Facebook URLs – trademark piracy shoals ahead?
Although we normally steer clear of the legal issues surrounding technology, we're making an exception today with this story – courtesy Irwin Mitchell – about Facebook's new personalised web addresses scheme, as it could have trademark consequences, particularly for vendors (such as Aderant) who currently have a Facebook presence…
Businesses and entrepreneurs have been warned to protect brand names and trademarks ahead of plans for personalised web addresses on Facebook. From this Saturday (June 13th) users of the social networking site will be able to register their own URL address, replacing numbers with a name of their choice. This could be your brand eg http://www.facebook.com/irwinmitchell.
According to Joanne Bone, head of Intellectual Property & Information Technology at Irwin Mitchell: “Due to the user generated nature of Facebook, allowing your trademark to be used by others could present a range of costly problems ranging from trademark infringement to defamation. While this can be seen as a unique opportunity, it may well present some very serious problems for trademark owners. You do not want to find that your brand has been ‘hijacked’ by someone with no connection to you and put at the end of one of the personal URLs.
“Facebook has confirmed that it will allow rights holders to contest personal URLs which they believe to infringe their trade marks but we do not know how long or complicated this may be. Fortunately there is a way for trademark owners to prevent their trademarks from being registered as personal URLs in the first place. But trad mark rights owners only have until 5.01am BST on Saturday June 13th (that's correct, less than 24 hours away) to submit the form so the best practice approach is to submit this form immediately.”
The form to prevent registered* trademarks being used as usernames can be found at: www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=username_rights
* And 'yes' the Facebook scheme only applies to registered trademarks, so if you have an unregistered trademark or brand name etc, then passing off pirate bay could be your next destination.