Social media platforms are a double-edged sword. While they can help you reach a larger audience, sell products and services and boost your business, they also expose your intellectual property (IP) to potential misuse.
Social media covers a broad and ever-changing landscape of applications connecting people, the main ones being LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, Pinterest and Instagram. Each comes with its own attention grabbing usefulness, ethos, audience and participation at massive levels.
Why protect your Intellectual Property?
Here’s why it’s crucial to protect your IP:
- IP is valuable: IP is a valuable asset, treat it that way.
- Prevent plagiarism or theft: Your original content can be copied and used without your permission. This means someone else is earning the revenue that should be coming to you. Someone else is causing you damage with you own hard-earned IP.
- Maintain brand identity: Your logos, names, and symbols distinguish your business from others. Protecting them ensures your brand’s integrity.
- Safeguard business strategy: If you share unique ways of doing business or innovative ideas on social media, protecting them prevents others from replicating your success formula.
Read below as we explore effective strategies to protect your IP on social media, prevent it from being abused and providing you with peace of mind so you can continue to build a thriving business.
Understand Your Intellectual Property Rights
Before diving into the specifics of IP protection on social media, let’s clarify some different types of intellectual property:
1. Copyright: Protects original creative works like images, videos, written content and music. Basically, anything original you post on social media is copyrighted.
- Trademarks: Safeguards your brand name, logo and any distinctive symbols.
- Registered Designs: this protects the way a product looks, the shape, pattern, design or decoration.
- Patents: Secures inventions or unique processes.
- Confidential Information: also called trade secrets, overs confidential business information, such as formulas, customer lists or software.
2.Craft Clear Social Media Policies
Create comprehensive social media guidelines for your employees, contractors and business partners. Outline the dos and dont’s when it comes to sharing company-related content or anything that is related or could be related to your business. This ensures that everyone understands the importance of protecting your IP and adheres to best practices.
3.Understand the Social Media platform’s terms of service
Each social media platform has its own terms of service that users agree to upon signing up. Make sure you understand these terms, especially those related to intellectual property rights.
Again, this is another potential double-edged sword. Who owns what you post? What rights are you giving away? How and when can the social media platform use your IP or the interactions with your IP?
On the other hand, some social media platforms, like Facebook, have built-in IP protection tools that enable you to report and remove content that infringes your IP.
4. Watermark Your Visual Content
Visual content is highly shareable on social media, making it vulnerable to theft and copyright breach. Make it harder for others to do so by watermarking your images and videos with your brand’s logo or name. This not only protects your content but also promotes your brand when shared.
Also, it is a good idea to add the © copyright symbol with your business name and the year it was created to your content. This adds a touch of professionalism and signals to the world that this is copyrighted content.
5. Register Your Trademarks
Register your brand’s name and logo as trademarks with IP Australia or the relevant government agency in each country that you trade in. This legal step provides strong protection against others using your brand identity without permission.
It also makes it a lot easier and quicker to get the social media platforms to remove infringing content or advertisements. This alone is worth the cost of registering your trade marks.
If you have a registered trademark use the ® registered symbol on your trademark.
If you have an unregistered trade mark, use the letters “TM” on your unregistered trademarks.
6. Draft Strong Contracts
When collaborating with influencers, content creators, app designers or partners, draft clear and specific contracts that outline the creation, ownership and usage rights of the IP. The use of your IP should also be restricted or not allowed even after the contract ends. If its valuable, then you should include restraints, no solicitation and no compete clauses.
Make sure that your contracts say that you own all the intellectual property no matter who created it. Just because you paid for it does not mean that you own it. It is also a really good idea to cover intellectual property rights in your employment agreements as well.
7. Regularly Monitor Your Social Media Presence
Keep a vigilant eye on all social media and perform regular audits. Search for unauthorised use of your content or brand identity. Quick detection allows for timely action and getting infringing content removed.
8. Engage in Proactive Reputation Management
Respond swiftly to any IP infringements on social media. Address these issues professionally and diplomatically, emphasizing your commitment to protecting your brand. Most larger social media platforms have online, regulated processes for you to be able to notify them to identify and remove content that infringes your intellectual property.
Do contact us to assist with sending cease and desist letters, or take down notices, to the social media platform and those actually breaching your IP rights.
9. Educate Your Team
Conduct training sessions for your employees and contractors about IP, IP protection and the use of social media. Equip them with the knowledge to identify potential threats and report infringements.
For those in the business of creating content, protect your business by eliminating employees and contractors infringing on other people’s IP.
Take the Next Step with Milicevic Lawyers
Protecting your intellectual property on social media is a critical aspect of safeguarding your valuable IP and your business’s success. At Milicevic Lawyers, we specialize in helping business owners navigate the complex world of IP law.
Don’t let your creative assets fall into the wrong hands. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discover how we can help you protect what’s rightfully yours. We can also answer questions and guide you to effective practical ways to prevent or remove IP infringements.
Protect your intellectual property with the experts. Contact Milicevic Lawyers today!