The most recent issue of Social Media Monthly magazine includes an article written by intellectual property attorney, Kelley Keller (who is also a Women on Business contributor). The article is filled with great information about trademarks, including a clear description of the three primary categories of trademark misuse that happen in social media.
If you run a business with a name, logo, or slogan that has been trademarked, then you need to understand your rights if your trademark is misused, so you can take effective action. Your intellectual property is a valuable business asset, so protect it by watching out for these three types of trademark misuse that happen on social media. Furthermore, make sure you don’t misuse trademarks in your social media activities.
1. Suggesting a Relationship When There Isn’t One
Using another person or entity’s trademark in social media that suggests an affiliation or sponsorship when there really isn’t one is trademark misuse. For example, you can’t use a trademarked name in a URL or social media profile name when the owner of that URL or social media profile has no affiliation with the brand of any kind.
2. Using False or Misleading Advertising
Comparing your product to others on the market in your advertisements is fine as long as all of the information provided is true. If your ads are fair and tell the full, true story, then it’s a form of comparative advertising that is legal. If your ads are deceptive or false in any way or mislead consumers in any way, then you’re misusing a trademark in social media.
3. Diluting Another Person or Entity’s Trademark
Using another person or entity’s trademark in a way that makes ownership of that trademark confusing to consumers is considered to be trademark misuse and is referred to as “blurring” the trademark. As a result, the value of the trademark is diluted because consumers could be confused and believe that the trademark owner is behind the non-related product or service. Using another person or entity’s trademark in a way that tarnishes the reputation of the original mark and brand also leads to value dilution.
This is just a very small recap of Kelley’s article, and there is much more to learn! You can read the entire article on the Social Media Monthly website. Just follow the link at the beginning of this article for all of the important details.