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Including a brand name in a social media username?

Diamond City, AR |
Filed under: Internet law

Hi, I would like to know if it's OK to include a brand name in a Twitter, Facebook, blog or website's username? Like, if made account that was "YouTubePromote" or "YouTuberRetweets" or "YouTubers Unite". Would that be a copyright violation?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. While the use of a brand or mark would not so much be a copyright violation, you could very well violate trademark rights in doing so, particularly if the purpose has any commercial context. You should consult an attorney with more specifics.

    The answers provided arise from general knowledge and experience. Thus, the information provided in the answers is intended to give a general response to a broad question asked. The answers DO NOT constitute specific legal advice. Additionally, the answers do not create an attorney-client relationship. Indeed, the answer is provided not knowing the individual who posted the query or the party interested in the answer. Again, the answer does not constitute specific legal advice as a complete assessment is needed to provide legal advice. Moreover, our firm requires signed engagement letters before providing specific legal advice. An individual should always consult an attorney privately who can ask specific questions and provide specific advice based upon the answers to the questions. An individual should not make independent decisions based on general answers to anonymous questions posted online. Consult an attorney before making any specific decisions regarding your own situation.

  2. Since you don't know the difference between copyright and trademark, you need to get to know an Intellectual Property lawyer who does, and ALL IP lawyers will know the basic difference. Since YouTube is not promoting your FB, Tw, blog or site, it is illegal on several counts (including 15 USC 1114 and 15 USC 1125) to falsely imply otherwise by using YouTubePromote. "YouTuberRetweets" is likely also illegal but closer to the legal borderline, since YouTuber implies a user of YouTube rather than YouTube itself. "YouTubers Unite" is likely legal, both on free speech and descriptive use grounds. However, I feel confident you are engaging in copyright infringement due to the content you are using and the way you are likely using it. To reduce your risk you need to consult an IP attorney for some needed guidance. If you don't consult now you might very well be consulting later at much, much greater expense and risk.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

  3. How you use the name will determine if it is a Trademark (not copyright) violation. This is a tricky area, and you should consult with an attorney who regularly works in the area of Trademark and Internet law.

    You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo, including myself, offer a free phone consultation.

    This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.

  4. It would arguably be trademark infringement and/or false and deceptive advertising as you are creating the impression that you are somehow associated with or acting with the consent of YouTube etc. unless your use falls within a very narrow "fair use" carve out. And even there it's tricky. By adopting a third party's brand identity/trademarks you are likely creating confusion, and/or the appearance of endorsement or false association. That's legal talk for creating a world of hurt for yourself.
    Hire a trademark/brand rights lawyer and get some good advice on the front end before sinking money into your brand development, etc.
    This is not legal advise. Just my thoughts.

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