If you thought you had your suite of domain names protected,
Facebook is now allowing users to create a personalised URL
based on a unique username. The personalised URL lets Facebook
users find your Facebook page by using the URL http://www.facebook.com/username . With an
audience of over 200 million active Facebook users, trade mark
owners are legitimately concerned about controlling their Facebook
Trade mark owners were given only 3 days last week to contact
Facebook if they wanted to reserve or protect their trade marks
from being claimed as usernames. That process is now closed.
Facebook has pre-empted this problem with a 3-fold approach.
Firstly, although the system went live on 13 June 2009, only users
who had created a Facebook account before the new username URLs
were announced on 9 June 2009 can register a personalised URL. This
prevents a flux of new user registrations as registered trade mark
owners battle to claim their personalised URL and with it, their
piece of the Facebook community pie. Secondly, those companies and
other new users who rushed to sign up to Facebook after the
announcement was made must wait until 28 June 2009 before they can
register a personalised URL. Finally, users can register only one
username, and the username is non-transferrable. This reduces the
risk of 'name squatting', or registering a username to
later 'sell' it to a legitimate owner/ user.
Another protection measure promised by Facebook is that when a
profile is deleted, the username attached to that profile will be
deleted with it, and the username will not become available
The good news is that if you have a trade mark you want to
protect, and you didn't alert Facebook last week, all is not
lost. If you discover a Facebook user has registered your trade
mark in their username, it is possible to lodge a Notice of
Intellectual Property Infringement claim with Facebook. While this
process is reactionary rather than preventive, it will give some
comfort to trade mark owners seeking to protect their brand
Swaab was recently named a 2009 Winner in the
ALB Employer of Choice awards, and was winner 'Best Law Firm in
Australia (Revenue < $20m)' and 'Attribute Award for
Exceptional Service (Australia Wide)'
in the 2008 BRW- Client Choice Awards.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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