Feeds

Facebook IP protection is only for companies that join

Site cannot comprehend anyone not wanting to

The essential guide to IT transformation

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.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Twitter: La la la, we have not heard of any NUDE JLaw, Upton SELFIES
If there are any on our site it is not our fault as we are not a PUBLISHER
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?