December 18, 2011 Duncan Alney

The Risks of Personal Blogging, IP & Ferraris: The David Adler Interview

Social Promotions, Coffee & Dancing

David Adler is a regular speaker at conference all across the country. We recently both spoke at All Facebook Expo. But, we met years ago at SES Chicago. David, to me, is one of the top notch “intellectual property, media and e-commerce” attorneys. He has a keen understanding of social media law (hence my deep interest in his work. We make it a point to hang out regularly and collaborate (disclosure: he’s a Firebelly Marketing client and our attorney). I’ve been impressed with how accessible David’s expertise is (read: he makes it easy for slow guys like me), his sincerity and his passion for his work and clients. I just caught up with David with some questions about intellectual property, social media promotions, and the risks of personal blogging. Not to mention, he’s cultured, handsome and stylish. And a lot of people wanted to ask him about his drink of choice, whether he dances(or not), and his fascination with Ferraris.

David Adler is low key, cerebral, and stylish. And an expert on social media law.

Is there legal risk for companies with social media marketing programs?

Broadly speaking, yes! The two biggest and most likely to occur risks are associated with trademark usage and the FTC’s blogger guidelines. From a trademark perspective, issues arise with respect to infringement of another’s trademark rights when using a new brand name or slogan (due to a failure to conduct a proper knock-out search) and a misunderstanding of how to properly use marks in comparative advertising. From a regulatory standpoint, marketers need to be mindful of disclosure obligations. In addition, companies marketing financial services or healthcare products and services face additional industry-specific regulation.

Additionally, there are risks associated with use of content and publicity/personality/privacy rights.

When it comes to promotions, why is terminology important?

Any ambiguity will always be resolved against the person creating the promotion. There are legal requirements for how goods/services are promoted. FTC guidelines also require certain disclosures when promoting goods/services.

What legal aspects should you be considering before embarking on a social media promotion?

Trademarks: Are yours protectable/protected? Are you using third-party marks for comparative advertising? Is your use within the scope of the license?

Copyright: Have you created the content? Have you licensed third-party content?

Publicity Rights: Have you cleared the rights to people/places used in the advertising?

Can personal bloggers be sued for defamation – personal or corporate?

Yes, both. Under a recent case in Montana a blogger was hit with a $2.5MM judgment for making “false accusations.”

Do blogger have the ability to protect their sources under the auspices of citizen journalism?


Complete these sentences:

Intellectual property is…the legal name given to discrete, identifiable and protectable intangible property/assets that derive value through exploitation.

My favorite song is…How Soon Is Now by The Smiths

My drink of choice is…Coffee

My family is…The most important thing in my life

When a great dance track come on, I…Boogie down, baby!

Ferraris are…Powerful, beautiful, inspiring, sexy and timeless.

How can people find you…on LinkedIn, Twitter and our website.

Bonus Video on the need to monitor your brand online

Duncan Alney

Duncan Alney

CEO at Firebelly
Fun Fact: Duncan co-authored the book "Facebook Marketing Secrets." He founded Firebelly in 2001.
Duncan Alney

About the Author

Duncan Alney Fun Fact: Duncan co-authored the book "Facebook Marketing Secrets." He founded Firebelly in 2001.

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