Have small companies gradually become as powerful as the larger ones? Should big companies start to think twice before filing a suit against smaller companies, who are potentially infringing their intellectual rights? The answers to these questions may be blowing in the wind, but the fact of the matter is that smaller companies have gained a considerably stronger position due to the entry of social media. A very recent example of this increased power was when the children’s clothing company HOLLY’S® chose to withdraw a lawsuit against Danish blogger Mascha Vang, whom together with her daughter has launched a children’s clothing brand called HOLLIE NOLIA®. In a blog post entitled “Jeg er blevet sagsøgt, og skal i retten!” (I have been sued and am going to court!) Mascha managed to express her indignation over the lawsuit by HOLLY’S®, and with the help of her huge group of followers she brought the competition into an endless shitstorm with the result that HOLLY’S® soon after dropped their lawsuit.
David and Goliath have become closer to equals
It is no longer a matter of whether you are a large or small company, but how active your company is on the various social media platforms. Mascha Vang vs. HOLLY’S® definitely sends a strong signal to companies of all shapes and sizes that social media is challenging the traditional presentation of a small, defenseless entrepreneur against the big corporations. The battle between HOLLY’S® and HOLLIE NOLIA® is not an isolated incidence and it really shows how powerful a tool social media have become.
Another example is the case where the ceramic artist Anne Black took the supermarket chain NETTO® to court for copying her vases. Anne used her FACEBOOK® page to bring attention to the case. With the speed of light the post got shared and NETTO® quickly became very unpopular on that specific social media platform. Whether this case has had the same unfortunate impact on NETTO® is yet unknown, as the case is still ongoing, but there is no doubt that FACEBOOK®, blogs and other such social media platforms are an important outlet for both companies and consumers.
Social media can no longer be ignored
Whether you are Mascha Vang or Anne Black, NETTO® or HOLLY’S®, the best thing will always be to protect your rights with a trademark registration or by building an incredibly strong brand. However, something suggests that the even the bigger corporations should reevaluate their strategies to begin with and chose to engage in a constructive dialogue instead of charging ahead with one lawsuit after another. If not, they are at risk of being an easy target for the consumers’ sometimes fleeting and very changeable responses and attitudes.
Our advice to companies active on social media:
- Register trademarks that the company uses in marketing, including marketing on social media platforms;
- Monitor, possibly by use of GOOGLE ALERT™, relevant trademarks;
- Keep calm and chose your battles. The memory of the internet may be short-lived. Remember: “Here today – gone tomorrow”;
- Always be ready to take action in the event that the company should end up in a regular shitstorm.
If you are still unsure on how to protect your rights as best as possible on social media platforms, we are happy to assist in preparing a SoMe policy and provide advice on the newest and latest initiatives in this field.
So far 62 % of the Danes have used Facebook on a daily basis in 2016. So if you wish to get in contact with the potentially 3,476,000 monthly users, then sign up and begin sharing your company’s doings with the rest of the world.