In my last blog post, I introduced the concept of a trademark bully and gave an example, using Monster Beverage Company for illustration purposes. In that blog post, I highlighted the specific problems associated with an attack by a trademark bully. You can read the “Trademark Battles (part 1)” blog post here. For this installment, we’ll focus on another notorious trademark bully, Apple (a/k/a Apple Computer). While Apple has a lot of satisfied customers, they also have angered a lot of people with their aggressive trademark enforcement tactics. [Read more…]
Trademarks = Big Business + Big Money
For many businesses today, trademarks can be the most valuable asset that they own. For example, as shown in the table below, Coke is widely considered to be the most valuable soft drink brand in the world, worth almost $90 billion.
With this kind of money at stake, it’s no wonder companies will sometimes fight tooth and nail to protect their brand, even when their brand isn’t truly threatened. Sometimes, companies take a very hard line against competitors and seek to shut the competition down, in any way that they can. This can lead to companies fighting over their trademarks as each company tries to seize the advantage. In this series of posts, I’m going to present a few of the most notorious types of battles that take place in the world of trademarks. We’ll start with one approach that has been increasing dramatically over the past few decades. The “Trademark Bully.”
News Isn’t the Only Fake Thing on Social Media
Selling products on Amazon can be a very profitable enterprise and many influencers successfully sell their products online using Amazon as a platform. While it’s possible to make a lot of money using Amazon, some social media influencers recently got into hot water. They were allegedly selling counterfeit products through Amazon using their social media platforms including Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.
According to Amazon, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci took part in a scheme where they promoted what they called “dupes,” where a product is meant to look similar to a designer item without infringing on trademarks or copyrights. But in this case, the products were actually designer knock-offs sold by third-party Amazon sellers who concealed them in product listings.
Lots of designers, bloggers, and influencers have questions about the structure and format for agreements to license their creative content. This post will provide some basic information that will set the stage. Please remember that while the issues discussed below are important, there are many other considerations, depending on the specific details of the parties in the transaction and the type of content being licensed. Also remember that licensing and assignment are very different things so we are only talking about licensing here.
WHAT’S UP WITH THE ADA?
Many influencers and content publishers, particularly in the DIY video space and lifestyle bloggers, are being threatened with expensive lawsuits over the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”). I’ve been contacted recently by a number of clients who are increasingly concerned about their potential liability.
In this post, I’ll provide some basic information about the current trends in ADA compliance for websites that may help you understand what’s going on and how you can prevent or minimize the potential damage if you become a target. This is a bit longer than most of my posts and the information is rapidly changing so stay tuned for updates.
I’ve received some questions from a number of influencers over the past few weeks on the subject of insurance coverage. In addition, there have been some discussions in some Facebook groups where this topic is getting some interest. It seems like there’s an emerging trend in many influencer contracts where the brand/sponsor requires some level of liability insurance coverage in the contract.
The reason why having appropriate insurance coverage is so important is that you’ve worked hard to build a valuable business. You don’t want a misstep or mistake to strip the value out of your business. Additionally, since many contracts may now require insurance coverage, it’s a good idea to keep up with the changes. Given that many people don’t really understand or speak the language of insurance, this can get pretty confusing pretty fast. Although this post is a bit long and has a lot of “legal” like stuff going on, it will help you get up to speed on what kinds of insurance coverage you may want or need.
My last blog post provided an overview of the new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) rules for the protection of personal data when capturing, storing, or processing personal data originating from individuals in the European Union (“EU”).
If you missed that post, you can read it by clicking here.
In addition to the GDPR, it’s also important for U.S. businesses to be aware of the EU Privacy Shield requirements. The GDPR is a comprehensive law designed to control the transfer and use of personally identifiable information in general. The Privacy Shield is concerned with only one specific aspect of data protection; namely the transfer of personal data from the EU to the U.S.
What the Heck is GDPR and Why Should I Care?
If you’re a blogger, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard about the “GDPR” at some point in the last few weeks/months. The chances are also pretty good that you don’t really know what it means, don’t know how or if it applies to you, or what to do about it. It can be very confusing and many bloggers are feeling a bit overwhelmed. However, not knowing about the GDPR is no longer a viable option moving forward because it’s about to take effect and what you don’t know can definitely hurt you.
Have no fear (o.k., maybe a little fear but we’ll work on it) and hang on for the ride. This is the first in a series of posts on the GDPR that will help you get up to speed.
What is a “Work Made for Hire?”
If you’ve been around the block more than once, you’ve probably heard the phrase “work made for hire.” It’s pretty common in the blogging world and a lot of bloggers think they understand it. Chances are they’re wrong. Few people, even lawyers, really understand what the “work made for hire” doctrine is, what it covers and, most importantly, what it does not cover. Most people think that “work made for hire” is a legal rule that can automatically transfer ownership of creative content from one person or company to another. While that is true in a few cases, it is not true for many, many situations – including the ones you are most likely to encounter.
So, buckle up, it’s going to get a little tricky but if you stick with me, you’ll be glad you did.
Update on FTC Disclosure Rules For Sponsored Posts
Several years ago, the FTC issued some updated guidelines for influencers, bloggers, and sponsors regarding sponsored posts. The rules were not terribly specific, but the intent was clear. If a post is sponsored, it must be clear to a reader that the post is sponsored. I wrote a blog post about at the time and you can read about it here.
Apparently, some people didn’t get the memo or at least are pretending that they didn’t get the memo.