True Story: A young lady’s Etsy shop was shut down for Trademark Infringement surrounding the misuse of the word “Facebook” and the trademarked letter “F”. Apparently Etsy sent out a warning email, she reached out to customer service but got no answer before her shop was closed. She wrote a detail post about it but has since taken it down. In this case, Etsy was protecting themselves from any possible lawsuits from Facebook.
Did you know that you can get sued, have your site/blog/e-store shut down, or worst if you don’t follow a company’s branding guidelines?
I don’t want to scare you but I kind of do. A lot of us use the Internet to supplement our income or make our entire living from it. I don’t want anything to negatively affect our progress. I don’t know if you heard of or remember not too along ago, Twitter started to crack down on third party apps using the likeness of the word Twitter (in whole or in part) in the name of their apps. A lot of them had to change their names in order to continue to get access to Twitter’s API (that a developer’s thing, nothing to worry yourself about). In the end most of the apps that stuck around complied & kept proving their services.
Here’s another example. This blog is all about WordPress. I could have purchase the domain name “wordpresstechgal.com”, but it would be against WordPress rules in regards to domain names. They suggest that you use “WP” instead and if you already have a domain using the word, to purchase a new one and have the first domain redirected to the new compliant domain name.
What got me on right path was a blog post that I read about two years ago (I will try to find a link to it again) about the way we used social media icons. It made me rethink the way I work on websites for my clients. One of the most popular requests my design clients would want was a “Follow Me” widget or section that shows off little icons linked to their social media profiles. I use to search for just the right icons that my clients would love. What I was doing was wrong. I never thought what would happen if my clients got in trouble. If they have a lawyer, that lawyer would point the finger at me, their web designer. Since then I have decided that I will try my best to comply with every company’s branding rules because I would want my own branding rules to be followed as well.
So in the spirit of awareness, I am going to link to the major social media sites and their branding guidelines.
- Google+ (additional info)
Before you do anything, whether it is for the Internet or in print, double-check their guidelines so you know what you can and cannot do. They don’t mind you using their logos because it keeps their brand out there but they do not want it used incorrectly. Plus they provide you with files that you can download for web and print usage. Having access to those files will make your web/print designer very happy.
FYI: The crackdown is not limited to Social Media Platforms either.
True Story: The Company Chanel is suing Shop Jeen over their perfume bottle iPhone covers that resemble the actual Chanel perfume bottles. They are also suing a t-shirt company who used their famous double C logo in one of their shirts designs. Both cases are examples of trademark infringement. Although they may not go after everyone, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take notice and make the necessary adjustments.