Sorry, Person Named Chanel, You Can’t Use Your First Name As An Instagram Handle

When you’re an early adopter of a website, that means you have your pick of usernames. A young lady in Canada registered for Instagram early on, before Facebook acquired the company. Her username was her real first name: Chanel. Eventually, brands began to use the service, and that’s when the fashion house of the same name found that someone had already registered @chanel. Now no one is using that ID. Why?

UPDATE: Chanel the person has regained control of her account, and says that her username was changed in a phishing attack.

A post shared by Chanel Bonin (@chanel) on

Here’s our original post about Chanel vs. Chanel, a cautionary tale about clicking on links in e-mails that you receive. An account with tens of thousands of followers can be valuable to spammers and people who are up to no good, so the fashion brand may not have been involved at all.


The most likely explanation, The Fashion Law reports, is that Chanel (the brand) made its case to Instagram, which recognized the company’s trademark and turned the username over to Chanel (the brand). Chanel (the brand) joined Instagram three years after Chanel (the person) did.

“Chanel,” of course, was the actual last name of the woman who founded the company, and the fashionable Vancouverite was probably named after the brand. According to Fashion Law, she had 40,000 followers before her account disappeared, compared to the fashion brand’s 9.1 million.

There is a precedent for this kind of thing when it comes to Chanel: a salon owner in Indiana with the same first name called her business, logically, Chanel’s Salon. After sending multiple cease and desist letters, the company won a 2014 lawsuit. You may think that you have the right to your own name, but you don’t if your name is a pre-existing trademark. Could someone assume that the salon is connected with the fashion brand? It’s possible.

“Nothing herein may be read to prohibit Jones from using her personal name solely in a personal, non-commercial capacity, or to otherwise identify herself,” the judge wrote in the Indiana salon case, “provided that Ms. Jones does not use her name in any manner that suggests an affiliation or relationship with Chanel.”

Chanel (the Instagramming human) told The Fashion Law that she has been advised not to talk about the situation by her lawyer, which indicates that the company probably took over the account.

Chanel May Have Just Won a Battle for the Chanel Instagram Account [The Fashion Law] (via Racked)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.