“…in late February 2012, the NLRB filed a complaint against a group of Hyatt Hotels alleging, among other things, that the restrictions placed on the use of social media, such as admonitions not to comment on hotel properties or locations, or to use the Hyatt brand/logo or photos of the properties, were overboard and discriminatory…”
The NLRB reports expressed concerns regarding attempts by an employer to block — for example — employees from using a company’s trademarked logo in social media. That was considered, generally, to be in violation of an employee’s Section 7 rights.
“Interests protected by trademark laws — such as the trademark holder’s interests in protecting the good reputation associated with the mark from the possibility of being tarnished by inferior merchandise sold by another entity using the trademark and in being able to enter a related commercial field and use its well-established trademark, and the public’s interest in not being misled as to the source of products using confusingly similar marks — are not remotely implicated by employees’ non-commercial use of a name, logo, or other trademark to identify the Employer in the course of engaging in Section 7 activity” (2012 Report).
Yet, such disclaimers are sometimes required by the Federal Trade Commission. In fact, under the revised regulations published by the FTC in 2009, if anyone other than a company or the brand owner itself advertises or talks about the company’s product or service, the FTC requires the disclosure of the relationship between the “talkee” and the “brand,” so that potential consumers understand that the recommendation or information contained in the social-media posting could be biased (See generally 16 C.F.R. §255.)