If a Country Can’t Reclaim a Username, What Chance Do You Have?

Israel on TwitterIt was recently reported that the state of Israel purchased the Twitter username @Israel from a private individual named Israel Meléndez for an undisclosed sum, which by some reports may be as much as six figures.  You read that right – the Nation of Israel paid for a Twitter username from some guy that runs a porn site in Miami.  He gave the prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu his password, and then they handed him a check.

Since Twitter has a policy against name squatting and selling usernames, you have to wonder what Twitter thinks of this deal.  Their policy states “attempts to sell, buy, or solicit other forms of payment in exchange for usernames are also violations and may result in permanent account suspension.”  Israel Meléndez says they didn’t violate this clause because he was just relinquishing his own personal account, he didn’t create the account for the purposes of making a profit.  Other reports state Twitter actually helped facilitate the sale, but Twitter hasn’t confirmed that.

At KnowEm we have clients inquiring every day about what they can do to get their company’s brand, trademark or username back if it has already been taken on a social network.  We always advise them to use the proper channels and contact the website owner to ask about their policy in reclaiming names, which usually requires some lawyers to get involved.  The truth is, however, that it can be a very difficult and time-consuming process.  And as this story shows us, you might not get the outcome you want.

If the nation of Israel had to pay a six figure sum to reclaim their name on Twitter, what chance do you have of getting your branded username back if it’s already been taken?  This is the primary reason a professional service like KnowEm is so valuable for brand and trademark owners who want to be proactive in Social Media.  Think of it as brand insurance – no one can steal or squat on your name on the next big social network if you have already registered it.

This article has been republished from the KnowEm blog.

Tags: brands, israel, knowem, marketing, social media, trademarks, twitter, usernames

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Comments

18 Responses to “If a Country Can’t Reclaim a Username, What Chance Do You Have?”

  1. Designer's Digest on October 3rd, 2010 3:07 am

    Well, I haven;t done any trademark registration for my blog, but still want to know. Is there any way to get twitter username which has been already registered long back but not active or twitting?

  2. sejour thalasso on October 5th, 2010 3:16 am

    In the words of Joel Spolsky: where there’s muck, there’s brass.

    ‘Inspiring’ post, very interesting.

  3. Chris in Orange County on November 6th, 2010 9:03 pm

    Amazing how much being a first mover on a movement can net you! I agree that the lay person would have a tough time doing this without the help of a professional service.

  4. jenn@t1 internet on November 16th, 2010 6:28 pm

    I can’t say I’m surprised that Israel had to pay six figures to get that Twitter ID, because under international Trademark law, you can’t trademark a name. This case might have turned out differently if the owner of @Israel wasn’t actually NAMED Israel, but you never know.

  5. Britt Phillips on November 20th, 2010 12:38 pm

    Just another example of smart ways to make money off the ever growing high demand for branding. Much money to be made here!

  6. Toronto Ski Trips on November 24th, 2010 4:21 pm

    Great so any one can buy my Twitter account. ;-p

  7. Bogdane; on December 10th, 2010 10:10 am

    Well the answer seems to be clear.. no chance.. Usually these social networks respond to tickets in weeks or months.. so it would take forever to recover a social name or to take it from someone else..

  8. Web Design Leeds on January 18th, 2011 11:11 am

    There will always be companies or individuals who aren’t prepared to wait for the wheels to turn when it comes to this kind of thing. Some people wold rather just pay up and get it sorted rather than face a lengthy battle. It’s definitely not fair, but I don’t think there is much people can really do about it?

  9. Joseph McCullough on January 29th, 2011 5:06 pm

    It’s just the domain reseller market applied to social media. It makes complete sense, although I hate how these types of industries exist. There will always be those industries that do nothing for the economy but simply transfer funds from A to B, with no value added. Pretty disgusting if you ask me.

  10. Christian on February 12th, 2011 6:08 pm

    Wow, that’s crazy. Although it’s small change for a country to pay that amount; it’s amazing that social media can drum up such income and profit turn just in user-names alone.

  11. The Londoneer on February 13th, 2011 4:27 pm

    I wish I’d understood Twitter earlier – of course the username that matches with my blog title is some guy who made one post and then disappeared. Of course there’s not the slightest chance that they’ll give me that username even though in many respects I have a better claim to it :

  12. Gran Canaria on April 18th, 2011 3:26 pm

    This could be bad news for twitter. If it goes the way of web domains it will become impossible to register a twitter username that isn’t something like loli9854. Unless twitter started deleting inactive accounts which would be probably a very good idea.

  13. iPhone 5 on May 20th, 2011 1:25 am

    Am sad for state of Israel because they paid too much for that. Smart guy from Miami, too bad.

  14. Minas Notebook on August 30th, 2011 4:57 pm

    If you registered first, it’s yours, no matter what people say. I have a friend called Israel, what if he registered a twitter account with his first name?

  15. Phil on December 14th, 2012 6:15 pm

    Wow, who would have thought Twitter names would be worth money. I guess it does pay to be an early adopter sometimes.

  16. Brandon on January 20th, 2013 7:18 pm

    I agree with Gran above that Twitter might want to start deleting users who have been inactive for longer than say, six months. We’ve seen the effect squatting has had on domain names, and while its not as bad on SNS sites, the story reminds us that it exists in this realm as well.

  17. WordPress Themes on February 7th, 2013 8:06 am

    No matter what social networks like Twitter says, many people are still indulging in the selling of usernames. But as you said correctly, it is important to follow the proper channels to get your username back.
    In this case, I believe it was stupid of Israel government to buy the username instead of acquiring it back for free.

  18. Matt Sells on November 6th, 2013 11:05 pm

    Wow, that is crazy! I have heard a few being sold, but this is much different. This should make companies, orgs and government agencies understand they need to be more aggressive with their online presence.