Most by now are familiar with cybersquatting, which is the term used to refer to the bad faith registration and/or use of a third party’s trademark in a domain name. However, a new form of trademark misuse is rapidly growing. Whether you want to call it cybersquatting, brandjacking, or some other term, entities are now registering third party trademarks as names on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. It appears that the protection offered by these social networking sites are insufficient to redress such trademark misuse, as noted in a recent article titled Trademark Owners Beware: Cybersquatting Spreads to Twitter. Moreover, the UDRP does not currently apply to situations like this. As such, trademark owners are left to rely upon common law and federal Lanham Act trademark law.
While unfortunate, this trend of brandjacking and cybersquatting continues to grow. So the question becomes: What can be done? Like defensive domain registrations to prevent cybersquatting, trademark owners should acquire a company name, any trademarks, and any other important intellectual property brands on all social network sites. When attempting to do so, trademark owners may be surprised to find that they already are being squatted on. In such instance, it is important to contact an attorney who is familiar with trademark law, internet law, and these entities in particular. While a cease and desist letter may get the job done, additional steps, including a lawsuit in a court of law, may ultimately be required in order to ensure that the trademark infringement stops.
Unfortunately the trademark misuse does not stop at the username squatting issue. As recently reported by TechCrunch, API name squatting is also becoming an issue. Such squatting allows developers to register any application name so that Twitter messages show the name with a link to anything the developer wants. Not only is this likely trademark infringement, but it may also qualify as other forms of unfair competition.
Ultimately, these trademark misuses again reiterate the need for trademark monitoring. With new applications developing at a rapid pace, it is incumbent upon the trademark owner to monitor all uses of its trademark in order to identify unauthorized, infringing, or otherwise unlawful trademark use. The ability to stop trademark misuse before major damage occurs cannot be overlooked. As such, trademark owners must constantly be monitoring, protecting, and enforcing their trademark portfolio. Please contact us today for assistance with regard to trademark infringement, cybersquatting, brandjacking, and trademark monitoring.