May 2017

On March 8, 2017, federal Judge Sidney Fitzwater, of the North District of Texas, issued a memorandum opinion and order in Charalambopoulos v. Grammer, No. 3:14-CV-2424-D, 2017 WL 930819. The case had already been in litigation for years and involved allegations of domestic violence and defamation.  According to earlier opinions issued in Charalambopoulos, the parties had been staying in Houston, Texas where the defendant – a reality television star and former wife of Kelsey Grammer – was undergoing cancer treatment.  The parties, who were dating at the time, got into an argument at their hotel during the trip.  Days later, the defendant tweeted about the incident to her roughly 198,000 Twitter followers.

In India, an administrator of a Whatsapp group has recently faced arrest, following the sharing of what is alleged to be a defamatory photo-shopped image of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.  South Africa has yet to test the liability of a group admin with regard to what is shared on their group.  However, given the rise in online racism and hate speech, paired with the millions of people around the world who use the Whatsapp application, it could only be a matter of time before a case like that in India comes before the South African courts.

A 37 year old woman from Nottingham has lost a claim for future pain and suffering following failure by a hospital to notify her of a positive result of a sexually transmitted infection with the result that the infection was left untreated for a year.

On May 4, 2017, the public received access to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) advisory letters to approximately 45 companies and 45 celebrities/bloggers relating to potential “endorsements” on Instagram.  As a result, we now have some additional guidance on the FTC’s expectations with respect to its Endorsement Guides.

The mining of social media and the use of big data (vast amounts of available internet data that can be analysed and exploited) by insurers to analyse consumer behaviour will change the face of insurance. The basic principles of insurance include the good faith sharing of information between insurer and insured, a pooling of good risks with bad risks, and assessing a fair premium for policyholders.  Paradoxically, regulations that require insurers to price more competitively and estimate their reserves more precisely to see that they are sufficiently capitalised are leading insurers to find ways to price insured risks more accurately.

In today’s world, intellectual property owners are well aware that social media users frequently post infringing content. Companies and brand owners have developed various strategies for enforcing their intellectual property rights on social media, utilizing methods such as demand letters and takedown requests. Often there are so many infringing uses that brand owners must be strategic with their enforcement efforts by developing guidelines for the types of infringement that are worth confronting. For example, an infringer that is impersonating a company or selling counterfeit goods on social media may be worth the time and cost of enforcement measures, while a user who posts a single copyrighted image may not justify such measures. In addition, a company may decide strategically to monitor only certain social media platforms that have a broad enough popularity or impact among the public.