Brands that use Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook as platforms to market and sell their products or services are on the rise. As a brand with a social media presence, you have the benefit of speaking directly to customers. The goodwill, trust and reputation you hold with potential customers are crucial. This is why the issue of trademarking social media brands has come into the spotlight. If another brand hijacks your branding, you risk losing customers to them, not to mention the harm that can come to your brand if they offer an inferior product or service under your ‘name’.
Why Registering Trademarks for Social Media Brands Matters
It is so easy for competing brands to leverage your business goodwill to make money for themselves. It takes time and effort for a small business to establish a brand, and it’s an ongoing challenge to protect it too. trademark registration is one way you can protect the value your brand has built up. The online environment is a risky one, and it doesn’t take much for outsiders to copy your logo, tagline, and even your unique hashtags and pass them off as their own.
When you register a trademark for your social media in Australia, it must be registered according to a category for the goods or services you provide under that trademark. The trademark gives you the right use of the trademark. It legally provides you options to stop others from using the trademark, or ones that are considered too similar, within the country, if they fall into the same category or cover related goods or services.
Step one is to register your trademark. But how do you keep track of possible infringements? It’s up to you as the trademark owner to find infringing parties to enforce your rights.
It’s recommended you use the services of a professional trademark expert to help stop others from using your brand on their social media without permission. They will give you advice on some of the tools and policies provided and that have been put in place by social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more to target this issue.
If you encounter someone using your brand on social media or as a domain name, it can be very worrying. You may even feel compelled to reach out with demands or post something about them. However, this in itself could damage your brand’s reputation, and it’s best to leave disputes to trademark attorneys or IP solicitors who know how to handle online transgressions of this nature.
Proving Evidence of Ownership
If you feel there has been an infringement on a social media platform, you can contact the social media provider (look for the ‘report’ button) and provide them with evidence of your ownership of the registered trademark. This makes it a simple cut and dried case, and they will take steps to discipline the offender.
If you haven’t taken steps to register a trademark with IP Australia, it will be challenging to enforce your social media brand rights in Australia. Social media companies require evidence or a legal order before they take action. You want to avoid a lengthy and costly litigation process to obtain a Court Order to protect your brand. It can so easily be avoided by having a trademark to prove evidence of ownership.
How to Protect your Brand Online
We’ve already discussed that registering a trademark is an important step. Having a domain name, a registered business name or registered company name at ASIC will not be sufficient to enforce your rights to a name. However, your trademark registration will only protect you for the goods and services your brand or product is registered under. They also only have jurisdiction in the country that they were registered.
If you have concerns that other businesses will use your brands internationally, you need to investigate other countries’ registrations. trademarks are only enforceable in the jurisdiction in which it was registered. You may also want to get a trademark professional to look at expanding the classes of goods and services your brand is registered under. It has to fall into the parameters set for each category, but it may be the case that your brand or services fall into more than one.
trademark legislation is complicated and can differ from country to country, and the rules are updated from time to time. A trademark attorney will be able to help you keep on top of your registrations, ensuring they continue to give your brand the protection it needs. They can also keep an eye out for you of possible infringements that you are not aware of.
Considering these facts, all business owners should consider registering their business trademark linked to their social media. You need to protect your online presence and prevent others from leveraging your hard work and brand goodwill.