Many companies in the United States and around the world have recognized the power that social media personalities possess to market products. A simple endorsement of a product on a YouTube video, Instagram photo, or other social media platform has the potential to reach millions of viewers. It is no wonder that these companies have started to take advantage of this reach in the past decade.
Even with this potential for brand recognition and compensation for influencers, many key legal issues arise that influencers and brand ambassadors should be aware of. These include questions about who owns intellectual property, compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, and even Name Image and Likeness rights for athletes.
Intellectual property law establishes the rights of inventors and creators to obtain the sole legal authority to produce, distribute, and display their property. As applied to influencers and the companies that hire them, the companies always retain the right to all patents contained in the product, services involved in the product, and all trademarks that may appear in a post. These companies should draft clear licensing agreements that allow the influencer to promote the product for only a specific purpose.
At the same time, the content creators who serve as brand ambassadors have the right to copyright their photos or videos. However, both influencers and companies should be certain that they have proper IP rights over the product. This includes screening all potential scripts that the influencer will read to ensure that there is no overlap with another company’s trademarks or slogans.
Even if an influencer and their sponsoring company obtain intellectual property rights over their creations, they must still confirm that their photos and videos comply with Federal Trade Commission regulations.
A major concept to remember in this area is that the FTC requires truth in advertising. This now includes brand ambassadors providing an endorsement of a product. These influencers must provide materially true statements about the products and their honest opinion as spokespeople about what a product or service provides. Failing to do so could see consumers filing reports with the FTC that could result in stiff financial penalties.
Major changes in the ability of college athletes to profit off their presence in society have led to the passage of the new NIL laws. These laws from the NCAA now allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals in exchange for cash.
Still, this raises questions about compliance with state laws. For example, Florida Statute § 1006.74 currently prohibits restrictions on athletes using their name, image, or likeness for profit. However, other states may have different laws in place – or no laws at all. Consulting with a lawyer could help athletes understand their specific situations and obtain legal representation for pending negotiation sessions.
Becoming a brand ambassador or paid influencer for major companies is a goal of many individuals with a large social media presence. Even so, obtaining these jobs requires a knowledge of intellectual property rules, FTC regulations, and evolutions in state image and likeness laws.
Talking with a brand ambassador attorney could give you the guidance that you need to navigate these contracts and regulations with confidence. Whether you are looking to take on your first sponsorship role or need information about a specific pending issue, the highly skilled team at Lomnitzer Law is prepared to explain the relevant laws and provide the assistance that you need.