Social Media & Intellectual Property Rights

Whether it is Twitter, Facebook or online blogs, social networking tools are being used by more and more businesses in their advertising and marketing departments, by human resources departments, and of course by employees.  Knowing the potential pitfalls of using social media can avoid legal difficulties in the future, and Culhane Meadows can assist you in understanding and avoiding these pitfalls.  Use of a tailor-made social media use policy that employees can understand and that is not too far reaching and enforceable is the first step in avoiding these pitfalls, and we can help your company craft such a policy.  Areas in which we can assist include:

  • Unauthorized Use of IP Rights.  Monitoring your company’s trademarks by other social media site or ensuring that use of third party trademarks on your own social media site does not lead to legal liability for trademark infringement, dilution or unfair competition.  Ensuring that copyright-protected works, such as text, videos, music, photographs, and source code, are not copied from another location and used on a social media website without the authorization of the content owner.
  • Protecting Confidential Information.  Updating policies and procedures so that employees are aware of their ongoing obligations not to disclose confidential or proprietary information, such as information about customers or trade secrets, on popular social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
  • Employment Issues. Ensuring that any restrictions by employers on employees use of social media do not violate the National Labor Relations Act or other applicable law.  Ensuring that company’s hiring and retention practices do not unlawfully discriminate based on information available through candidates’ and employees’ social media pages given that it is becoming increasingly common for company HR departments to review the Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media pages of both job candidates and current employees.
  • Defamation.  Avoiding unintended legal liability for defamation for postings made by your employees that turn out to be untrue about someone  and that harms that person’s reputation.
  • Public Companies and Insider Trading.  Ensuring that employees understand what information is covered by insider trading regulations as it is broad and can potentially include almost anything related to finances or changes at a publicly held company.
  • FTC Disclosures.  Understanding the new FTC rules requiring users of social media to disclose any paid advertisements and ensuring employees disclose their relationship to the company when making glowing reviews and recommendations about their company.

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