Social media has proven to be a massive business asset over the past few decades. Brands across industries have used it to connect directly to consumers, earning huge followings in the process. That clout is a currency on social media. Bad actors aren't afraid to borrow a bit to scam consumers or stir trouble. To protect yourself, it's important to know how trademarks and social media work together as you expand your online presence. As you begin to establish your brand on social media, there are five things you'll need to do about managing trademarked intellectual property online: #1: Seek federal protection You need protection at the federal level if you do business across state lines—and online definitely qualifies. Some new entrepreneurs make do with state-level trademarks initially or even go without a trademark entirely. But as they gain attention and a social media following, they'll have to contend with potential counterfeiters and copycats. Federal protection preserves trademark use in the US and its territories. If you anticipate your business expanding beyond domestic borders, you'll also need to look into international trademark protection. That is covered under something called the Madrid Protocol. You'll need a US federal registration to begin the process for international protection. #2 Register across all social media platforms Social media has ebbs and flows. A few decades ago, Facebook was the trendiest place to be. Then came Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Most companies target a few, but they put the brunt of their focus on a single channel. While that's great for marketing, it's not so good from a trademark perspective. The second a brand or a name gains any clout, someone will attempt to register that username on social media platforms. Some hope to resell it. Others may have more nefarious plans, like impersonating your brand to scam users or stir controversy. So even if you don't plan to use it, register at every social media site. Then, if you do need it eventually, you're prepared. If not, you've prevented someone else from taking your name. #3: Use tools to monitor for infringement A trademark is proactive, but it's not preventative. Trademark registration protects you when someone uses your mark without permission; it's up to you to handle the investigations. There are a few ways to keep track of your trademarked assets and social media use. A Google alert on your name is the first step to any good online reputation management. That will tell you if your name comes up in a news story. However, that may not warn you until after the damage is done. It's wise to regularly search your name and variations on social media sites to make sure it's not in use. #4: Report potential violations One good thing about trademarks and social media is that in most cases, sites have procedures in place to get trademark violating content removed. Most platforms include a specific form or reporting page for these issues. Here are the direct links for some of the top social media sites for businesses: \tFacebook \tTwitter \tInstagram \tTikTok \tYouTube \tWhatsApp \tSnapchat \tPinterest \tLinkedIn When reporting, you'll want to include links and screenshots of the material in question and proof that you own the trademark. Sometimes, this will be enough to get the other party to stop or have them banned from the site. In other cases, you'll need the aid of an attorney to send cease and desist letters and pursue legal remedies. #5: Remember your maintenance One thing about social media is that trends change quickly. You may need to update your brand more frequently than on any other platform. If there are material changes to your trademark, you'll need to register for a new one. If you only have nonmaterial changes, you'll still have to maintain it and prove your use. If you're unsure of the difference, consult an attorney rather than risk making a mistake. Working with an Attorney for Long-Term Management An attorney can help guide you through trademarks and social media and show you the best ways to protect your brand. Trademark management is a long-term effort. You'll need to renew it regularly and prove your use. You may also make updates. In those cases, you'll want a legal opinion on whether you should complete a new application or amend an old one. Working with an attorney from the outset is the smart way to approach trademark and social media management. These platforms provide a massive opportunity to expand your brand reach, but that comes with risks to your IP. Effective, proactive trademark management is the best approach to take. Bold Patents offers guidance on trademarks and social media so you can preserve your IP. To discuss our services, connect with us online or call 800-849-1913.