A social media brand may not be a tangible service or product, by trademark attorneys are highlighting the importance of registering them nonetheless. Using your social media platforms to connect with your customers is a crucial part of an online brand. It also builds trust with your online community, and because it can be used to drive potential customers to your website, it’s a valuable tool that can drive sales too.
But your competitors, or those wanting to enter the market, could potentially subtly commandeer your brand for their benefit if you have a social media presence. They could ‘hijack’ your tweets, blog posts, shares, or hashtags to tap into your business goodwill. They’ll do so to boost their own brand off the back of yours, and cash in in the process.
It’s not difficult to trademark your social media or register your brand name and logo. But it is important as it can help you protect your business from a range of risks associated with social media.
Firstly, you know the time, effort, and financial investment it’s taken for you to launch a business or start-up and establish your brand in the marketplace. If you don’t have the correct trademark protection, you could lose this all. It’s advisable to consult a trademark attorney who is an expert in the field of social media trademarking. They will help you ensure that others cannot use your brand in their social media without asking permission from you.
Social media platforms, including Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube already have policies in place that cover this issue. However, you need to trademark your social media in Australia to make sure you have the monopoly to use your trademark and prevent others from: using that trademark or using deceptively or confusingly similar trademarks.
With your trademark rights clarified, you will have the power to approach infringing parties and enforce your rights against them. All you have to do is show the social media provider proof that you own the registered trademark. Without evidence that you have a registered trademark lodged with IP Australia, it will be challenging to enforce your rights online or with the various social media platforms you use.
Social media companies will only act when they are presented with legal proof or an order from a court. They will not act in the capacity of mediation or as an arbitrator. If you have the legally binding trademark register, it will be quick and straightforward to make an application to a social media platform. You will be able to avoid an expensive and lengthy legal route that comes with the process required to obtain a court order.
Here are some of the most common questions trademark attorneys encounter regarding social media infringements:
Q: What can I do if I discover someone else is using my brand name in their social media or domain name?
A: This is an issue that’s on the rise because of the steady increase in people engaging with social media platforms. It can be frustrating when you discover someone else has used your brand name online or in their domain name, but you shouldn’t react emotionally and post something in response to this action. Your anger could actually damage your brand further. Instead, contact a trademark professional.
Q: How can I protect my brand online?
A: Firstly, make sure you have a registered trademark. A domain name registration for a business name or registered company name often isn’t enough if you need to enforce your rights online. If you come across a party you feel has infringed on your rights, try and determine if they are providing the same goods or services as your company or brand.
Did you know that trademarks are registered underclasses of goods and services? It means that the other company may be within their rights to use the name or mark if they are in a different class of goods and services from your business. A registered trademark is also only enforceable in the jurisdiction in which it was registered. It means if someone else is using your brand outside of Australia, you may have a very weak case when trying to enforce your intellectual property rights. You’ll need to determine where the infringing party trades from before you take things further.
To sum up, you will be in a strong position to contact a social media platform to enforce your rights only if:
- You have a registered trademark on your brand or product.
- The other party provides the same or similar goods or services as yours does. You will need to make sure that they are in the same category as yours or your objection will be denied.
- The other party is trading in Australia.