Did Twitter unfairly take away Leonard Barshack’s handle and give it to Central Idaho ski resort Sun Valley Co.? After using the Twitter handle @sunvalley since 2010, Barshack received an email from Twitter last year notifying him that a report had been filed declaring he was engaging in “non-parody impersonation” with his Twitter handle.
The Associated Press reports Twitter claimed Barshack was violating their policy that mandates an account’s profile information “make it clear that the creator of the account is not actually the same person or entity,” as the subject of the impersonation.
“I never tried to impersonate anybody,” Barshack told the AP. “Read my tweets. Is there any attempt to impersonate?”
Barshack admits that his Sun Valley handle included an image of a sun, much like Sun Valley Co.’s logo, but says that the image of the sun in the trademarked Sun Valley logo is positioned above and to the right, while Barshack’s sun image stood alone. The AP stated that Barshack had published a limited number of tweets on a variety of topics under his Sun Valley handle, but was planning to use his account to promote businesses in the region.
After only receiving boiler-plate responses from Twitter when appealing the company’s decision, Barshack decided to file a lawsuit in Idaho’s 5th District Court this month. “One day I woke up, and Twitter had taken my handle away,” said Barshack, “They just came and took my ball away. That’s being a bully.”
Barshack is suing Twitter and the Sun Valley Co. to regain ownership of the @SunValley Twitter handle. Should he win, Barshack said the handle will not be for sale, “I have no interest in any monetary reward. I want what was unethically taken from me returned.”
A one-time Wall Street derivatives analyst at Salomon Brothers in NYC, Barshack was the founder of Bigfoot, an Internet email listing service he started in 1997 after winning financing from billionaires Sam Zell and Herb Allen. He’s also the founder of poker software company Tribeca Tables.
Barshack’s lawsuit against Sun Valley Co. and Twitter highlights how valuable branded Twitter accounts have become, and the lengths companies will go to possess Twitter handles that best represent their brand.
Both Twitter’s and Sun Valley’s lawyer declined to comment on the lawsuit for the AP story.