In an effort to make it easier for people to find and connect with one another online, social networking provider Facebook, Inc., is offering its users the opportunity to create custom usernames to identify themselves in the URLs for their profile pages. At 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 2009, Facebook announced its plan to replace the randomly assigned numerical labels for its individual member folders (e.g., http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=7080706), with user-selected web addresses for personal profiles and Facebook pages (e.g., http://www.facebook.com/dorsey.whitney). Facebook claims that the new Facebook URLs will be like a “personal destination, or home, on the Web” for its users. Not only will it be possible to find particular Facebook profiles by using individual names as search terms in Facebook searches, internet users will be able to locate these pages by performing Google searches of individual usernames.
The new Facebook usernames must be at least 5 characters in length and may contain only Latin alphanumeric characters. Facebook has indicated that it will not consider requests to register generic usernames such as “flowers” or “pizza” at this time. Username registration opens to Facebook members on Saturday June 13, 2009, at midnight EDT. Facebook usernames will be registered on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon finalizing their selections, Facebook users will have the option to publish their new URLs immediately.
How To Prevent Facebook Users From Registering And Using Your Trademark As a Facebook Username
Trademark owners who wish to prevent their marks from being registered as new Facebook usernames should act quickly to notify Facebook of their intellectual property rights. Rights holders are encouraged to reserve/protect their marks by completing and submitting an electronic request using Facebook’s online request form available here.
Please note Facebook has indicated it will only accept requests to protect registered trademarks.
In an attempt to further safeguard intellectual property rights and prevent “username squatting,” Facebook has temporarily limited eligibility for usernames to members whose Facebook accounts pre-date the public announcement of the new vanity URLs. Username registration for new post-announcement Facebook members will not open until Sunday, June 28, 2009.
Facebook has also implemented a process for requesting the removal of infringing usernames should trademark owners fail to notify Facebook of their rights prior to the June 13 deadline. Facebook’s automated IP Infringement Notice form is available online here. Once a username is set, however, it may not be altered or transferred for any reason. Accordingly, if Facebook agrees to remove a username based on a trademark owner’s request, it appears that the username will be permanently unavailable for future use by any other user, including the trademark owner.