October 10, 2022

Trademarking Social Media Username

The power of a name (or username) 

By Timothy Shields.

We live in an era in which individuals can make a significant amount of profit based on social media presence. Perhaps you are a social media based “influencer” and are interested in trademarking to keep others from using your social media username. You may want to explore what intellectual property rights you might have. There is some important information to keep in mind regarding trademarks.  

The first question is: what does the username do? Trademarks are meant to identify goods and/or services. Therefore, if your username on social media is the name of your particular brand(s) providing goods and services in commerce, or is associated with your business, you may be able to obtain a trademark. If, however, you advertise for various other brands on your social media, or if it is unclear that you are using your trademark to identify your own goods and services to customers, it may be more challenging to show that your trademark is for a particular good or service.  

The second question is: what is the username? Trademarks not available for generic words or for common phrases or slogans. So, although you may have a catchy username, the username should be clearly connected to your business or service. A common phrase or slogan would be difficult for a customer to connect to a particular good or service.  

If your username happens to include the name of another service or good, keep in mind that the other owners of that good or service, even if they do not have a registered trademark, may be able to protest your trademark registration. This is because trademark rights exist the moment someone uses the trademark with their goods or services – these are referred to as common law rights.  

So, if you have a username that meets the above criteria, and a clearly definable good or service, you may be able to register your trademark!  For more detailed information on whether your username meets the criteria for trademark protection, we recommend speaking with a trademark attorney.  

Timothy Shields is a Partner at Kelley Kronenberg, focusing his practice on Technology, Data Privacy, and Social Media Representation. Tim serves technology companies as general counsel for a flat monthly rate based on the company’s needs starting at $1300/month.

Contact Timothy Shields at:
Phone: 833-830-HELP (4357)
Email: tshields@kklaw.com

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys or staff, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.