UPDATED 15:05 EDT / MAY 25 2009

How Leo Laporte May End Up Owning Twitter

image According to a number sources, including Variety and and the AP, Twitter is in development of a new “reality-type television show.”  Steven Hodson encapsulated the basics for us at the Inquisitr:

Twitter has teamed up with Reveille Productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners to create a show that would have Twitter users become real-life stalkers players on the trail of celebrities in an interactive and competitive format.

More from the AP report:

The producers call their proposed series the first to bring the immediacy of Twitter to the TV screen.

"Twitter is transforming the way people communicate, especially celebrities and their fans," said Reveille managing director Howard T. Owens, who expects the new project to "unlock Twitter’s potential on TV."

No further details were made available on the show’s format or when it might hit the air.

As was noted in the public debate Michael Sean Wright and I had on Friendfeed some time back, there are some who think that this might be Twitter’s ticket to profitability.

“They’ll keep using the brand of live news and information, exploiting several different network outlets,” Michael told me today. “The networks are the advertisement sellers, and Twitter is the information stream, or the story stream if you will.”

Mentok the Mind-Taker! Ostensibly, Twitter will make it’s cash by licensing its name and raw information to the networks and show producers to use as show source material – and that may be where they all run into trouble.

While Twitter is almost a household word at this point, they don’t own the proper trademarks to move their brand into the world of broadcast.  That honor belongs to found of the TWiT network and known tech commentarian Leo Laporte.  He polled his audience yesterday:

Question for you all. I have a trademark for TWiT – first used in May 2005, trademark applied for May 2006 and registered March 2007. The trademark is in "Entertainment in the nature of visual and audio performances, and musical, variety, news and comedy shows."

Up until now there’s been no conflict with Twitter. (We have sent out cease and desist letters to several companies using "twit" in their name and doing podcasts). But now Twitter is doing a TV show. The confusion between Twit and Twitter is mounting. What do I do? Defend my mark? Or let my brand be swallowed by the big guy (even though we were first by several years)? I need your advice. What does the community think?

Leo has clearly held the namespace for quite some time now, and it’s clear that he must protect his trademark, or risk losing control of TWiT entirely, something that has been almost synonymous with Leo Laporte and his work since the dawn of podcasting almost half a decade ago.

I expect that Leo will eventually move forward with some manner of legal notice to Twitter, and they’ll eventually come to an agreement. Leo’s generally a nice guy, but it’s hard to see how either of them will be able to proceed with their respective named businesses without either a name change or a revenue sharing agreement moving forward.

Twitter’s recently disclosed intent to pursue this course of non ad-based revenue may prove fatal if they can’t come up with an equitable agreement for Laporte, something that could end up being quite financially rewarding for him.

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