Who owns your connections?

Tuesday 19th November 2013

Social Media – Ownership of Linkedin

Our Employment Law specialist James Bellamy comments on a recent High Court decision.

The High Court has held that a former employer can exert some control over an employee's LinkedIn account after termination in order to protect its business (Whitmar Publications Ltd v Gamage [2013] EWHC 1881 (Ch)).

In this case, three employees within 4 months of them resigning their employment, had taken steps to set up a competing business. One of the issues in the case was the ownership of some linkedin accounts that one of the employees had managed on behalf of the former employer. The employee had claimed they were personal to her and she managed them in her own time.

The court deemed that the accounts were operated on behalf of the business and used as part of its overall marketing. As such the court required the ex-employees to give the former employer exclusive access, management and control of the LinkedIn groups.

Social media cases and Linkedin in particular are in the minority and so the law is less clear in this area. What is important however is if companies are allowing employees to use these tools on its behalf then they should set out clear policy guidance to any relevant employees including any ownership details and what will happen on termination.

To prepare or review your company's social media policy, ring James Bellamy on 0800 294 4410.

Author: Administrator

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