Liking Something Isn't Like Owning Something
Liking something on a Facebook page is not a form of Intellectual Property. Stacy Mattocks created an unofficial Facebook fan page for the television series, “The Game”. Black Entertainment Television LLC (“BET”) acquired the rights to the show. BET allowed Stacy to use the trademarks and content on her fan page. BET even directed users to “like" Stacy’s fan page. BET was going to hire Stacy for a full time position. Negotiations broke down and Stacey didn’t get the job. BET instructed Facebook to migrate the page to BET. Stacy sued BET for stealing the “likes” on her Facebook page. The court held that Facebook “likes” can’t be stolen because they’re not a form of Intellectual Property.
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS. Intellectual Property isn’t a catchall for rights protection. Sometimes, a company generates information or data that can be protected even if it doesn’t fall squarely into one of the Intellectual Property categories of patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. For instance, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the data compiled by Dow Jones is protectable because Dow Jones only gives the information to authorized licensees. Likes on a Facebook page don’t reach that kind of protectability. Even though Stacy lost this one, we have to give her credit for asserting a novel theory.