The Doors of Perception Can Sometimes Lead to Harsh Reality

Although the California Appellate Court, Second Appellate District, has designated the actual opinion as NOT FOR PUBLICATION (this means you must consult the rules of the court before you cite this case), this past May, two former members of the famed rock band The Doors were held to have engaged in false advertising under California law by advertising a concert band using that name. Although a jury found the band members not guilty of trademark infringement or unfair competition, the appeals court agreed with the trial court that “false advertising” claims are not the same, and upheld a permanent injunction against the individuals using the name “The Doors,” or any name containing that name. The court’s ruling also precludes the use of the name, voice or likeness of deceased band member Jim Morrison, in promoting concert ticket sales, citing prohibitions under the California statute regarding rights of publicity. Rimon knows publicity and privacy, in California—and throughout the United States and the world. Always know before you show. Call us, we can help.

You Would Think They Would Know Better

Cyber-Ark Software, a U.S.-based information security company, surveyed information technology professionals at the Infosecurity Europe Expo 2008 in London this past April. They asked 300 senior IT folks attending the Expo about abuses relating to information access, and guess what they found? First, about one-third of all IT professionals surveyed abused their own company’s information access rights policies to view information unrelated to their job (e.g., spying on employees or looking at confidential information). The survey report noted that passwords of IT and systems oversight staff often aren’t required to be changed as often as user passwords—or sometimes not at all. In most cases, IT administrators have free reign to use or abuse access privileges—which apparently happens too often.

The notion of “internal firewalls” is highlighted by this report. While companies often take great pains to protect themselves from external threats, as history has shown us in the physical world, the biggest dangers are from “inside jobs.” Without protections that apply internally, snooping, economic espionage, sabotage, spying and data security risks will remain a looming threat to the information assets of a business enterprise.

Useless But Compelling Facts – July 2008

There are two forgotten heroes in the saga of America’s struggle for independence who could easily have been hanged for treason. After the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, together with Charles Thomson, then Secretary of State, sent Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy to someone to be printed (200 copies bearing only the signatures of Hancock and Thomson were printed). Then in January 1777, the Continental Congress, wanting signed copies to receive wider circulation, asked another person to undertake the dangerous job. This time, copies contained the typeset names of all 56 signatories. Legal Bytes wants to know who are these brave printers to whom we owe our gratitude? Acknowledgement to Antonio Perez, Chairman and CEO of Kodak, for the article that enlightened me—and now, hopefully, you. If you know the answer, send it to me.

Useless But Compelling Facts – June 2008 Answer

Last month we asked you how Jack Benny got his stage name. Congratulations to Nigel Sloam, principal in Nigel Sloam & Co. in London—long-time client and friend—who gave us the correct, speediest response. Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky in Chicago on Valentine’s Day, 1894. His parents lived in nearby Waukegan and there, working as a violinist in the pit band of a local Vaudeville house, Benjamin broke into show business. He hit the road working with a female pianist in an act known as “Salisbury and Kubelsky—From Grand Opera to Ragtime,” but when concert violinist Jan Kubelik’s lawyer objected to the comedic violin-playing and similarities in name, Benjamin changed his name to Ben Benny. With a new partner, “Benny and Woods” continued, but when World War I broke out, Benny enlisted, working in a Navy-sponsored revue touring the Midwest. After the war, Benny went back to vaudeville, doing a monologue as “Ben K. Benny, Fiddleology and Fun.” Although he changed the spelling to “Bennie,” Ben Bernie, an entertainer (also a violinist-bandleader who did monologues), had been doing a similar act longer and guess what—his lawyer contacted young Kubelsky objecting to the similar names. This time, Benjamin changed his stage name for the last time to Jack Benny. The rest, as they say, is history.

John Adams (1735-1826)

“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.”

Text, Lies & Videotape (Got Your Attention, Didn’t We?)

When Coors asked, football fans chose to receive text-message alerts about the NFL football draft, each one containing a blurb about Coors Light; and mobile devices can also send messages, not just receive them. They can be interactive! While messaging technology allows only 40 characters for an ad (the other 120 are for content), simple tag lines are the current vogue.

Coors is not alone. Marriott has sponsored a campaign combining print and cellphone ads with free sports alerts from USA Today’s website. Verizon Wireless is sponsoring an ad campaign in which Screenvision, a company that boasts an ad network of thousands of screens in thousands of motion picture theaters, will ask theater audiences to vote by text messaging, with results calculated and displayed on-screen. The advertising campaign will feature branded popcorn containers and a short film directed by Spike Lee entitled “VCast Street.”

Styx & Stones & Word-of-Mouth Marketing Under Fire in the UK

As of May 26, brands that spread their positive messages in the UK without clearly identifying the origin will be subject to criminal prosecution—yes, you heard correctly. The consumer protection legislation, which includes fines and prison sentences, makes it an offense to blog, use brand representatives or viral ads “falsely representing oneself as a consumer.” Bloggers who write about products and accept money without disclosing it are also subject to criminal prosecution.

Legislation in Europe may be a response to some well-publicized buzz that unfortunately did not publicize the source. The founder of Whole Foods, using an alias, began criticizing competitors through online forums. Guess who sponsored a road trip called “Wal-Marting Across America” without attribution. And Sony apologized when consumers discovered that an “All I Want for Christmas is a PSP” amateur video and blog appearing to be written by a friend of someone in the video, was a viral ad campaign engineered by Sony and its ad agency.

In the United States, the advertising industry has a successful model of self-regulation and industry leaders believe such a model can be extended to word-of-mouth marketing. Stay tuned.

Blogs Entice Women, But Not Away from Chocolate

A study released in April by BlogHer & Compass Partners indicates more than 36 million women actively participate in the blogsophere each week, and that half of the participants felt blogs were a reliable source of information and advice. The study found women were so passionate about blogging that 55 percent would give up alcohol, 42 percent would give up their iPods—but only 20 percent would give up chocolate!

Data, Data Everywhere, But Hackers Drop into Secure Websites

Criminals stole customer information from the Hannaford Bros. and Sweetbay grocery chains’ computer networks. As shoppers swiped cards at checkout and their information was routed to transaction processors using state-of-the-art, fiber-optic, hard-wired cable for transmissions, malicious software intercepted the information and transmitted it to an ISP off-shore. Experts are still trying to figure out how the code got into the systems in the first place.

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Protecting Personal Information: Best Practices for Business

A half-day workshop, Protecting Personal Information: Best Practices for Business, co-hosted by the California Office of Privacy and the FTC, will take place Aug. 13 in Los Angeles. It is designed to show businesses how to protect the privacy of employees and consumers and the security of personal information. The workshop will share best practices for developing a data security program and for responding to data breaches.