Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

LegalZoom Sues North Carolina State Bar, Seeks to Register Legal Services Plan

October 11, 2011

Changes driven by the internet and “cloud computing” continue.  Where exactly is the line between providing forms for use via the internet and giving legal advice in a jurisdiction where the attorney is not admitted?  How does that change when the attorneys are actually giving advice on how to fill out the form?  How does change if the person giving advice is not an attorney? Technology continues to blur these lines and affect how business accomplish their goals.


The online legal document company LegalZoom has sued the North Carolina State Bar in an effort to gain registration for its legal services plan. The suit also seeks a ruling that its business model doesn’t constitute the unauthorized practice of law, according to a press release and the Raleigh News

via LegalZoom Sues North Carolina State Bar, Seeks to Register Legal Services Plan – News – ABA Journal.


9th Circuit: Savvy Online Software Shoppers Not Misled by Rival’s Use of Trademarked Keywords – News – ABA Journal

March 10, 2011

It is nice to see some credit to  people’s ability to read and understand what they are reading, at least when it is offered to them in plain english.  I am finding ad word linking to be an interesting area to follow, I am sure there will be more decisions to ponder in the near future.


A federal appeals court has found that consumers were not likely to be misled by an online software advertiser that purchased a trademarked keyword of its competitor. In its ruling yesterday, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an injunction that had barred Network Automation from buying the keyword, “ActiveBatch,” the trademarked name of a rival company’s software, according to stories by the Online Media Daily, Courthouse News Service and Network Automation’s website was listed as a sponsored link when people searched online for “ActiveBatch.

via 9th Circuit: Savvy Online Software Shoppers Not Misled by Rival’s Use of Trademarked Keywords – News – ABA Journal.

Internet Retailer Limits Negative Online Reviews in Its Terms and Conditions – News – ABA Journal

February 15, 2011

An Internet retailer called Full House Appliances expressed its displeasure when a customer posted a negative review on the ResellerRatings website. The company dispatched an e-mail to the commenter warning that libel is a prosecutable offense in Washington State where it operates, and it intends to pursue legal action absent a mutually agreeable settlement, the New York Times reports in its Haggler column. The e-mail asserts that the customer had violated Full House Appliance’s terms and conditions—requirements that all consumers must accept before ordering from the company. The Times quotes from the terms and conditions, including this one: “I understand that libel is a prosecutable felony in the state where FHA operates. I agree that if I intend to provide negative feedback, the only legitimate one is based solely on verifiable and documented facts, i.e., the e-mail, live chat transcript and all the terms and conditions…

via Internet Retailer Limits Negative Online Reviews in Its Terms and Conditions – News – ABA Journal.

For Lawyers, the Appeal of Social Media Is Obvious. It’s Also Dangerous

February 5, 2011

Sean W. Conway thought he was writing an ordinary blog post. He never suspected he would wind up facing ethics charges.

So starts an ABA article on the dangers of social media and online posting.

Seduced: For Lawyers, the Appeal of Social Media Is Obvious. It\’s Also Dangerous – Magazine – ABA Journal.



Additional information State Bars regulating the use of Social Media to get clients

November 19, 2010

This ABA article is about the  Kentucky bar is discussing proposed rules to regulate Attorney’s use of Facebook and other social media in regards to advertising and testimonials and clarifying that it is not an offer to render legal services. Here is a link to the proposed change.

Ubercab – How technology can be disruptive to existing business

October 25, 2010

In this article on Tech Crunch, the author MG Siegler makes the argument that getting a cease and desist letter can be a good thing for a startup company. He argues it means they are on to something and that people would not be complaining about the company’s actions if it was not impacting existing businesses. Ubercab (note: the company’s name has been changed to just Uber) provides a “app” for both the Android and iPhone platforms which allow you to request a sedan with a licensed driver to pick you up wherever you are in the San Francisco, CA. area.  Sedans are not allowed by law to pick up passengers by being “waved down”, but can only pick up customers who have pre-booked in advance.  The amount of time that must pass from booking to pickup is regulated by statute, additionally the cease and desist orders reference several alleged violations for operating as a taxi cab service. Two of them are: charging a calculated fee based on mileage vs. a flat or hourly fee, which requires prior approval and operating as a taxi service without the proper approved colors and markings to identify the cars as belonging to the taxi service.

It appears that Uber will argue they they do not in fact operate as a taxicab service but as a middleman, who is providing a referral service between the drivers and passengers, with the added convenience of a payment methodology through the app via the passengers credit card. I do not have an opinion on whether or not Uber’s business model is legal or not, or if it can be adjusted to be legal, but it is clearly having a disruptive effect on the industry.  User satisfaction and support seems to be high, and the company’s investors appeared poised to bankroll the legal battle.

It will be interesting to follow this story and see whether the existing taxi companies fight back with an “app” of their own or rely on the legal system to prevent this challenge to the way they do business. I am also intrigued that the original name of the company appears to have caused part of the legal issues because it is alleged they were advertising as a taxi cab company, without having the proper licenses to do so.

Linkedin Recommendations for Lawyers

October 21, 2010

This post on Above the Law discusses whether it is appropriate for Lawyers to utilize Linkedin because of the restrictions various State Bars have on client or attorney recommendations.  These rules were originally developed to prevent misleading potential clients that the attorney would be able to get them the same results as the person giving the testimonial received.   Another article discussing lawyers using social media and how it is impacted by rules on advertising can be found at SoloPracticeUniversity. It is interesting to compare the two articles because one is focused on large firms and the other on small, yet both advocate the use of social media to promote your law practice.

I know as a law student I am working to build my presence on Linkedin, as well as, through this blog. Fortunately, since I am not yet a licensed attorney, I have more leeway in brand promotion and hope that future employers will be positively swayed by the recommendations I have received for past work.

As social media continues to change privacy expectations and the way in which we all interrelate, I am sure that the rules governing attorneys use of social media will continue to change as well.  I think many of the same concerns that apply to the Legal Profession, apply to recommendations for all goods and services.

The recent rules published and then revised by the FTC in regards to bloggers disclosing their relationship with the manufacturer or provider of the good or service they are blogging about is a great example of this overlap. It shows an ongoing effort to create transparency in these relationships, so the reader can properly evaluate any potential bias on the part of the recommender.

When done properly I think social media is a great resource for law students and lawyers alike to promote their abilities and recommendations are an important part of those tools.  They can help the reader gauge the credibility of the poster.  Perhaps another day I will write about the pros/cons of curated recommendations for business on sites such as yelp and how that affects the credibility of those comments.

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