Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing space into a social platform that connects 2 billion monthly active users.
A platform this popular becomes a powerful sales, marketing and branding tool for businesses of all sizes.
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And brands can also sell their products directly from Instagram. While most businesses opt to take advantage of the new opportunities, all should be aware of the need for online intellectual property protection on Instagram.
According to a Better Business Bureau study, 40% of total online fraud reported involves victims of online ads found on Facebook and Instagram.
The number rises to 70% for victims who were not actively looking for a product but ended up losing money in the transaction, according to the study.
Instagram does not allow counterfeits or any other form of intellectual property violation.
Despite the platform’s efforts, intellectual property infringements are common, and brands should take measures to protect their assets, reputation and revenue.
How can my brand be infringed on Instagram?
Instagram enables brands to reach new audiences and markets.
However, it does not come without its problems. It is easy for illegitimate sellers to duplicate authentic content or share on Instagram and other social media platforms without authorization.
On Instagram, scammers usually use a fake account or scam ad.
Infringers can create an Instagram account that has your brand’s name or a variation on it. To mislead consumers, they can use your brand’s name plus a country name, making it appear as if this is a legitimate account that the authentic business holds specifically for the territory.
A large part of fraud involves online ads on Facebook (now Meta) and Instagram. Scammers use photos and other design elements and content from authentic businesses and create an online ad.
This way they create confusion so consumers are no longer sure which pages are authentic and which are fake. What they usually do next is divert shoppers and take orders on fake websites off Instagram. See our blog article on: How to Avoid Scams on Facebook.
How are ads affecting brand abuse on Instagram?
Instagram ads are a powerful tool to reach users on the platform. Infringers use ads to attract shoppers, often with too-good-to-be-true deals.
Scam ads can use images by the authentic brand to make it look legitimate and attract buyers in violation of trademark and copyright laws.
As soon as they copy from the original brand, it is easy and quick to make the ads and put them into action.
Since the photos and content are identical, it is so much harder for shoppers to realize they are not responding to the legitimate brand.
The preferred way for infringers is to take shoppers to a website off Instagram. And if the ads illegally used the branding, the website is likely to do the same.
When shoppers buy from scammers, they can receive a fake product or a product that is very different than the one advertised. They can also pay and receive nothing at all.
Hashtags can be used on Instagram to promote illicit goods. Illicit sellers can use the same hashtags as legitimate businesses or hashtags expressly for consumers who look for the best deals, authentic or fake.
Hashtags like #Replica and #counterfeit make it easy to find and purchase counterfeit goods, from sneakers, fashion and handbags to almost anything else.
Some posts add irrelevant hashtags. Most of the time, posts with unrelated hashtags try to sell something: sneakers, fashion, food supplements and more.
Instagram users can add the names of brands in hashtags. Therefore, by searching the hashtag of your favorite brand, you may be exposed to both fake and genuine goods. Yes, it gets confusing.
What intellectual property rights are being infringed?
Trademarks are the names, phrases, symbols, designs or a combination of these things that differentiate your brand from others in your industry. They are source identifiers, distinctive as not to create a likelihood of confusion.
Trademark registration means that you are the only one who can legally use your trademark in a registered “class” of goods or services in a territory.
Copyrights protect “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression,” as defined in the U.S.
They encompass books, articles, recordings, website content, computer software and more. Copyright infringement online is referred to as digital piracy.
It involves unauthorized uploading, downloading, streaming, and sharing of copyrighted works, such as images.
In today’s digital world, the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted content and images have become fast and easy, making intellectual property (IP) protection more crucial than ever before.
Patents are tools to protect innovation. They are granted for new, useful inventions, creations and innovations. Utility patents protect the way a product works, while design patents protect the way a product looks.
How is my brand affected by online infringements?
Lost revenue – When consumers purchase counterfeit products, particularly deceptive counterfeiting, manufacturers lose sales they could otherwise have made. More counterfeits mean less sales together with brand dilution.
Unfair competition – Companies create distinctive trademarks and use them so customers can identify their brand and connect with it. IP protection protects the owners from unfair competition by sellers who can offer counterfeit items for much lower prices, and never invest in brand building, quality standards or customer service, nor do they pay taxes and comply with regulations.
Damaged reputation – Customers who did not receive their items or received a cheap knock-off turn to the authentic brand. Many simply do not realize they were scammed. Even after they do, consumers often lose their hard-earned trust as they now associate the brand with low quality and scamming.
How to start online brand protection?
It may seem obvious, but the first step is registration. You start by registering your business as a legal entity and then, in most cases, your trademark(s).
Trademark registration can protect your brand’s name, logo, or other trademark-protected materials from copying.
The owner of a trademark has exclusive rights to use, sell, and modify the trademark. It grants exclusivity both offline and online, including the use of your trademark on Instagram.
What happens when someone uses my registered trademark as its username on Instagram?
According to Instagram, the use of your registered trademark may constitute a trademark infringement if the following is true:
- An individual or company is using your trademark or a similar trademark without permission.
- The use may mislead or confuse consumers about the source of the goods or services or their affiliation.
- It is used for a product or service that is in the same business or related to the registered trademark.
Can I report trademark infringements to Instagram?
Yes. If your trademark is registered you can protect it against a confusing or misleading similarity. You may use Instagram’s trademark report form: Instagram Help Center.
Even when the trademark is not registered, you can still have protection. In this case, the burden of proof is greater, and the plaintiff must prove a deceptive similarity, as well as economic value and goodwill of its brand name.
How to deal with IP infringements on Instagram?
You can start by notifying the infringer of their trademark infringement, and asking them to take the infringing content or account down.
If you prefer not to deal with the infringer or if the infringer fails to respond or refuses to cooperate, you can use Instagram’s tools. After you submit the necessary information to Instagram, it investigates the case. If proven, it deletes the infringing content.
Instagram has a form to submit. It requires that you are the registered owner of the trademark and ask that you provide your registration details. This means you have the rights in the jurisdiction and regarding the products or services.
You should also submit information regarding the infringement, including URLs. If you do not have a trademark in the jurisdiction, it may be more difficult to prove the infringement and protect your brand.
To report counterfeits to Instagram, use this form. Since counterfeits infringe on trademarks, the process is identical.
To report copyright infringement, use this form. Complete all the details and show URLs for the infringing content (such as photos and text) and the authentic, copyrighted pages.
Patents and design rights
There is no form or official report, so we recommend that you seek expert help, such as an online brand protection agency.
Wiser Market Online Brand Protection
Online threats to brands are more widespread than ever before.
To protect their branding, images and content from being stolen, brands must keep monitoring, detecting and removing fake Instagram accounts and fake ads. Constant monitoring is a time-consuming and daunting task.
The burden is too heavy, but we have the solution: Automatically monitor and remove fake Instagram accounts, ads, and websites with Wiser Market. We act quickly with our scalable solutions that serve brands of all sizes.
Wiser Market provides an effective end-to-end service for fighting counterfeits and IP violations, so your brand is protected and secure, allowing you to concentrate on growing your business.
Want to protect Your Brand?
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WiserTip: Be proactive and don’t wait for customers to report fake accounts or scam ads. By the time they do, the problem may be too widespread.
What is online intellectual property protection?
Online brand protection services counter online threats and protect your intellectual property assets. Anytime, anywhere. Counterfeit goods affect practically every industry, from fashion to automotive parts to pharmaceuticals, electronics, toys and more.
To protect your business, use Wiser Market’s online IP protection services. For more information, visit https://wisermarket.com/ip-protection/
What is brand abuse?
Brand abuse refers to another party infringing on the intellectual property of an authentic brand. Brand abuse can include:
- Copyright infringement
- Domain name abuse
What is online brand protection strategy?
The Wiser Method offers an effective online brand protection solution.
- Search – Proprietary technology applied to find online infringements across digital platforms. This includes marketplaces, websites, social media, and more.
- Analyze – After detection, our team analyzes all listings and categorizes them.
- Enforce – Our team of experts implements professional expertise to ensure each infringement is removed quickly and efficiently.
Our scalable technology and professional expertise result in exceptionally high success rates, all with superb customer service.
What are brand protection services?
Brand protection services provide intellectual property protection, from detection to enforcement of your rights. Do it the Wiser way!