In what may be a first, a company has bought rights to a Facebook page -- in a bidding war, even. OraBrush, a company that makes tongue cleaners, has outbid Hershey's for the rights to the "Kisses" public profile, according to the Inside Facebook blog.
Pricing was not disclosed.
The Kisses page has 1,158,002 fans, and every time the owner of the page posts something to it, it automatically appears on the status page of all its fans because it has "stream access." This means it's an easy way to advertise.
"Facebook wants Pages to be authentic channels for brands and authorized agents, leaving generic topics to Facebook Groups, which don’t have stream access," said Inside Facebook.
To do this, though, Facebook is going to need to do something about "page squatting," which Twitter began addressing earlier this year by not allowing people to "squat" on Twitter IDs in hopes of making a profit, or infringing on a vendor's trademark with the intent to confuse consumers. Facebook has still not created any sort of trademark infringement policy, according to its help section.
The same thing happened with domain names; a few savvy people started signing themselves up to own domain names like "www.mcdonalds.com," with the thought that, someday, McDonald's Corp. might want to be on the Internet and would offer them oodles of money to buy the name from them, but eventually, it was determined that URLs could be subject to trademark infringement, and people who had registered domain names in hopes of earning a windfall had to give them up to the registered trademark holder.
Presumably, as with domain names, at some point people who have started up fan pages that are company trademarks may find themselves forced to give them up to the trademark holder -- even if they set it up legitimately -- rather than being able to use it as a windfall -- and owners of the same trademark in different industries might find themselves fighting over who has the right to the Facebook fan page for that name.