Instagram Gets All Psycho Possessive: App Makers Can’t Use Words “Insta” Or “Gram”

If you’re the creator behind an Instagram app that includes “Insta” or “Gram” in the name, such as Webstagram, you likely won’t enjoy the changes Instagram has just made to its brand guidelines. The Facebook owned service has updated these guidelines to prevent any third party app maker from creating an Instagram app that has the two terms “Insta” or “Gram” in it.

Instagram isn’t just warning future developers about the decision, but it’s also emailing current ones and asking them to change their entire name and branding. Instagram states that its concerned about creating brand confusion when companies have the terms “Insta” or “Gram” in them, as it doesn’t want anyone to think these apps are official.

We appreciate your interest in developing products that help people share with Instagram. While we encourage developers to build great apps with Instagram, we cannot allow other applications to look like they might be official Instagram applications or endorsed or sponsored by us.

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.

While technically Instagram can’t force these developers to change their names, the company is allowed to cut off API access to anyone that doesn’t comply. This means that if companies don’t adjust their names, Instagram will essentially kill off their business. And some of these are fairly big businesses too. The service Luxogram has roughly 1 million monthly users.

Instagram says that it expects to receive responses from emailed developers within 48 hours, but that it will try and be helpful and understanding in the process.

If you”re one of the ones who’s now been forced to come up with a new name, how about “Photozzz”? That one’s for free.

Toby is a writer of word and a lover of Apple, hip-hop, life, and technology.