By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitpic, an early online service that allows Internet users to share photos on the Twitter Inc social network, is shutting down due to what it said were legal threats from Twitter.
The dispute revolves around Twitpic's effort to have its name approved as a trademark, which Twitter appears to believe violates its own trademark.
Twitpic gained a loyal following after its 2008 launch for allowing users to post photos on Twitter's social network. Twitter has since added its own photo-sharing feature directly within its Web service.
Noah Everett, the founder of the 6-year-old service, said in a blog post on Thursday that Twitter recently contacted his firm demanding that it abandon its trademark application. If Twitpic did not comply, Everett wrote, Twitter said his service risked losing access to the Twitter API - the technology specification that allows Twitpic to work with Twitter.
"Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe wholeheartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic," Everett wrote.
Twitter, which has 271 million monthly users, said in a statement that it was "sad" to see Twitpic shut down its service. "We encourage developers to build on top of the Twitter service, as Twitpic has done for years, and we made it clear that they could operate using the Twitpic name. Of course, we also have to protect our brand, and that includes trademarks tied to the brand," Twitter said.
The dispute with Twitpic is not the first time that Twitter has tangled with third-party apps and services that are based on its social network. In 2011 Twitter temporarily blocked UberTwitter, a mobile app that offered a specialized way to use Twitter, for violating Twitter's trademark and its policies.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic)