Here's an interesting case testing uncharted waters in American jurisprudence.
You may have heard about this story. It made the rounds among tech blogs and was even covered by Businessweek Magazine. Back in 2006, Zipatoni, an online marketing company was outed for running a viral marketing campaign for its client, Sony, called alliwantforxmasisapsp.com. Zipatoni got flamed by tech sites and bloggers for the phony fan site.
But, it wasn't just Zipatoni that took the heat. Apparantly, more than a few bloggers dug around and got the name of the registrant of the domain; one Greg Meyerkord. So, he got flamed too. Shopping watchdog, The Consumerist, went so far as to call him a very naughty name. I won't repeat it here. Trust me. It was crude.
Here's the wrinkle: Meyerkord left Zipatoni in 2003 (three years before the campaign). Zipatoni never bothered to remove his name from the web site domain and he got hammered as guilty by association.
You can see why Mr. Meyerkord might have a problem with this.
So far, he has attempted to sue Zipatoni. It got thrown out of court. However, an appeals court is kicking it back to the same lower court allowing for the case to have another day in court.
Moral to the story for folks leaving an employer:
1. Know where your name is being used across all marketing collateral, especially the web site, at all times. Demand that it should all be removed in writing on the way out the door.
2. Check and make sure it gets done.
3. Make sure your bio is off the "Who we are" page.
4. Test your old e-mail and make sure it bounces back as an invalid address. You don't want colleagues e-mailing you at your old job and assuming you're being rude by not responding.
5. Make sure your name is off all accounts.
6. Write a letter to your former employee making sure they understand they no longer have permission to use your name or picture on their corporate site or any other company publication.
7. While employed, make sure your name and background are being published accurately.
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