The Twitter CNN Breaking News Bot: A lesson in “Good” Trademark Infringement?

With over 70,000 followers, the CNN breaking news bot (@cnnbrk) is the third most popular “user” on Twitter.  The bot posts stories sent through CNN’s breaking news email alerts, but, contrary to what the average Twitter user might believe, the account isn’t owned or operated by CNN.  It’s actually the creation of London web developer James Cox, who built the bot simply because he wanted a way for CNN breaking news alerts to be delivered directly to his cell phone.  I had an opportunity to catch up with James and ask him about the account’s creation and rampant success.  I also got to the bottom of that burning question on the minds of Twitter users in the know: why is CNN allowing someone to infringe on their trademark? Talk about the genesis of CNNBrk.  Why did you decide to make it? Back before @cnnbrk, I was looking for a way to get breaking news alerts onto a mobile device in any way possible; I wanted to feel connected even when I was out. It was sort of systemic from 9/11–knowing when to go find a TV set began to make more sense. It took me a while to find the CNN alerts.  Back then it was all desktop tickers or other more convoluted streams (I even spoke to Reuters to see if access to their output was feasible). With the advent of Twitter, especially when it still delivered to my cell phone (I’m in the UK), it seemed like the easiest way to solve that problem, and so @cnnbrk was born. Did you actively promote the account at the...