Technology: Risks to brand protection when advertising through social media

Placement of content raises issues, increases risk of unauthorized use of brand

Social media presents unique perils for businesses because of its low barriers to entry and the way through which advertisements containing the business’s brands may be deployed across social media platforms. The outcome is a certain loss of control due to the content against which an advertisement may run. Whereas imitating franchised brands in a printed or brick and mortar store, for example, requires a significant outlay of capital, nearly anyone has the ability to impersonate that brand on a social media platform. And, when that brand advertises through social media, placement of its advertisement in terms of the content against which it runs raises additional issues. In this regard, there is the risk of unauthorized use of a brand, and negative repercussions associated with undesirable placement.

For example, the placement of the advertisement itself can be an area of concern. An advertiser may not have direct or complete control over the placement of its advertisements on social media sites and, therefore, it is not always possible to ensure that an advertisement will not appear alongside content that is less than flattering to the brand. This risk was illustrated recently when companies whose advertisements appeared on one social media site along with content glorifying violence were themselves targeted by groups for having run advertisements alongside the offensive content. 

Contributing Author

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Christopher D. Mickus

Christopher D. Mickus is an attorney with Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP (Chicago). He is a partner and leader of the firm’s recently-launched Advertising, Marketing...

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Contributing Author

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Andrew G. May

Andrew G. May is an attorney with Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP (Chicago). May is an associate and member of Neal Gerber Eisenberg’s Advertising, Marketing...

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Katherine Nye

Katherine Nye is an intellectual property attorney in the Advertising, Marketing and Social Media Group at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP (Chicago). She regularly...

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Andrea Fuelleman

Andrea Fuelleman is a brand protection associate in Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s Intellectual Property Practice Group. She concentrates her practice in anti-counterfeiting and brand enforcement...

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