Susan Ross (US)

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Solar Energy, Trade Secrets, and Unfair Competition

On January 13, 2020, a solar energy sales lead generation company settled a federal lawsuit against several defendants, including a former employee. Both the initial complaint and settlement described the important role of social media to the business. (Solar Connect, LLC v. Endicott, Case No. 2:17-cv-01235 (D. Utah Jan. 13, 2020) (stipulated permanent injunction).… Continue Reading

Social media and corporate executive responsibility

Corporations that sell to consumers and are subject to consumer lawsuits commonly receive deposition demands for top executives. Corporations can frequently defeat these demands by showing that the executives did not participate or have control over the matter at issue. But a recent ruling from a federal trial court in California demonstrated how controlling social media content can help change that result, leaving a CEO as a defendant in a consumer class action alleging fraud and false advertising. (Kamal v. Eden Creamery, LLC, No. 18-cv-01298-BAS-AGS (S.D. Cal. June 26, 2019).)… Continue Reading

Fore! An Interesting Copyright and Trademark Default Judgment

On March 15, 2019, a federal trial court judge ruled in favor of famous golfer Jack Nicklaus’ company in a case that may be of interest to copyright and trademark owners. (Nicklaus Cos. LLC. v. Bryan Hepler Golf LLC, No. CV-18-01748-PHX-ROS (D. Ariz. March 15, 2019) (2019 WL 1227198).)

The case began in a way that is probably all too familiar with copyright owners: photos and videos owned by the plaintiff began appearing without permission the defendant’s website and were posted by the defendant on social media sites. The plaintiff sent a demand letter to the defendant, but … Continue Reading

Social media influencers and “scraping”

On February 7, 2019, a federal trial court in California ruled in favor of a social media influencer’s copyright, trademark, interference with contract, and right of publicity class action lawsuit and denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss. As a result, the social media influencer can proceed with their claims that the defendant website copied social media photos and information but removed the links used by the influencer to monetize social media pages. (Batra v POPSUGAR, Inc., No. 18-cv-03752-HSG (N.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2019) (2019 WL 482492).… Continue Reading

Trademarks, social media and lessons learned

On June 14, 2018, a federal trial court in New York issued a decision relating to a restaurant owner’s claim that the restaurant manager was using the owner’s trademarks on social media in violation of the federal trademark law known as the Lanham Act. The trial court denied the owner’s claim, in a ruling that provides some useful lessons to anyone who licenses a trademark. (Thousand Island Park Corp. v. Welser, 5:18-CV-117 (N.D.N.Y. June 14, 2018 (2018 WL 29803231)).)… Continue Reading

Social Media, Copyright & Photographs

Many social media sites and pages encourage people to post and share photos. This activity creates an issue where the owner of the photos has not given permission for that use, as a photographer alleged in a recent Fifth Circuit case Stross v. Redfin Corp., ___ Fed. Appx. ___ (5th Cir. Apr. 9, 2018) (2018 WL 1721749).… Continue Reading

Celebrity Endorsements, Cryptocurrencies, and Initial Coin Offerings

Our readers may recall that 2017 brought warning letters from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to celebrities who had posted some photos on Instagram and the FTC has recently taken action regarding some undisclosed “material connections.”  A post on our sister blog, Regulation Tomorrow, describes the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission’s recent warnings about celebrity endorsements of cryptocurrency and “initial coin offerings” and contrasts the SEC and FTC guidance and regulatory scope:

https://www.regulationtomorrow.com/us/celebrity-endorsements-cryptocurrencies-and-initial-coin-offerings/Continue Reading

Social Media Evidence and Pay-Per-View TV

We have previously written about social media posts and advertisements being used as evidence in a variety of legal cases (most recently, a post relating to emojis).  A federal court in Pennsylvania recently used two social media advertisements—from a source the court could not identify—as evidence to support a finding of “willfulness” and to award 33% in enhanced damages.  (J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Ramsey, Civ. No. 17-1942 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 27, 2017) (2017 WL 4287200).)… Continue Reading

FTC and Social Media Influencer Endorsements

On September 7, 2017, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had entered into a proposed consent agreement with two individuals and their company that allegedly ran an online gaming community website that allowed users to gamble virtual currency.  According to the FTC complaint, the two individuals promoted the gaming site and not only failed to disclose their ownership interest in the site or that they were playing with company money, but they also paid other social media influencers between $2,500 and $55,000 to promote the site.

As we had previously written, in the Spring of 2017, … Continue Reading

Personal Brands, Social Media, and the Lanham Act

On July 14, 2017, a federal trial court ruled on an interesting issue: could models and actresses, whose popularity on social media was a strong factor in determining their earning capacities, maintain a lawsuit under the Lanham Act against a “swingers club” that used their photos without consent?  In a case where social media played a prominent evidentiary role, the court permitted the models’ claim to proceed, and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  (Lancaster v. The Bottle Club, LLC, Civ. No. 8:19-cv-634-T-33JSS (M.D. Fla. July 14, 2017) (2017 WL 3008434).… Continue Reading

Social Media, Age, and the Entertainment Industry

Can a state law prevent a social media site from publicly posting accurate age information about individuals in the entertainment industry—even if that information is posted by users? The California legislature and Governor believed it was permissible, and the legislation went onto effect on September 24, 2016 (Cal. AB 1687, adding Cal. Civ. § 1798.83.5).  Five months later, a federal judge temporarily enjoined the government from enforcing that law, in IMDb.com Inc. v. Becerra, No. 16-cv-06535-VC (N.D. Cal. Feb. 22, 2017).… Continue Reading

Social Media, Copyright, and Blockchain

Social media has changed how people and companies interact and has provided us with some technological innovations that have raised copyright issues. In an effort to keep our readers informed of some recent developments involving social media, we wanted to provide some background relating to some headlines combining social media, copyright, and blockchain, and we will provide some clarifications and explanations.… Continue Reading

Copyright Office to Decrease DMCA Agent Registration Fees by 94%

As of December 1, 2016, the U.S. Copyright Office will be decreasing the fees to register a “notice and takedown” agent to $6.  Any website (including social media site) that accepts third party content may be interested in taking advantage of the “safe harbor” offered in the U.S., and those that have already registered an agent will need to update the registration.  You can find more details on our sister blog, the Brand Protection Blog, with this article:  http://www.thebrandprotectionblog.com/copyright-office-to-decrease-dmca-agent-registration-fees-by-94/Continue Reading

Are your social media followers/fans/members authentic?

We have previously written on social media account verification for businesses, in order to help customers deal only with the authentic brand.  But what about authenticating your social media followers/users/fans/members?

Unfortunately, there are currently “no methodologies available that would provide us with an exact number of non-actual member types of accounts,” according to LinkedIn’s 10-K filing for 2015.  (10-K at 18.)  LinkedIn goes on to state that some of its “non-actual member types of accounts” are:  … Continue Reading

Willful act and business activity exclusions in defamation claim

Although we have covered many social media cases involving defamation claims (just click on the “Defamation” category to see them), here is a link to a post from one of our sister blogs (Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot) that relates to an issue we thought would be of interest to our readers:  insurance coverage for fake social media posts alleged to be defamatory:

Wilful act and business activity exclusions applied to defamation claim

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In case you missed it – ICYMI

The digital world moves fast. To get you up to speed, we have compiled a quarterly recap of our five most popular social media blog posts from the Social Media Law Bulletin and the post that is currently trending. From questions ranging from “Is my SnapChat really deleted?” to “Can I tell my employee to stop Tweeting?,” we’ve got you covered ICYMI.

Top posts

 

Facebook “like” button violates privacy laws

Nerushka Bowan and Tatum Govender | April 21, 2016

On 9 March 2016 the Düsseldorf Regional Court in Germany ruled that an online shopping site, Peek & Cloppenburg, which … Continue Reading

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