Can a trademark save Sandy Hook family from “truthers”?

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)- The family of Sandy Hook shooting victim Victoria Soto has now trademarked her name. Her relatives say it needed to be done because her name is being misused on social media. What a trademark does is let the Soto family order anyone misusing Vicki’s name to cease and desist. That sounds simple but actually it requires a lot of work. It’s worth it though to try to keep some deluded people from spreading lies using her name.

During the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, teacher Victoria Soto sacrificed herself to save her students. In the years since, her family has used social media to promote fundraisers and scholarships in her name. But fringe “truthers” who want to spread lies about Sandy Hook are also using her name on-line.

“It’s too easy to pretend you’re someone else,” said David Polgar, internet expert and Communications Director for Copilot Family. “For example, if I wanted to pretend I was you, I would just go to your Facebook account, right-click on your Facebook account, save that photo, utilize your name and open up a new account.”

According to Polgar, what is sometimes tough is knowing which is the real site.

“You see somebody’s photo and video, you trust it,” Polgar said. “But should you always trust it to again manipulate somebody’s image.”

A handful of “hoaxers” claim the shooting at Sandy Hook were staged, and Victoria Soto either never existed or is still alive. Her family has been filling out forms to shut down the unauthorized accounts. Now, her relatives have trademarked her name. The idea is to make it easier to shut down the imposters. Polgar says it’s a useful tool for the Soto family, but it does require a lot of work to enforce.

“You’re going to have to go out and fight people who infringe upon that trademark,” said Polgar. “That’s going to be a lot of googling yourself, making sure people are not infringing upon your trademark, sending out cease and desist.”

Due to all that work, a trademark might not be the best strategy for the average person, but Polgar says what you should be doing is googling yourself frequently to make sure there’s nobody out there misusing your good name.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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