Friday, April 17, 2009

Social Networking and Cybersquatting in Outsourcing: Legal Conflicts where BPO Meets SaaS

Social networking on the Internet depends on that part of information technology that is called “software as a service” (“SaaS”). SasS offers a form of outsourced infrastructure for relationship management. SaaS works for virtually any business processes delivered as a service.

Social media offer efficient marketing tools for new ventures and transforming long-existing businesses. Social networking media enable professionals to identify, target and interact directly with qualified business prospects, using tags such as geography, interest category, company or any other affinity class. Social networking allows online interactions between individuals and sharing of ideas, photos, audio, video and aspirations. Marketers love social media as a vehicle for (i) efficiently opening new conversations, (ii) inviting engagement by asking for “status updates,” (iii) developing brand goodwill, (iv) creating personal trademarks for self-appointed gurus leading new discussion groups and (v) serving highly targeted and affordable advertising. Social networking marketing can even be outsourced.

Beyond Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, social networking has morphed into private-label social networks that depend on memorable URL’s. Since social networking and other delivery of outsourced services by a SaaS Internet host requires a URL (uniform resource locator), any new SaaS services face potential legal conflicts of intellectual property rights in the trademarks and goodwill of the URL’s. This phenomenon underscores the need for prudent intellectual property practices in outsourcing, particularly in the commercial use of social networking.

For more, see my suggestions on how to avoid legal entanglements in social media and other SaaS applications.