Published February 29, 2024

A recent dispute between UK software company Threads Software Ltd. and Meta over its social media platform, Threads, has highlighted the inequality small businesses face when protecting their trademarks.

In October 2023, Threads Software wrote to the owners of Meta Platforms Inc. to inform them that unless they desist from using the name Threads for their service in the UK, it will seek an injunction in the UK High Court. This was preceded by repeated attempts by Meta to purchase the domain ‘’ from Threads Software, each of which was declined. At the time, John Yardley, Managing Director of Threads Software, made it very clear the domain was not for sale.

Threads, an intelligent message hub provided by Threads Software Ltd., was conceived and trademarked in 2012 by JPY Ltd. The service has been actively promoted worldwide since 2014. In 2018, JPY Ltd. spun off a new company, Threads Software Ltd., and has since licensed its software to nearly 1,000 organizations worldwide.

Yardley commented: “Meta started by attempting to buy our internet domain, but, realizing it was not for sale, just went ahead and called its service Threads. Our Threads and Meta’s Threads do different things but they are both essentially message hubs, so it’s highly likely to cause confusion.

“Indeed, Meta thought they were sufficiently confusing to make an offer for our ‘’ domain and, more revealing, to take down our Threads Facebook page. As it turned out, it was the ‘message’ bit of our service, rather than the ‘intelligent’ bit that attracted Meta’s attention and needed the protection.”

Meta responded to Threads Software’s letter by claiming that Threads Software “does not appear to be software for the extraction of business information and knowledge.” Meta added that if “the trademark has been registered for more than five years it can be removed from the register on the grounds of non-use.”

Yardley responded that “Meta clearly has no idea what the Threads Intelligent Message Hub does nor how it is being used – although Meta thought its service was sufficiently similar to ours to remove Threads Software from Facebook.”

Yardley added that Meta’s efforts are “designed to make us incur legal costs solely to protect our existing rights and to delay potential court action. It is the action of a huge corporation with massive legal budgets trying to suppress a small business rather than respecting their rights.”

Brand owners fiercely protect that brand assets, as seen by the recent efforts of EasyJet to stamp out any use of the word ‘easy’. Their deep pockets make this possible. Yet when the tables are turned it is very hard for smaller businesses to fight back which they use to their advantage.

It seems bizarre that the IPO should not prevent individuals and companies from registering tradenames that already exist, relying on them to fight it out in court in the event of a conflict. It prevents smaller companies from taking the leap of faith that is required to innovate.

“If we are unable to reach a settlement with Meta, then the likely costs of litigation rocket. I believe Meta will fail in its attempt to revoke its trademark protection, but it is an area of litigation that can deliver some bizarre results. Plus, even if Meta fails in its attempts, it will give them at least another six months using the Threads name. This alone may be enough for them to get their way,” concludes Yardley.

John Yardley

Written by John Yardley

Managing Director, Threads Software Ltd.

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