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Vol 9 (2011) - Issue 2

Use and control of social media in international franchise systems

Adam Ekberg, Corporate Counsel, Starbucks Coffee Company, Seattle, USA; Niko Härting, Partner, Härting Rechtsanwälte, Berlin, Germany; Marco Hero, Partner, TIGGES, Munich, Germany; Michael K. Lindsey, Partner, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, Los Angeles, USA, and; Leonard Polsky, Partner, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, Vancouver, Canada

The use of social networking services or social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and many others has grown exponentially in recent years.1 These media phenomena are increasingly used by brand owners, their customers and their employees. This paper deals with some of the challenging legal issues that have arisen along with the use of such sites and the particular impact of such issues on international franchising. It provides practical guidance on how such use should be managed and controlled in international franchise arrangements. Because of the relative infancy of most social media and their recent adoption by franchise systems, many of these issues have only recently been identified and the bulk are still searching for a final resolution.