Be an Intellectual Property Hero; Don’t Ignore Social Media

In the Intellectual Property world, few things matter as much as a name.  Since the advent of the business name and the trademarked word, nothing has been used to identify quality and individuality more than a unique name.  A unique name, as obvious as it sounds, is how people know to buy your product instead of something else.  This was common sense back when there were only billboards, magazines, radio and television.  It was also manageable.

Whether you use Facebook, Twitter or FourSquare (or none of the above), you need to protect your name on all social media websites.  Our America Online screen names were all that we cared about ten years ago.  Five years ago, all we cared about was our Myspace profile name.  Then Facebook.  Then Twitter.  Now FourSquare.  Which will be the next big site tomorrow?  Today there are thousands of startups vying to be the next big social website.  Currently there are hundreds of sites gaining traction.  Will one of these be the next big thing?  Of course.  And there is no way to tell right now which one it will be.

I advise IP attorneys for a living and stress more than anything else that securing your client’s name on every possible site is the best thing you can do for them.  Some make money pursuing cybersquatters and negotiating purchases of user names.  But seriously, what could take a few minutes now can leave you to much more important tasks. And who doesn’t want to be the hero?

Rob Holmes is the CEO of LLC, a full service trademark investigative agency.

brand, cybersquatters, facebook, foursquare, Intellectual Property, IP Attorney, Social Media, trademark, Twitter


6 Responses to “Be an Intellectual Property Hero; Don’t Ignore Social Media”

  1. Scott Ayres on April 22nd, 2010 11:03 am

    I agree that we need to secure our names, but the whole idea of Social Media is to be engaging and part of the conversation. So is it effective marketing to simply create a profile and leave it?

  2. Michael Streko on April 22nd, 2010 11:14 am

    @Scott – In the intellectual property world it is better to sleep at night knowing that someone else is not taking your trademarked term and misrepresenting your brand / IP.

    We have found countless cases of an unauthorized entity squatting on a trademarked term for a popular drug, fashion designer or electronic brand and then promoting affiliate links to counterfeits or generics.

    So in the opinion of a company who could possibly face such issues, it is better to be safe than sorry. A reserved profile now means no legal fees for a Cease and Desist case later.

  3. Rob Holmes on April 22nd, 2010 11:30 am

    Agreed, Scott! The primary issue here, though, is for the legal department to anticipate what the marketing department may need down the road. This just takes some planning to make sure someone else does not run away with your new product name before you have a chance to promote it.

  4. Roger Bora on April 26th, 2010 12:16 pm

    Reserving a profile name on some social media sites without activity may result cancellation of the reserved name. Reserving a username/trademark on Twitter, for example, may still find its way into the hands of a squatter after a period of non-use (6 mos. or more). Good practice is to still “use” an account from time to time (at least every few months) to maintain an “active” account and retain possession of the name/trademark. Reserving it alone with nothing more may not obtain the desired result.

  5. Barry Wise on April 26th, 2010 12:30 pm

    @Roger – That is absolutely true, and a good practice which we definitely espouse.

  6. Rob Holmes on April 26th, 2010 12:47 pm

    Great input, Roger. I agree. That is why, more and more, firms must have designated social media folks in-house to maintain their clients’ presence online.

Be an Intellectual Property Hero; Don’t Ign…

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