Move by Facebook Could Put Some Business Trademarks in Jeopardy, Says OKC Attorney

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A move by Facebook to make user-profile URLs more appealing and easier to remember could put some business trademarks in jeopardy, an Oklahoma City intellectual property attorney says.

Since Saturday, said Ryan Lobato, people with Facebook accounts have been able to personalize their Facebook addresses as an option to the garble of letters, symbols and numbers that end most user URLs on the site.

That may seem harmless, but Lobato, with McAfee & Taft, said that customization feature could mean some businesses will find Facebook pages ending with their trademarked names. He said the only requirement is that a requested username be longer than five characters and alphanumeric.

Lobato said Facebook didn't give companies much time to protect themselves upfront, announcing the new policy last Tuesday. He said that gave rights holders until 12:01 a.m. EST Saturday to file their trademarks with the site to prevent third-party users from acquiring them as usernames.

"Facebook really didn't give us a lot of heads-up on this," Lobato said.

Busy Friday afternoon filing trademarks for clients, Lobato said all is not lost for those who missed the midnight deadline, however.

"Registration will still be open," he said. "Rights holders can continue to register their mark with Facebook."

If it turns out that someone has filed a particular company's trademark as part of a username, he said, Facebook has established an avenue by which rights holders can complain and get the offending moniker removed. …