Kyle and Jackie O will broadcast their last breakfast show on 2Day FM, which is part of the Southern Cross Austereo network, on Friday, 29 November 2013. With Kyle and Jackie O's pending departure from Austereo to go to a rival network, there have been reports in the media as to a dispute between Austereo and Kyle and Jackie O as to ownership of the "Kyle & Jackie O" Facebook fan page.
Kyle and Jackie O have been with 2Day FM for 13 years. They have a Facebook fan page with just under 200,000 followers. Austereo is the owner of the registered trade mark "Kyle and Jackie O".
It has been reported that Austereo is considering rebranding the Facebook page with the name of the new 2Day FM breakfast team, rumoured to be Jules Lund and Sophie Monk.
The dispute between Kyle and Jackie O and Austereo as to the ownership of the Facebook fan page raises some of the issues covered in our article "Social Media in the Workplace – Pitfalls for Employers" which discussed, amongst other things, the US case of PhoneDog v Kravitz1 (Social Media in the Workplace: Pitfall for Employers)
In the PhoneDog case, a former employee of PhoneDog changed the name of his twitter account, while maintaining his followers gained while employed by PhoneDog, to advertise the same goods and services for his new employer, a rival of PhoneDog. The Californian Court found in favour of PhoneDog.
As Austereo is the owner of the registered trade mark of Kyle and Jackie O, it will have the rights to the branding of the Facebook fan page, unless there is some agreement between the parties to the contrary.Austereo and Kyle and Jackie O are in discussions regarding the ownership of the Facebook fan page and the trade mark.
We are yet to see a high profile decision in Australia regarding the ownership of social media fan pages/followers. We await with interest as to whether the Austereo and Kyle and Jackie O dispute will need to be decided by the Court and therefore give employers some guidance on how an Australian Court will approach a similar situation as the US Courts faced in the PhoneDog case.