Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is Someone Using Your Organization's Initials/Name in Social Media?

At Memphis, Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) we've run into a few instances in the past year or so of people using our initials or creating negative pages about us. In one case, an angry customer created "MLGW is Broken" Facebook and Twitter accounts. While we monitored them, we did not take any other action other than reaching to resolve any particular problems. They did not gain many followers/likes and the customer ceased to actively post (though the pages are still active).

More recently, a local rapper has also adopted and transformed M.L.G.W. as an acronym for his rap crew, and a local high school football player created a Twitter account named "@MLGW_lightsout." He's not been critical of MLGW in any way (it's pretty obvious he's focusing more on the "lights out" aspect of his football play). But it's our brand.

Do you have any stories to share about similar experiences?


George Selby, Immediate Past President, NAGC said...

My agency is the U.S. AbilityOne Commission™, tasked with administering the job creation program known as AbilityOne®, for people who are blind or have other significant disabilities. The AbilityOne Program name is a registered trademark.

Some time ago, on You Tube, someone was using our branded name as their own. A first request from me as Communications Director was sent to You Tube, asking that they direct the other party to cease and desist. Another went to the offending party. Both were cordial notes...

They did not work and were followed by several more messages along the same lines.

It took multiple emails and a rather forceful letter with some documentation of our ownership of the name from our attorney to spur You Tube into action. Total time invested: about 4-5 months. Total staff involved: 4.

One side note re this particular situation is that when it comes to protecting a trademark such as this, if one is not vigilant and does not pursue actions in defense of one’s ownership of a registered trademark or logo, ownership of the mark may be lost.

Erik Deckers said...

I would be more worried if the rapper or the football player were using the initials in an openly derogatory way.

My recommendation is you do nothing, if they are not intentionally harming the brand. All it will take is one cease-and-desist letter to a high school kid or a small-time musician, and MLGW will come across as the big bad bully who is afraid of a few individuals who are just trying to express themselves.

Just like you did with the angry customers, sit back and do nothing. My guess is that the football player will eventually either quit Twitter, depending on his school's rules, or change his handle to his own name. The rap group will end up getting MORE attention if you make a big deal about it.

thu said...
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