Court orders turnover of Social Media login info but does not enjoin use of content

Vectorization of Tom Bell's graph, which shows...
Image via Wikipedia

In Ardis Health, LLC et al v. NankivellPlaintiffs, a group of closely affiliated online marketing companies hired Defendant as their Video and Social Media Producer to produce videos and maintain websites, blogs, and social media pages. Defendant’s responsibilities included maintaining passwords and other login information for websites, email accounts, and social media accounts, as well as for third-party servers where plaintiffs stored content.

Defendant signed an agreement governing the creation of work product, stating that all work created or developed by defendant “shall be the sole and exclusive property of [Plainitffs], in whatever stage of development or completion,” and that it “will be prepared as ‘work-for-hire’ within the meaning of the Copyright Act of 1976.” The agreement also provides that defendant must return all confidential information to CYC upon request, and that “actual or threatened breach of [the agreement] will cause CYC irreparable injury and damage.”

Although Plaintiffs provided some equipment, Defendant also used her own computer and video equipment on occasion, and Plaintiffs provided her with a used laptop as a replacement when Defendant’s crashed. At some point, the parties began to develop a social media website for cosmetic products. They later had a falling out, Defendant was terminated and Plaintiffs requested the return of the laptop as well as the social media account access information. Defendant declined to return the computer and information.

The court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, requiring defendant to return plaintiffs’ login information for the various websites, although the court did not order return of the laptop or that Defendant refrain from using Plaintiffs’ proprietary content and trademarked or copyrighted works on the newly-created social media web site.