Feeds

Facebook IP protection is only for companies that join

Site cannot comprehend anyone not wanting to

The next step in data security

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.

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.