As part of our internet law & e-commerce practice, we provide impersonation & username squatting cessation services.
What is Username Squatting?
Impersonation or username squatting refers to the improper use of username accounts on social media platforms to masquerade as another.
Name squatting typically involves the registration of a particular username or account handle with a bad faith intent. For example, some squatters intend to sell to the domain or handle at an inflated price to trademark owner of the name. This typically involves registration by users who have no intention of using the account in a legitimate manner.
Trademark or Brand Infringement Through Username Squatting
In short, trademark infringement is not the same as impersonation or username squatting. Although impersonation and username squatting is undoubtedly related to trademark infringement, there are distinctions. The USPTO defines trademark infringement as unauthorized use of trademarks in manners likely to cause confusion or deception among consumers. For example, use of a third-party’s brand constitutes trademark infringement. Additionally, creating a handle in social media containing another’s trademark to sell product as the mark owner is trademark infringement.
Popular social media platforms often pointedly make this distinction as well. For example, Twitter policies note “if an account has had no updates, no profile image, and there is no intent to mislead, it typically means there’s no name-squatting or impersonation.” Twitter indicates that it will not release inactive or squatted usernames unless there is a valid trademark infringement claim.
Brand Squatting; Twitter Squatting; Social Media Squatting
Brand and company owners should be aware that different social media platforms respond to allegations of username squatting differently. Without uniform requirements for registration of usernames, social media platforms exercise varying degrees of involvement when it comes username disputes.
With our experience in Internet and intellectual property law, we understand and can help with trademark infringement through usernames. If a brand or trademark is being infringed, we provide advice account retrieval as well as guidance on proactive protections.
Online Impersonation Disputes and Username Squatting Litigation
Read more about our litigation services at our intellectual property litigation overview page and our business litigation overview page, including Domain Name Litigation, Trademark Infringement Litigation, and Fraud Litigation.