When an Employer and Employee Break Up, Who Gets the LinkedIn Account?


The new Google SEO algorithm, Penguin, gives a high ranking to social media use.  Businesses that seek to optimize their web site benefit by encouraging their employees to move their business content around the internet.  What happens when a business invests in an employee’s LinkedIn account and that employee leaves to take a job elsewhere?

A Federal judge in Pennsylvania recently considered this question.  While the issue may be novel, social media ownership rights promises to grow in importance as businesses learn more about Google Penguin and understand that passive, paid link building is out and active use of social media is in.

In Eagle v. Edcomm, plaintiff Linda Eagle alleged that her former employer violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by taking over her LinkedIn account after she was terminated. The lawsuit also alleged a number of other claims, including trademark infringement, invasion of privacy by misappropriation of identity, misappropriation of publicity, and identity theft.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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