Brands and influencers: a risky alliance? – picture

There is no doubt that the words of influencers have an impact on opinion and consumption, depending on the extent of their audience on social networks. Some of them are thus followed by millions of Internet users, to the point of becoming essential trend signs for brands.

However, brands can be the subject of negative posts that are harmful to them.

Several types of content can damage the brand image: product reviews, bad noiseA call to boycott the promotion of counterfeit products…

Can an influencer be liable for trademark infringement? Are all negative posts rejected?

Moreover, what can brands do to effectively combat wrongful infringement?

To what extent does freedom of expression protect influencers?

Under freedom of expression, influencers are free to communicate as they see fit.

Thus, brands are forced to put up with negative and critical reviews. This is especially the case for major brands such as DOLCE & GABBANA, H&M or even L’OREAL, which have been victims bad noise and even calls for a boycott, based on the messages transmitted by social networks.

It is possible that some negative publications go beyond the limits of freedom of expression and take responsibility for their authors.

This is mainly the case for posts that are likely to constitute acts of defamation, defamation or even the promotion of fraud (a scourge that is very present on social networks).

Judicial decisions that have acknowledged the illicit nature of an influential publication are considered too rare, possibly to prevent the case from getting significant media coverage.

However, a recent example can be cited: in a ruling issued on September 24, 2021, the Paris Court of Appeal recognized the degrading nature of the posting on social networks of the text. “What is this ‘shit.’ We should quickly throw it into the fire.” based on it “It transcends the humor and derision that the right to freedom of criticism may sanction in freedom of expression on the occasion of the launch of the first magazine, and characterizes the act of defamation.”.

But let the brands rest assured, they can act against such abuses.

Reactions and reactions of brands in the face of abuse

Brands are not required to remain passive in the face of the excesses of influencers who can damage their image.

Social networks themselves have provided tools to enable brands to defend themselves, and if these are not sufficient or not entirely appropriate to the issue at hand, then brands may resort to legal action.

Indeed, sometimes it is necessary to resort to legal procedures, in particular to legally obtain the identity of the authors of the publication and try to obtain an order for compensation.

(Published forums are the responsibility of their authors and CB News is not involved).

In practice, this involves going through several steps, with the help of a lawyer who specializes in the matter, and generally:

o Ask the reporter to point out the disputed content.

o File a lawsuit before the competent court in order to obtain from the concerned social network the disclosure of the contact details of the account holder through which the disputed content was published.

o Refer to the court again in order to obtain an authorization from the ISP to obtain the contact details of the disputed account holder, on the basis of the IP address provided by the social network.

Once the information is obtained, it will be a matter of initiating appropriate actions against the person responsible for the controversial post to get the controversial content deleted or even measures to repair the damage done to the brand.

These different steps are necessary due to the barriers inherent in the Internet in terms of identifying the authors of content; Even when the controversial post comes from an influencer’s account, his identity is still “known” to the public.

However, in practice, brands are reluctant to take action, especially legal action, against influencers for several reasons (complexity and uncertainty of actions, risk of negative posts in case of action, etc.).

It may be more appropriate for brands to adopt an alternative strategy to remedy the damage to their brand image.

Influencers should be considered by brands as a great opportunity, but also as communication agents that carry risks. Thus, it is desirable not to tolerate certain violations that sometimes are dangerous for the brand and its image. Actions against such attacks must be considered and regulated in order to avoid negative effects that are greater than the attack itself.

(Published forums are the responsibility of their authors and CB News is not involved).

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