The original fight over internet squatting started with domain names. With just InterNIC assigning domains in the 1990s, savvy entrepreneurs went out and registered big name brands like McDonalds and others in order to hold the domain “hostage” and get a big buyout. Eventually copyright lawyers stepped in and changed the game but for a short time it was like the wild west.

Today we have the same challenge but it’s in the fight for usernames on social networks or people claiming that they may work for your company but do not. At times it may just be the case of coincidence of naming.

For instance I worked for a small company called Huffman Corporation in Clover, SC. LinkedIn will find other “fellow” employees but in this case it’s another Huffman Corporation. With companies named after people and the name is common, this can occur. Lately I’ve noticed that LinkedIn has created company profiles in order to distinguish commonly named organizations. Now I’m able to select Huffman Corporation in Clover, SC in my profile to accurately identify it.

At the same time I’ve found people listed in LinkedIn claiming they work for my current company, Zencos and they do not. The first time it happened I emailed LinkedIn and told them this person did not work for us and their claim on our company name was invalid. LinkedIn wrote me back and said they would look into it. Eventually I could not find that person listed with our company name anymore so I figured LinkedIn took care of it.

The second time it happened there was some different circumstances. The first being the person and company was listed outside the US. Does my company’s trademark hold for Mexico? Secondly it appeared that this was a case like Huffman, someone with similar name that created a consulting firm named after them. They don’t compete with us and are outside our main geographic boundaries so do I need to worry about it?

In the case of usernames I was able to get my desired username on Twitter and LinkedIn but someone took Zencos at YouTube. I looked at the account and it had not been used at all, no videos, no favorites, nothing. So I took same approach as I did with LinkedIn, asking YouTube if they would ask person to release username or if they had policy on inactivity. Well I never heard from them and ended up creating a username of zencostv. Not what I wanted but I had to get the channel up and running.

Have you ever had to deal with someone squatting on your brand name? Have you had any success with social networks to get it changed?

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.