Gowlings on Preventing Registration of a Trade-mark as a Facebook URL

Everyone is talking about the upcoming availability of vanity URLs on Facebook this week, so here’s some advice from the friendly folks at our law firm, Gowlings.

Beginning at 12:01 am (EDT) on Saturday June 13, 2009, Facebook users will be able to select usernames that will be displayed as part of URLs (www.facebook.com/username). Usernames will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This gives rise to the serious issue of users applying for usernames that correspond to third-party trade marks. Parties may engage in the unauthorized registration of usernames (i.e., ‘username squatting’) with a view of trying to sell the username to the brand owner, trying to mislead end users that a connection exists between the parties or to prevent the brand owner from reflecting its username on Facebook.

To this end, Facebook has created a process allowing rights holders to apply to have their registered trade marks reserved so that they may not be registered as usernames by Facebook users. The on-line form to register one’s brand can be accessed here. However, this should be done before the Saturday deadline. While the application process will continue after Saturday, the most prudent approach would be to file applications ahead of the deadline as it is expected that many usernames will be applied for on Saturday.