Engaging in Social Media & not Damaging Firm IP

Here is an article about an upcoming program about  how to engage in social networking as a company while not giving away trade secrets or degrading the company trademarks.  Its short on specifics because they want people to sign up for their Webinar in the next couple days. Fair enough.

Reflects Lawyer’s View of Social Media

Even though the article is skimpy on actual content, it does reveal the risk-adverse lawyer’s perspective on social networking.  Two of the recommendations provided by one of the attorneys are particularly cautious.  This attorney recommends that companies keep a “tight rein” over social networking in order to avoid inadvertent loss of confidential information.  If by tight rein, the attorney means limiting use of social networking by employees, then this is too broad a restriction.  Her other recommendation is to thoroughly investigate all social networking providers to make sure they are secure and preserve ownership right to the company’s content.  What if Facebook doesn’t pass muster according to this standard?  The attorney would recommend not creating a presence on the most popular website in the world?

No Strategy Assessment

This is an example of how lawyers are too quick to examine legal risks and exposures without considering the overall business strategy of the organization.  This is why lawyers in many businesses aren’t part of a company’s strategic thinking and team.  The key value a lawyer brings is identifying the risks and coming up with legal strategies to minimize them within the context of the overall business strategy.  If businesses don’t take risks, they won’t grow.

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2 Responses to “Engaging in Social Media & not Damaging Firm IP”

  1. John Kinsella Says:

    I don’t think this is an issue purely for lawyers. As with our recent discussion, those of us in the information security industry can be very risk adverse, to the point where we can get over-focused on keeping a property secure, while forgetting that the business we’re trying to protected has to have the flexibility to thrive and prosper.

    Interesting point about legal not being part of the creative process – In the last year or two, we have been pushing the concept of “secure software development lifecycle” out to engineering teams. Basically, consider the security of your application at every step from initial napkin sketches, through to final QA testing. I like to think the final result is a more secure application with less headaches, as we were involved throughout the process. I wonder if there’s a legal equivalent?

    • Randy Wilson Says:

      Thanks John for the comment. Often in-house counsel only get involved in projects at the point where there a license agreement, privacy policy, terms of use agreement, employee handbook etc. I’d love to hear of examples where in-house counsel are involved earlier in the process so they learn more about the business issues involved rather than simply if something passes legal muster.

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