In this modern era, social media has become an essential and powerful tool for almost all businesses.
Various platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, to name a few, provide an excellent platform for well—established businesses, small companies and start-ups to promote their products and services whilst engaging directly with clients and customers.
Companies can be available 24/7 and use these platforms for marketing and publicity. It is a world of instantaneous connection and global exposure.
Threats to your business’ intellectual property
Although there are seemingly endless possibilities and considerable benefits to having a large and diverse presence on social media, there are many issues that may threaten your business' intellectual property ('IP').
1. Your intellectual property is stolen
As much of the content on the web is easy to access, it can seem to many that it is free to use. However, the majority of the images online are copyrighted. Unauthorised use of images could mean that you are breaking the law or that someone is committing an offence by using your IP without authority.
2. You use copyrighted material
Improper use of social media can lead to breaches in the law relating to IP, particularly copyright and trademark.
While knowledge in this area is increasing, you would not want to breach the relevant laws unknowingly as the consequences can be severe. You also want to ensure that your IP is adequately protected and that your employees are aware of what to look out for in terms of infringement.
Creating a social media policy
To protect your business's identity and rights online, you should establish and implement a policy for using social media and keep this up to date.
As social media develops rapidly, it is difficult for the law to keep up. Many of the existing law was established without social media in mind, particularly in relation to the sophisticated platforms available widely today.
The following initiatives should be implemented as a first step towards protecting your IP Rights on social media platforms.
- Create and publish a statement relating to your IP and ensure that your employees are aware of it.
- Consider the particular threats to your business and develop a strategy to identify and deal with any issues as they arise.
- Check your social media accounts regularly to ensure that they are secure. If your accounts are hacked, this may compromise your security, the information communicated from your account as well as any data held within the account.
- Businesses need to recognise that their IP is a valuable asset and treat it as such. Some small companies and start-ups sometimes only have social media accounts and do not have a separate website, and the consequences can be devastating if these are compromised. What would be the cost and long-lasting effects for your business if your account was hacked or if you lost access to your social media accounts?
- Ensure that nothing you share or promote infringes any copyright law or the trademark belonging to another business.
- Keep up to date with the changes in the laws around social media and IP and adjust and adapt your policies and strategies accordingly.
In summary, it is essential to recognise the value of your IP and the importance of it to your business.
If you need advice on the matters raised, such as IP infringement, please contact our Dispute Resolution team on 0800 84 94 101