Digital Marketing

Application of trademarks and registered trademarks in social networks: use of the terms of use

In today’s world of Web 2.0, businesses are faced with new ways to spread their presence and advertise their goods and services, and the Internet is an effective and powerful tool for brand marketing. As companies explore new ways to advertise online, it has become apparent that brand marketing has transcended buying ad space on popular search engines and other informational sites to actively engaging with their consumers in conversations and sharing information. Now companies must adopt social media as a marketing strategy.

Social networking sites have continuous membership growth. Facebook, for example, is estimated to have more than 350 million active users. Twitter now has around 32.1 million users. MySpace attracts about 115 million people to its site each month. With such a broad consumer base ready, how have companies used these social media sites to their advantage? As companies move toward the cyber frontier, how they protect their brands is critical. To help companies keep an eye on their brands and harness the power of social media, these social media giants have put mechanisms in place to help protect against fraud, phishing, and rights infringement. After all, social media strategies only work if everyone follows the same rules.

Social media as a marketing tool

Facebook, the largest social networking site, is a good example of how social networking sites have become an effective marketing tool for businesses. Facebook has developed its website to allow pages, customizable mini-sites aimed at organizations, products or public figures, to join the conversation with Facebook users. Basically, a page allows fans to become brand advocates. It allows users to post comments, view news and information about a certain product, and get more information about a company. Businesses have launched into this viral form of advertising.

Facebook now has more than 1.6 million active pages. More than 700,000 local businesses have created pages to reach their target demographics. In fact, the pages are estimated to have created more than 5.3 billion fans. The Facebook page form requires that the creator of the page be the official representative of an organization, company, celebrity or brand. As such, the representative becomes the Organizer of the page, able to add and remove content, manage the information that appears on the site and increase the viral effects of advertising. Each page (depending on the type of organization selected) comes equipped with pre-selected formatting options, such as tabs for discussion forums, events, organization information, and photos. The Information tab, for example, allows you to share key information about your company, such as website, mission, business overview, and products. Fans can post comments on a company wall, watch videos, and read about upcoming events or promotions. Every time a page has activity, such as posts or announcements, this activity becomes visible in NewsFeed. Information about your fans regarding your activities on your Page is also available for your friends to see, opening the door for others to become fans of your Page.

This is what causes the viral nature of Facebook advertising. Businesses can capitalize on this market and gain insights from tools like Facebook Insights, which include data on fan engagement with a company’s Page posts. The companies have also “opened a store” on Twitter and MySpace. Some companies have launched official Twitter accounts and allow (or require) employees to post daily or weekly tweets, often about promotions or events.

The interesting thing about these sites is that there is no filter that blocks negative or unflattering information. As such, questions arise about what a company can do once the angry “fan” or follower posts negative comments on a wall, if a disgruntled former employee opens a page in their name, or if someone is posing as a representative of your business claiming your business name or brand as a username.

Social media sites and their terms of use

The simplest and most cost-effective way to protect a brand on social media sites is to use the site’s dispute resolution mechanism. Most of the social media giants have procedures in place for filing complaints about copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and privacy concerns.

Facebook: Facebook’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities asks users to agree that they are the rightful owner of all content and information they post on Facebook. They are also asked to agree that they will not create accounts for anyone without their permission. Users may not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates other people’s rights or otherwise violates the law, and Facebook reserves the right to remove content or remove a web page that infringes those rights. Facebook provides its users with tools to help address intellectual property issues. Most of these tools are forms that are submitted electronically.

Twitter: Twitter rules specifically state that they do not monitor user content and will not censor such content except in limited circumstances. Twitter does not allow spoofing of others who does or is intended to mislead, mislead, or mislead others. However, ways to monitor such spoofing have proven to be a problem for Twitter, as their biggest concern is fake accounts. Twitter also reserves the right to claim usernames on behalf of companies or individuals who have legal or trademark rights to those usernames. To prevent name theft, Twitter suspends accounts that are inactive for more than six months.

Business owners who use social networking sites should read the terms of use to be well informed about the protective actions that these companies have implemented to help police brands. It’s a new world of marketing, and greater tools can lead to greater risks if a company is not careful. Just as companies benefit from social networking sites, social networks depend on companies to harness their power. It is a symbiotic relationship and must be protected.

For additional information on social media law and the protection of trademarks and trademarks on social networks, see our website.

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