The effectiveness of social media as a means of engaging and
communicating with clients and customers has seen a majority of
Australian businesses take steps to take advantage of this powerful
However, the ability to instantaneously post, blog, tweet, tag,
comment, message, rate and share has brought with it significant
legal risks. From brand protection to employment, advertising
standards to privacy, and identity theft to consumer law,
businesses are faced with a wide range of familiar concerns, albeit
in a new form.
This note focuses on the discreet idea of how trade marks can
help a business protect itself and its brand, and mitigate some of
the potential risks associated with engagement in social media.
Brand value can take many years and considerable resources to
establish, but in the age of social media it can literally take
only moments for potentially irreparable and permanent damage to be
wrought by unauthorised use of your trade marks.
As many readers would know, obtaining registration of an
Australian trade mark for specified goods or services grants its
owner a monopoly to use, and prevent others from using that trade
mark throughout Australia in relation to those specified goods or
If properly maintained and used, a trade mark registration can
be a powerful weapon which provides an efficient means to bring
unauthorised or unaffiliated third parties to heel should they
attempt to use the trade mark (or a deceptively similar trade mark)
in a social media context without permission.
Being keenly aware of the importance of branding and protecting
intellectual property, many social media platforms have developed
specific policies directed towards this issue.
However, the reality is that most of these rely on the ability
of an intellectual property owner to point to a trade mark
registration, which provides the social media
platform with a reliable short form notice of an enforceable
It is more difficult to persuade social media platforms to take
steps to protect unregistered brands. This is because the platforms
do not want to become the arbiters of issues under the Australian
Consumer Law or the law of passing off, and are more likely to
leave it to brand owners to obtain enforcement in the courts.
In our experience, it is much easier to achieve the swift
assistance of social media platforms if you are armed with a trade
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
As a licensor or a licensee, here are some tips you should consider when negotiating your next licence agreement.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).