How to Protect your Brand in Social Media

Posted on by Ivana S. Taylor

The following article is reprinted from the Raj Abhyanker Law Firm.  This is the firm that did all the work for trademarking DIYMarketers.  When I first submitted my request for trademark through Trademarkia, the application was pushed back because DIYMarketers was said to be too descriptive.  Raj’s firm worked with me and gave me advice that not only saved me money, but ultimately got DIYMarketers approved for a trademark.

This month, I received my first newsletter from them and wanted to share some of their insights on branding and social media with you.  For more information on trademarking your brand, you can visit Trademarkia to get started or contact Raj directly.

What is a Vanity URL?
A Vanity URL includes the special username you can reserve on social networking sites, i.e. Facebook or Twitter, for a fan page or individual page.Vanity URL addresses take the look of the following format:
www.facebook.com/cocacola , which takes you to Coca-Cola’s fan page on Facebook. As you can see, the username does not include Coca-Cola’s signature hyphen. This is because social networking sites require usernames to be plain, with no capitalization, spacing or punctuation.

How does acquiring a Vanity URL help protect my brand?

If you have heard of cybersquatting on domains, then you might be aware that the same happens with usernames on social network sites. A trademark infringer may register your desired username on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc… before you have the chance to do so yourself. If you have a registered trademark, and sometimes even if you don’t, you could send a Cease & Desist Letter to the trademark infringer, or directly to the site’s Intellectual Property Department.

Cease & Desist Letters: What are they? And what do you do if someone is using your mark without consent?

As a trademark owner, it is your job to police your own mark because the government does not do this for you.  What this means is that you should periodically do web searches for those who might be infringing your trademark, whether the infringement is through use in commerce of what you believe to be a confusingly similar mark or through the filing of such a mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Web searches should be conducted on Google, Trademarkia, and the USPTO.

If you do come across what you believe to be a confusingly similar mark, you can send the infringing party what is typically referred to as a cease & desist letter. In the letter, you should set forth the reasons why you believe their mark is confusingly similar in light of the mark appearance and goods/services being offered, and demand that they cease the use and/or filing of the mark.  In cases where the confusingly similar mark is being filed with the USPTO, in addition to a cease & desist letter, you can institute a formal opposition proceeding with the USPTO to oppose the registration of the mark.

Finally, due to the increasing popularity of social network sites, it is imperative that web searches for those who might be infringing your mark be conducted on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube .  If you find infringing marks on these social network sites, you can request the sites do a takedown of the infringing material rather than send a cease & desist letter to the account holder.  Here is where you can go to request the sites do a takedown of the infringing page, comment, or video:

Name: Ivana S. Taylor

Email: ivana@diymarketers.com

Website: http://diymarketers.com

About: Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com – an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose – regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers. You can find her on Twitter as @DIYMarketers.