You may (or may not) already have a Google+ Vanity URL!

June 1, 2012 · Filed Under Brand and Trademark Protection, KnowEm News · 5 Comments 

At KnowEm we’ve been trying for a while now to see if Google has opened up a way for anyone to grab a vanity URL from Google+.  After searching around Google and some other blogs and publications this morning it appears that you cannot claim a vanity URL just yet; however, if you had selected a vanity URL for your old Google Profile those have been grandfathered in to point to your current Google+  profile (here is an example of my own:

Google Plus LogoThe interesting part is that it appears Google may have been removing a lot of those original Google Profile vanity URLs from accounts which represent known brand or trademarked terms.  I personally knew of several Google Profile accounts that had trademarked terms in the URL that have since disappeared from search results (using the method that is described below).  Is this possibly because they are gearing up for another big midnight name claim like the Great Facebook Land Rush of Ought Nine?

So from reading around the interweb it appears that originally they were rolling this out and matching it to YouTube channels for the inevitable tighter integration of Youtube and Google+.  All of the reports that we found which contained links to possibly claim a vanity URL now simply return 404s or just redirect to your Google+ profile page.

As reported by TNW back in March, Google has already announced they are going to be launching a 3rd party commenting system and vanity URLs – the former perhaps requiring the latter, so the question remains when will they roll the new features out?  We’re not sure.  I have reached out to Google and asked if they have any response as to why we are able to see some users with old Google Profile vanity URLs and some without, and I’ll update this post as soon as I hear a response.  So if you’re not already be sure to follow us on twitter (@KnowEm) so you will be alerted to when this is launched in full.

Until then, you may or may not already have a username URL.  As far as we can tell it all depends if you created a Google Profile vanity URL when that product was still active.  To see if you do have one simply check out:<Enter either your Gmail address before the @ OR the custom URL you created with Google Profiles here>

If it forwards you directly to your Google+ profile then you are good to go!  Do you have a vanity URL? Have you figured out a way to create a vanity URL besides using a 3rd party service like we have previously posted about?  Let us know in the comment box below.

So what does this mean for business, trademarks and intellectual property? A lot. This is going to be a whole new can of worms just like the aforementioned Facebook claim. Large and small companies alike that originally thought networks like Twitter and Facebook were “just fads” and never attempted to claim their brand names in social media now have all kinds of headaches trying to retrieve them (in case you’re one of them, contact us and we can help).

For example, we don’t know if these two profiles are actually verified by the social media brands they claim to be, but here are two examples of names we have already found claimed: and  Can you find any others?

At KnowEm we look forward to a big name claiming rush like this one might become in order to ensure our clients’ Intellectual Property is immediately secured.  Until then, if you want to learn more about how you can protect your brand, trademark  or IP portfolio, check out our Enterprise Services.


Microsoft Follows Google’s Rules of Trademark Use In PPC

Microsoft released an announcement today that as of March 3rd, 2011, they will no longer be making editorial investigations into “complaints about trademarks used as keywords to trigger ads on Bing & Yahoo! Search in the United States and Canada.”  What this basically means is they are allowing anyone to bid on a trademarked term for PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising, even if someone else owns the trademark on that term. They still, however, will investigate text within the ads (note their new “Investigations” policy).
Trademark Pay Per Click
This basically follows suit with what Google has already been doing – allowing the competitive purchasing of trademarked terms in the United States as PPC keywords, while not allowing the use of trademark terms within text ads (when deemed inappropriate).  The U.S. is one of many regions where Google will not investigate keyword trademarked infringements, but ad text only (see full list here).

According to Microsoft’s new statement, they are only ceasing investigations to the U.S. and Canada on PPC trademark buying, but obviously they could expand their list of regions in the future also.

So what does Microsoft suggest you do if someone is buying your trademarked term, misrepresenting your brand, and stealing your customers?  According to their new Intellectual Property Guidelines, “If there is concern that an advertiser may be using a trademark keyword inappropriately, the trademark owner should contact the advertiser directly.”  So now the onus is on trademark owners to spend the time, effort, money and litigation to exert the government-granted right they paid for to protect a trademark.  This is basically the same stance Google has been taking for a while now.

Of course, one can readily see why both Microsoft and Google don’t want to be the gatekeepers on PPC trademark rights – they want more advertising money.  By opening the flood gates to allow illegal trademark purchasing, they can get a lot more competitors buying click terms.  Pepsi can buy Coca Cola, and Ford can buy Nissan.  It’s up to the trademark owners to battle it out in court.

If you’re a trademark attorney representing a major brand, you will now have to be ever more vigilant in policing the web for cases of trademark infringement.   And if you’re an SMB out there trying to create a brand and protect a trademark on the search engines?  It’s the wild west out there now, and anything goes unless you have the money to take every competitive PPC buyer to court.