Whole Foods recently garnered attention when its trademark application for World’s Healthiest Grocery Store was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The trademark examiner focused on the “World’s Healthiest” part of the proposed mark and found the phrase simply described an alleged benefit of Whole Foods’ products, rather than indicating a source

In this second blog of our series on social media promotion we are looking at the use of names – of people, brands or businesses – and likenesses.

Areas of law that often arise at the juncture of names and likenesses, and social media, are the right of publicity, trademark protection and defamation.  Although there are variations in different jurisdictions, the right of publicity generally provides that each person has the exclusive right to commercially exploit their own name and likeness; use by anyone else requires permission.  Trademark laws also protect names, but the focus is on the impact on the public:  where a company’s use of a name is likely to cause the public to be confused about the source of products or services that use is usually prohibited.  Defamation is a false statement made, e.g., via social media, which causes harm to an individual or business, such as a derogatory statement that hurts the individual’s reputation and as a result diminishes the economic value of that person’s name and likeness.
Continue Reading Social Media Promotion: Dos And Don’ts With Names And Likenesses

This is the first in a series of blogs with tips for minimizing legal risks when using social media to promote your business or organization.  This blog looks at some general guidelines for promotional activity in the social media context.

Promotion of your business through social media can have significant advantages. Social media platforms provide tremendous built-in audience potential.  Facebook has some 1 billion monthly active users, and Twitter boasts more than 270 million.  Social media also helps target advertisements much more precisely and provides opportunities for obtaining mass direct endorsements (e.g., with “Likes”), and indirect endorsements by using content obtained from individual social media activity.
Continue Reading Social Media Promotion: Dos And Don’ts