Facebook URLs raise cybersquatting fears

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Facebook URLs raise cybersquatting fears

Facebook’s newly launched personalised URLs feature has already come under fire from experts who have said it could be open to abuse by cybersquatters.

The new service, which went live at 5am BST on Saturday morning, allows account holders to register more distinctive URLs for their profiles by choosing a specific username, which will then be displayed in the URL link to their profile.

“Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on the web,” wrote Facebook designer Blaise DiPersia in a posting on the firm’s blog.

“People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names.”

However, experts from law firm Eversheds have warned that firms could be at risk from cybersquatters.

“There is a real risk that well known brands may be targeted by Facebook users to gain a financial benefit or damage the interests of brand owners - problems which brand owners are already only too familiar with in the context of cybersquatting," said Evershed partner, Antony Gold.

Solicitor at the firm, Birgit Schluckebier, addded that although Facebook has put in place certain measures to counter the efforts of cybersquatters, such as adopting a no transferability for usernames, brand owners must move quickly to mitigate the risk of abuse.

Facebook had given trademark owners the chance to submit their trademarks so that it could block unauthorised requests to regsiter associated usernames. However, that service has been closed now that the registration process has begun.

Facebook now says that any firm which wishes to report that a third party has registered a username which infringes on their rights, and wants to request removal of a page, will need to fill out an automated IP infringement form.

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