Brand owners may have thought they did not need to know anything about the Internet social networking website Facebook. Think Again. Facebook is the latest potential threat to owners of well-known brands and celebrity names. Before Saturday, June 13, at 12:01a.m. E.D.T., we urge you to act to record your trademarks and celebrity names on Facebook.
Friday, June 12, 2009, is the deadline to file with Facebook a list of all brands and celebrity names. After that date, Facebook users will be able to apply for personal website addresses in the form www.facebook.com/yourname. This address will direct an Internet user to the person’s personal Facebook page. Unwitting or unscrupulous users will be able to create website addresses with the form www.facebook.com/YOURBRANDNAME and then display your brand on their personal website.
On Tuesday, June 9, Facebook first announced the new provision for personal website addresses. http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=899. In that announcement, Facebook provided that only users who already had accounts before Tuesday’s announcement will be eligible at the outset. The personal website addresses will not be transferrable so there will be no option for users to sell them.
Facebook has put in place a procedure for rights owners to record their rights with Facebook and ensure that they will not be used as part of personal website addresses. The online procedure for registering trademarks is at http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=username_rights. It is a relatively simple process.
We encourage all owners of well-known brands and celebrity names to take immediate action on Friday, June 12, to record with Facebook their entire portfolio of marks, and at the very least, record their well-known brands and celebrity names. We think it is best to be cautious in making this recordal before Facebook goes live on Saturday with their personal website addresses.
If you wish, we will be happy to arrange the recordal for you if you inform one of the following attorneys in our Intellectual Property Group no later than 2:00 p.m. CDT on Friday, June 12. In addition, if you later become aware that a third party has adopted your trademark as a personal website address on Facebook, please contact us. Facebook has set up a procedure for dealing with suspected infringement. We will be able to request Facebook to remove your trademark from a personal website address.