In today’s world, social media marketing is essential. But, social media platforms can also be dangerous places for brand-based businesses. Fortunately, there are steps companies can take to protect their trademarks on social media—both initially and on an ongoing basis. Alabama trademark lawyer Hunter Adams explains:
3 Essential Steps for Protecting Trademarks on Social Media
1. Register Your Company’s Trademarks with the USPTO
Registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) affords essential protections to trademark owners. Registered trademark owners have nationwide “priority,” which means that they can prevent competitors (and others) from using identical or confusingly similar trademarks in all 50 states.
While it is true that trademark owners can also obtain exclusivity through use, this exclusivity is geographically limited. Although there may be questions as to the geographic limitations that apply when a company is promoting its products or services on social media (and theoretically to a global audience), it is best to avoid these types of questions whenever possible. By filing for trademark registration on an “intent to use” basis, companies can secure nationwide priority before rolling out their brands online.
2. Secure All Relevant Social Media Account Names
In addition to registering their trademarks with the USPTO, companies should also register all relevant social media account names. Even if a company does not intend to use a particular social media platform, it is still a good idea to register account names associated with the company’s brands on the platform in order to prevent others from doing so.
At a minimum, companies should register their primary trademarks (i.e. Nike or Apple) or the closest available alternatives. But, since registering social media accounts is free, it is typically worth taking the time to secure other relevant account names as well. This includes potential misspellings, variations including punctuation (i.e. “AdamsIP” and “Adams_IP”), and other common variations such as adding “The” at the beginning or “Official” at the end.
3. Monitor Social Media for Trademark Violations
As we mentioned in the introduction, protecting trademarks on social media is not a one-time event. Rather, it is an ongoing process. In addition to registering their trademarks with the USPTO and securing relevant social media account names, brand-based businesses should also:
- Secure additional registrations when (and ideally prior to) adopting new trademarks
- Monitor social media platforms for references to their trademarks (including third-party account names, hashtags and plain-text references)
- Take responsive action upon identifying infringing uses of their trademarks on social media (which may include contacting the account owner, contacting the social media platform and/or pursuing legal remedies)
Discuss Your Company’s Needs with Alabama Trademark Lawyer Hunter Adams
Hunter Adams is an Alabama trademark lawyer who assists companies of all sizes with trademark registration and enforcement—including enforcement on social media. If you have questions about registering your company’s trademarks or protecting its brands online, please call 251-289-9787 or contact us online to arrange a free initial 30-minute phone consultation.