An update to our post last night – Facebook Snatches User’s Vanity URL And Sells It To Harman International. Facebook says they’ll be giving Harman Bajwa his /harman vanity URL back shortly:
Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Mike. We made a mistake in this instance and are in the process of returning the username to Mr. Bajwa. To be clear, the move was not driven by monetary reasons, rather trademark protection. We strive to protect trademarks from ‘squatters’ — those who try to take protected terms with no legitimate claim. The message Harman received was along those lines, but clearly not applicable. Once we understood the nature of our error, we moved quickly to resolve it. We want to apologize to Mr. Bajwa for being overzealous in our efforts and regret the disruption to his account.
Here are the Facebook guidelines on trademark squatting. Which is fine for Nike or coca-cola, but definitely a grey area for trademarks that are also legitimately in use as people’s names. I’d pay to see the emails that must have been flying around Facebook this morning. But they did the right thing here, and that’s all that matters.
Update: An interesting twist I missed before. Harman set up a Support Harman facebook group last night after our initial post. Mark Zuckerberg joined it: