The world of social media has encouraged people to share ideas and inspire each other. Here's what you need to know about trademark protection on social media.
Social media has become a huge and important part of business in today's world. With 1.65 billion active social media accounts, this isn't surprising. How can you make your business, product, or service stand out among the millions of others on social media? How can you protect your business online? Trademarks are a great way to help your business stand out among competitors. They can provide protection for yourself and your business.
Here are our best tips for trademark protection on social media.
What trademark protection can do for you
Trademarks are a key part of growing and maintaining a business. Here are some of our top reasons why trademarks are important for your business:
- Consumers recognize certain trademarks which can influence their purchasing decisions.
- As your brand grows, your trademark can become more valuable.
- Trademarks allow for instant business recognition by potential customers, employees, and more.
- Trademarks can build brand loyalty with your clientele.
- Trademark protection can protect your unique trademarked entity from use by competitors.
What you can trademark
Now that you know how much trademarks can help you, it's time to figure out what you want to trademark.
There are a number of things you can trademark to protect your business in the online world:
- Website domain names (ex. Disney.com)
- Logos (ex. Mickey Mouse ears)
- Brand/product names (ex. Disney Princess)
- Slogans (ex. 'The Happiest Place on Earth')
- Sounds (ex. Law and Order's "chung chung")
- Hashtags (ex. #sayitwithpepsi)
You are only able to trademark something if it is unique (ex. you cannot trademark "shoelaces" for a shoelace company) and if it is related to how you promote and advertise your brand. Keep this in mind when thinking about trademark protection for your business.
Using your trademark on social media
Now that you have your trademark, it is time to put it to good use!
You should register your trademarked name on social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. These big social media sites not only help build brand recognition, but they can also increase and influence your sales. This is important seeing as social media is crucial for business: Deloitte reports that when buyers use social media when looking for a product, they are four times as likely to spend more than those who don't use social media.
In 2015, Facebook influenced 52% of consumers' purchases (both online and offline). So once you've registered your trademarked name on these sites, start using your trademarked slogans and logos to your heart's content! This will solidify your brand on social media and allow you to reach thousands of customers.
If you trademark a hashtag, use it in tweets and in Facebook or Instagram posts! The hashtag allows for customer interaction with your business, and is great for advertising or spreading a campaign.
Also, keep your eye out for emerging social media platforms and immediately register an account with your brand name. You never know what new social media will be the next Facebook, so be sure you and your brand are represented.
Enforcing your trademark
The great thing about social media is it allows you to connect your business with thousands of people and market successfully in today's online world. The issue with social media, however, is that it allows many people, including competitors, access to your intellectual property. Simply having the trademark isn't enough to have trademark protection: you must be constantly on the lookout for trademark infringement and enforce your trademark rights.
In the United States, if you are not actively policing your trademark or reporting trademark infringements, you can lose your trademark protection and rights. So how can you enforce your trademark? What do you do if you see someone else using your trademark on their social media?
Monitor social media
First, you need to be monitoring social media platforms to make sure that no one is using your trademarked material. Look for accounts using your logo or your slogan in a slightly modified way and for accounts using your trademarked brand name as their account name. Sometimes other companies will use your trademark in their social media advertising, so look out for that as well.
Identify specific procedures used by the social media platform
Many social media platforms have stipulations within their Terms of Service agreement that prohibits infringement. Some platforms even have procedures in place where you can report a trademark infringement, and the platform will remove the reported material. You'll have to explain your trademark and how the material you reported is infringement.
You should also keep in mind that some uses of trademarks don't count as infringement. If it's being used for personal reasons, or if it is being used in a way unrelated to the brand, some platforms don't consider this infringement. Be sure to look over each social media platform's policy when identifying potential cases of infringement.
There are lawyers who specialize in trademarks, so they would be able to help you if an issue arises. They'll be able to recognize the severity of a situation and help you choose the best course of action to take. They can tell you whether reporting the offender to the social media platform is the way to go, or if you will need to take serious action like filing a lawsuit.
One of the best things you can do is take steps to avoid these sorts of things happening. Lawyers can be expensive, and infringement reporting can be time-consuming. So even before you trademark a name or slogan, you should register that name on social media platforms. This will prevent other people from obtaining the name before you, which can prevent future infringement issues.
Trademarks can be a great asset to your business. They can serve as a great communication tool and help to build brand recognition. Social media is an excellent way to use your trademarks to your advantage by connecting your brand to thousands of people.
Hopefully, these tips can shed some light on what to trademark and how to maintain trademark protection for your business.
Need more information? Let us know with a comment!