Short intro: The blogger Turner Barr accuses the global HRM firm Adecco of having used his idea, name and even personality for a campaign.
In my first post about the fight over “Around the world in 80 jobs” I mentioned I had both asked Turner Barr and Adecco for further clarifications. I had asked Turner since when he had been in contact with Adecco, what he wanted to achieve, what they had offered and what he considers being a good outcome of the story. After their first reply I had asked Adecco (again) how and in which kind of process they had developed the idea and also questioned the “corporate social responsibility” character of the campaign which looks more like a brand idea to me.
None of both answered me, but Turner published an article where he outlines his demands towards Adecco:
- pay him the amount the agency got, which he calculates being 50 000 $
- pay 50 000 $ to a charity
- stop using the name and brand
That’s a bold statement for a negotiation. And he might be asking too much. Of course, this would be unacceptable by Adecco. They might apologize and they might pay an undisclosed amount to a charity but dropping the name and stopping the campaign and paying Turner on top would be, realistically, way too far.
If it comes to a legal conflict, Adecco has better chances given the fact that they have a running Referring to the deleted part, see the first comment, about Trademark law and possible outcomes of a conflict. My knowledge apparently was a bit superficial. registered trade mark application. The only One thing Turner can do is register a Trademark as well, but focused on another sector, e.g. media, marketing and publishing. Here, he could beat Adecco since they registered applied for human ressources services and it would be up to a court to decide if they play in the same field and which that is.
However, there is another risk for Turner which is far more dangerous.
He could risk to lose his community by being too greedy. Apart from the demands towards Adecco ,he also started a fundraising project to “keep Around The World in 80 Days alive”. While I agree with Turner that Adecco has copied his idea and should do something about it, I think he is going a bit too far here. He should use the story to gain popularity and interest and it’s perfectly ok to ask for an apology and for a payment to a charity. That would easily be backed by the community which has been following the case so far. This community and the reputation risk for Adecco is the only leverage he really has (apart from the more than uncertain legal situation) and should not risk that with wanting too much at once.
The ball is in Adecco’s court. If they come up with a smart solution and offer, they can win back some sympathy. But they need to offer something. If both, Adecco and Turner, are smart now, they listen to the many voices who evaluate the case and find a way for both to profit.
Update: Adecco just posted that they have come to an agreement with Turner and so did he.
We’ve reached an agreement with Turner Barr http://t.co/bntq74uDON
— Adecco USA (@AdeccoUSA) June 26, 2013
— Turner (@80worldjobs) June 26, 2013
This is how it was settled: Adecco apparently accepted Turners demands, stopped using the brand and paid their dues. I am impressed, I did actually not expect such an ending. But I am very happy and pleased, not only for Turner but for any small creative entrepreneur and also for online activism in general. Together, people can have a very strong voice.