Could Donald Trump's Truth Social Be Sued By Twitter?

Despite looking very similar to Twitter, Donald Trump's new Truth Social platform may be safe from copyright infringement lawsuits, legal experts say.

The former president's new social media platform was launched on the Apple App Store on Monday, with a full rollout expected by late March.

It had long been reported that Truth Social may look very similar to the social network that banned Trump in the wake of the January 6 riot. However, the launch proved that Truth Social's interface is even closer to that of Twitter than other self-styled "free speech" platforms such as Gab, Gettr and Parler.

Speaking to Newsweek, copyright experts explained how Truth Social can mimic Twitter's design so closely without violating any registered trademarks, or pretending that the product is associated with the tweet-based social network.

Carys Craig, professor of intellectual property law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada, said that while a very similar user interface could "potentially create liability" if there was a likelihood of confusion, this is clearly not the case with Truth Social.

As the Trump Media and Technology Group has never attempted to market the app as being related to Twitter, the similar design can be passed off as fair competition.

It is also unlikely that Truth Social has copied any of Twitter's underlying software code, and does not use phrases or imagery highly associated with the platform (posts on the site are named "truths" instead of "tweets," for instance.)

"Any of the functional features of the user interface or common and unoriginal elements—scrolling and commenting functions, likes, shares, reaction buttons—will not be protected by copyright, so these can be freely copied," Craig said.

"In short, it sounds as though they are walking a fine line. There could potentially be liability if the interface is so similar that it is a substantial reproduction of Twitter's original interface or if consumer confusion is likely.

"In the absence of any misrepresentation or confusion, however, copying the functional, common or unoriginal features from the Twitter interface is fair game."

Jane C. Ginsburg, professor of literary and artistic property Law at Columbia University School of Law in New York, said that while Twitter might have acquired sufficient "secondary meaning" brand recognition with its design over time to be a trademark, infringement requires proving that the public believes Trump's app was produced or approved by Twitter.

"Since it's notorious that Twitter kicked Trump off, I don't know that a confusion claim could be proved," Ginsburg added.

Ginsburg added that Truth Social could argue that it has similar interfaces to Twitter because doing so was necessary to make the app work on a cellphone screen.

Twitter declined to comment when approached by Newsweek.

One area where Truth Social could face legal issues is with its logo. On Monday, British solar power company Trailar said it was looking into what actions it could take after being made aware that its purple logo is almost identical to Truth Social's.

"We are now seeking legal advice to understand next steps and options available to protect our brand," Matthew Summers, Trailar's head of marketing, told Newsweek.

"Trailar has no affiliation or connection with the Truth Social network site, with our business firmly focused on decarbonizing global transport through the use of solar and data-driven technologies."

truth social
Donald Trump's new Truth Social platform may be safe from copyright infringement lawsuits despite looking almost identical to Twitter. Gado/ MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images