IP News

Facebook Lets Trademark Owners Contest Infringing Usernames

June 19, 2009

Personalized usernames and URLs are now available on Facebook, letting trademark owners and other users register simplified names and URLs for better name recall.

On 13 June 2009, the leading social networking site gave its users the ability to create personalized usernames for their respective Facebook pages. This feature makes it easier to find a user’s Facebook page, by either typing a simplified URL, such as http://www.facebook.com/username, or by using search engines, such as Google.

This new feature presents trademark owners another avenue for marketing their respective brands. However, it also poses a problem for trademark owners in that any person may register any username that has not yet been registered on Facebook, including names that enjoy trademark protection.

To protect their trademarks given this new feature, trademark owners may either (1) register their own trademarks first to block off other users from doing so; or (2) contest the previous registration of such trademarks using a form provided for by Facebook at this link, called a “Notice of Intellectual Property Infringement.” This “Notice of Intellectual Property Infringement” may also be used by trademark owners to contest any use of any of its trademarks on the site.

Facebook enjoys the patronage of over 200 million users worldwide. During the first two days of introducing its new feature, 5.75 million users have signed up for personalized usernames.

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