Despite the risks, reflections and political choices to be made, employers may doubt that the stars are fires, doubt that the sun is moving, doubt that the truth is a liar, but never doubt the power of social networks. Nor the importance of planning your goods in advance. IP ownership on social media is an important issue for many businesses. Effective protection of intellectual property on social media depends heavily on the resilience of your contracts and your company`s social media policies and the effectiveness of the IP protection created in the first place. These laws are abundant incentives to ensure that all social media accounts are clearly labeled as businesses and not as personal. While the line is often blurred, employers can avoid some social media pitfalls by delineating ownership and creating social media policies that reinforce this claim. “Future cases will relate to their respective facts,” Rubin said, and the courts will consider what the parties` reasonable expectations were. I now work with clients on policies and agreements that define ownership and access to social media accounts. This is really the best, perhaps the only way for an employer to effectively protect its reasonable interests. As a first step, employers should assess the risks inherent in an employee using a social media account for commercial purposes. This is typically sub-optimal.
There are often state laws that prohibit employers from asking or requiring: (1) Employee usernames and passwords on social media; (2) that workers have access to personal social media before the employer; or (3) employees disclose personal information on social media. For example, Eagle v. Morgan, No. CIV.A. 11-4303, 2012 WL 4739436 (E.D. Pa. 2012) investigated a dispute over the ownership of a LinkedIn account. There, the former employer accessed the LinkedIn account, changed the password, and updated the account with information about the former employee`s successor.
The former employee won but could not prove damages. In re CTLI, LLC, No. 14-33564, 528 B.R. 359 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 2015), a former business owner refused to give up control of the company`s social media accounts when the company applied for insolvency protection. The former owner of the company claimed ownership of the accounts, arguing that he had invested his time and personality in their development. The court found that the social media accounts were owned by the company`s bankruptcy estate.
In Ardis Health, LLC v. Nankivell, No. 11 Civ. 5013, 2011 WL 4965172 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 19, 2011), a former employee refused to disclose her login details for the social media accounts of the company she managed during her employment. At the beginning of her employment, the employee entered into an agreement recognizing that all the work she created or developed is “the exclusive and exclusive property” of the employer. The court found that the employer unquestionably held the rights to the social media account`s access data, in accordance with the written employment contract. While employers can and should restrict employee access to and use of company social media accounts, employers do not have the same right to limit employees` use of their personal social media. Other legal restrictions may, in certain circumstances, protect an employee`s independence in the use of social media, so exceeding the guidelines can endanger an employer. As the various principles discussed above show, the rights and obligations of social media ownership can be reasonably managed through careful reflection and thorough monitoring.
There are several components for social media ownership: In Eagle v. Morgan, No. 11-4303, 2012 WL 4739436 (E.D. Pa. 4. Oct. 2012), an employee sued her former employer for continuing to use the LinkedIn profile she created for the company after ending her employment relationship. . . .