Snap Interactive, quietly settling with Snap over trademark infringement, changes name to PeerStream

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Back in 2016 after Snapchat rebranded the company name to Snap Inc to reflect its status as a camera company and more than just Snapchat, an existing publicly-traded business by the name of Snap Interactive filed a trademark infringement lawsuit to bar the change. Snap Interactive’s concern: it was already distributing social network apps and using the name Snap in association with that, and so people were likely to get confused.

It turns out that the lawsuit got quietly dismissed in December 2016 when the two settled out of court under confidential terms. And now, over a year later, Snap Interactive is finally rebranding, to PeerStream. The company declined to say whether its rebrand was part of the settlement.

Despite the lawsuit, and the slow move to rebrand, Snap Interactive has actually benefitted a bit from the mistaken identity: the company’s stock shot up 164 percent in February last year when people mistook it for Snap Inc around the time of the latter company’s IPO. The bump was short-lived. The company currently has a modest market cap of around $34 million.

Now PeerStream is singing a different tune: it had been contemplating a new name all along, it says, in part to reflect the company’s pivot to building apps based on blockchain architecture.

“Since the October 2016 merger between Snap Interactive and AVM Software we have been contemplating a corporate rebranding,” PeerStream’s CEO Alexander Harrington said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “With our recent emphasis on blockchain technology, and our new Business Solutions line of business, now is an opportune time to embrace a new corporate identity. We are pleased to reintroduce our company as PeerStream, Inc.”

Under its now-former name Snap Interactive, the company might not be a household name, but it’s somewhat notable in the history of social media. Over the years, it has quietly amassed a number of legacy video-based social media services that collectively claim millions of users, and even today, in the world of outsized influence and audience of Facebooks and YouTubes, represent some of the long tail of online audiences.

They include Paltalk (long ago a Softbank investment that turned profitable), another video chat app called Camfrog, dating app FirstMet (formerly called Are You Interested) and about 26 video and gaming patents. At least one of those patents was the subject of a lawsuit against Microsoft, which ended up striking a licensing deal settle it.

These days, PeerStream is following the path of many a tech hopeful: it’s riding the blockchain train, building apps that it says will be based on that architecture. Backchannel (it has a knack for names that are already in use, I guess) is a video and group messaging app that “leverages crypto identity and decentralization to promote free speech and serve privacy-minded end users” that is due to be launched later this year.

And its also moving into B2B, with a solutions units launching to provide licensing and related services to businesses that want to build messaging and other communications services based on blockchain technology it’s building called PeerStream Protocol. The company says that over time it will be transferring all of its other apps on to the protocol as well.



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