–Dan Kelly, Attorney
This past Tuesday, June 9, Facebook, Inc. announced on its blog that, as of 12:01 EDT on Saturday, June 13 (that’s tomorrow), Facebook users will be able to register for unique user names on a first-come, first-served basis. Each user name will be incorporated into a personalized URL of the format http://www.facebook.com/firstname.lastname or http://www.facebook.com/username, depending upon the user name.
Trademark or other proprietary name holders may fill out a form at this page to prevent Facebook users from registering particular marks or names as usernames under this scheme. Facebook has also set up a FAQ page here to answer some questions about these new user names, and provides a form here by which a trademark owner can challenge someone else’s use of a protected intellectual property right.
David Berkowitz has additional details over at Ad Age.
Commentary after the jump . . .
Starting with the completely insufficient four day notice regarding this change, this strikes me as a questionable effort on the part of Facebook that will involve a long, bumpy road. For anyone who has seen the due diligence involved in erecting a new top-level domain name space, addressing the rights of IP holders is a long, complex, and sensitive process typically addressed in a months-long sunrise period, not four days notice.
I can find no explanation of how Facebook intends to arbitrate disputes among legitimate rights holders and “squatters,” much less disputes among those with competing legitimate rights. Perhaps Facebook has a plan for the numerous conflicts that are likely to arise under this regime, but I think that it will instead get a speedy education on many of the complexities of trademark law!