Instagram warns third-party apps to stop using ‘Insta’ and ‘Gram’ in their branding

By , Aug 20, 2013

Instagram App of the Year

Your favorite Instagram-connected app could be changing soon, or worse, it could be shutting down. The photo-sharing network just updated its brand guidelines, stating that it’s going to start banning apps that use either the word ‘Insta’ or ‘Gram’ in their names.

In fact, according to a new report, it looks like Instagram has already begun sending emails out to developers of existing apps, requesting that they change these trademark-infringing components ‘within a reasonable period’ or risk losing their apps’ API access…

The email, posted by TechCrunch, explains to developers that while Instagram appreciates their interest in the service, and they encourage them to build great apps for it, they cannot allow third-party apps to look like they are endorsed or sponsored by the company.

“As we hope you can appreciate, protection of its well-known trademarks is very important to Instagram. For example, it has always been against our guidelines to use a name that sounds or looks like “Instagram” or copies the look and feel of our application. Similarly, as we have clarified in the new guidelines, use of “INSTA” and “GRAM” for an application that works with Instagram is harmful to the Instagram brand. It is important that you develop your own distinctive branding for your applications, and use Instagram’s trademarks only as specifically authorized under our policies.”

This particular email was sent to Luxogram, a web-based Instagram client, due to the fact that it uses ‘gram’ in its name and a variant of the IG camera logo. Instagram notes that it expects a response within 48 hours outlining its plans to fix it within a ‘reasonable period.’

instagram apps

But it’s not just Luxogram—there are dozens of apps and services that connect to Instagram that violate these new rules: Statigram, Webstagram, and Instagallery to name a few. And these aren’t just hobbies are side projects, some of them have become viable businesses.

So what happens now? Well the rules only apply to apps that use Instagram’s API. But those that do have a big decision to make: either change their name/branding, or shutdown. TechCrunch says that Luxogram is leaning towards the latter, and others may follow suit.

I don’t really have a problem with Facebook protecting the Instagram brand, but the fact that at one point they actually encouraged developers to freely associate themselves with IG is kind of sketchy. This whole thing sounds a lot like Twitter’s third-party app fallout.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

What do you think, is this a good/smart move?

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  • Linton Findlay

    Usually the apps are used to create images to post on instagram, do they want to stop that? If the app had collage and frame features id understand but this is stupid

  • Willie

    I see why people shouldnt use the word “insta” but banning devs for using the word “gram” is unreasonable

  • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

    We are so humble until we get big, right shitagram… ups! can’t say gram.
    Instashit.. ups! I can’t say Insta. Well… (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)

  • Wilfred Lim

    Luckily Fujifilm Instax does not have a digital version, nor instant upload to Instagram feature….lol

    To me either demand for those with Insta- or -gram both ridiculous….

  • MHCsk

    I don’t know how these apps could be harmful to the Instagram brand. They are just apps, not copies of the network. If you don’t have Instagram account and you somehow download some good insta-photo editing app that you like, there is a big chance that you will make an Instagram account too.

  • 5th

    Things like InstaGram, Facebook, Twitter have short lives and will be replaced by the next fad in a few years.

    • Jeffrey Moreno

      Facebook has been around for about 10 years, soooooooooo…

  • sivkai

    I hate Instagram as much as the rest of you but…I agree with Instagram. Using the terms ‘Insta’ and ‘Gram’ is to blatantly exploit the trademarks of Intagram, and ride on their successful brand image.

    This is totally fair as well. If for instance, Angry Birds was to warn every app using the word Angry and Bird, that would be unfair!

    Also, let’s not forget that most of these ‘Insta’ and ‘Gram’ apps are quite shady and rarely deliver what they promise. This is good news.

    • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

      Now just imagine if now devs can’t use FACE or Book, You or Tube…

      This is totally unfair. Because, first: they respect all the rules made by them (using the right apis and stuff) and second, using names that resemble the service that they are using it’s better for users to know what that app are meant to be.

      And who wins? Instagram, Youtube.. Facebook and others that have a huge variety of apps that can serve all users tastes and make them keep using THAT SERVICE. I know a lot of people who don’t use facebook because they don’t like the official app, but since others do a better job, they now keep using facebook on their smartphones and tablets, because of those 3rd party apps!

      So yes, screw Instagram with this shitty rule. Devs should respect the API’s, all the security measures and other stuff, and off course a fair use of the official logo, but names ending with this and that it’s just silly.

      • sivkai

        Warning every app with ‘Face’ and ‘Book’ would be unfair, but Instagram’s requests are totally fair. How many apps do you know that have a ‘Insta’ or ‘Gram’ in it, that aren’t a blatant copy of Instagram? You need to learn a thing or two about intellectual property. Ripping off Instagram’s brand image is tantamount to directly stealing money from it.

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        But Im not saying that Instagram shouldn’t attack the blantant copies! Those, off course, they should! And yes, I know everything about intellectual property. It’s essential for my job.

        What Im trying to say is that devs that submit they apps for instagram approval, respecting all the API’s, security measures and other rules, should be allowed to use names like InstaSomething or Somethingram.

        They are working FOR FREE to instagram. They are helping instagram to get more and more loyal users. And it’s fair that they earn some money from that too.

        Now those devs who simply rip off, and don’t respect the basic rules, yes, off course they should be banned.

        If instagram provide all the API’s for Developers, its because they expect them to build 3rd party apps. It’s because THEY EARN MORE MONEY with that than they lose.

        instagram . com/developer/

      • sivkai

        I see what you are saying, some apps are perfectly legitimate and useful for end-users BUT using a name like InstaFrame just isn’t right. In having a name so close to Instagram, they are essentially riding of Instagram successful brand image. A brand that took years of investment in both time and money. How would you like it if something you out your heart and soul into was exploited in furtherance of some other product. You would be pissed off, just as Instagram is ;)

  • XboxOne

    Those “Gram” and “Insta” apps are just biting off the Instagram name to gain downloads.

    • Scroat

      Can you name 10 apps that have more downloads than Instagram. I’ll wait to hear this one.

  • seanodotcom

    Hmmm, I wonder what would have happened if Kodak had bullied Instagram for infringing on the name “Instamatic?”

    • Falk M.

      OHHH SNAP.
      (pun not intended)

  • Scroat

    Apple sound use a quarter profit buy instagram and shut it down for good. That has to be the sadest want to be social site on the web.

  • Mr_Russ1an

    I think that what Instagram is doing is wrong. Just like other companies like iDB told me to change my app icon and name. It’s not like developers rip off the name for their own profit but rather they help the company with free advertising. I made an app for this site and they told me to change the name and icon because of their trademark. I find this wrong because I wasn’t using their sites name in a malicious way. I had to change my app name to iNewsDaily and you can find it in the AppStore for free. It gets the articles for this site. Instagram should let developers make the name similar because they are not hurting the company. If they were hurting them then it would be fair.

  • Brandon Weidema

    i think its smart, some of these apps sound/look like they’re actually part of instagram (aka youtube capture with youtube)

  • therealjjohnson

    So what do you call the app you created for the sole purpose to post pics to instagram? Its not like these apps are social networks or store pictures…they literally just provide a collage and brings up the actual instagram app to use. Maybe they are about to come out with a collage feature in the future. That would eliminate the need for these apps without all these silly little things they are doing now.