Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Twitter ID Squatting - What to do if you are a victim

Jeffrey L. Cohen has written a clear and concise post on how not to Fall Victim to B2B Twitter Squatting. Click Here.

I have considered what can be done should a business fall victim:

There are two main courses of action available to victims of B2B Twitter Squatting.

Firstly, you can contact Twitter to report a breach of the terms of use. to report an impersonation or you can report trade mark violation.

Secondly, you litigate based on your trade mark or rights of passing off. The first step is to normally to send a cease and desist letter to the owner of the offending Twitter account requesting that they delete or transfer the offending profile and provide undertakings not to do similar in the future.

Finding the impersonator can often be difficult if they hide behind the anonymity afforded by social media but there are options including service via Twitter!

Practically, the reporting route is going to be less expensive than instructing lawyers and may ultimately be more fruitful. Litigation can be even more costly and difficult if the ID squatter is resident in a country where it is difficult to enforce judgements.

However, Twitter et al may ask you to prove that you have rights in the ID name before suspending an account and indeed Twitter asks for the trade mark registration number when complaining of trade mark violation/infringement. The easiest way to show you have rights in a name is to obtain a registered trade mark.

As SM grows and new platforms are used it will be interesting to see if there will be the need be a uniform dispute resolution procedure for SM ID's similar to domain name disputes. Logically, the ID squatters on Twitter et al will try to extort money for the transfer of the profile account.

The moral of the story is, as Jeffrey L. Cohen says, be there first.

I would add that this is especially important if there are other brands or businesses who have equal entitlement to an ID

ie Polo

Think Nestle, Ralph Lauren and Volkswagen.

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