Ecuadorian government's attempt to trademark Twitter tag portends censorship, warns blogger

The Ecuadorian blogger who coined the tag "30S" or "30-S" to follow tweets about the police protest on Sept. 30, 2010, came out against the government's attempt to trademark 30S, reported the newspapers El País and El Universo.

"I'm totally against the government's attempt to trademark '30S'. Even when the intentions are good, it creates a strange precedent where the government is empowered to go after people that use the phrase for reasons other than our government's, and this facilitates attacks on freedom of expression," Eduardo Arcos posted on his blog.

The president's office started the process to trademark the phrases 30S, 30-S, and "prohibido olvidar" (never forget) at the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property, according to the newspaper Hoy on Dec. 13. After registering the phrases, only President Rafael Correa and his office will be allowed to use them in publications and for commercial use, the newspaper reported.

Arcos, who lives in Spain and is the founder of the Hipertextual network of blogs, said that "30S is a tag used by millions of Ecuadorians to remember a day in history and should not be owned by anyone," according to the website La Plegaria de un Pagano.

The blogger warned that if the tag were registered to the government, it could bring criminal or civil charges against media companies, blogs and websites that have written about events that President Correa has tried to suppress regarding the Sept. 30 protest. Arcos told the newspaper El Comercio that he will investigate what legal options are available to block the trademark.

Sources inside the government, however, allege that the trademark process has been politically manipulated and that there is no intention to suppress freedom of expression, according to the newspaper El Tiempo.