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Trade Marks & Social Media: How Far Can You Go?

The last thing you want to do is promote a post on Facebook or Instagram, only to find a nicely worded but threatening email waiting in your inbox, in regard to a breach of a trade mark! In a digital age, it is important to know what you can and can’t do on social media when it comes to trade mark legislation. Below are some tips to ensure you don’t end up in the hot seat.

Do Your Due Diligence

It is important to know your product and the landscape it resides in inside and out, from your competitors to trade mark guidelines. Given that 63% of Australian Small Businesses use some form of social media to communicate with potential customers/clients, it is imperative to know what you can promote and how you can promote it.

Follow Social Media Guidelines

All social media channels have terms and conditions everyone must abide by, but the T&Cs for businesses are a lot stricter – especially when it comes to trade marks. Take a look at these platforms and their individual guidelines.

Facebook

Facebook owns 80% of the market share when it comes to social media marketing, so it is safe to assume that if you are promoting your business there, your competitors would be too. Facebook categorizes a trade mark infringement as “A trademark owner’s trademark (or a similar trademark) is being used without permission on the site; that person’s use is in commerce; AND that use is likely to confuse consumers about the source, endorsement or affiliation of the person’s goods or services.”

If someone is in clear violation of these terms and conditions and has been reported to Facebook, the content will be removed, and the business profile may even be disabled if they are repeatedly ignoring the terms and conditions.

So, if you are unsure if a trade mark has been filed for a particular slogan, brand or logo, or whether it can or cannot be used in some form of advertising, the safe play is to check the Australian IP database.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become the premium social media platform for professionals and therefore has become one of the main channels B2B companies use to promote their business. But this also means you need to be 100% positive that what you are promoting is not violating any of the platform’s T&Cs because the audience you are reaching out to maybe well-versed in trade mark law.

LinkedIn takes trade mark infringement very seriously but gives the perpetrator the benefit of the doubt in the early stages by requiring the complainant to file a Counter-Notice form to get the post taken down. But if this is a repeat offender or if the complainant believes the post is not an error, the complainant must submit a Trademark Infringement Form, with dire consequences for the perpetrator a possibility.

Instagram

Given that Facebook owns Instagram, the terms and conditions on the platform are almost identical, however, Instagram focuses more on the imagery side of trade marks (for obvious reasons). Continued violations of the trade mark sections of the terms and conditions will get your account disabled and removed.

YouTube

YouTube is a juggernaut in itself. The platform has over 1.9 billion users login per month across the globe, with 20% of them located in Australia. This means that the chances of something or someone violating the platform’s Terms and Conditions in regard to trade mark law ( similar to those of Facebook and Instagram) are high.

It is for this reason that YouTube has stated that it should become best practice for YouTubers to mediate the issue themselves, as the result would most likely be much quicker than going through the powers that be at YouTube.

Not Sure How to Trade Mark Your Brand? Contact Kings Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys today!

Trade marking a brand or logo can be a confusing and lengthy process, but if you wish to promote your business on social media, it is a necessity. Contact the team at Kings Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys today and get the advice you need from experts in the industry.

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