Social Media and Trademark Infringement

Friday, December 6, 2013

Character assassination, reputation manipulation and intellectual property theft happen routinely on the Internet. They don't just happen in the movies. A recent case in a Virginia federal district court involves allegations of intellectual property theft and false information posted online. AvePoint, Inc. v. Power Tools, Inc. is a reminder to all companies that brand monitoring of Internet activities is vital for businesses that want to prosper in today's corporate world. Delving deeper into the details of the case reveals a Hollywood-style plot by one company to discredit a competitor and steal its customers. 

Understanding the Issues
According to the suit, AvePoint is a software developer based in New Jersey that registered its name as a trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office about five years ago. One of its competitors, Power Tools, Inc., does business under the name Axceler and is based in Massachusetts. AvePoint accused Axceler and one of its corporate vice presidents of making false and defamatory statements on the Internet through social media outlets. AvePoint alleges that Axceler created an account on LinkedIn® for a fictitious AvePoint employee to imply that the company was a software developer based outside of the U.S. False and misleading information was also allegedly posted on Twitter®. The case includes claims that a trial sample of AvePoint's software was requested and obtained through a fake email address, violating the terms of service. According to the suit, the goal of the plot by Axceler was to publicly discredit AvePoint and lure away its customers. 

Discovering Trademark Infringement
One of the main issues involved in the AvePoint case is trademark infringement. It's a problem facing many companies today. Well-meaning business owners don't expect sabotage by competitors and may not even realize that it's happening. It must be discovered and dealt with vigorously to minimize further loss of business. 

Taking Action
Trademark infringement, false advertising, defamation and theft of intellectual property should not be taken lightly. The laws that govern the Internet make it challenging for those whose rights have been violated online to make a strong case. The legal precedents are still being set. It takes attorneys with in-depth knowledge of new and existing intellectual property law to protect their clients' interests in these matters. 

Being Proactive 
We live in a time when false information is easy to generate. It's difficult for the average consumer to decipher where information comes from and whether or not it's reliable. Trademark and copyright infringements, false advertising and defamation are realities that can cause irreparable harm to businesses when they're left unchecked and unchallenged. As a result, companies must be vigilant about information circulated online regarding their brands.

Online intellectual property theft and character defamation can take many forms. At Berenato & White, we offer Internet brand monitoring as a service to our clients. Contact our office today to find out how our team of intellectual property attorneys can protect your company's rights.