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Michigan man faces litigation over Twitter name

A Michigan man faces a lawsuit from popular Michigan restaurant chain, Halo Burger, after he refused to stop using and relinquish his "@haloburger" Twitter user name. The man, who claims to be a fan of the restaurant, reportedly adopted the online handle in 2009. Halo Burger contends it was forced to pursue liability after the man said he would not hand over the handle without payment. The lawsuit asserts that the man "squatted the Halo Burger name" on Twitter with the intent to extort money from the business.

According to the man's attorney, Twitter registers user names on a "first-come, first--served basis," meaning that his client did not act wrongfully in securing the handle. He noted that his client's Twitter profile states that it is not associated with Halo Burger and says the man has not attempted to use the name to claim he is associated with the business or the source of its services and goods. The attorney contends that such behavior would be required to prove claims of unfair competition or trademark infringement.

Furthermore, the defendant's lawyer said the age of the man's account entitles him to protection under a three-year statute of limitations. Similarly, he noted that the U.S. trademark office never granted a trademark to Halo Burger due to similarity with the name of another business, though the company did receive a trademark from Michigan's trademarking agency.

A lawyer representing Halo Burger told reporters that the company is attempting to reach a resolution with the defendant outside of court, but did not provide details regarding this process. The marketing head at the firm that purchased Halo Burger in 2010 also declined to comment on the case.

As complex as business litigation can be, it can often be resolved out of court. Individuals, companies or other parties involved in such disputes significantly increase their chance of success by employing qualified attorneys with experience in commercial and business litigation.

Source:, "Halo Burger sues Grand Blanc man over Twitter handle," David Harris, April 15, 2013

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