Here’s an interesting story involving a claim of trademark infringement on social media, via Techdirt.
Digital/music strategic Bas Grasmayer, who has written for Techdirt, opened his Soundcloud account way back in 2008 or 2009. Because it was the early days of the audio distribution platform, Grasmayer was lucky to snag an account that featured just his first name — soundcloud.com/bas/.Lucky, until recently, when Grasmeyer received notification from Soundcloud that the use of “Bas” in his account URL was infringing on a trademark (note: of rapper Bas, a/k/a Abbas Hamad). Soundcloud requested that Grasmeyer change his URL and display name to eliminate the mention of “Bas.” Yes, eliminate your name.
In addition, the notification from Soundcloud’s “Trust & Safety Team” informed Grasmeyer that he had 48 hours to make the change or risk account suspension “on the grounds of trademark infringement.”So, Grasmeyer wrote SoundCloud to say “Bas” is actually his name. Soundcloud responded by asking for proof in order to apply what it called “an exception” within the Trademark Directive. That exception, Soundcloud wrote is “that trademark owners can’t prevent an individual from using their own name in the course of trade. If we receive documentation proving that your name is "Bas", we will be able to push back and reject the trademark infringement claim.”
Grasmeyer responded with a copy of his identification, claiming that it’s unlikely he’d be confused with Bas, the rapper. You can read the full text of the back-and-forth communications on Techdirt.
As Techdirt points out, this isn’t the first time that people’s names have run afoul of trademarks. Remember Nissan Motors vs. Nissan Computer?
Since social media promotion is now such a central part of brand strategy, brand owners should be checking social media name availability as part of their standard trademark clearance process to avoid unnecessary conflicts and ensure their brands will have a voice in social media. Corsearch’s Social Media Name Search offers you a way to help search the world’s most popular social media sites, providing you with the ability to check the landscape of user/vanity names on social media. To learn more, visit the Corsearch website.