I have recently come across an interesting report relating to an employer having to sue a former employee in an attempt to take back their Twitter followers. The employer Phonedog (@Phonedog) operates a news site. Phonedog issued proceedings in the United States Federal Court claiming misappropriation of trade secrets, interference with economic advantage and conversion after one of its former employees failed to comply with its request that he surrender a Twitter account. The full article can be found at: http://socialmediagovernance.com/blog/team-building/brand-sues-employee-for-taking-followers-when-he-left-the-company/ My team and I resolved a case earlier in the year involving an employee's Skype account. The employee had a pre existing Skype account. She joined the company (our client) as an account manager. She built an extensive business client list with the knowledge and consent of her employer during the course of her employment. She also used Skype extensively to further the interests of her employer, again with her employer’s knowledge and consent. When the employment relationship came to an end our client wanted her to give it access to her skype account. She refused the request. Neither I nor anyone in my team drafted the employment agreement and it provided no assistance to our client. The implied obligations likewise provided little assistance. We were able to secure an agreed resolution to the satisfaction of our client. However, it was a near miss situation and one which could possibly have been avoided by not just having an appropriate contractual provision to rely upon, but also by adopting an appropriate digital assets policy.
By Chris Patterson