Chapter 3 Notes Avoiding Legal Hassles

3 02 2010

A Sampling of Legal Problems

Conspiracy is something that PR writers have to be aware of and cautious of. These things can lead to conspiracy:

  • Participate in an illegal action such as bribing a government official or covering up information of vital interest to the public health and safety
  • Counsel and guide the policy behind an illegal action
  • Take a major personal part in the illegal action
  • Help establish a “front group” whereby the connection to the public relations firm or it’s clients is kept hidden
  • Cooperate in any other way to further an illegal action

Another very important issue that PR specialists have to work with is the issue of Libel.

There are also issues of privacy that needs to be addressed. There are five areas that public relations specialists have to be aware of when dealing with. They are:

  • Employee newsletters
  • Photo releases
  • Product publicity and advertising
  • Media inquiries about employees
  • Employee blogs and virtual communities

Copyright laws are also expected to be common knowledge and understood in the PR field. They are very important because a person needs to know what materials need to be copyrighted and how to correctly use the copyrighted materials of other people.

There are also laws to consider when focusing on trademarks. These are company names or titles that have registered and have the name or phrase protected by the law. Such examples are iTunes or Bubble Wrap. These need to be written in their proper form because of their protection rights.

The book gives these five points of the courts rules when is comes to trademarks:

  • Has the defendant used a name as a way of capitalizing on the reputation or another organization’s trademark-and does the defendant benefit from the original organization’s investment in popularizing its trademark.
  • Is there an intent to create confusion in the public mind? Is there an intent to imply a connection between the defendant’s product and the item identified by trademark?
  • How similar are the two organizations? Are they providing the same kinds of products or services?
  • Has the original organization actively protected the trademark by publicizing it and by actually continuing to use it in connection with it in connection with its products or services?
  • Is the trademark unique? A company with a trademark that merely describes a common product might be in trouble.

Federal regulations use the Federal Trade Commission to help monitor some of these things. There are also other organizations that regulatory agencies such as the Federal Communicaitons Commission (FCC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

There are many details that need to be considered in any or work that is done in the public relations field. There is so much more to learn and expand on as things change year by year.

Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques By:Dennis L. Wilcox




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