What just happened? In what is another case of a tiny company suing an internet giant for allegedly using a trademarked name, a British software firm has told Meta it’s got 30 days to stop using the term Threads for its latest social media platform in the UK as it owns the trademark.
Threads is a cloud-based intelligent message hub that captures, transcribes, and organizes all of a company’s digital messages, emails, and phone calls into one easily searchable database. It is provided by Threads Software Limited, and was conceived and trademarked in 2012 by JPY Ltd.
The Threads service has been actively promoted worldwide since 2014, and following the first commercial sale in the US in 2018, JPY Ltd spun off a new company, Threads Software Ltd. According to the press release, it has since licensed nearly 1,000 organizations worldwide with sales currently growing at 200% a year.
It appears that Meta was aware of Threads before launching its platform of the same name. Company lawyers made four offers to purchase the domain ‘threads.app’ from Threads Software Ltd from April 2023, all of which were declined. Meta announced Threads in July 2023, the same time that the British company says it was removed from Facebook.
“Taking on a US$150 billion company is not an easy decision for us to make. We have invested 10 years in our platform, establishing a recognized brand in the name, Threads. Our business now faces a serious threat from one of the largest technology companies in the world,” said Dr John Yardley, Managing Director of Threads Software Ltd. “We recognize that this is a classic ‘David and Goliath’ battle with Meta. And whilst they may think they can use whatever name they want, that does not give them the right to use the Threads brand name.”
Like X, which is being sued by a company that has the same name, Threads (or Thread) is one of those terms used by several organizations. These include the football platform Thread and a Slack-style platform called Threads from a San Francisco startup. In a less related area, there is also a harrowing 1984 British film called Threads about the aftermath of a nuclear war that traumatized many who saw it.
Meta’s Threads enjoyed a lot of success in its post-launch period, attracting 100 million users in just five days. But it was revealed a few weeks later that user engagement had fallen 70% and the average time spent using Threads’ Android and iOS apps slipped from 19 minutes a day to just four minutes. Despite the waning interest, new features and Instagram integration were added in August.
Meta has also faced copyright infringement claims since it rebranded from Facebook in 2021. The change led to a company called MetaX, launching a trademark lawsuit last year.