Protecting Brands on Social Networks

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As much as consumers worry about protecting themselves on the virtual Wild West of social media, brands worry too, particularly when it comes to securing trademarks. Brandchannel readers are well aware of the trademark battles faced by brands; just today, we looked at legal spats involving Starbucks and Lego.

So we were interested to read about TM.Biz, which just launched a proprietary tool for securing trademarks and brands on social media networks, marking a step forward in the war on cybersquatting.

The business model is simple: accounts and search services are free, but there’s a charge for generating reports and reserving names. For now, TM.Biz is targeting corporations, but a service for smaller businesses is on the drawing board.[more]

“It’s time that trademark best practices incorporates social media in the traditional lifecycle of a trademark,” says Thomas Barrett, President of EnCirca, the company behind TM.Biz. “TM.Biz is the first service of its kind geared towards the unique needs and workflow of the trademark professional.”

TM.Biz offers several tools:

• Availability Search service of usernames on the top 500 Internet social networks. Results can be parsed by client or brand, saved and shared with clients.

• User Name Reserve replaces the tedious, manual process of: reserving usernames; establishing user accounts; and provides a dedicated mailbox to catch spam.

• Status Watch alerts clients via email if their “watched” username is pinged or a new social network of relevance emerges.

• In-Use Reports compile screen shots of existing profiles where trademarks are already in use, and the reports are available to law firms and resellers for creating private-labeled reports for their clients.

Trademark lawyers may apply for a free account. William M. Borchard, Partner, Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, comments, “Our clients take steps to protect their trademarks – arguably one of their most important assets.  In social media, TM.Biz provides a great, cost effective, tool tailored to the trademark industry.”

EnCirca, a domain name registrar has been protecting trademarks since 2001. Barrett has 15 years experience in trademark research and protection, and led development of the SAEGIS trademark research platform while a VP at Thomson & Thomson.

“The role of usernames as brand identifiers is following a similar pattern as domain names. However, the protection mechanisms trademarks enjoy with domain names do not exist on social networks; there is no uniform dispute policy to recover violated trademarks; there is no public Whois to determine the username’s owner; and there are no anticybersquatting laws to prevent consumer confusion over the source behind a trademark.”

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