Facebook has more than 350 million users, Twitter has 32.1 million, and MySpace attracts more than 115 million to its site each month. The number of people using social media makes trademark infringement and brand confusion as easy as creating a username and password.
In Dallas alone, where we are located, more than 700,000 area businesses have a Facebook page, which are customizable mini-sites aimed at organizations, products, or public figures. By reaching their target demographics, these companies allow users, or “fans” of the page, to post comments, view news and information, and basically have a voice about that company. With tools like these open to the public, how can companies protect their brands and trademarks in a world run by social media?
There are some proactive ways to beat counterfeiters and imposters. On the one hand, it can be beneficial for some third-party employees or contractors to regularly check social media sites for unauthorized use of their brand, bad press, trademark infringement, and the sale of counterfeit products. Of course, the best defense is a good offense, so join the online community and create your own positive buzz. It is a relatively inexpensive way to advertise and reach consumers, who are not always reached with traditional methods.
Also be sure to register your business or brand on key social media sites. This can be a simple process and probably the easiest way to ensure your company’s reputation on social media sites. When registering you name or brand, no one else can. The problem is that someone else has already secured his name. If that happens, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your social media presence is yours.
Other options may include calling your in-house or litigation attorney, but before taking any action, first analyze the seriousness of the crime. Taking a tough stance against a fairly harmless offender can backfire and cause negative pressure (or, in some cases, benefit the offending party). Sometimes it is more effective to send a letter explaining the situation and asking the party at fault to fix the problem.
There are regulations and organizations to remedy the infringement when the lyrics and niceties don’t work. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) can be helpful in copyright infringement cases because many social media websites have guidelines that reflect the requirements of the DMCA. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is an official trade association representing the interests of the social media industry, with a code of ethics that requires members to adhere to certain guidelines, such as identity disclosure, genuine honesty in communication and media compliance. -specific rules.
Social media and social media law has not only opened up new avenues for brand marketing and communications, it has also added entirely new ways to violate those efforts. Making sure your brand and business are protected in cyberspace is not only important; it is an integral part of 21st century communications.