Do You Know Who Owns Your Company's Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) Accounts?

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With the ever-evolving world of digital media, it is imperative that companies remain ahead of the curve by making sure that you have appropriate policies in place to address social media – whether it's Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, to name a few – and other digital media issues. For example, while most employers at this point are aware of the importance of maintaining an Employee Handbook, the same importance should now be placed on maintaining company Digital Media and Social Media policies. As the case below illustrates, your failure to proactively address these issues now may cost you substantially later.

In a currently pending case, PhoneDog LLC filed a federal complaint in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California against its former employee Noah Kravitz (See PhoneDog LLC v. Kravitz, (11-cv-03474 MEJ). PhoneDog LLC operates a popular mobile device and app review site that purports to use a variety of social media, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to market and promote its services. Kravitz was a product reviewer and video blogger. While employed at the company, Kravitz utilized a Twitter account under the name Phonedog_Noah and over time had amassed 17,000 followers. When he resigned from the company, Kravitz changed the Twitter handle to @NoahKravitz to continue communicating with PhoneDog's followers. Kravitz claimed that PhoneDog had told him he could keep the Twitter account in exchange for posting occasionally. However, eight months after Kravitz left the company, PhoneDog filed a law suit alleging that the Twitter account and Kravitz's access thereto was part of PhoneDog's confidential information and that Kravitz's Twitter followers constituted a proprietary customer list. PhoneDog asserted claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, intentional and negligent interference with prospective business advantage and conversion, and seeks damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months for a total of $340,000.

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