Trademark

The FAQs in this section provide some information about trademarks. This includes what trademarks do and don't protect, how you can avoid infringing the trademarks of other people when posting to Instagram and how Instagram addresses reports of trademark infringement. If you believe someone is infringing on your trademark, you can fill out this form.

Please note that laws in different countries may vary. For more information on trademark law, you can visit the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Instagram can't provide you with legal advice, so you may want to speak with an attorney if you have more questions about trademarks.

Learn More About Trademark

A trademark is a word, slogan, symbol or design (for example, a brand name or logo) that a person or company uses to distinguish their products or services from those offered by others. A trademark is protectable when it’s used in a distinctive way to identify a product or service. Whether you know it or not, you see trademarks all day long, whether in stores shopping, watching commercials on TV and so on.

Generally, trademark law seeks to protect consumers from being confused about who provides, endorses or is affiliated with a particular product or service. To prevent this situation, a trademark owner may be able to stop others from using their trademark (or a similar trademark) without permission if that use may cause confusion.

Not all terms are subject to trademark protection under the law. Protection depends on a variety of factors, including how unique, generic or descriptive the trademark is and the manner that it’s used. For example, the term “Banana” may be protectable as a trademark to identify an electronics company, but perhaps not to describe a banana farm. In addition, many trademark owners obtain registrations for their trademarks under relevant law, but registration may not be necessary for a trademark to be protected.

Please note that Instagram can’t adjudicate disputes between third parties, and so we wouldn’t be in a position to act on trademark reports that require an in-depth trademark analysis. This is also the case for trademark reports that appear to involve a real-world dispute that wouldn’t be resolved by any action that Instagram could take. In these situations, rather than contacting Instagram, you may want to reach out directly to the party that you believe is infringing your rights, or seek any resolution in court or by other judicial means. If you’re sure you want to report content on Instagram that you believe infringes your trademark, you can do so by completing this form.

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Generally, trademark infringement occurs when:

  1. A person uses a trademark owner’s trademark (or similar trademark) without permission
  2. That person’s use is in commerce, meaning that it’s done in connection with the sale or promotion of goods or services AND
  3. That use is likely to confuse consumers about the source, endorsement or affiliation of the person’s goods or services

The touchstone of trademark infringement is often “likelihood of confusion,” and there are many factors that are considered to determine if a use of a trademark is likely to cause confusion. For example, when a person’s trademark is also used by someone else, but on unrelated goods or services, that use may not be infringement because it may not cause confusion. Which party used the trademark first can often be an important consideration as well. There are also many limits to trademark rights, such as geographic limitations, as well as the ability for someone to use your trademark to lawfully comment on or criticize your goods or services.

Please note that the law in different countries relating to trademark rights and trademark infringement can vary. If you’re not sure if a particular use of a trademark would be considered infringement, you may want to consult with an attorney.

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It depends. In the U.S., a trademark can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Federal registrations with the USPTO establish trademark rights as of a certain date and provide a presumption that the registrant owns a valid trademark, among other things. For these reasons, trademark owners often obtain USPTO registrations.

Outside the U.S., many other countries have adopted similar systems, including the ability for trademark owners to register their trademarks. Both in the U.S. and in other countries, depending on the relevant laws, a trademark owner may still have certain rights without a registration. Typically, a trademark owner’s rights without a registration (often known as common law rights) may be weaker than rights that are subject to a registration. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that registering a company with a government office or getting a permit to do business in a specific country or state (for example, a business registration) usually doesn’t itself create a trademark right.

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In some countries or states in the U.S., a business might be able to register with a government office, or obtain a permit or license to do business in that country or state. These registrations, such as ones issued by a state’s Secretary of State, generally aren’t the same as a trademark registration, and may not themselves create trademark rights for the business. In the U.S., the registration that’s frequently used to establish trademark ownership is one that is issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

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Trademark rights may last indefinitely, but only if the trademark owner continues to use the trademark in commerce to identify their products or services. If a trademark owner stops using the trademark, or if it isn’t used properly, they might lose their trademark rights. Please also note that for trademarks that are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), issued registrations must be renewed periodically. The laws in other jurisdictions may vary.

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A counterfeit good is a knockoff or replica version of another company’s product. It usually copies the trademark (name or logo) and/or distinctive features of that other company’s product to imitate a genuine product. The manufacture, promotion or sale of a counterfeit good is a type of trademark infringement that is illegal in most countries, and is recognized as being harmful to consumers, trademark owners and honest sellers. Please note that counterfeit goods may be unlawful even if the seller explicitly says that the goods are counterfeit, or otherwise disclaims authenticity of the goods.

If you believe content on Instagram is selling or promoting counterfeit goods, you may report that content by filling out this form.

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Not all uses of a trademark without permission of the trademark owner are necessarily an infringement of that trademark. The use of a trademark is only infringing if it’s likely to confuse people regarding the source, endorsement or affiliation of products or services. So, if a trademark is used in a way that is unlikely to cause consumer confusion, it’s generally not considered infringing.

Notably, simply referring to a trademark for the purpose of discussing the product or service offered probably won’t be an infringing use of the trademark, as long as that reference doesn’t use more of the trademark than is needed to make its point. In fact, you might need to use the trademark to describe or comment on a particular product or service. This is known as the doctrine of nominative fair use, and typically permits such uses as commentary, criticism, parody, reviews and, in some countries, comparative advertising.

And while these matters are very fact-specific, trademark rights also often don’t prevent:

  • The resale of legitimate goods or selling legitimate goods through channels that are not authorized by the trademark owner
  • The use of a trademarked word in its ordinary dictionary meaning
  • The use of a trademark in a way that is not related to the sale or promotion of products or services

Trademark rights are generally limited to the geographic territory where the trademark owner uses the trademark to identify their goods or services. For example, if a trademark owner uses a trademark to refer to their restaurant in Country A, they likely won’t be able to prevent another person from using the same term to refer to their own restaurant in Country B.

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The law in most countries recognizes copyrights as well as trademarks. Copyright law and trademark law serve two different purposes.

Copyright is meant to foster creativity and to provide incentives to create original works of authorship for the benefit of the public. Copyright protects original works like photos, videos, movies and music. It’s also important to note that, in the U.S., the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) applies only to copyrights and doesn’t apply to trademarks.

Trademark law is meant to prevent consumer harm because it prohibits someone other than the rights owner from using a trademark (for example, a brand’s logo) in a way that may confuse consumers. Trademark law protects brand names, slogans, logos or other symbols that help consumers identify the source of goods or services.

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Trademark and Posting Content on Instagram

Under Instagram's Terms of Use and Community Guidelines you can only post content to Instagram if it doesn't violate the intellectual property rights of another party, including trademarks. Please note that as an Instagram user, you are responsible for the content you post. If your content violates Instagram's policies or is reported to Instagram as infringing the intellectual property rights of another party, Instagram may remove that content.

Before you post content, you might want to ask:

  • Have I used someone else's trademark to sell or promote goods or services in a way that may confuse people?
  • Does my use of a trademark only refer to someone else’s goods or services, or make some other type of non-infringing use of the trademark (ex: using a trademarked word in its ordinary dictionary meaning, or using the trademark in a way that is not related to the sale or promotion of products or services)?

If you have questions about trademark law or whether your content infringes another party’s trademark rights, you may want to contact an attorney.

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When we receive a report from a rights owner claiming content on Instagram infringes their intellectual property rights, we may need to promptly remove that content from Instagram without contacting you first.

If we remove content you posted because of an intellectual property report through our online form, you’ll receive a notification from Instagram that includes the name and email address of the rights owner who made the report and/or the details of the report. If you believe the content shouldn’t have been removed, you can follow up with them directly to try to resolve the issue.

If the content was removed under the notice and counter-notice procedures of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you may be able to file a DMCA counter-notification. Similarly, if the content was removed based on U.S. trademark rights, and if you believe the content should not have been removed, you will be provided an opportunity to submit an appeal. In these cases, you'll receive further instructions about this process in the notification you receive from Instagram.

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If you repeatedly post content that infringes someone else’s intellectual property rights, your account may be disabled under Instagram’s repeat infringer policy.

If something you posted is restored due to an appeal or because a rights owner withdrew their report, we’ll take that restoration into account under our repeat infringer policy.

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Reporting Trademark Infringement on Instagram

Instagram can’t adjudicate disputes between third parties, and so we wouldn’t be in a position to act on trademark reports that require an in-depth trademark analysis or a real-world dispute outside of Instagram. In these situations, rather than contacting Instagram, you may want to reach out directly to the party that you believe is infringing your rights, or seek any resolution in court or by other judicial means. If you’re sure you want to report content on Instagram that you believe infringes your trademark, you can do so by completing this form.

Please note that submitting a claim of trademark infringement is a serious matter with potential legal consequences. Before you submit a report, you may want to send a message to the person who posted the content and resolve the issue with them directly. You may be able to resolve the issue without contacting Instagram.

Remember, only the trademark owner or their authorized representative may file a report of trademark infringement. If you believe something on Instagram infringes someone else’s trademark, you may want to let the rights owner know.

Please note that we regularly provide the rights owner’s name, your email address and the details of your report to the person who posted the content you are reporting. This person may contact you with the information you provide. You may wish to provide a valid generic business or professional email address for this reason.

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Only an intellectual property rights owner or their authorized representative may report a suspected infringement. If you believe content on Instagram infringes someone else’s copyright or trademark rights, you may want to let the rights owner know.

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Usernames are generally claimed on a first-come, first-served basis. This means that you may see an Instagram account that includes your trademark in its username. While there may be cases where this type of use can be reported for trademark infringement based on the context of its use, please note that not every use of your trademark in a username is necessarily a trademark infringement. The same word used in a different context may not violate your trademark. See “What is trademark infringement?” to learn more.

If you believe that a username infringes your trademark rights, you may want to contact the responsible person and try to resolve your issue with them directly. If you’re sure you want to report a username on Instagram that you believe infringes your trademark, you can do so by completing this form.

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Before you submit a report, please consider whether the content you want to report may be a permissible use of your copyright or trademark. If you’re not sure whether the content you’re reporting infringes your legal rights, because it may be a fair use or otherwise, you may want to seek legal guidance.

Please note that submitting a report of intellectual property infringement is a serious matter with potential legal consequences. Intentionally submitting misleading or otherwise fraudulent reports of copyright or trademark infringement may lead to Instagram taking action, including termination of your account.

For copyright, it’s important to note that intentionally submitting a misleading or fraudulent report may also lead to liability for damages under section 512(f) of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) or similar laws in other countries.

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The fastest and easiest way to submit a report of trademark infringement to us is to use our online form. Whether you submit your report through our online form or another method, Instagram needs the following information to be able to process your report:

  • Your complete contact information (full name, mailing address, and phone number)*
  • The specific word, symbol, etc., in which you claim trademark rights.
  • The basis for your claim of trademark rights (such as a national or community registration), including registration number, if applicable
  • The country or jurisdiction in which you claim trademark rights
  • The category of goods and/or services for which you assert rights
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate the material on Instagram that you believe violates your trademark rights. The easiest way to do this is by providing web addresses (URLs) leading directly to the allegedly infringing content. Learn how to find a URL.
  • A description of how you believe this content infringes your trademark
  • If you are not the rights holder, an explanation of your relationship to the rights holder
  • A declaration that:
    • You have a good faith belief that use of the trademark described above, in the manner you have complained of, is not authorized by the trademark owner, its agent, or the law
    • The information in your notice is accurate
    • You declare, under penalty of perjury, that you are the owner or authorized to act on behalf of the owner of a trademark that is allegedly infringed
  • Your electronic signature or physical signature

*Please note that we regularly provide the rights owner’s name, your email address and the details of your report to the person who posted the content you are reporting. This person may contact you with the information you provide. You may wish to provide a valid generic business or professional email address for this reason.

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If you submitted a trademark report to us through our online form or via email, you’ll receive an automated email that contains information about your report, including a unique report number. You should save this number in case you need to contact us about your report.

Sometimes, we might have a question about your report. In this case, we might respond to your report and ask for more information. If you receive an email from our team asking for more information about your report, you can and should respond directly to that email. Once our team receives your response, they can continue to look into your report.

Please note that Instagram is not in a position to adjudicate disputes between third parties, and may not be able to remove the content you reported for trademark infringement. You may want to contact the person who posted the reported content to try to resolve your issue with them directly.

When we remove content in response to a report of trademark infringement, we notify the person you reported to inform them the content was removed. We also provide them with your contact information, including your email address and the name of the trademark owner, and/or details of your report.

If the person who posted the content believes that the content shouldn’t have been removed, they may reach out to you directly to try to resolve the issue. If the content was removed based on U.S. trademark rights, they may also be able to submit an appeal.

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If you submitted an intellectual property report, but then reached an agreement with the person who posted the content, or if you reported content by mistake, you can withdraw your intellectual property report.

The best way to do that is to respond to the email that you received from our team after submitting your report. If you’re unable to do so, you may email us at ip@instagram.com, and reference your original report number. Please let us know that you would like to withdraw your report and include identification of the content related to your report.

Once we receive your notice withdrawing your report, we’ll restore the content if it has already been removed and send you an email confirmation. We may be unable to restore the content in certain instances, including due to technical limitations or if the content was removed for other reasons unrelated to your intellectual property report.

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When we receive trademark claims through our online form and remove the reported content, we provide the reported user with the following information:

  • Report number
  • Rights owner’s name
  • Email address provided by the reporting party
  • Description of the rights owner’s trademark(s)
  • Description of the removed content

In rare cases (such as when we are contacted by fax, mail or email), we provide the report number and a description of the removed content. Instagram may provide additional information if it’s requested by the person who posted the reported content.

For any content that was removed based on U.S. trademark rights, we will include instructions for how to appeal if the affected user believes the content should not have been removed.

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