With over 300 million members who share more than 70 million photos and videos each day, Instagram has become a popular global community where individuals and brands can share photos and videos. In the spring of 2014, more than 3 million users interacted with more than 2,500 brand posts, which generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. Id. Instagram delivered 58 times more enhancement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Id.
Since Instagram has a greater percentage of brand-follower engagement, it is especially important for trademark owners to select their trademarked name as their Instagram username.
Because “[a] trademark is a mechanism for identifying the source of a good or service and a technique for providing marketing advantages for the owner of the trademark,” the use of their mark provides other Instagram users and consumers with a mechanism to easily search for the trademarked name and the ability to receive information and communication pertaining to that brand or individual associated with the trademarked name. See Trade Dress Protection.
As a result, we are often asked about how to claim your trademark as an Instagram username.
Can I Trademark My Instagram Username?
Similar to Twitter as discussed in How to Claim Your Trademark as a Username on Twitter, Instagram usernames are obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. With this in mind, it is best for trademark owners to try and obtain their trademarked name as their username as soon any social media app is launched. Instagram differs from other social media networking sites because accounts with prolonged inactivity may be permanently removed. Therefore, if your desired username is not available, Instagram recommends that users should consider choosing an available version of the username. Instagram suggests adding periods, numbers, underscores, or abbreviations. Moreover, it is important that owners of a trademark who have selected their trademarked name as their username on Instagram actively use their account in order to ensure permanent ownership of their username. A username can be edited after the original selection by choosing to edit your profile.
Instagram Trademark Violations
Similar to a trademark violation on Twitter, an Instagram trademark violation occurs when another uses “a company or business name, logo or other trademark-protected materials in a manner that may mislead or confuse others with regard to its brand or business affiliation”. However, using another’s trademark in a way that has nothing to do with the product or service for which the trademark was granted is not considered a trademark violation. For example, similar trademarks may co-exist if they have distinctly different fields of use, thus, extinguishing the likelihood of a trademark violation.
Apple Computer and Apple Corps, the record label founded by the Beatles, are examples of similar corporations with trademarks that co-exist. Although the two companies had confusingly similar trademarks, they identified an area in which they were distinct – i.e. fields of use.
If you think there has been a violation of your trademark, you can submit a report of a username to Instagram.
Photo Credit: José Moutinho
Editor’s note: this post was first published in July, 2015. It has been updated for clarity and comprehensiveness.