How To Claim a Trademark on the Top 6 Social Media Platforms

Nick Potts,

Are you protecting your brand on social media?

While your company marketing department might not be relying on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn today, they very well could be in the future.

Look around the web, and you'll find everyone from supermarkets to manufacturers successfully implementing social media strategies. With that said, it's imperative for companies to immediately claim brand trademarks on social media, regardless of whether or not they have immediate plans to utilize the platforms.

How To Claim Your Trademarks on Top Social Media Platforms

As of 2017, a whopping 81 percent of North Americans have at least one social media profile. That's a 5 percent increase from the previous year. With numbers like that, it's no wonder businesses who never would have dreamt of creating social accounts in the past are now doing so at rapid speed.

statistic_id273476_share-of-us-population-with-a-social-media-profile-2008-2017.png
Source: statista

In this article, we'll provide an overview for how to claim your trademarks on the most popular social media platforms.

1. Twitter

According to SocialDraft, “Most US companies, (65.8 percent in 2015) that have more than 100 employees use Twitter.” This number is expected to rise to 67.2 percent in 2017.

Twitter not only functions as a great marketing tool, but it’s an effective customer service tool as well. Savvy customers have come to realize there is no faster way to get an issue resolved than airing their dirty laundry in 140 characters or less.

How to Claim Your Trademark on Twitter

  1. Visit Twitter.com and click the "Sign Up" button.
  2. The platform will guide you through the process of setting up your account.
  3. Confirm your new account via the confirmation message you'll receive in your Inbox.
  4. Click on "Profile and Settings" in the upper-right corner and select "View Profile."
  5. Click the "Edit Profile" button on the right.
  6. Customize your company bio, website URL, profile photo and header photo.

Pro Tips

  • Don't just leave the photo fields blank—not only does it gives the appearance you're illegitimate, Twitter will also slap you with one of those generic eggheads.
  • Always indicate the best way to contact someone in the bio, even if it's not Twitter itself.

Trademark Infringement on Twitter

  • "Using another's trademark in a manner that may mislead or confuse others about your brand affiliation may be a violation" of Twitter's trademark policy.
  • Should you find someone squatting on your mark, report it via the website's support form.
  • Should Twitter find the reported account holder in violation, they will either suspend the account or give the user an opportunity to comply before suspension.
  • Referencing another's trademark is not automatically a violation of Twitter's trademark policy. Click here for more details.

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2. Facebook

Did you know 20% of all web page views in the United States occur on Facebook? That means the chances of a customer searching for your company within the medium are high.

Unfortunately, companies make a lot of mistakes when it comes to Facebook. Usually the mistakes come from either a lack of strategy or a lack of attention. Peruse company pages and you'll find hundreds of "ghost town profiles" that haven't been updated in ages. With that said, if you don't plan on regularly checking/updating your page, create a "pinned post" at the top of the page letting visitors know the best way to contact you.

How to Claim Your Name on Facebook

  1. Visit Facebook.com and follow the steps to sign-up.
    (you might want to create a special email address to be used by all team members for logging in).
  2. Click here to be directed to the Create a Page process and select "Company, Organization or Institution."
  3. Choose your official page URL (choose wisely; this can only easily be changed once).
  4. Complete your profile's “About Us” description (begin with who you serve, how you do it, and why).
  5. Choose a Profile Photo (180 x 180 pixels works best).
  6. Choose a Cover Photo (here are some free PowerPoint templates that have been correctly sized).
  7. Click on "Settings" in the top navigation. Along the left side, a vertical navigation bar will appear.
  8. Select "Page Info" to add additional contact information and business details.
  9. Select "Page Roles" to assign administrative access to other team members.

Pro Tips

  • Again, if you aren't planning on actively using Facebook right away—but just want to save the name—pin a post letting visitors know your plans, along with the best way to contact you.
  • Choose bold, beautiful images that dictate a brand promise for your cover photos.

Trademark Infringement on Facebook

  • Facebook recognizes trademark infringement violations to occur when: "A trademark owner’s trademark (or similar trademark) is being used without permission on the site; that person’s use is in commerce; AND that use is likely to confuse consumers about the source, endorsement or affiliation of the person’s goods or services."
  • You can report infringement violations through Facebook's online form or via email.
  • The platform will ultimately remove content that is clearly in violation, before providing the user with your contact information and details of your report.
  • Facebook specifically emphasizes that they are not in a position to adjudicate disputes between third parties, and may ultimately not be able to remove the content in question.

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3. Pinterest

Though not as popular with companies as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is quickly gaining traction as a hidden goldmine of potential. The visually-based platform has a unique demographic—the majority of its more than 100 million active users are women.

While you can find everything from art to technology on Pinterest, the platform has a reputation for DIY craft projects, recipes, fashion, home décor, and health.

How to Claim Your Trademark on Pinterest

  1. Click here to visit the page for creating business accounts.
  2. Enter your email address, a password, the name of your business, your website, and type of business on the form.
  3. Click on "Settings" and select "Edit Profile."
  4. Upload a profile picture, create a custom username (named after your business), and write a summary of what you do and who you serve. Be sure to list your location, website address, and contact information.

Pro Tips

  • Unlike other social networks, Pinterest doesn't allow a lot of profile customization. Quite frankly, it's doubtful many visitors check profiles on the site because it's really about the images. Nonetheless, choose a clear image of your company logo for the Profile Image.

Trademark Infringement on Pinterest

  • Accounts with usernames, Pin Board names, or any other content that misleads others, or violates another's trademark, may be updated, transferred, or permanently suspended.
  • Trademark violations can be filed by filling out a form here or emailing trademark@pinterest.com.
  • You can read more about Pinterest's copyright policies here.

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4. LinkedIn

There's a reason so many companies, especially B2Bs, focus their social media efforts on LinkedIn. According to a Ecosultancy report, LinkedIn users are four times more likely to visit a company website than Facebook users.

The two-year-long study analyzed 2 million monthly visits to 60 different corporate websites, before finding LinkedIn accounted for nearly two thirds of all social network referrals to corporate home pages.

How to Claim Your Trademark on LinkedIn

  1. Sign-in and click on "Interests" at the top of the LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Select "Companies."
  3. Click "Create" in the “Create a Company Page” box on the right.
  4. Enter your company’s official name and your work email address.
  5. Click "Continue" and enter your company information. Plug specialties, key products, services and what makes your company special.
  6. Upload a Logo and Banner Image. Note: Not only is your logo what LinkedIn users see when they search for your company it also appears on staff profiles. Resize your logo to 100 x 60 pixels before uploading. Also upload a logo that’s 50 x 50 pixels to appear in news feeds.
  7. Create an eye-catching background image or recycle the one you used for your Facebook Header.

Pro Tips

  • Create “Showcase Pages” for individual products. LinkedIn showcase pages are an extension of your company page and are used for highlighting various brands and product lines. This feature allows page managers to customize messages for different audience segments.
  • Take the time to create a compelling background image that either showcases your headquarters or your customers, and mention awards garnered and media coverage..

Trademark Infringement on LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn takes trademark violation accusations very seriously, reminding users to only report violations "in good faith."
  • Trademark violations can be filed by filling out a form here.

5. YouTube

YouTube is the third most visited site in the world. Considering it reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S, it's no wonder an increasing number of companies are using the platform as a marketing tool. Note: All YouTube accounts need to be directly tied to a Google+ account. YouTube recommends companies use business specific email addresses for this. If your company doesn't already have a G+ account, you can learn how to create one here.

How to Claim Your Trademark on YouTube

  1. Visit YouTube.com.
  2. Sign in with your gmail address.
  3. Click on your profile icon in the top-right corner.
  4. Click on the wheel icon beside “Creator Studio.”
  5. Click on "Create New Channel."
  6. Name your channel after your trademark name, and select the category that best describes your business.
  7. Add a profile image that clearly describes what you do and who you serve.

Pro Tips

  • Change your appearance settings and background color to match your company colors.
  • Consider upgrading your YouTube account to a "Branded Channel," which allows for more advanced design options and a personalized url - which solidifies your trademark ownership on YouTube.

Trademark Infringement on YouTube

  • YouTube policies prohibit channels as well as videos that infringe on trademarks. This means, If you spot another YouTuber using video content that uses your mark, in a way likely to cause confusion, you are within your rights to contact YouTube.
  • Though YouTube does provide a system for reporting infringement violations, the platform strongly encourages YouTubers to mediate issues themselves for faster results.
  • Trademark owners can directly contact users through YouTube's private messaging feature.

6. Instagram

Instagram is probably the social platform that your company is least likely to use. While most large companies have a decent understanding of how they can benefit from the aforementioned social platforms, very few really "get" the popular photo sharing network.

However, considering the company reported 600 million active users (and counting) in December 2016, reserving your trademark is worthwhile. NOTE: Unlike other platforms on our list, Instagram is strongly app-based; you'll need a smartphone to claim this one.

How to Claim Your Trademark on Instagram

  1. Download Instagram from the app store.
  2. Open the app, and create an account using a community work email address (so others besides you can access it).
  3. Input your trademark name when prompted to create a username.
  4. Tap on the +Photo button and upload your brand's logo.
  5. Next, you’ll be asked to enter your full name and phone number. You can use your name here, but choose the phone number contacts are most likely to associate with the business.
  6. Skip the prompt to find people to follow.
  7. Click the "Profile" icon on the bottom-right, and then tap "Edit Profile."
  8. Fill out the bio and insert your company URL.

Trademark Infringement on Instagram

  • You can submit a claim of trademark infringement to Instagram with this online form.
  • Like other social platforms, Instagram prefers its users try and resolve claims on their own.

Don't Wait to Claim Your Names

Case law pertaining to trademark infringement on social networking sites is slim. Most cases either settle early or are resolved through the aforementioned dispute resolution mechanisms.

Preventing unauthorized parties from ever claiming your trademark on social media platforms is much easier than the process of recovering lost trademark handles. It's much better to get the registration first. So, don't delay. The moment you have decided on a brand or product name, go ahead and register those social profiles. It will save you a lot of time and heartache moving forward.

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