Many companies and organizations are changing their business strategies to address the growing importance of social media. Protecting your intellectual property should be part of this process. For example, has someone else already staked a claim to your brand or company name on its social media page? Are your copyrighted images being used on Facebook or Twitter without your permission?
To address these unique concerns and others, it is important for all businesses to adopt an intellectual property protection strategy specifically designed to address social media. Below are a few important issues to consider:
Copyright and trademarks laws apply to social media.
When it comes to trademarks, the law offers the same protections in the realm of social media. Therefore, you can prevent someone else in a similar line of business from using your trademarked brand or product name. Reserving your trademark (and any permutations thereof) as your Twitter handle and your Facebook URL/page name as soon as possible can help prevent trademark violations.
Copyright infringement is also a concern on social media. Companies often discover that their photography or website content is being used on social media without permission. Assuming those works are copyrighted, companies can elect to pursue a copyright infringement action. However, in the case of ignorance of behalf of the poster, a strongly worded cease and desist letter often remedies the situation.
Monitoring social media for infringement must be a priority.
Social media also requires careful monitoring, which can be difficult given the speed at which information is exchanged. Thankfully, there are tools available to help companies monitor social media for certain key terms like their company name or brand.
There are legal options available to stop infringement.
Should you discover your copyright or trademark rights have been violated, there are a number of legal options available. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have established complaint procedures. We recently discussed how social media site Pinterest is addressing potential copyright infringement. In addition, as we mentioned above, it is also possible to contact the infringer directly and request them to remove the illegal content.
In some circumstances, these tactics may not be successful and a lawsuit may be your best option. In these cases, you should always consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney such as myself.