Six things to know if your Facebook username has been squatted

Six things to know if your Facebook username has been squatted

Summary: Mike Arrington couldn't get his name as a Facebook username when registration opened on 6/12/09. Here are six things you should know if you're in the same boat.

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Six things to know if your Facebook Username has been squattedHere are some things to bear in mind about username squatting on Facebook.

  1. I'm guessing Mike Arrington can get this fixed with a phone call or two. (via Dave Winer) If you're not him...
  2. You may have missed the fact there was, before username registration opened up, a form to complete for "preventing [your] trademarks from being registered as usernames." That form is now closed, and links off instead to Facebook's non-copyright IP Infringement Form. (Given its wording and stated purpose, I doubt it would have helped with non-trademark-registered individual names anyway.)
  3. Facebook (like Twitter, etc.) is not ICANN, and the UDRP has no application to its vanity URLs. Facebook's terms of service, however, mandate that users not "take any action on Facebook that infringes someone else's rights or otherwise violates the law."
  4. Many jurisdictions, (including California where Facebook is headquartered), restrict or prohibit unauthorized use of a person's "name, image, likeness or other unequivocal aspects of one's identity."
  5. It's not "squatting" if someone else happens to share an individual's name and was able to register it or a variation.
  6. All that said, it seems one's first recourse as the victim of a username squatter is the aforementioned non-copyright IP Infringement Form.

I'd be interested in hearing about people's experiences with this — whether it turns out to be streamlined and effective or frustrating and a pain. Let me know and I'll update.

Previously: Chris Pirillo is socialsquatted; does the law care?

Topic: Social Enterprise

Denise Howell

About Denise Howell

Denise Howell is an appellate, intellectual property and technology lawyer who enjoys broad industry recognition for her expertise on the intersection of emerging technologies and law.

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8 comments
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  • Related problem

    There is a possible related problem. A number of years ago some jerk who hates Dustin Diamond, who played "Screech" on the TV show [i]Saved by the Bell[/i] registered DustinDiamond.com when the Web was in its infancy. He then put together what appears to be an incredibly amateurish website designed to give the impression that Diamond owns the site and was just too cheap and stupid to hire someone to do a professional-looking website.

    It even got to the point where the guy who put up the site started letting people post all sorts of extremely vulgar sexually-oriented comments in the guestbook, giving visitors the impression that Diamond was the one allowing it and/or responding.

    Diamond filed a complaint with ICANN and even hired a law firm to handle the complaint. ICANN ruled that the site is a parody site and therefore that is a legitimate non-infringing use and so Diamond could not get the name.
    Rick_R
    • RE: Six things to know if your Facebook username has been squatted

      @Rick_R I was a fan of that hilarious website before it was eventually taken down by the owner. I heard that Diamond may have been covertly behind that website and that the entire ICANN arbitration may have been a ruse to generate publicity for Diamond's porn tape.

      I bet that Dustin Diamond enjoyed reading all of the jokes and gay fantasies about him that were posted in that site's guestbook!
      Kurt_Steinberg
  • RE: Six things to know if your Facebook username has been squatted

    Why would you assume it's being squatted and he'll be able to get it switched? While his name isn't incredibly common, I get 143 hits doing a search for it...I think it's much more likely that someone else simply got it before he did, same as for many of the rest of us.
    scarbarough
    • See my point #5

      Not assuming; just possible. :)
      Denise Howell
      • Great Job...

        Thanks Babe, wonderful post.
        Black Label Society
  • on a slightly different topic

    Is it just me or is Ms. Howell gorgeous! <insert puppy-love emoticon here>
    t0mmyt@...
    • Ummmm......

      What are you, 12?

      Probably should think before you post sexist remarks in response to a lawyer's blog.
      rshores
  • RE: Six things to know if your Facebook username has been squatted

    Just don't expect a quick response from FB. I submitted a resolution form about two months ago in regard to a band's Fan Page that lifted my company logo, which is on my FB personal page and company page,to incorporate into theirs. (They added a line of text outside the image, but my logo itself it still unchanged.) Anyhow, their page is still up and I have yet to hear back.
    brunoNYC