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It is easy for businesses to create an Instagram or Facebook account without verification for your marketing content. These social media accounts are useful tools for brands to connect with their customers. However, the flip side is that unverified users can create copycat accounts and take or create content that infringes your intellectual property (IP), such as trade marks and copyright. As a business owner, you should monitor the platforms and take action if someone on Instagram or Facebook copies your IP. This article explains how to handle a potential infringement of your IP on Instagram and Facebook.

What IP Does Your Business Have?

Firstly, as a business owner, you need to understand the legal rights afforded to your business under copyright and trade mark law. Your important business material, content, images, brand name and logo have the ability to be protected under different IP laws. You can rely upon these protections in situations where someone uses your content without your permission.  

You can use a trade mark to protect your business name, logo or slogan from other traders in relation to the goods and or services you provide. A trade mark provides legal protection to use your brand exclusively and prevents competitors from using a brand that is too similar to yours. This includes if competitors reference, copy or use your trade mark on Instagram or Facebook.

In contrast, copyright automatically protects the expression of your original ideas. These ideas must be in ‘material form’, for example:

  • website content;
  • photos; and
  • marketing material.  

Therefore, you can enforce your copyright rights against third parties if they infringe or take your copyright on Instagram or Facebook without your permission.

How Do You Protect Your Rights on Instagram and Facebook?

Trade Mark

If you have found someone on Instagram or Facebook using your registered trade mark, for example, your brand name or logo, you can file a complaint by using the prescribed Instagram form or the Facebook form.

The form requires that you must:

  • be the owner of a registered trade mark;
  • provide details of your trade mark and where it is registered;
  • provide details of the infringing material including URLs; and
  • make a declaration in good faith.

However, Instagram and Facebook are not in a position to adjudicate your trade mark dispute. It merely allows you to make a complaint and will often block or remove offending conduct.

If the infringing party wants their post or account reinstated, they will need to prove that their conduct does not infringe your IP rights.

Copyright

Similarly, if someone on Instagram or Facebook is using your copyright, you can file a complaint by using the forms.

Like the process for trade mark infringement, the form requires you to provide certain information in order for Instagram and Facebook to action the complaint.

Before lodging a form, however, it’s a good idea to contact the infringer and give them the opportunity to resolve the infringement. You can do this via the inbuilt messenger service on Instagram or Facebook or with the help of your IP lawyer.

What if the Infringement Continues?

Finally, utilising Instagram or Facebook’s inbuilt complaint functionality is a great way to get a quick result. If the infringement continues, you will need to take further action.

It is important to seek legal assistance if you want to escalate the matter to formal legal action. Your lawyer will probably suggest contacting the infringing party as a first step.  

Following this step, if no agreement is reached, you may initiate legal proceedings. Court proceedings can be costly and time consuming and are often not the preferred route of dispute resolution.

Key Takeaways

The content you post to your Instagram and Facebook accounts is IP. It can be protected by trade marks or copyright. If you find someone copying or infringing your content, they are breaching your IP rights and you can take action.

To stop infringement by a third party you can:

  • contact the infringing party;
  • issue a complaint through Instagram or Facebook; or
  • seek legal assistance.

If you need help protecting your IP on Instagram and Facebook, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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