Your brand image is predominantly defined by what is shown on the first page of Google, Bing and Yahoo search results. Under normal circumstances one would expect the first page of search results to be your webpage, blogs, webpages and of course your competitors. What happens if an angry customer or client decides to start posting negative comments about your company or you or worse creates a website dedicated to harming your reputation like www.your-company-name-here-sucks.com and this content creeps onto page one? Google and Bing’s algorithms are very blog-centric due to their unique content and keywords. Thus, if you have a dissatisfied client and they blog negatively about you and your company, there is a strong possibility that it will show up on search results next to the company’s site and for related keywords.
Our previous blog discussed how to repair a reputation damaged by negative content, in this blog we discuss what action you can take if your online assailant crosses the line.
Copyright and Brand Protection
One way you can ensure your name is protected is to diligently enforce your copyright on your content. Your site content is the key to revenue for your company. The more unique the content you post the better ranking you will receive. If others are using your content, your search rankings may be affected and their content may rank nearby yours.
Such duplicate content, if not properly attributed to your company, is a violation of copyright. To be clear, you do not need a registration to hold a copyright on your content. As soon as your work is made public, you own the rights to that work- the registration however, affords you stronger protections and higher damages if you register the your work before the infringement occurs.
The first step to discovery Copyright infringement of your web content is to use a site such as http://www.copyscape.com/. This site scans the web for plagiarized content and gives you a list of all sites which might have stolen your content. If the goal is to preserve costs, you should first attempt to contact the site owners yourself and notify them of the content you believe they have stolen. If this proves to be unsuccessful you should contact an attorney and ask them to give you a cost benefit analysis of enlisting their services to achieve removal of the content.
Courts are beginning to recognize rampant defamation on the internet as a serious problem. If a blogger or reviewer goes outside of pure opinion or fact to slam your brand then they are well on their way into defamation territory. For example, stating “The mechanic is a jerk” is likely safe on the opinion side; however, stating “The mechanic is a thief” sways dangerously close to defamation. By monitoring reviews and content on the Internet for negative postings you can keep your brand name clean. While one review may not do much damage, if you begin to notice a smear campaign against you by an angry customer you may want to consider contacting an attorney to weigh your options for putting an end to these damaging statements.
The above is a simplified summary of complex topics of law. A quick and reasonably priced Cease and Desist Letter can solve these problems a majority of the time. If you suspect infringement, defamation you should seek professional legal advice regarding your options.
About the Author:
Brittany Grunau is an attorney licensed to practice law in California. Brittany can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. The above is not to be construed as legal advice. Communication with Brittany Grunau by e-mail or telephone does not cause you to become a client of Brittany Grunau or afford you to the protections of confidentiality or attorney-client privileges.