Intellectual Property Rights and Social Media

The reliance on social media has increased in recent years. Whilst social media has allowed creative content businesses to be able to engage directly with their audience on a commercial and non-commercial basis, there are challenges.

Social media provides an avenue and route for would-be consumers to be diverted to online sites selling infringing content, and evidence from Trading Standards indicates that social media sites were the second most common ‘location’ for investigations into counterfeiting.

It is clear, therefore, that the impact of social media on Intellectual Property (IP) has grown, as information and websites on counterfeit goods are accessed and shared; yet there is little, if any, research, or dependable data on this issue.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), “refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.”

This means that when someone creates something tangible or intangible, the creator has ownership of that product, and said creator has the controlling rights to the usage of that product.

Protection of Intellectual Property in the Social Media Era

With fierce market competition and the present grey areas in IP law, business owners must work harder to protect valuable information by restricting its access to necessary personnel. Currently, when adding content to websites or utilising social media for promotion, business owners often reference customer or supplier names and fail to properly adjust social media privacy settings, allowing others to see their “friends.” These actions can cause business owners to lose trade secret protection for customer and supplier names and contact data.

If business owners and consumers do not understand how to protect tangible IP rights or how protection of intangible IP rights can be lost through social media posts, then such business owners and consumers may suffer detrimental harm.

Thus, it is critical that individuals stay up to date on changes in IP law, enabling them not only to contribute to the current public debate at a deeper level, but also to better protect both personal and employer information.

With social media’s widespread nature of sharing, it is oftentimes hard for intellectual property holders to catch up on any infringements or violations. However, when they do this, law is a tool that can be used to stop sharing or halt any violation of copyright, trademark, or patent. The protection of intellectual property affords the holder the right to file complaints, takedown content, seek compensation, file lawsuits, and so much more.

For any for any queries related to the protection of intellectual property rights and for expert legal advice for businesses, contact our expert Business and Media Solicitor Reina Menezes D’costa at r.dcosta@360lawservices.com

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