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)

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.

Social Media Legal Risks: Seven Ways to Maintain Social Media Marketing Legal Compliance

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commis...
Image via Wikipedia

In October 2009, the Federal Trade Commission released it’s updated “FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” The purpose of the update was to address the increasing use of endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations and celebrities in online marketing. The update is particularly relevant to the explosive growth of social media as a marketing tool.

The updated FTC Guides contain two notable areas of concern for marketers. First, the Guides removed the safe harbor for advertisements featuring a consumer’s experience with a product or service, the so-called “results not typical” disclosure. Second, the FTC Guides underscored the longstanding principle of disclosing “material connections” between advertisers and the consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities providing reviews and endorsements of products and services.

Even with the illustrations provided within the FTC Guides themselves, it is still confusing for advertisers, marketers, bloggers and social media users to know how to comply with the guidelines. The purpose of this article is to provided simple, concrete standards to determine (1) when to make certain disclosures and (2) the type of disclosures required by the situation. I have grouped the disclosures into seven categories: Personal Opinion, Free Samples & Free Gifts, Promotional Relationship, Employment Relationship, Affiliate Relationship, Healthcare Disclosures, and Financial Guidelines & Disclosures. The key requirement to keep in mind is the obligation to disclose any relationship that may have influenced you.

1. Personal Opinion

If you write a review or blog post and your post contains only your own opinions, you haven’t received any compensation for the review or post, and you otherwise have no material connection to the topic of your post, you have nothing to disclose.

2. Free Sample/Free Gift

If you have been given a free copy, sample, or gift of a product or service and you write a review or blog post, you must disclose the facts and circumstances of how you received the item or service, even if you have not been paid to review or post on that topic. You do not run afoul of the disclosure rules if you receive payment unrelated your content. This disclosure is useful to keep in mind when your content relates to product previews, reviews of samples, services, gifts, books, software, music, movies, etc.

3. Promotional Relationships

If you write a review or blog post and your post is based upon an advertising relationship, and you have received compensation (cash, free services, product samples for personal use or a gift) for the review or post, you must disclose the nature of the relationship, whether you received anything of value, and information about relationships with advertisers or endorsers that would have a material impact about how a prospective consumer would view the message. This disclosure is useful to keep in mind when your content relates to paid posts, sponsored messages, tweets, fan page postings, etc.

4. Employment Relationships

If you write a review or blog post and your post is based upon an employment relationship, e.g. you are an employee or shareholder of a related company, you have a “material business relationship” to disclose, even if you are not being directly compensated for the message. You may post on behalf of a business or brand. In fact, it may even be part of your job description. Again, be mindful of the requirement to disclose any “connections” that may have influenced you, including both direct and indirect relationships.

5. Affiliate Relationships

If you write a review or blog post and your post is based upon an affiliate relationship, e.g., you have included affiliate links on your page, you must disclose the fact that the relationship exists and that you will be paid for referrals from your page.

6. Healthcare Disclosures

If you write a review or blog post and your content is based upon a connection to a pharmaceutical or healthcare product or program, you need to include relevant healthcare-related disclosures or information safety warnings, side effects, or official links with information.

7. Financial Guidelines & Disclosures

If you write a review or blog post and you work for a financial services company, you may be making investor-relations communications and your communications are subject to regulation by the NASD, SEC, FINRA and potentially state and federal regulatory agencies. The FINRA Guidance on Blogs & Social Networking Sites” can be found here. Record Retention: ensure that you can retain records of those communications. Suitability: a particular communication a “recommendation” for purposes of NASD Rule 2310 and is it suitable for potential recipients. Public Appearances: determine whether  your post part of an “interactive online forum” and whether supervision is required. Third-Party Posts: If your firm created or “sponsors” and online forum, be aware that, under certain circumstances, a customer’s or other third party’s content on a social media site may become attributable to the firm. Whether third-party content is attributable to a firm depends on whether the firm has (1) involved itself in the preparation of the content or (2) explicitly or implicitly endorsed or approved the content.

Clearly, legal and regulatory compliance for social media remains a minefield. Although this article is intended to give you a working knowledge of the types of risks created by, and disclosures required for, the use of Social Media, it is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Each situation is unique and you should consult with qualified legal counsel regarding your specific circumstances.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David M. Adler, Esq. is an attorney, author, educator, entrepreneur and partner at the boutique intellectual property, entertainment & media law firm LEAVENS, STRAND, GLOVER & ADLER, LLC based in Chicago, Illinois. My responsibilities include providing advice to business units and executives on copyright, trademark, ecommerce, software/IT, media & entertainment and issues associated with creating and commercializing innovations and creative content, drafting and negotiating contracts and licenses, advising on securities laws and corporate governance and managing outside counsel. Learn more about me here: www.ecommerceattorney.com and here: Leavens Strand Glover & Adler, LLC.

CMO Council Release 2011 State of Marketing Report

The CMO Council released the fifth State of Marketing Report in its annual series that surveys its members to gather insights and views specific to marketing mandates, spend, intentions and frustrations. The Report gathers a broad range of insights from major geographic regions and the top tiers of corporations. The Report identified three critical areas of attention that top the “to do” list of marketers in 2011: Performance, Customer Experience and Brand Loyalty.

Marketing Performance. According to the CMO Council, digital and new media strategies, including Social Media, dominate the imperative to grow market share and refine brand and value proposition. Marketers must use multiple marketing channels with a focus on interactivity, while defining and connecting measurements to assess effectiveness.

Customer Experience: Marketers must focus on providing an “experience” – not just a “message” – that is engaging, personalized and differentiated. While the platform for engaging the customer will undoubtedly include social platforms, it must also integrate the messaging and engagements through traditional channels. The goal is a seamless multi-channel journey for the customer, one that is gratifying and satisfying, thereby improving loyalty, retention and repeat purchase.

Measurement Feedback and Brand Loyalty. A major issue that continues to plague marketers is the struggle to mine customer data, extract valuable insight and create accurate predictive models. Gathering data from every impression, every search, every transaction, status update, or tweet can develop a more complete profile or the customer. However off-line data sources need to be synthesized as well, including localized marketing tools, adaptive merchandising systems, interactive self-serve technologies, mass-personalized messaging solutions, social media channels, mobile relationship marketing platforms, and corporate social responsibility programs (e.g. sustainability).

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD REPORT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David M. Adler, Esq. is an attorney, author, educator, entrepreneur and partner at the boutique intellectual property, entertainment & media law firm LEAVENS, STRAND, GLOVER & ADLER, LLC based in Chicago, Illinois. My responsibilities include providing advice to business units and executives on copyright, trademark, ecommerce, software/IT, media & entertainment and issues associated with creating and commercializing innovations and creative content, drafting and negotiating contracts and licenses, advising on securities laws and corporate governance and managing outside counsel. Learn more about me here: http://www.ecommerceattorney.com and here: Leavens Strand Glover & Adler, LLC

Will the News of the World voicemail snooping saga accelerate US privacy reform?

The United States is one the few countries in the developed world that lacks a comprehensive law protecting consumer privacy. Geolocation, personalized ads, group-buying deals, tracking cookies and other technologies have a wide range of privacy implications. Incidents like the phone-hacking scandal in the U.K. underscore the growing concern among both the general public and Congress here in the U.S.

Unlike citizens in Europe, Asia and Latin America, U.S. laws addressing rights and obligations surrounding sensitive-information tend to be sector-specific and inconsistent (HIPPA, COPPA, etc.). Notably, the FTC, the federal agency tasked with safeguarding consumers, has taken a largely laissez-faire approach. The result of Guidelines and enforcement actions is essentially a policy of “do as you like, just don’t lie about it.”

While congressional attention has been focused on updating the regulatory regime, the current legislation reflects the piecemeal approach of the past. Here is a break-down of the Five leading government privacy initiatives. Bills starting with H.R. are from the US House, and bills starting with S. are from the US Senate. The numbers are from the 112th Congress: 2011-2012.

H.R. 654: Do Not Track Me Online Act, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier [D-CA12] is to direct the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe regulations regarding the collection and use of information obtained by tracking the Internet activity of an individual, introduced Feb 11, 2011. Status: This bill is in the first step in the legislative process.

S. 913: Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011, sponsored by Sen. John Rockefeller [D-WV] is a bill to require the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe regulations regarding the collection and use of personal information obtained by tracking the online activity of an individual, introduced May 9, 2011. Status: This bill is in the first step in the legislative process.

H.R. 1895: Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011, sponsored by Representatives Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, and Joe Barton, Texas Republican, is aimed specifically at internet marketing to minors, introduced May 13, 2011. Status: This bill is in the first step in the legislative process.

S. 413: Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act of 2011, associated with the phrase the “internet kill switch” was, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I-CT], introduced Feb 17, 2011. Status: This bill is in the first step in the legislative process.

S. 799: Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011, sponsored by Sen. John Kerry [D-MA] Introduced Apr 12, 2011. Status: This bill is in the first step in the legislative process

Complete text of the various bills is available at GovTrack.us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David M. Adler, Esq. is an attorney, author, educator, entrepreneur and partner at the boutique intellectual property, entertainment & media law firm LEAVENS, STRAND, GLOVER & ADLER, LLC based in Chicago, Illinois. My responsibilities include providing advice to business units and executives on copyright, trademark, ecommerce, software/IT, media & entertainment and issues associated with creating and commercializing innovations and creative content, drafting and negotiating contracts and licenses, advising on securities laws and corporate governance and managing outside counsel. Learn more about me here: http://www.ecommerceattorney.com and here: hLeavens Strand Glover & Adler, LLC