On Friday, after an absence of more than two and a half years, I will be returning as a guest on This Week in Law . The show streams live at http://live.twit.tv/ from 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. ET and will be produced as a podcast thereafter.
The show is hosted by Denise Howell and Evan Brown. I'll provide details about the other guests and the topics we will be discussing as I receive them.
Websites such as www.yelp.com and www.angieslist.com have been a breeding ground for novel legal issues. The sites are created for the very purpose of voicing concerns or praising services and encourage first amendment rights to free speech. However, one false post can cause a business an infinite amount of reputational harm and potentially ruin them. Legal scholars have been following case law on the topic closely to see how the courts deal with the legal implications of posting complaints online.
A recent case in Fairfax County Circuit Court, which was closely followed by media sources including the Washington Post, presented an interesting situation. The dispute arose when a Fairfax homeowner, disappointed in the work of her contractor, logged onto www.yelp.com and listed her disappointments with her contractor, ending with “Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.” The online comments from homeowner continued on multiple sites and the contractor, in response, posted his own comments online about the homeowner.
In keeping with the National Labor Relations Board’s continuing efforts to target social media policies that violate the National Labor Relations Act, the NLRB reached a settlement last month with the Koch-owned company, Georgia-Pacific. The settlement required Georgia-Pacific to repeal its social media policy and to revise its acceptable use, code of conduct, intellectual property, and outside requests for information policies, to ensure that their rules do not prohibit employees from sharing terms and conditions of employment, such as wages and hours of work. The initial Charge was filed on July 31, 2012, by the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers. Georgia-Pacific’s social media policy allegedly warned employees that “[e]ven if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products or its brands.”
In Breaking Glass Pictures v. Does 1-99, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio held that individual participants in "peer-to-peer" file sharing protocol could not be joined as defendants in the same suit for copyright infringement. No. 1:13 CV 0083, 2013 WL 5720139 (N.D. Ohio Oct. 4, 2013). The plaintiff brought a series of eight other nearly identical suits in the Northern District of Ohio, alleging copyright infringement of a motion picture entitled "6 Degrees of Hell."
Recently, I spoke to the Dulles Chamber of Commerce about the enforceability of government contracting teaming agreements after the decision in Cyberlock Consulting, Inc. v. Information Experts, Inc. A number of people were interested in receiving a recording of my remarks, but a technical problem prevents the speech from being properly recorded.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I dedicated an episode of Power of Attorney to recreating that speech. You can listen to it here.
Earlier this month, a federal judge denied an employer's motion for a temporary restraining order against a former employee who left the company to form his own enterprise which later solicited an account held by his former employer. In Marketing Werks, Inc. v. Fox et al., No. 13-7256 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 11, 2013), the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held that, even though Marketing Werks showed a likelihood of success on the merits of its Illinois Trade Secrets Act claim, it was not entitled to prevent Fox and his new company, Foxsano, from competing with Marketing Werks for the Indy Racing League ("IRL") account because Marketing Werks had failed to demonstrate irreparable harm or that it lacked an adequate remedy at law.
In recent years, the National Labor Relations Board has actively applied the National Labor Relations Act to social media policies. The Act exists to protect employees’ right to act together to address their terms and conditions of employment. What many employers fail to realize is that the Act applies to union and non-unionized employers. With the Board’s increased scrutiny of social media policies, including review of non-unionized employers’ policies, the following list of dos and don’ts is meant to assist employers in drafting or reviewing their social media policies.
Last month, in Assurance Data, Inc. v. Malyevac, (Va. Sept. 12, 2013), the Supreme Court of Virginia
published an opinion holding that a trial court cannot decide on demurrer whether restrictive covenants in employment agreements are overbroad and thus unenforceable if an employer argues in opposition to the demurrer that it intends to produce factual evidence to demonstrate reasonableness.