Social Media Policies for Fashion Companies and Clothing Labels

In fashion, innovation never goes out of style. Therefore, it is no surprise that fashion houses and clothing brandsmarket across many different

Fashion (film)
Fashion (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

social media platforms. It is axiomatic that fashion marketing requires a deep understanding of the target audience, regardless of whether that knowledge comes from online or offline interaction. Social media provides a forum for a more authentic, transparent and personal engagement with the customer, but also highlights whether a brand has judged (or misjudged) its customer base.

To be successful in social media, brands need to harness the personality, wit, charm and, in all likelihood, free time of their staff. In order to ensure positive, informative and engaging social interaction, a fashion brand’s social media rules must be smart, positive and inclusive. Here are some guidelines for drafting a social media policy that will bring out the best in your brand, your employees (brand ambassadors) and your customers.

Rather than writing out a lengthy, legal boilerplate script, keep these considerations in mind when drafting your policy:

  • Philosophy. Begin with a discussion of how social media fits into an employee’s job expectations and performance. For example, guidelines are important, because if not followed “bad things” can happen, such as losing customers or vendors, the company could get into legal trouble, or worse, you could lose your job.
  • Behavioral Expectations. This is a good place to remind employees that even though it’s a big world, you are often in a small community and, on the Internet, it’s forever. What a person says can be seen by customers and employees all over the world.  Remind employees to stick to their areas of expertise and use respectful conduct. Other watch words include “timeliness” (posts should be fresh, current and relevant), “perspective” (something that may sound clever and racy to one person may be inaccurate or offensive to another), “transparency” (be the first to point out that you are an employee and make it clear that you are not a company spokesperson) and  “judiciousness” (use caution when discussing things where emotional topics like politics and religion and show respect for others’ opinions).
  • Channel expectations. If your company has a social media strategy, make sure employees know which sites (communication channels) are appropriate for which types of communications and marketing messages.
  • Contextual Expectations. Help employees understand the context within which they are engaging customers. Suggest using a conversational style. Remember that in customer’s eyes, “perception is reality.” Add value: Make sure your posts really add to the conversation. If they promote the company’s goals and values, supports the customers, improves or helps to sell products, or helps to do jobs better, then you are adding value.
  • Content Expectations. The policy must have clear and conspicuous language about what is considered company proprietary information, including current projects, trademarks, names, logos  and how they may be used. Never: (i)  discuss or post about financial information, sales trends, strategies, forecasts, legal issues and future promotional activities; (ii) post confidential or non-public information about the company; (iii) give out personal information about customers or employees; or (iv)  respond to an offensive or negative post by a customer.
  • Consequences. Lastly, be upfront about the very real consequences if mistakes are made. If a mistake occurs, correct it immediately and be clear about what’s been done to fix it. Contact the social media team if there’s a lesson to be learned.

Fashion Law: Legal News Roundup

Israel’s Ban on Ultra-Thin Models

FASHION-SAFRICA-NIGERIA-BAKARE
FASHION-SAFRICA-NIGERIA-BAKARE (Photo credit: Bohan Shen_沈伯韩)

 

The Atlantic

By Talya Minsberg A new Israeli law prohibits fashion media and advertising from using Photoshop or models who fall below the World Health Organization’s standard for malnutrition. When a 14-year-old girl delivered a 25,000-signature petition this week to Seventeen asking them to curb their use of Photoshop, the magazine issued a press statement that congratulated the girl on her ambition but was conspicuously silent on changing their editorial practices.

An Impossible Conversation About the Met’s Spring 2012 Costume Institute Exhibit

Huffington Post (satire)

So, culturally and historically, the reason women care so much about fashion is that until very recently, we weren’t allowed professional, legal or vocal ways of expressing ourselves. Fashion was a way of articulating our feelings about ourselves.

Small Aussie fashion label turns George Lucas legal threat into ‘Star 
Dallas News Small Aussie fashion label turns George Lucas legal threat into ‘Star Wars‘ clothing deal.

AsianFashionLaw | Page 5
Fashion lawyers are legal experts too. Sometimes I feel as though people think I am in design studios all day twiddling my thumbs as I look at models wearing 
www.asianfashionlaw.com/page/5/

Adidas-India’s ex-MD slaps legal notice on company – Fashion United
The Adidas-saga in India seems to be taking a different turn. – Fashion India News, Network, Business Community, fashion industry, international, platform for 
www.fashionunited.in/…/adidas-indias-ex-md-slaps-legal-notic…

Social Media World Legal News Roundup

The Government Would Like You to Write a ‘Social Media Will’
The Atlantic

This person will be responsible for closing your email addresses, social media profiles, and blogs after you are deceased. Sounds good, but legally it’s tricky territory.

Rights Groups: Asian Media Freedoms Under Fire
Voice of America

SEAPA says the key trend is that governments are shifting focus from traditional broadcast and print media to social media and online news. SEAPA Executive Director Gayathry Venkiteswaran said online news sites have become the most frequent target.

Liberia: Will Social Media Increase Civic Engagement?
Global Voices Online

CT: The growing usage of the internet and social media in Liberia is certainly a progressive trend. Having worked in Liberia, can you briefly tell us how the internet and social media are viewed by the cross sections of the Liberia population?

Global Voices Online MyCorporation Introduces New Social Media Product
Sacramento Bee

By MyCorporation CALABASAS, Calif., May 3, 2012 — /PRNewswire/ — Calabasas-based company MyCorporation is releasing a new social media product to benefit small businesses, MyCorpSocial.

Students’ racist tweets about Boston hockey game put schools in a bind
msnbc.com (blog)

Hordes of angry hockey fans – presumably Boston Bruins fans — unleashed a barrage of racist rants on Twitter and other social-networking sites after the Washington Capitals beat the defending champion Bruins a week ago Wednesday on an overtime goal.

Keep it private – your Facebook password should not be shared: Commissioner …
Canada NewsWire (press release)

Some of the issues covered in depth in the paper include: Build up a positive online social media profile. “It is absolutely crucial to remember that anything you post online may stay there forever, in one form or another, so think carefully.

Canadians encouraged to plan for online estates
CBC.ca
(CBC)

Canadian consumers are being encouraged to consider their online property, including social media accounts, when planning a will. A new report released earlier this week by the BMO Retirement Institute raises concerns.

SNOPA
Continued concern about employers asking applicants and employees for their passwords to social media sites has led to the introduction of a federal bill.

Search Keywords & Trademark Rights: Where is the Balance?

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Reverses Summary Judgment for Google in Rosetta Stone’s AdWordsLawsuit

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

For Trademark lawyers and brand owners, Google’s AdWords program has engendered no small amount of debate. Many companies have tried, unsuccessfully, to hold Google liable for keyword advertising triggered when a brand-owner’s competitor buys keyword advertisements under the AdWords program by purchasing the brand-owner’s trademarks as keywords. Rosetta Stone’s lawsuit is no different.

However, what is different this time is that Google will have to defend at trial its program of selling companies’ well-known trademarks to the highest bidder. In the widely watched ruling, the Court reinstated most of Rosetta Stone’s claims relating to infringement and dilution.

On the claim of direct trademark infringement, the Court found that there was evidence in the record to create a question of fact as to whether “a reasonable trier of fact could find that Google intended to cause confusion in that it acted with the knowledge that confusion was very likely to result.” Google’s own internal studies suggested that it was likely confusion would result from the use of third-party trademarks.

On the claim of  contributory infringement, the appeals court stated that the district court had improperly shifted the burden from Google to Rosetta Stone on the issue of whether Google allowed known infringers and counterfeiters to bid on Rosetta Stone’s trademarks as keywords

On the claim of trademark dilution, the appellate court reversed the district courts approval of Google’s “fair use” defense finding that the district court had not addressed Google’s good faith, and wrongly placed the burden of proof on Rosetta Stone, when the it was Google that was the party asserting fair use as  a defense.

Lastly, the appeals court addressed the functionality doctrine which is the use of a product design considered necessary by the nature of the product itself. Such aspects of the product design are not protectable and others are free to use it.  The court of appeals stated “[t]he functionality doctrine simply does not apply in these circumstances,” since Rosetta Stone’s trademarks were not a “functional” feature of its software.

You can read the opinion here.

Social Media World Legal News Roundup

The legal and regulatory environment impacting social media is constantly evolving. Here is a collection of recent articles impacting everything from law enforcement use of social media to new legislation.

A social media tip line for police
Boston.com
“Use of social media has provided an additional outlet for people to interact with law enforcement” says Lauri Stevens – founder of LAwS Communications, a consulting company that helps law enforcement agencies expand into social media.

Social media limits and the law
Monterey County Herald
Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, introduced a bill that would prohibit employers, public or private, from requiring or requesting in writing a prospective employee to disclose user names or passwords for personal social media accounts.

Ariz. bill says unlawful to ‘annoy’ others online
BusinessWeek
“Speaking to annoy or offend is not a crime,” Media Coalition Executive Director David Horowitz said. Horowitz said if the proposal becomes law, speech done in satire, political debate or even sports trash talking could get people in unnecessary legal trouble.

Social Media in China, Innovation
Washington Post
Apr. 2, 2012 – April 2 (Bloomberg) — Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at Stanford Law School and head of academics at Singularity University, talks about social media in China and innovation.

UAE legal experts want libel to apply to social networking sites
GMA News
Claiming that Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites can be used to spread rumors and false information, the legal community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seeking that libel laws be applied to offenders on the Internet.

Is Your Facebook Password Like Your Mail, House Key, or Drug Test?
The Atlantic
A day after it was proposed, the amendment was voted down — almost entirely along party lines — thus closing one door to social media privacy legislation, at least on the national level. (There are similar social media privacy laws — full bills, …

Sponsor: Arizona bill isn’t aimed at Internet trolls
CNN
The fear is that the bill would prohibit hateful comments on news and social-media sites, amounting to a ban on so-called Internet trolling. The problem: The bill won’t do any of that, its sponsor told CNN on Wednesday. “I think they’re absolutely …

How Family Law Attorneys Use Social Media Evidence [Infographic]
PR Web (press release)
Family Law Attorneys Dishon & Block formally released today an infographic that illustrates how attorneys use social media to collect “smoking gun” evidence for divorce and child custody cases. With the advancement in technology and modernizing of laws …
See all stories on this topic »
PR Web (press release)

David M. Adler Speaking on Social Media Legal Issues for Marketers at CONVERGE Spring Symposium 2012

Icon of Law Firm--owned by user.
Icon of Law Firm--owned by user. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Attorney David M. Adler will be speaking as part of a legal panel on “legal landmines”, e.g. legal risks and regulatory compliance, in social and mobile marketing as part of the CONVERGE Spring Symposium 2012 taking place in Silicon Valley, May 1-2, 2012.

Topics to be addressed include best practices for direct, digital and mobile marketing including advising on permission-based marketing, emerging technologies, the use of various social media platforms, as well as data security and privacy issues related to electronic and mobile commerce.

New FTC guidelines in the areas of advertising any marketing, as well as consumer privacy and security, have raised awareness of these issues for brands, marketing firms and service providers.

David M. Adler, Esq. is an attorney, author, educator, entrepreneur and nationally-recognized speaker in the fields of intellectual property, media & entertainment and technology law with a multidisciplinary practice focused on counseling businesses across the interrelated areas of Intellectual Property Law, Media & Entertainment, Information Technology and Corporate Law. David provides legal counsel on trademark and copyright clearance, registration and enforcement, digital and new media licensing, production, finance, regulations, Social Media, litigation and corporate-commercial transactions.

David has an extensive private-practice and in-house background counseling clients on marketing, advertising and content deals, lead-generation agreements, referral agreements, advertising-supported revenue deals, product placement, affiliate marketing/group-couponing platforms, CAN-SPAM compliance, digital rights management for video, music, and games. We work with many of the leading studios, labels, social networking sites, and online music companies. He also specializes in advising artistic talent and creative professionals in the arts, entertainment, media and sports industries.

Lawyers Top 10 Tricks for Managing Intellectual Property

Official seal of the USPTO
Image via Wikipedia

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Intellectual property is often the most significant driver of value among a company’s assets. Therefore, it is increasingly important for companies to actively manage their intellectual property assets to identify, categorize, register and enforce IP assets while minimizing the possibility of legal disputes.

Whether acquiring technology, developing new products or taking stock of the company’s intangible assets, companies must develop ways to protect their assets better, determine ways to realize more revenue from such assets, and reduce risks of costly litigation.

Below are ten intellectual property management tips that will help Companies and their counsel identify and protect IP assets and address infringement issues, among other key steps.

1. Identify: Simply put, think about what patents, trademarks and copyrights you might have and categorize them appropriately. This includes ideas in development.

2. Organize: Once categorized, review the relevant creation and publication/use dates. Determine registration status. File necessary maintenance documents as appropriate and create calendar/docket future due dates for supplemental filings.

3. Monitor: Review the USPTO and Copyright office databases periodically to ensure no junior users may weaken your rights.

4. Conduct a USPTO “Basic Search”: Start your search here. Individual results pages will include direct links to the mark’s records in TARR (best way to check current status of application/mark), ASSIGN (best way to see if the mark has been assigned), TDR (best way to retrieve relevant documents), TTAB (search and review board proceedings).

5. Conduct a USPTO Document Search: Use this database to determine existence of and locate documents related to specific applications.

6. Conduct a Copyright.gov Search: This is the best place to start with any copyright related questions. Includes searched for copies of registered works.

7. Google- search: Great secondary, broad-stroke search. Tends to return higher percentage of irrelevant results, but good at finding that needle-in-a-haystack type rip-off/con artist.

8. Create Google alerts: Use these to stay abreast of relevant changes in the database. Narrow alert criteria to specific keywords/phrases.

9. Conduct a State Trademark Databases Search: Don’t forget your own back yard. Search state databases for d/b/as, etc. (IL=cyberdriveillinois.com).

10. Ask you lawyer about specific concerns. Every situation is different and the only way to properly asses the risks/costs of any course of action is to discuss your matter with a competent attorney who practices in this area.

©2012 David M. Adler, Esq. All Rights Reserved.