Jessica Ellis
December 05, 2015 9:57 am

Even if you aren’t a Twitter user, you’ve likely heard this term in congress with some epic shade being thrown, and that word is of course (drumroll please) SUBTWEET. Subtweeting is basically the modern version of gossiping behind someone’s back: it involves tweeting a response or a criticism directed at a specific person without including their twitter handle or name, so that they won’t be alerted to your snark.

Just about everyone on Twitter has engaged in subtweeeting. Even celebrities can’t help but getting in on this modern Oscar Wilde-ing of the Internet. In 2014, Superstar Katy Perry joined the subtweet revolution with a Mean Girls reference when Taylor Swift revealed their ongoing feud:

Clearly, the Twitter brass has realized the power behind their built-in weapon for talking trash, because on October 30th, the company filed to trademark the term. If opposition to the trademark doesn’t step up very soon, the company will own the term forever (Well, okay, probably not forever, but for at least enough time for us to finally get our hoverboards, damn it!)

Why would Twitter trademark a term we use every day? Simply because we use it every day! According to Gizmodo, what the tweet team is doing is strengthening and protecting their brand. In the early days of the company, they made the mistake of waiting too long to trademark the word “tweet,” later losing the ability to trademark it because it was deemed already in common use. This meant their trademark lawsuits were harder for them to enforce, and it’s an error they seem determined to avoid in the future.

With a trademark, while the term is still free to all regular users, no one else can use it commercially to sell products. This means that the parent brand can’t be associated with knock-off products that use the term “subtweet.” A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge, ” “When you need to protect your namespace from people who would misuse it. #keepingit100.

So sorry, no subtweet smoothie makers or Subway’s Subtweet Sandwich or statement-making #Subtweet sweatshirts without permission from the great birdie itself. Although seriously, those sweatshirts are a great idea.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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