I'm trying to setup new social media accounts for my business and I see that the names are already in use by others for personal use.
If you have a valid and enforceable trademark, others cannot use it as a profile name on social media accounts, unless that use somehow qualifies as "fair use" under applicable law.
This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is not to be relied upon as legal advice or applied to specific situations. Legal advice is provided only upon execution of a written retainer agreement and after a comprehensive consultation in which all relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
Normally the business name is only trademarked if that is the word or words used to identify the goods or services you offer. Otherwise it is a tradename, not a trademark.
If you have a USPTO trademark, others are prohibited from using it on web sites, social media, products or services or similar uses.
Please know that trademark priority is based on first use in commerce, not first to register, so if they others you noticed were "first to the markplace" you may find a challenge to your trademark in the future.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
Perhaps they can.
Registered trademarks are registered in categories. In the U.S. there are thousands of categories, so a trademark can often be claimed by more than one company.
Take Apple as an example. There is a record company with that registered trademark, and there is a computer company with the same registered trademark. Finally, if you owned an orchard and sold your Gala apples online, you could use the domain apple.com with no fear of liability.
Therefore, the answer to your question depends on the facts in your situation. Please feel free to contact me for a no charge consultation. I am experienced in Internet trademark cases.
Andrew M. Jaffe
Attorney at law
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
I agree with Attorney Jaffee. There is NO rule of law that states Person A cannot adopt as the name of his social media account the word or phrase that Person B uses as his trademark. As Attorney Jaffee notes, one reason why there's no such rule is that many words and phrases used as trademarks concurrently serve as trademarks for more than one person. And in ALL cases an analysis is necessary to determine whether Person A's use of the word or phrase that Person B uses as trademark will likely cause confusion in the marketplace. Sometimes it will and sometimes it won't [depending on the information that Person A displays on his social media account] and sometimes it cannot as a matter of law because if Person A is not engaging in commerce via his account there is no marketplace harm at all. This is why smart business folk open social media accounts with many different social media platforms even before they are ready to publish [or even if they chose to never publish]. This situation is much like registering domain names -- the first to register owns the domain name [except when a trademark owner proves the name was registered in "bad faith."]. You need to speak with your own trademark attorney. Good luck.
The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
I don't disagree with any of the other comments here. I just wanted to give you a good resource for your own research. The Us Patton and Trademark office has lots of information that might be of help to you.
Every situation is different, it is important to discuss your legal issue with a knowledgeable attorney in your jurisdiction. To schedule an appointment with me please contact me at 800 220-4205 or www.MartyBurbankLaw.com
It really depends on how their using it. Having trademark rights doesn't mean you are the only person that can use a certain term. For example, Apple Computers can't stop the grocery store from advertising Apples.
However, you do have the right to prevent others from using your mark (or a similar mark) in a manner that is likely to cause confusion. So, if this other entity's use of your mark for a social media handle or moniker is likely to cause confusion (e.g., people will think that account is affiliated with your business), then you would have a right to stop them.
However, as you can probably imagine, determining what is "likely to cause confusion" is a gray area that depends on many factual details. Also, this assumes (as others have mentioned) that your rights predate these other entities' use of the mark.
I am an attorney, but I am not YOUR attorney. By providing free, generalized information, I am not entering into an attorney/client relationship with you, nor am I providing legal advice applicable to your particular needs.