Counteracting Copyright and Trademark Infringement Online

Counteracting Copyright and Trademark Infringement Online


Infringement of intellectual property poses significant losses to U.S. companies each year.  As technology advances, individuals continue to capitalize on new methods of infringing bothcopyrights and trademarks. The following steps will help business owners and entrepreneurs counteract and minimize online infringement of copyrights and trademarks.

Identify and register your company’s copyrights and trademarks. Federal registration of copyrights and trademarks will provide you with a number of advantages and rights. For copyrights, registration is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit to enforce the copyright in question and this also provides for the potential recovery of attorney’s fees and statutory damages.

For trademarks, a federal registration grants nationwide priority over trademark users who start later in time. Also, consider signing up for key social media services using your trademarks as user names to prevent others from squatting on your marks. Taking a proactive approach can save you from expensive litigation down the road.

Related: When Business Names Confuse Consumers: The Basics of Trademark Law

Monitor online infringement. A good offense can be the best defense when it comes to infringement. Monitor the internet and social media platforms to ensure that copyrights and trademarks are not being infringed upon.

Depending on the nature of your products and services, infringement can occur on websites via meta tags, pay-per-click advertising, counterfeit products sold through websites or online auctions, social media sites and posts, and banner advertising. Make time for a search every once in a while. Pair this with automatic search mechanisms, and you’ll be better equipped to uncover infringement.

Use take-down processes. Several social media companies like Twitter and eBay provide take-down procedures in the case of infringement on copyrights and trademarks. Check the FAQ sections of these sites for detailed, user-friendly instructions. While not perfect, these procedures are far less expensive than filing a lawsuit.

Implement enforcement programs. If the infringement is severe or widespread, a company should consider a formal enforcement program. Such programs can be aimed at either a small group of infringers (when the infringement is concentrated) or situations where the infringement is widely dispersed across several infringers.