Lifecycle of a Business - Brand Protection, Social Media and Defamation

BLM's Lifecycle of a Business series captures key elements of a business's growth story - from the highs of formation right through to lows of dissolution. Our experts’ advice and knowledge will help guide you to understand and deal with litigation risks. 

When you’ve worked so hard to get your business up and running and generate a reputation and buzz about your business, brand and products, it’s crucial that you can build upon this success and protect these newly-developed and significantly valuable business assets. Protecting your intellectual property and ensuring that your public image is both robust and enduring may well be the key to long-term success in an age of increasingly effortless information sharing and constant public and media attention. 

The intellectual property rights that your business will either generate as a consequence of its daily activities or develop specifically with the intention of gaining a tactical advantage against its competitors are invaluable. Ultimately, the business may need to defend its position by ensuring that its intellectual property rights are not infringed by the accidental or calculated activities of third parties. Should infringement occur, any response must be quick and forthright in order to avoid that infringement leading to wider commercial fallout, and minimise the potential for reputational damage that may not be easily or satisfactorily remedied when customers begin to associate your business, brand and products with an imitator. Obtaining legal advice and taking action in good time is crucial.

Businesses are increasingly using social media to reach out to both existing and potential customers, with wide-ranging benefits. However, use of these relatively new and developing marketing platforms is not without its pitfalls, and care should be taken to strike the right balance online between content which gets attention and doing so for the right reasons without exposure to reputational and legal risk, given the speed at which material can be published, shared and commented upon.

In a similar light, the simplicity of publishing material and opinions online can quickly escalate to a scenario involving allegations of defamation, causing numerous issues for both those affected and those responsible for them. Whilst social media users may find some comfort in their supposed online anonymity, recent case law has ensured that statements made on social media platforms are often treated in the same way as statements published in more mainstream print and broadcast media. Restricting and controlling the impact caused by potentially harmful remarks online and in the media is also a time-sensitive area that requires knowledge and experience of the law and the wider social media ecosystem as it continues to evolve.

Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to clients of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

Who to contact

Stuart
Evans

Partner , London

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