Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Ford Motor Company V. Lane: The First Amendment Takes a Virtual Ride in a Mustang

The primary subject matter of this case is the clash between court imposed protection of intellectual property and First Amendment protection of an expression via the Internet, more specifically the constitutionality of an injunction prohibiting an individual from promulgating information about Ford products on his web site. The case also provides insight into the fiduciary obligations owed by employees to their employers and the application of those obligations to the misappropriation of trade secret information. Secondary issues examined in the case are the effectiveness of marketing strategies in promoting the formation and operation of web sites to encourage the creation of a virtual community of customers to assist the company in the design of the next generation of its products. This case has a difficulty level of two or three, and is best utilized in a sophomore or junior level Business Law/Legal Environment or Principles of Marketing course. In the former instance, the case can be used to illustrate how companies can take steps to protect their intellectual property from employee misappropriation. In the latter instance, the case can be used to integrate legal issues into a discussion of the development of effectie marketing strategies. The case can be taught in a one-hour session and requires two hours of preparation.