Lady Gaga, the lawyer and the Irish Web 2.0 debacle

The Irish Independent ran the story of Ate My Heart Inc.; a company owned and controlled by popstar Lady Gaga who

‘demanded I roll over and hand over my ladyaga.ie domain name and trademark’

This action was taken against an Irish-based cookery blogger. This surprised me for a number of reasons:

  • The two brands and domains whilst similar couldn’t be mistaken for each other, giving the Ate My Heart legal team a relatively weak positon if it ever went to court
  • You would have a harder time differentiating the Lady Gaga brand from the many social accounts run by dedicated Lady Gaga fans
  • Lady Gaga and her management seem to be exceptionally savvy about the use and abuse of social media; and its power hence the LittleMonsters.com community that they run

It also reminded me of IT@Cork / O’Reilly Publications debacle that broke out over the use of web 2.0 in 2006. IT@Cork was a small local group interested in business technology who decided to host a session on web 2.0. They invited Tim O’Reilly along to speak alongside other representatives from web 2.0 firms. They were legalled by CMP who run the Web 2.0 Expo and Web 2.0 Conference with a cease and desist letter.

The subsequent online firestorm caused Tim O’Reilly to come back off holiday and broker a smarter solution.

Ate My Heart could have reduced their risk and had a win-win situation like O’Reilly eventually opted for, but instead went all in on a relatively weak legal position, hoping presumably that the blogger would buckle rather than publishing their letter online and calling them out, but they chose not to.

I guess the implicit message to Irish Lady Gaga fans were that they didn’t matter all that much.  From a PR perspective, something to keep an eye on in case clients take a similar gung-ho approach to reputation management through litigation; not everyone will be as lucky as Lady Gaga was on this occasion.

Archived from blog posts I wrote for PR Week