Netflix's Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings speaks during an interview with Reuters in Buenos Aires. Reuters/Enrique Marcarian
Imagine Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' face when he typed the name Qwikster into Twitter to make sure the handle wasn't already taken, only to find a raunchy, pot-smoking Elmo.
This morning, Hastings sent a mass apology to all Netflix customers for the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. Then, in a surprise move, Hastings announced the company will upgrade and rebrand its DVD mail service, which will now include a video games option, and named the new service, Qwikster.
We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery, Hastings said. We will keep the name 'Netflix' for streaming.
On the other hand, there's no clear reason why Jason Castillo chose the Twitter handle Qwikster for himself, especially since quick is not a word one would use to describe his tweets. The majority of @Qwikster's tweets, which are much too inappropriate to reprint here, are threaded with drug use, sexual innuendo, and general bone-headedness. His last tweet, a message to @kill on Aug. 16, stated he was About tired as s--- n I can't sleep.
Quickly securing the Twitter handle in order to build up an active social media presence will prove difficult for Netflix. The company may have purchased the Qwikster domain in time, but there is no record of a trademark filing for Qwikster. Unfortunately for Netflix, Twitter's rules say users can't force a current tweeter to relinquish their handle unless you own a trademark.
Furthermore, Twitter doesn't allow users to buy handles from each other.
In all likelihood, Netflix avoided the US Patent and Trademark Office, fearing its new name fell under one of the 180 live marks containing the word qwik. If just one company had a business similar to Netflix's movie delivery service, the company would be unable to legally protect its new name. However, for a company looking to shake off a reputation for being arrogant, a PR gaffe certainly doesn't help.
Netflix has almost 110,000 followers on Twitter, while @Qwikster, for some reason, has roughly 2,900 followers.