Facebook Usernames a Potential Threat to Intellectual Property Owners

Posted on June 12, 2009

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Facebook, currently the fastest growing online social network, recently announced via its blog that its users will be allowed to create personalized usernames or “brands” for their Facebook pages.  (See Coming Soon: Facebook Usernames).  According to the blog, users will be allowed to choose their username on a first-come first-served basis beginning on Saturday, June 13th at 12:01 a.m. EDT.

This raises a red flag for intellectual property attorneys because these usernames may potentially infringe upon the intellectual property of their clients.  Facebook has attempted to alleviate this issue by creating a separate online form for intellectual property owners that wish to prevent their marks from being registered as usernames. (See Preventing the Registration of a Username).  We recommend that intellectual property owners fill out and submit this form as soon as possible in order to prevent the use of your intellectual property on the site.

In addition to notifying Facebook of your intellectual property rights, we highly recommend that intellectual property owners go one step further to ensure their rights remain intact.  This step involves monitoring the Facebook site to ensure that usernames are not infringing upon your intellectual property rights.  Otherwise, you risk losing the intellectual property due to a failure to monitor and enforce your rights in the intellectual property.  In the event that an infringing username is discovered, the intellectual property owner should file notice of intellectual property infringement with Facebook in addition to notifying your legal counsel. (See Notice of Intellectual Property Infringement).

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Elizabeth Ritter, Goodrich Law Firm, LLC

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