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FACEBOOK TO OFFER PROFILE URL’S: SHOULD TRADEMARK OWNERS BE CONCERNED?
Beginning at 12:01 am on Saturday, June 13th, Facebook users will be allowed to register a custom username for their profile’s URL on a first-come first-serve basis. Currently, a Facebook user’s URL looks something like: “www.facebook.com/ profile.php?id=5703348&ref=name.” However, from this point forward, users will be able to claim personal URL’s, such as “www.facebook.com/JohnSmith.” Businesses and public figures with Facebook pages will also be permitted to create personal URL’s, though at this point Facebook has stated that it will only allow vanity URL’s on those pages with at least 1,000 “fans.” Facebook, who is following in the footsteps of other “personal” websites such as MySpace, Twitter, and WordPress in allowing vanity URL’s seeks to avoid the Intellectual Property issues which have resulted from the same by limiting ULR registrations. See http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=7761758 (St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s pending lawsuit against Twitter, claiming Cyber squatting; Right of Publicity; Trademark Infringement, and Trademark Dilution)
While Facebook states that the availability of URL’s will make it easier for friends, family, and co-workers to find users though search engines the benefits to users are few when compared to possible misuse of URL’s on Facebook. Not surprisingly, many trademark owners are concerned that Facebook’s new service will create a new arena for trademark infringement and cyber squatting. In light of the same, we recommend that any person or business without a Facebook profile before May 31 take advantage of some of the safeguards that Facebook has instituted. Specifically, since non-users are ineligible to receive a personalized URL during this initial offering, Facebook is requesting that business fill out this form, which will prevent individuals from registering your trademark as a Facebook URL. This is an important step to consider because once a URL is created, Facebook states that it cannot be changed, transferred, or sold. As always, if you any questions or concerns regarding this or other matters contact our office.
Adam Goldman contributed to this Blog entry.