Leighton gets legal

Just over a month after I researched, wrote and published a blog post about my view of changes at Leighton Holdings Ltd’s construction collaboration technology subsidiary Incite, the Sydney, Australia-based giant has flexed its not inconsiderable muscles and sent me a letter.

A response to my version of the events at Incite since February? Perhaps some news of changes? No.

Instead, I have been required by Leighton’s Deputy General Counsel Karen Pedersen to remove two logos (Incite and Leighton Holdings) and to remove the photographs of two employees (Jamila Gordon and Peter Gregg) from the blog post.

Apparently the logos are trademarks and both the subject of copyright and my use was without authority (Offending Conduct). Leighton tell me reproduction of the logos constitutes an infringement of the Copyright Act. They also suggest that my ‘Offending Conduct’ is:

“… likely to mislead or deceive the relevant group of consumers into the belief that you have a licence or authority to use the Trade Marks or are associated with Leighton Holdings Limited and/or the Leighton Group, Incite or have their approval to use the Trade Marks. The Offending Conduct constitutes a breach of … the Australian Consumer Law and the tort of passing off entitling us to injunctive relief or damages.”

I am required to

(a) immediately cease any and all Offending Conduct;

(b) not in the future use or reproduce the Trade Marks or pass [myself] as being associated with Leighton Holdings Limited or any member of the Leighton Group; and

(c) immediately remove from the Blog any photographs of employees (or former employees) of the Leighton Group other than those employees or former employees who have expressly authorised the use of such photographs for reproduction on the Blog.

Like many thousands of other writers, journalists and bloggers writing about companies, I have used company logos frequently (indeed, a quick Google image search for Leighton’s logo will reveal numerous – 44,000+ – other instances; all authorised?). That this practice is widespread is, of course, no excuse. Not wishing to incur further wrath by “continuation of the Offending Conduct”, I have of course removed the images from the the blog post.

The people photographs were also sourced via Google image search – again, there are multiple locations where you can see their likenesses (presumably all expressly authorised by the individuals concerned?).

This is the first time that anyone has objected to my use of a logo or photograph – even companies or individuals that I have roundly criticised in the past have not requested removal. Instead, Aconex, for example, has recognised the importance of blogger relations and has engaged in a robust debate, providing me with their own corporate and personal viewpoints on core issues relating to shareholder disputes, directors’ actions, company financial performance, etc.

Update (28 November 2011) – Just noticed that Warwick Kirby, briefly listed as Incite’s Group Software Development Manager, is no longer in that role. He has been replaced by Rowan Williams, previously – according to LinkedIn – a product development manager.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2011/11/leighton-gets-legal/


2 pings

    • Anna Kay on 21 November 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I understand where you’re coming from, Leighton Holding should have engaged in the discussion and try to turn the situation around, however, if the use of the company logo is protected under the copyright act, they have to give you a permission to use it, and they are within their rights to ask you to remove it.
    When I have started our company Facebook page I have used images from online magazine and even though the content benefited the magazine, they have sent me an email suggesting that I have to get their permission, it is the law in the end of the day.
    The bottom line is: Leighton Holding is the company who doesn’t want respect other people rights, but they know their own!!!

  1. It is indeed a sad day when a company does not look at the blogger as free distribution of their brand!

    If MacDonalds or Nike did the same thing, where would a global brand be now??

    C’est la vie!

  1. […] However, any potential external customers will learn little about the collaboration system (no mention of the Keystone product name, by the way) from the website unless they email the company. Apart from a system login facility and a rotating sequence of five photos, two email addresses are the only ways to interact with this website – a level of functionality reminiscent of early ‘brochure-ware’ websites in the mid 1990s. I would show a screengrab of the website (“Copyright © 2011 Nexus Point Solutions Pty Ltd. All rights reserved”), but I wouldn’t want to attract the unwanted attentions of Leighton’s legal eagles again (see Leighton gets legal). […]

  2. […] In 2009, I was impressed by the potential of a prototype platform, Incite Toolbox, developed in Australia by Sean Kaye and Michael Baker, which baked the social media concepts of “the stream” and “tags” into the product. What started out as a file-sharing service was potentially developing as a messaging and conversation platform which could easily be accessed on mobile devices. Unfortunately, development of this then ground-breaking platform was put on the back-burner as the Leighton Holdings company, first, focused on its desktop platform, Keystone, and then, in what I dubbed the St Valentine’s Day Massacre, made the talented Incite team redundant, discontinued the innovations they had been working on, and even threatened me with legal action (post). […]

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