How Labor Unions Are Stealing Your Brand to Organize & Campaign Online

Read more about how unions are using social media and the internet to actively organize, recruit, and campaign online.  Click here

Insights into Trademark Infringement, Unions, & the Internet

One of the first rules of brand protection is enforcement action anything that looks or smells like infringement on your brand name, trademark or other property.   For Walmart, this strategy even extends into the labor relations arena.

Walmart has been contending with labor actions problems on many fronts recently, including strikes at their retail stores and strategic distribution locations.  To add insult to injury, they just suffered a legal setback in their attempt to have a union parody website mocking their 50th anniversary shut down.

How Unions are Campaigning & Organizing Online

According to a report on Domain Name Wire, an arbitration panel has rejected Walmart’s argument that a site created by the UFCW violates their trademark, and seeks to damage the brand.

Wal-Mart has failed to take down a United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) web site critical of Walmart. This union has been actively campaigning and using the Internet to organize online.  A single member World Intellectual Property Organization arbitration panel has ruled that the UFCW can retain its domain names  walmartat50.com , walmartat50.net and walmartat50.org. Walmartat50.com is a web site that seeks to give the union’s take on WalMart:

Wal-Mart has failed to take down a United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) web site critical of Walmart. This union has been actively campaigning and using the Internet to organize online.  A single member World Intellectual Property Organization arbitration panel has ruled that the UFCW can retain its domain names  walmartat50.com , walmartat50.net and walmartat50.orgWalmartat50.com is a web site that seeks to give the union’s take on WalMart:

As Walmart celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the company is telling customers and communities a one-sided story about its business and values. Walmart wants us to think their history reflects the promise of America –if you work hard, anything is possible.

The site was created after Walmart created its own web site to commemorate 50 years in business, Walmart50.com. The panel ruled that the domain names weren’t registered and used in bad faith. This is not the first time these two organizations have fought over the use of domain names.  Back in 2010, Walmart and the union reached an agreement over a trademark dispute in Canada in which Walmart claimed that the union was improperly using their  retailer’s circular yellow “spark” logo.

 Protect Your Brand Against Labor Relation Organizing

Ok, so your brand may not experience problems on the same scale as Walmart, but you can avoid this kind of issue by taking one simple, proactive step.

  • Stake your claim on your Internet and social media turf

I usually offer this advice related to social media, but it holds true for commercial domain names as well.   If Walmart had purchased domains with names closely related to their Walmart50 site, they would not have had to resort to litigation related to their use.  It goes without saying that you can buy every possible URL name combination, but you can grab the ones that are very close to your own.

The implementation costs on this solution are low, but peace of mind is priceless.

Read more about how unions are using social media and the internet to actively organize, recruit, and campaign online.  Click here

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Michael Vandervort

Mike Vandervort is Human resources strategist. HR consultant, writer and speaker. His specialties include Social Media, Employee Relations, HR, & Labor Relations. Connect with Michael.

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