There has been significant discussion in relation to the impact
of the Internet on trade marks and brand protection, with every
"next big thing" posing new challenges to brand
The challenges began with issues such as unauthorised trade mark
use in domain names ('cyber squatting'), and then the use
of marketing tools using third parties' brands to attract
customers through the use of 'adwords' and
The current hot topic is the Twitter network, which is
increasingly becoming the new paradigm of social networking in the
Internet. Developed from the concept of a simpler and quicker way
to be in touch with friends and the world at large, Twitter is
quickly becoming an important marketing tool to businesses, as an
obvious consequence of its increasing success.
Companies are realising the importance of protecting their
brands in the "Twitter world", to anticipate cyber
squatters who, more easily then ever, can use this new social
network concept to take advantage of other parties' trade
the violations of law in any jurisdiction, they may be of limited
efficacy when it comes to unauthorised use of someone else's
Coca-Cola recently illustrated its might against "Twitter
squatters", when it received a positive reaction to a
complaint of trade mark squatting through the Twitter network and
successfully persuaded Twitter to trigger its right to terminate
accounts which were using Coca-Cola's brands without its
However, it remains to be seen whether the same reaction can be
expected in relation to similar issues involving trade marks which
do not carry the same weight as the Coca-Cola brand.
Except for Twitter's own initiative, it is virtually (no pun
intended) impossible in a practical sense for an Australian company
to prevent third parties anywhere in the world from using its
brands to their own benefit.
Anyone can open an account in Twitter and name it in any way
they like. The registration process is in practical terms anonymous
and free of charge, which makes it very difficult for aggrieved
parties to effectively identify Twitter's account holders and
enforce their rights against them.
In the murky waters of brand protection in the Internet, a
proactive approach is necessary to protect your brands. This of
course should not be limited to seeking registered trade mark
protection. It is also strongly recommended that companies which
value the integrity of their brands take steps to secure the
accounts in Twitter and other such sites using their brands, which
may be necessary to obtain brand protection in this increasingly
important space. Such steps can help prevent unnecessary damage to
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