Cybersquatting the Social Networks: A New Trademark Risk
WebProNews has recently published a couple alarming articles concerning name squatting on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The author, Chris Crum, correctly notes in his article titled “Cybersquatting Goes Social” that cybersquatting continues to be a growing problem on the Internet (see Figure 1.). However, he brings to light another growing problem that trademark owners face as cybersquatters partake in the unethical and illegal practice of registering trademark protected brands with the popular social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
That may not have been a case of cybersquatting exactly, but it's not hard to imagine it getting the wheels turning in the minds of the unethical. The same goes for Facebook Pages.
Chris Lynch at Inside Facebook recently discussed a Facebook page called "Brooklyn, New York," which is not owned by that city, but rather somebody trying to sell ads on it. Lynch suggests that this could run counter to Facebook's Terms, which say:
Facebook Pages are special profiles used solely for commercial, political, or charitable purposes. You may not set up a Facebook Page on behalf of another individual or entity unless you are authorized to do so. This includes fan Facebook Pages, as well as Facebook Pages to support or criticize another individual or entity.
- Ask Facebook to transfer control of the Page to you
- Ask the Page owners to transfer control to you
- Ask the Page owner to share control with you
- Ask Facebook to shut the Page down
- Let the Page continue to exist, and start an "official" Page of your own
What trademark owners need to realize is that they must protect their brands on the internet or risk diminishing those brands and their trademark rights across the board. A trademark registration attorney with experience in cybersquatting matters knows how the various policies work in the social networking realm, as well as which federal and state laws can be used to apply leverage to stop the cybersquatting cold. Feel free to contact one of our domain dispute attorneys for more information.