As a trademark owner you have an obligation to “police” your trademark. What does that mean? You are responsible for finding and addressing infringement of your trademark rights. (Copyright holders have a similar obligation.) A major part of policing or enforcing those rights is monitoring and addressing violations on social media.
Platform Content Removal Policies
Each social media platform has their own policies for removal of content whether trademarks or copyrighted work. It is important to determine the appropriate method and provide all the necessary information to secure timely removal. Social media content changes very quickly so to be effective at protecting brand perception you must be swift and efficient about requesting content removal.
Use this infographic I created as a quick reference guide for Takedown Policy Requirements On Top Social Media Sites.
What Do I Take Down?
Not only is knowing the policy requirements important you need to determine when a post/content warrants removal. This is a strategic decision your company should make while engaging all necessary stakeholders including but not limited to management, legal and marketing/PR. Below are a few things to consider when determining when to take down a post:
- As an organization develop a policy for what types of brand use or content use are important to the company. Use that as a guide to addressing infringement.
- Embrace positive uses of your mark. There are positive uses that can promote your brand. Coca Cola illustrates a great example of embracing what could have been trademark infringement when two fans created a Facebook page for them. Coca cola just dedicated a few members of their team to monitor the content.
- Know the social media platform rules and policies on content removal. See the infographic for some help but visit the policies on the platform.
- Figure out who is likely to comply with your request for content removal. It is usually easier to make a request through the platform. It can be hard to determine who posted content and their contact information. Additionally, it is unlikely that they will cooperate. Remember that the social media content provider is not likely liable for anything unless you can prove a partnership or joint ownership and control over the account.
- Reviews & other commentary about your brand, positive or negative, are allowed. Most social media sites will not take down content of this nature and this can cause backlash that will outweigh the potential benefit. This is a great opportunity to engage consumers and either address concerns or reinforce positive perceptions.
- Consider the public relations implications of requesting removal. Will attempting to remove the content cause backlash that will be more detrimental? There have been a number of instances of brands garnering greater negative media attention for trying to take something down justified or not. If infringer’s presence is significant enough to cause concern consider joining the conversation.
- Include all the requested information. Incomplete requests for content removal may cause unnecessary delays.
- Include trademark registration numbers for all jurisdictions. Some social media platforms will only block content in the applicable jurisdiction or country if you only provide proof of one registration. Provide all registrations so the social media platform is aware of the extent of your protection.
- List exactly where infringements are located on the site. Platforms are not required to search for infringements.
- Submit evidence of current use. This information only serves to strengthen your claim and is as easy as providing the url to your website.
Remember your objective when policing your mark is to make sure consumers will not be confused. Your trademark is your calling card, do not let anyone use it in a way that dilutes your reputation or capitalizes on the goodwill or value created in that trademark. If you do not have in-house legal counsel consult with an attorney to develop a comprehensive plan to address trademark infringement.