previous followers intact and redirects on every URL.
posted by migurski at 12:37 AM on June 13, 2011


If there's a trademark, I'm guessing it might be held by the Bridge House Estates, which is part of a body originally established (in freaking 1282) to maintain London Bridge.

I could be completely wrong, but I really can't pass up the chance to relate London historical trivia.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:41 AM on June 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, I actually do think there are causes much more important to rally against and about than a novelty Twitter account, no matter how stupid the Tower Bridge exhibition people and the folks at Twitter acted in this case.

Well, obviously. But hey, sometimes it's fun to fight petty bullshit with petty bullshit.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:42 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Piss everyone off, and use the name "London Bridge", since so many folks think Tower Bridge is called London Bridge.
posted by Goofyy at 1:21 AM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmm... How might the internet community rally against that particular trademark owner? Would London happen to be hosting any major quadrennial events that could be loudly boycotted, for example?

"....yes thank you Paul, numbers are far below expectation for an opening ceremony , and officials are scratching their heads as to why the stadium is almost empty - this is the most severe boycott since Moscow, seems that one just can't go around taking twitter accounts by force - this is a harsh lesson for the City Paul, one that I don't think it's going to recover from easily...."
posted by the noob at 1:27 AM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is "Tower Bridge" really a trademark? Who owns it? The City of London?

Actually, it's several trademarks.

In the UK at least, there are the following trademarks:

2393552, "Tower Bridge Exhibition", an image trademark owned by the City of London Corporation for goods and services in education, exhibitions, entertainment, event season ticket provision, catering services with venue hire, and cafeteria and bar services.

2307315, "The Tower Bridge", a text trademark owned by Purseworld Leathergoods Ltd for goods and services in the field of leather and imitations of leather, and goods made of these materials and not included in other classes; animal skins, hides, trunks and travelling bags, umbrellas, parasols and walking sticks, whips, harness and saddlery, purses, billfold wallets, coin purses and fashion accessories.

837679, "Tower Bridge", a text trademark owned by Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine Limited for goods and services in the field of alcoholic wines; spirits and liqueurs; alcopops; alcoholic cocktails.

2454033, "Tower Bridge", a text trademark owned by Imperial Tobacco Limited for goods and services in the field of tobacco whether manufactured or unmanufactured; tobacco products; tobacco substitutes, none being for medicinal or curative purposes; cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco, hand-rolling tobacco, pipe tobacco; cigarette papers, tubes and filters; machines for making one's own cigarettes; matches and smokers' articles.

E3967957, "Tower Bridge Securities", a text trademark owned by BGC Partners, L.P. for goods and services in the fields of paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists' materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); printers' type; printing blocks; books, newsletters, articles, brochures and magazines concerning financial affairs and investment; advertising; business management; business administration; office functions, business services, business information services; insurance; financial affairs; monetary affairs; real estate affairs; banking services; financial services; financial analysis, management and consulting; capital investment services; brokerage services; transacting and trading of financial instruments, including fixed income securities; providing an electronic marketplace for trading of financial instruments, including trading of fixed income securities; providing financial information, including information in the fields of futures, commodities, securities, fixed income securities, currencies, financial instruments, brokerage, trading, investments, companies, financial markets, stock pricing and stock indices; financial, securities and commodities exchange services; financial trade execution, confirmation, clearing and settlement services; and provision of these services through an online global computer network.

E7308653, "Tower Bridge", a text trademark owned by BGC Partners, LP for goods and services in the fields of computer hardware; computer software; computer financial software; computer software for use in connection with capital investment services, securities brokerage services and transacting and trading of financial instruments; computer software for financial trade execution, confirmation, clearing and settlement services; computer software for use in connection with exchanges of environmental emission allowances; computer software for accessing an electronic marketplace for trading of financial instruments; computer software for accessing financial information, including information in the fields of futures, commodities, securities, currencies, financial instruments, brokerage, trading, investments, companies, financial markets and stock pricing and indices; downloadable electronic publications, in the nature of electronic newsletters in the fields of business, finance and investing; insurance; financial affairs; monetary affairs; real estate affairs; banking services; financial services; financial analysis, management and consulting; capital investment services; brokerage services; financial services, namely transacting and trading of financial instruments; financial services, namely providing an electronic marketplace for trading of financial instruments; providing financial information, including information in the fields of futures, commodities, securities, currencies, financial instruments, brokerage, trading, investments, companies, financial markets, stock pricing and stock indices; financial, securities and commodities exchange services; financial services, namely financial trade execution, confirmation, clearing and settlement services; providing brokerage services for others; and provision of these services through an online global computer network; communications services; and communication of financial information through an online global computer network.

E3252351, "Tower Bridge", a text trademark owned by STMicroelectronics in the fields of scientific, nautical, surveying, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signalling, checking (supervision), life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images; magnetic data carriers, recording discs; automatic vending machines and mechanisms for coin-operated apparatus; cash registers, calculating machines, data processing equipment and computers; fire-extinguishing apparatus; computer operating recorded programs; electric and electronic components, namely, semiconductors, integrated circuits, microprocessors, microcontrollers and embedded processors, all for use with spindle and voice coil motor drivers or motion control drivers in hard disk drive, DVD and CD applications.

I can understand Twitter's concern about stemming "twittersquatting" before it starts, but it seems to me that, with several other trademarks which would have a better claim on the account @londonbridge, the City of London should perhaps think twice before muscling out Mr. Armitage like that...
posted by Skeptic at 1:40 AM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I meant @towerbridge, not @londonbridge (which is probably in Arizona)
posted by Skeptic at 1:42 AM on June 13, 2011


#douchebridge
posted by zippy at 1:51 AM on June 13, 2011


NB that the City of London is not London, and it therefore has no particular interest in the Olympics. To hit the City of London you'd have to boycott the Lord Mayor's Show or something.
posted by Segundus at 2:04 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not only is the City of London not the whole of London, it's a strange, undemocratic remnant of the Middle Ages, with an ancient oligarchical constitution, providing an opaque tax haven to the world's mightiest corporations.
posted by Skeptic at 2:15 AM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, (at least half of) Tower Bridge is in Tower Hamlets, which does have an interest in the Olympics and is also angling to become its own city.
posted by doiheartwentyone at 3:08 AM on June 13, 2011


According to Wikipedia, the south side of Tower Bridge is in Southwark, as well. Though the Bridge itself is run by the City Bridge Trust/Bridge House Estates (as mentioned above by Mr Bad Example) which is owned by the City of London.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:20 AM on June 13, 2011


The taken-over Twitter account suggests that they're extending an olive branch.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:30 AM on June 13, 2011


honest knave: "Notice that almost everyone has unfollowed it now. Any marketing advantage to be had by taking over a popular twitter account has now been lost."

For good measure I followed it, then unfollowed and blocked it. That'll learn them good. Well good.
posted by oxford blue at 3:33 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is amazing to me how often the official curators of a thing can decide that it is in their best interests to walk up to their very best allies and punch them in the face as hard as they can and then, having punched their very best allies in the face as hard as they can, are caught totally flatfooted by the resulting shit storm of "OMFG! Those bastards just walked up and punched their very best ally in the face as hard as they could!"

How do these people get put in charge of things?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:00 AM on June 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


The City of London even has its own police force, separate from the Met. They have funny hats.
posted by mippy at 4:01 AM on June 13, 2011


Well, I actually do think there are causes much more important to rally against and about than a novelty Twitter account, no matter how stupid the Tower Bridge exhibition people and the folks at Twitter acted in this case.
posted by dominik at 12:34 AM on June 13 [+] [!]


I get so tired of this reflexive BUT WHY ARE YOU SO CONCERNED ABOUT THIS TRIVIALITY WHEN THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE LOOMS bullshit.

It was a small, sweet thing that was ground out by a heedless mechanism.

If a talking bridge isn't worth defending, what is?
posted by Sebmojo at 4:01 AM on June 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sys Rq - Thanks for that. Sometimes whole days go by without me even thinking of that image. It's not possible to unsee it and now I can't unthink it either. Aargh.
posted by Lebannen at 4:30 AM on June 13, 2011


Well, I actually do think there are causes much more important to rally against and about than a novelty Twitter account

Do you sound like Hugh Grant in other people's heads too?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:32 AM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I sure hope so.
posted by dominik at 4:40 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like they're sitting in a tree, ki-s-s-i-n-g?

We'd love for @infovore to keep providing Bridge lift info - chatting with them now about a way forward...
posted by slater at 4:43 AM on June 13, 2011


Engineering-wise, Twitter did the right thing under the covers by using an ID rather than the twitter name for account identification. This allows you to change your twitter name and have all your followers stay intact.

No one unfollowed @towerbridge, the name was just moved to a different account ID. Twitter could have given @infovore a chance to rename the account before suspending it and all things would have been relatively okay.

Twitter's removal of account was heavy-handed no doubt but I think most people realized name-squatting has to be addressed.
posted by sexymofo at 4:55 AM on June 13, 2011


Well, I actually do think there are causes much more important to rally against and about than a novelty Twitter account, no matter how stupid the Tower Bridge exhibition people and the folks at Twitter acted in this case.

Wait, you're the OP. Where's this coming from? Why not make your post about the more important causes?

Also: they don't archive anyone's tweets. Or, at least, not in any way the user can get to. They've been called on it before, but consider other things (like flailing around for revenue) more important.
posted by bonaldi at 5:36 AM on June 13, 2011


Where's this coming from?
Well, it's interesting enough for a post here but hardly a reason for a rally, isn't it?

There are two pretty good opinion pieces on the whole situation - one by Andy Budd, the other one by Stef Lewandoski.
posted by dominik at 5:54 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the problem with having 'society' mediated by 'social networking' companies and allowing them to control everything. Had this guy just setup a web server somewhere with an RSS feed, it would have been a lot more difficult to take. Bridge House Estates, or whoever, would have had to go through the WIPO or something. They might have gotten it but it would have been much more expensive, and they may not have even bothered. But as it is, twitter just took it.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 AM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The big mistake here was the approach that Tower Bridge took in reclaiming the name.

Taking something 'by force' is hardly going to endear you to your potential social media audience.


Sadly, it seems that other than a few politicised geeks, Slashdot-reading Linux Jedi and Cory Doctorow, nobody notices or cares. Like when Gracenote took over CDDB (a volunteer-collected database of CD track listings) and changed the terms, banning open-source apps; the penguinistas screamed blue murder, but nobody else noticed. And explaining to people that @towerbridge used to be a charming little site run by some nerd and that the City of London stole it from them is going to be like trying to convince them that they should use Open Office because Microsoft file-format lock-in is philosophically evil.
posted by acb at 7:32 AM on June 13, 2011


How do these people get put in charge of things?

I suspect getting put in charge of things turns them into those people.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:53 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've had the "schwa" twitter username since the early days (I have a low twitter ID). What happens when the schwa restaurant in Chicago (for whom I get frequent misstweets) decides they want it? Soulds I not be tweeting anything food related just in case?
posted by schwa at 7:55 AM on June 13, 2011


Damnit. This is why we can't have nice things.

Tom's bot was a nifty toy that was an early example of giving a physical object the ability to post status updates. And it was nifty because it wasn't a refrigerator or a coffeepot, this was a bridge with considerable effect on traffic when it was lifted. It was a script project, like @lowflyingrocks, but still cool.

A few years ago, at WhereCampPDX we discussed this project, wanting to implement something similar for the four lift bridges that serve downtown. Alas, they do not have scheduled lifts, and are controlled by different jurisdictions, so the project stalled for lack of decent information.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 8:56 AM on June 13, 2011


Nice things are why we can't have this.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:36 AM on June 13, 2011


If you're in charge, though, the solution is obvious - this guy is making you look good for free. Offer to pay him some relatively trivial amount to help cover his expenses (or whatever) for what he's doing, thereby turning his automated tweet thingy into some very hands off “work for hire” with a contract where he promises to keep doing what he's been doing, more or less, that he won't go rouge or anything, and if he decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore, you get right of first refusal to take it over.

He gets the rubber stamp of official approval and some “here, go have some fun!” money for something he’s already doing. You get him to do what he’s been doing, probably for far less than what it cost to have your legal staff initiate all the brouhaha, much less find someone to set up the same sort of thing for you, and since he’s technically in your employ so you can shut him down if he suddenly goes rogue and look like the victim of the crazy hacker guy rather than the oppressor.

It's just like the current outcome only it probably costs you less in the grand cosmic scheme of things and no one thinks of you as the bad guy.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:40 PM on June 13, 2011


The response from the Tower Bridge Exhibition's PR guy,

The service of the 'Tower Bridge is raising for...' info (which is pulled from our own website here http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/TBE/EN/BridgeLiftTimes/ ) being provided by Tom on an unofficial basis is a great service - and we are extremely happy for him to continue to provide this information. Now, admittedly very late in the game, that we have decided to use social media as part of our interaction with the public, the City of London Corporation has attained the @towerbridge username - this organisation owns and manages the Bridge and provides the service of raising the Bridge as a completely free service, at no cost to the taxpayer.

When we launched our Twitter account a month or so ago, the username became an issue. On the front end when registering for Twitter, we were allowed a maximum of 15 characters - we would at the time have been quite happy with @towerbridgeexhibition, although this was too many characters - we settled on @towerbridgeexh as an interim. We did feel, however, that as we run Tower Bridge in all of its functions - as a working bascule Bridge, a public exhibition and an events venue, that generic ownership of the username @towerbridge should reside with us.

There was concern from the City Corporation a while ago about the fact that this unofficial twitter account was being mistaken as the creation and ownership of the Corporation http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/6174606/Londons-bridges-in-war-of-words-on-Twitter.html - at the time, we in our offices within the Bridge felt that the service provided by Tom was fantastic and did our best to steer him clear.

Tom is understandably shocked that Twitter has simply shut his service down. We contacted Twitter to say that Tower Bridge is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation and that we would like to attain the @towerbridge user name, and perhaps the situation could have been handled more delicately on Twitter's part. After a few (very amicable!) emails between myself and Tom this morning, the fact that Twitter did not contact him to allow him the chance to put his case forwards seems to be the crux of his issue.

When we contacted Twitter, we simply asked what the situation would be in terms of another party using our trademark - without a response to us or Tom, twitter shut down Tom's account. To emphasise, we would love for Tom to keep providing this service if he wishes, albeit under a slightly different user name.

posted by nomisxid at 8:50 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


When we launched our Twitter account a month or so ago, the username became an issue. On the front end when registering for Twitter, we were allowed a maximum of 15 characters - we would at the time have been quite happy with @towerbridgeexhibition, although this was too many characters - we settled on @towerbridgeexh as an interim. We did feel, however, that as we run Tower Bridge in all of its functions - as a working bascule Bridge, a public exhibition and an events venue, that generic ownership of the username @towerbridge should reside with us.

@realtowerbridge would have fit. If it's good enough for The Real Ghostbusters...
posted by Sys Rq at 9:37 AM on June 14, 2011


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