Someone using your trade-mark online? Hire them.

Sending in the legal posse is an old-fashioned response in the new media age, Owyang said.

“It creates so much more buzz — people wonder why you would beat up your most passionate customers,” he said.

That’s why Coca-Cola Co. decided to let its users dominate discussion about the soft drink on Facebook.

The popular Coke fan page on the social networking site wasn’t created by the company, but rather by Los Angeles actor Dusty Sorg and writer Michael Jedrzejewski. It had more than a million fans when Facebook called Coca-Cola to alert them that the page violated the social network’s terms of service because it wasn’t operated by the trademark owner. Take over the site, Facebook told Coke, or we’ll take it down.

Instead, the beverage maker flew the pair to its Atlanta headquarters in January, took them to a hockey game, gave them a VIP tour of the Coke museum and let them play Eric Clapton’s guitar, then proposed that they officially run the page for the company. The two agreed. It now has more than 3 million users.

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