Social-networking sites: opportunities and challenges for brand owners


Katy Cullen and Amanda Mallon

The popularity of social-networking sites is growing exponentially, with Facebook now boasting around 600 million members and more than 200 million users on Twitter. Katy Cullen and Amanda Mallon look at the implications for brands.

The growing popularity of social-networking sites is a double-edged sword for trademark owners, who may benefit from the increased exposure of their brands on these websites, but who must also deal with the threat of trademark infringement by the users of such sites. Policing the use of trademarks on the Internet can be extremely challenging—a task made more difficult by the colossal volume of information and its global reach.

The opportunity

The surge in social networking, particularly among young, affluent consumers, presents brand owners with opportunities they cannot ignore. Each of the top 10 brands on Twitter and Facebook has millions of users following it, and so the potential positive implications are huge. The use of social networking to facilitate commerce was largely assisted by Facebook’s creation of ‘vanity URL’s’ in 2009.

Twitter, Facebook, dilution, genericide, trademark infringement