Caution: Your business and social media

AT_symbolWith the ever-increasing importance of social media, as a business endeavor or as a marketing medium, this post focuses on the intersection of trademarks and copyrights and social media.

First, whether your company is using social media now, plans to, or doesn’t really care at this point, it would be prudent to reserve at least your company name and perhaps key product names. There is an easy way to check on availability: Go to www.namechk.com and type the first name you want. A screen showing nearly a hundred different social media sites will display in a color-coded chart of where your mark/name is available and unavailable. Where available, seriously consider signing up on a given social media platform and reserving your mark/name. Where your mark/name is taken, click on the icon and it will show you how the mark/name is being used.

Second, monitor important social media sites for your brand and copyrighted materials. This effort may provide valuable feedback to your organization and may also identify where and how others may be misusing your brand and copyrighted materials. If the latter is occurring, you may want to familiarize yourself with the take-down procedures for important social media sites. (Or you can ask me to submit take-down notices and monitor compliance.)

Third, if your company does not already have a social media policy, consider one for the company and your employees and integrate it with other IP-related policies, including privacy policies. And, if you are using social media and accepting user-generated content, consider who owns that content and who may be liable for such content.