David M. Adler Speaking on Law & Social Data Panel at Chicago TechWeek 2012

Chicago is a new kind of technology hub, and the Techweek Conference is a new type of technology conference.

The Techweek 2012 Conference showcases the technology renaissance evolving in Chicago and the midwest. June 22-26, 2012

Law & Social Data
The past few years have witnessed an explosion of legal and regulatory activity involving social and other new media. This session will examine several key areas, including copyright, trademark and related intellectual property concerns; defamation, obscenity and related liability; false advertising and marketing restrictions; gaming; data privacy issues presented by social media; and impacts of social media on employees and the workplace. Attendees will learn how to identify legal risks and issues before they become full-scale emergencies and how to develop appropriate policies and guidelines covering social media activity.

Sunday June 24, 2012 3:00pm – 3:45pm @ 3 – 8 A/B (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago, IL)

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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.

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

Get the handout here!

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.

How Can Lawyers Use the Social Media Site Pinterest?

For those of us who try to immerse ourselves in technology and more recently, Social Media, the new “kid on the block” seems to be Pinterest. According to their site, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

Not surprisingly, Pinterest is receiving a lot of coverage on B2B and B2C blogs that provide guidance on the how and why Pinterest can be used by business. The next logical question for me is should Lawyers use Pinterest? if so, how?

Should Lawyers Use Pinterest?

The answer to the first question is simple: Yes, if it is useful to you. Pinterest is a social bulletin board allowing users to “pin”, or save, useful information. It leverages social networks and enables users to track, organize and share products or other content discovered online.  The site allows users to subdivide content by category such as travel, books or food. Finally, axiomatic of all social media is the interaction, allowing friends to follow and view your boards and comment on the items that you’ve posted, or re-pin them on their own boards.

How Can Lawyers Use Pinterest?

The answer to the second question is less simple:

Pinterest
Image by stevegarfield via Flickr

Simply put, Pinterest is an image content curation site where one can create “boards” to which they can add images and comments around a common theme. What’s really interesting is that once one begins using Pinterest, this pen up a whole new way to dialogue with people. Users will “re-pin” your items and it creates an opportunity to contact the user and ask what it about your content that prompted them to re-pin it.

While I am still new to Pinterest, I see it as another valuable social media tool to engage and interact with people. My Pinterest page can be found here.

FTC Puts an End to Facebook’s Freewheeling Privacy Ways

The social networking service Facebook has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public. The proposedsettlement requires Facebook to take several steps to make sure it lives up to its promises in the future, including giving consumers clear and prominent notice and obtaining consumers’ express consent before their information is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established.

Read the FTC update here.

Congress Close to Protecting Fashion Designs under Copyright Law

Fashion design
Image by London College of Fashion short courses via Flickr

On July 13, 2011, Congress once again took up the the so-called “Fashion Bill” a/k/a the “Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act,” H.R. 2511 (“IDPPPA”). This version of the Bill would amend the Copyright Act to extend certain protections to fashion designs.

Extension of design protection to fashion designs

The major effect of the law would be the extension of design protection to fashion designs, by amending § 1301(a) to provide that “A fashion design is subject to protection under this chapter” and by amending § 1302(b) to include “an article of apparel” in the definition of “useful articles” subject to protection. The bill would make clear that for purposes of Chapter 13 a fashion design is the appearance as a whole of an article of apparel, including its ornamentation. The bill elaborates on what would constitute “apparel” for purposes of Chapter 13:

  1. an article of men’s, women’s, or children’s clothing, including undergarments, outerwear, gloves, footwear, and headgear;
  2. handbags, purses, and tote bags;
  3. belts; and
  4. eyeglass frames.

Term of protection will be limited

The term of protection for fashion designs would be only 3 years. Proponents of the legislation have explained that the purpose of the legislation is to protect designs of haute couture during the period of time in which such high-end clothing is sold at premium prices of thousands of dollars and to prevent others from marketing clothing with those designs at substantially lower prices during that initial period, thereby undercutting the market for a hot new fashion design. Because the peak demand for such designs is relatively short-lived, a 3-year term is considered adequate to satisfy the designer’s reasonable expectation of exclusivity.