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

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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.’

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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?