Recently one of our clients came to the unfortunate realization that her brand had been stolen and used by a competitor. She owns a Hair Salon in Mooresville, she requested that one of her client LIKE them on Facebook (a very common practice due to the explosion of social media), the customer called the next day to ask if they had franchised the business, because there was one exactly like it only 45 miles away.
A little research revealed that the culprit was indeed using our client’s logo on their Facebook business page; the only difference was they added some text to the background of the logo. Further investigation revealed they had made signs for their building and stenciled the logo on their front door.
I called the owners of the salon and had a very professional conversation regarding intellectual property, copyrights and branding, he was receptive to the call, but had no idea of any infraction. As it turns out, he hired someone to create the Facebook page and that person is actually the perpetrator that stole the logo from my client. Now we have 2 victims!
Further research and conversations resulted in the logo being removed from their Facebook page, but due to the cost involved in revamping their marketing materials, they declined to cease use of the logo and to not replace their marketing materials and signage. Litigation is obviously pending.
Steps to Avoid Online Piracy:
- Use a low resolution of your logo for Social Media, Website and all online activities
- Watermark the logo
- “Right-Click Disable” is a piece of code that will thwart some perpetrators, but not all.
- “No Pin” is a line of HTML code that will disable the ability to add your graphics to Pinterest. This only works for Pinterest and only stops most people, not all people from theft.
- Register your brand/logo with the US Patent & Trademark Office
- Commercial fonts cannot be trademarked, unless they are “Specialty Fonts” that are graphically created specifically for the logo.
Steps to Prove Intellectual Property Theft:
- Research and gather as much information as possible regarding the theft.
- Estimate how much damage was done to your brand and the approximate loss of revenue.
- Talk to an attorney that specializes in Intellectual Property.
- Contact the business owner in a professional manner to discuss/resolve the issue.
- File a lawsuit against the offending business.
Regardless of the measures you put into place to protect your brand and intellectual property, the “Dark Side of the Internet” is obvious, it enables people to easily and without regard, obtain your property.
McBryde Website Design