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.
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Filed Under: advertising, affiliates, google ads, liability
Companies: lifelock, namesafe


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  1. identicon
    certainly anonymous, 30 Jun 2008 @ 1:31pm

    they can take some of the responsibility

    For years affiliates have pretty much run wild to do as they please. Unless they get a complaint about them they may get their account ban or they may not. Many make a living off the consumer. They can do plenty spamming and carry on like it is no big deal. Meanwhile the company they may be sponsoring is left in the dust to rack in the thousands that the affiliates rake in for them. This is why there is so much spam. It's easy to set up shop and start spamming the masses. Even easier if you know how to get a bot.

    Neither the business or the affiliate have been held accountable for their actions. One being turning a blind eye, the other being running wild on the internet.

    It's time to set in place rules, and that is make both responsible and set in place standards for each to follow. If your affiliate just signed up, and all of the sudden they are making hundreds of dollars over night, that is cause for concern. If they say they have a news list, etc make them prove it. If you are getting complaints on a affiliate, check into it.

    As for the complaint/lawsuit this just makes my blood boil. A law suit over a confusing or deceptive ad over rides helping to clean the spam off the internet. I am not impressed. I am furious. Control your affiliates, and then maybe someone will half feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for none of you.

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