Posts Tagged ‘social media’

A Facebook friend of client (a non-attorney) posted a question on Facebook regarding a potential trademark dispute, asking her friends to weigh in with their opinions as to whether it might be an infringement. The summary of the facts (no doubt missing some of the details) concluded with a request: Appreciate your thoughts and want to explore before I call my own attorney.

Here was my response:

I am a trademark attorney. And while I won’t comment here on the particulars, I would note that seeking input from others about a potential legal situation on FB is probably not the best idea. In a worst case scenario you could say or learn something via the post that could come back to harm any potential claims down the road.

I didn’t even get into other issues, like attorney-client privilege that could be waived if the poster’s attorney actually commented on it, or laches/acquiescence that could begin to toll more now that it has been made public that the poster is aware of the issues.

This is not the first time I have exhorted someone on Facebook not to share their potential trademark issue. Sharing it has a lot of potential downside, and little potential upside. What if dozens of people comment and almost all think that there is no infringement. And what if the alleged infringer sees that post or finds it later!? If they receive a “cease and desist” letter, I can only imagine the reaction.

And could a Facebook post be the basis for a declaratory judgment action? Probably not, but worth considering.

For some fun, true, and sad legal tips via Facebook, make sure to see

And for my Facebook page, full of fun trademark news and tips, see:

Image result for facebook logo

Only one trademark question matters for businesses. Most small business owners look into trademark protection and consider whether they can afford the costs of protecting their trademarks? Yet this is not the correct question.

The real question that small business owners should ask is: Can they afford not to protect their trademarks?

Potential Costs Resulting From Unprotected Brands:

  • Greater chance of being copied inadvertently since the trademarks are not listed in the USPTO database
  • Greater chance of being copies intentionally since the ® cannot be used
  • Greater costs (lawyers, court fees, and more) when going after copycats and infringers in general
  • Greater risks and stress when going after copycats and infringers in general
  • More company time drained when going after copycats and infringers in general
  • Failure to show consumers the importance of your brand
  • Less valuable brand assets to monetize in a sale of the business
  • More challenges to license or franchise the brand
  • Reduced brand credibility
  • Potentially missing opportunities for protection by US Customs
  • Missed opportunities to stop cybersquatters
  • Missed opportunities to reclaim social media usernames registered by others

Yes, trademark protection is an expense. But there is nothing you can do for your brand that provides more protection – and insurance – than obtaining a trademark registration from the USPTO.

Trademark tips for bloggers

Posted by ipelton on: August 7th, 2015

I am frequently asked questions about blogs and trademarks. Blogs are a service, even if they are not for profit and have no way of making money, and blog names can be protected by trademark law. Which means that blog names can be registered as trademarks with the USPTO. For example, this blog is called IPelton® and is a registered trademark. In the USPTO registration, the services for IPelton are described as “On-line journals, namely, blogs featuring information and observations in the fields of law, branding, and intellectual property.”

In 2014, the USPTO saw more than 3,500 applications for trademarks featuring “blog or blogs” in the description of goods and services.  Ten years earlier, that number was just 18!

Here are some trademark tips for blog owners:

  • Be creative. A creative name is more more likely to be unique and much easier to protect, generally. For example, one of my favorite blog titles is a cheese blog called, It’s Not You, It’s Brie®. Search the internet and the trademark database at to make sure it is unique in your industry.  Check domain name availability and use as well.
  • Make it stand out. When using the name, put it in a different font, color, bold or italics to make it stand out. That way it helps demonstrate that the title of the blog is special and that you want to call attention to it and protect it.
  • Use proper trademark symbols. Use “SM” on the right shoulder of the title if the name is not registered. If it is registered, use the ® as frequently as possible. Showing others that you are protecting the name makes it a stronger brand and enhances the legal protections for it.
  • File to an application with the USPTO to register the trademark for name of the blog.
  • Register the corresponding .com domain name, even if you do not intend to use it. The annual cost is worthwhile insurance to prevent someone else from using the .com and causing you headaches and potential legal bills.
  • Register the corresponding social media usernames on major social media sites. Even if you never use the names, there is a value in making sure someone else cannot use them.
  • Monitor for infringement. Set up a free Google alert or use other methods to check periodically for copycats. If you learn of an infringement, consult with an attorney. If you do not make an effort to stop infringers, your rights in the name will generally be weakened.

Most blogs, like this one, are informational. But they serve several important purposes – enhancing credibility, improving search engine ranking, content creation, marketing, and demonstrating expertise – and thus have a significant value to the author. To protect the investment – of time, energy, and money – in that valuable blog asset, blog owners should strongly consider the tips above including trademark registration.

Protecting your trademark on social media

Posted by ipelton on: June 30th, 2015

A few basic tips for protecting trademarks on social media platforms:

  • Register your trademark(s) with the USPTO.
  • Sign up for usernames on all the major social media platforms that correspond with your main trademarks, even if you have no intention of using them. If you control those usernames, no one else can.
  • Take action when appropriate – if a username or posting is misrepresenting your trademark and misleading customers in a commercial manner, file a complaint with the social media network (they all have their own process/forms), and if needed contact an attorney.
  • Use the proper trademark symbols, including the ®, where appropriate to indicate your trademark is registered.

In essence, protecting trademarks on social media isn’t really any different from protecting them anywhere else: encourage proper use by others that points back to your business, and take steps to protect improper use that could harm your  brand.

USPTO trademark filings can often provide a window into the business plans of companies and competitors.

Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles are popular subjects for trademark filings in 2014 to date. Amazon made news last last year with its drone plans.

I have no idea how social media and drones could intersect.  But apparently both Facebook and Twitter believe that they could.

Twitter recently filed a trademark application for DRONIE covering many goods and services, including “Vehicles; unmanned vehicles.” See Serial No. 86316533, filed on June 20th.

Just five days later, Facebook filed a trademark application for FACEBOOK covering “Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)“. See Serial No. 86311282.

Where do you see drones and social media intersecting?