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Protecting Trademarks on Social Media


The business case for protecting trademarks as user names on social networks.

The business case for protecting trademarks as user names on social networks.

Published in Technology , Business
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  • We all know Social Media is taking over online and we know the usual suspects There is a wave coming behind that gaining momentum even more quickly and then behind that there is another wave of new players and niche players. It can seem overwhelming and just like websites in the mid 90s something some folks would like to ignore but as we learned then that would be a mistake
  • That would be a mistake because Social Media is already mainstream This final point is probably the most important to Trademark Professional because Social Media has now reached the tipping point
  • So if you put all the pieces together its very clear that when compared to Domain Names Usernames are gaining parity as the Internet’s
  • So this creates some now complications and issues for trademark professionals. T
  • When compared to Domain Names what thi
  • Finally everything old is new. The issues for usernames are the same issues you always face with trademarks
  • Learn from the past
  • It makes sense to be proactive…. Protecting yourself is simple and costs next to nothing when compared to doing nothing now and dealing with it downstream.
  • It could also be a mistake delegating to others. We learned these lessons with Domain Names as well
  • At the end of the day you need to look at the pros and the cons for your businesses and clients


  • 1. Protecting Trademarks on Social Media 11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz
  • 2. Topics Covered
    • Current Situation in Social Media
    • Complications for Trademark Owners
    • Approaches to Protection
    11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz
  • 3. Social Media is Exploding 11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz You’ve heard of : 130 million 120 million 120 million 120 million 120 million But have you heard of…. 100 million … and the Thousands of “smaller” niche players with millions of members each 500 million 160 million 200 million
  • 4. Social Media is Mainstream 11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz
    • 60% of Internet users are members of Social Media Networks – PC Advisor
    • Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web – NY Times
    • More than 21% of cell phone users visit social media from their phones - Comscore
    • Americans spend 25% of their time online on social networks - Nielsen
    • 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content - Nielsen
  • 5. Usernames are the Internet’s New Brand Identifiers 11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz Evolution Online for Trademark Professionals
    • 200 million domain names (90M are .com)
    • 2 billion usernames on top 20 social networks
    • 25% of search results… are links to user generated content and this is growing
  • 6. Complication – No Barriers to Obtain
    • Usernames are:
          • Free to obtain
          • First come - first served
          • Typically have profile pages
          • Indexed by search engines
          • Receive traffic and can be monetized
          • Typically NOT Reused
  • 7. Complication - No Protection Mechanisms
    • Domain Names - Controlled
    • Today
      • UDRP (Uniform Domain Resolution Policy)
      • WHOIS
      • Anti-Cybersquatting
      • In-Rem
      • Sunrise periods
    • Coming Soon
      • Uniform Rapid Suspension
      • Trademark Clearinghouse
      • IP Claims
    • Usernames – UNCONTROLLED
    Usernames are the Wild West when compared to Domain Names
    • Today
      • No Dispute Policy
      • No Gatekeepers
      • No Group
    • Coming Soon
      • Nothing
      • Nothing
      • Nothing
  • 8. Complication - Everything Old is New
      • Direct infringement
      • Derogatory and defamatory speech
      • Blatantly false information
      • Impersonation of executives
  • 9. Question What should I do to protect my Trademark’s Usernames in Social Media?
  • 10. Apply the lessons from Domain Names
    • Best Practice – Be Proactive & Not Reactive
      • Reserve your trademarks and key executives as Usernames
      • Identify infringement early
    11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz
  • 11. The Costs - Business Case
    • Proactive – Reserve Now
      • Package cost ~ $ 349 one time fee
      • Trademark secured on 100 social networks
      • Watch the rest
    • Reactive - Do Nothing
      • Assume 50 are taken
      • Assume 10 are of concern
      • Conduct Investigation
        • Cost: $500 x 10 = $5000
      • Send takedown letters
        • Cost: $500 x 10 = $5000
      • Sub-total cost: $10,000
      • 50% success rate (5 of 10)
      • Repeat as infractions occur
        • Cost: $1,000/incident
    11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz Example: Secure house brand in top 100 social networks
  • 12. Avoid “I think we have people handling this”
    • Best Practices Dictates this should be owned by Legal
      • This is a trademark protection and enforcement issue
          • How is it being managed?
          • Who are keeping the records?
          • Is it anonymous or public?
          • Who is ensuring the accounts remain active?
    11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz
      • Domain Name Registrars are not in this business
      • Marketing Departments - may address some issues
      • (quick Free Search on TM.Biz and you’ll know)
  • 13. Evaluate Benefits and Risks
    • Proactive
      • Avoid confusion
      • Avoid loss of revenue
      • Avoid embarrassment
      • Avoid damage control
      • Far less expensive than recovery/clean-up efforts
    • Reactive
      • Consumer confusion
      • Loss of revenue
      • Loss of reputation
      • Legal fees
      • Recovery may not be successful
    11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz
  • 14.
    • Reserve trademarks and key executives as usernames
    • Include social media availability searches for all new name creation efforts
    • Monitor for emerging social networks to avoid surprises
    • Investigate “taken” usernames for trademark infringement
    11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz TM.Biz Allows you to
  • 15. Sign-Up Now
    • Eligible trademark professionals and brand managers can request a free account at:
    • There are no set-up fees or subscription fees
    • Unlimited searching – you pay only for reports
    11/26/10 Copyright 2010 TM.Biz