SHOULD SOCIAL MEDIA BE MAKING TRADEMARK DECISIONS? THE GAP SAYS YES.
In a world where online status is determined by how many Facebook users “like” your page and how many followers you have on Twitter, what happened to GAP of North America comes as no surprise to those of us who follow the many ways in which Facebook and Twitter are changing the rules of marketing and now it seems the world of trademarks.
As marketing budgets get smaller, it’s no surprise that companies like the GAP want to make the most of their social media audience by crowd sourcing, however the implications that said decision may have in the areas of Copyright and Trademark are yet to be determined. Specifically, since crowd sourcing (or community based design) is when tasks which would have been done by an employee or a contractor, as the author(s), are left to a large group of people (or crowd).
However, GAP’s decision to crowd source certain aspects of the company’s new logo barely made it off the ground. In fact, the new logo was as well received as New Coke, which in 1985 resulted in thousands of written complaints, this week GAP’s new logo irritated GAP’s over 700,000 Facebook fans who demanded that the company reinstate the social media deemed ‘Iconic Blue Box.’ In a written statement, the company responded to the outcry by stating that “[w]e’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.”
And now that the Blue Box is back we can’t help but wonder what the GAP will do with its newest trademark since it was filed as an intent to use and if other companies will think twice before letting social media hijack their Intellectual Property Portfolios.