Feeds

Facebook IP protection is only for companies that join

Site cannot comprehend anyone not wanting to

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Companies which were promised the chance to protect their trade marks from being used as Facebook addresses have been told they can now only do so by signing up for a Facebook page.

When Facebook allowed users to customise web addresses to include their name after the domain name Facebook.com, it said that it was putting protections in place to ensure that trade marks were not used in URLs registered by people who did not own the trade marks.

It set up a process by which companies could pre-register their trade marks to stop other people using URLs which were made up of the trade marks.

Facebook has now written to companies who pre-registered, though, and told them that they cannot protect their intellectual property rights unless they put their firms on Facebook.

"When a username is requested for business or promotional needs, we require it to be associated with a Facebook Page," said an email sent to those who had tried to use the system.

"If you have a Page to claim this username, please provide us with the web address (URL) and we will review your request. If you do not already have a Page, simply click on the 'Create a page' link under the Sign Up section of www.facebook.com," it said.

The policy raises the possibility that companies which thought they had protected their brands from Facebook cybersquatting may now lose that protection.

OUT-LAW.COM asked Facebook if trade marks pre-registered by companies that did not want a Facebook presence would become available for registration by third parties, but the company did not provide an answer.

OUT-LAW.COM also asked Facebook if the supposed trade mark protection strategy was in fact a marketing exercise designed to encourage companies to register a Facebook presence, but the company declined to respond. It pointed instead to the 'frequently asked questions' page related to the URL policy.

When announcing the personalised URLs, Facebook said that it wanted to protect its users against conflict with all intellectual property owners, not just those with Facebook pages.

"[We want] to help our users avoid potential disputes concerning usernames that may be protected by intellectual property rights," said a company explanation of its actions at the time. "In order to do that, we have encouraged rights owners to contact us if they want to reserve/protect certain names."

John MacKenzie, an intellectual property specialist at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that the policy will not help those companies which choose to stay off Facebook.

"This would appear to be brand protection, but with a catch," he said. "Unless brands have a clear social networking strategy they will not want to incur the time and cost associated with maintaining a Facebook page."

"What we need is some clarity as to the protection actually offered and the conditions attached," he said.

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.