Are Companies Responsible For Actions Of Affiliates?
from the lawsuits-galore dept
Back in May we wrote about how shoe store DSW was suing Zappos over potential trademark infringement done by an affiliate — and now we’ve got another similar story. The company NameSafe is suing competitor LifeLock over Google ads that make use of NameSafe’s name. While we’ve seen plenty of lawsuits where Google was incorrectly sued over ads based on competitor search terms, this case actually does seem a little more reasonable on those points: rather than suing Google, NameSafe is suing LifeLock, and NameSafe can probably make a half-decent case that the ads could be seen as confusing or deceptive.
However, where this case gets more interesting is on the question of whether LifeLock is to blame — or if it’s the fault of an affiliate marketer, as LifeLock claims. LifeLock says that it terminated the affiliate’s account and also reminded all of its affiliates that this type of activity goes against their reseller agreements. That seems like a reasonable response, but for now the lawsuit against LifeLock continues, which will inevitably raise questions about whether or not a company is responsible for the actions of its affiliates and resellers. It seems like common sense to say no — that the liability should remain with those who actually did the action — but we’ve seen stranger decisions from courts before, so it may not be clear cut here.