Companies Should Act Today to Protect Trademarks on Facebook

June 12, 2009

Facebook recently announced a change in its username registration policy that could have serious implications for trademark owners. Beginning at 12:01 ET on Saturday, June 13, Facebook users will be able to register personalized usernames as unique identifiers for Facebook profiles. Personalized usernames are to be assigned to Facebook users on a first-come, first-served basis. While Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities requires Facebook users not to infringe the intellectual property rights of others, the only mechanism by which a trademark owner can prevent others from registering its marks as personalized usernames is to use Facebook’s online username prevention form. While trademarks can be registered using this form at any time, trademark owners should register their marks with Facebook by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 12 to ensure they are protected. Facebook does have policies in place that allow intellectual property owners to report infringement claims. Using this preventative measure, however, is likely to help trademark owners save the time and money necessary to police infringing uses of trademarks on Facebook.

McGuireWoods can assist you with registering your trademarks using the Facebook online username prevention form. Please contact your McGuireWoods attorney or one of the attorneys in our Intellectual Property, Data and Privacy Section for further assistance.