Protecting Your Intellectual Property on Social Media

Protecting Your Intellectual Property on Social Media

Protecting Your Intellectual Property on Social Media

Many of our daily activities are now centered on social media. As a result, intellectual property law is dragged in, and failing to take basic actions to protect your property might result in the loss of your intellectual property rights. This article examines three common intellectual property types, their interactions with social media, and some best practices that every organization should follow in order to function in social media without exposing itself to needless intellectual property risks.

Once creative works of writing are fixed in a tangible medium of expression, copyrights arise. Written language, such as emails, social networking sites, and social postings, 2-D and 3-D artwork, live and online, streaming music, podcasts, and all of these in digital to hardcopy forms and everything in between are examples of common works.

Best copyright practices in social media

  1. Have authorization to utilize the work of others. It’s uncommon that something is free to use just because you found it on the internet. Better still, to prevent infringing on other people’s work, link to it, don’t duplicate it, and give credit to the original creator.
  2. To avoid violation of your rights on social media, use takedown notifications. However, before requesting that the work be taken down, be cognizant of your and others’ fair use rights.
  3. Understand the terms of service for the social media networks you use. Frequently, just using the platform ties you to the platform’s terms. This can provide the platform and its users the right to freely use your work on that platform, as well as elsewhere!

Trademarks are indicia that are affixed to products, while service marks are indicia that are used to sell or promote services, and both indicate the source of the goods/services. A mark’s owner derives value from the goodwill and product/service expectations connected with it.

Best practices for using trademarks in social media

  1. Keep an eye on how others are utilizing your mark and make sure they aren’t “confusingly similar” enough to generate confusion with your competition. If someone gets too close, a warning letter should be given, otherwise you risk losing your mark by contaminating it with the usage of others.
  2. Avoid abusing your mark by using it as an adjective rather than a noun.
  3. There is a small exemption for “fair use” of another’s mark, therefore you should be careful of utilizing another’s mark (and vice versa) for commercial purposes.

Last but not least, there are trade secrets. A trade secret is any information that is not widely known to the public (i.e., it does not have to be unique information, but the fact that your company knows it is not widely known to others) and that provides economic benefit to its owner, as long as the owner makes reasonable efforts to keep it secret (i.e., it must be at least confidential information). Customer lists, ingredient lists, lists of methods to execute services or produce goods, machine operating instructions, and competitive information are examples of trade secrets.

Best practices for trade secrets in social media 

  1. Have clear internal standards in place for what workers may and cannot post on social media in regards to work-related material, and make sure they are aware of them.
  2. Support employees in understanding what trade secrets they may come across in the course of their work, as well as the importance and confidentiality of this knowledge.
  3. Control access to trade secrets to only those employees (and approved third parties) who need to know about them, and make sure they adhere to the information’s usage limitations.

The smallest details are crucial. Employees can benefit from regular, modest reminders in the form of short videos when they are surfing social media. Allow your staff to do the right thing, and let us know how else we can help.

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