Can Usernames Violate Trademark Law?
from the fun-with-over-anxious-lawyers dept
Aviran writes “I found this via digg.com. Bluecollardistro.com got a legal threat this morning from FamilyPants.com because a user on their forum chose ‘FamilyPants’ as their username. They’re upset because Google (and only Google) puts the user’s profile on the first page of results for “familypants”.” A lot of the comments on Digg and the original post seem to confuse trademark and copyright law, but it’s quite hard to see how this is a violation of trademark law. We’ve said it over and over again, but a trademark does not grant you full control over the trademark. It just lets you prevent others from using it in ways that are likely to be confusing. A user in a forum discussion is quite unlikely to confuse people — though, it may depend on what the person is saying. If that user is constantly making statements to suggest that he or she is associated with the entity that owns the trademark, then they would actually have a claim. However, from what’s been said, it doesn’t sound like that’s true at all. Instead, it sounds like someone’s upset about someone else’s Google rank.