Is it legal to publish Client List?

As part of the marketing plan, we wanted to publish a selected list of Notable Client who purchased from us before. Is it legal to publish this list on our web site without their consent? Only company name is on the list, no phone number or email or address.

Thanks a lot for your input.

Does your contract or sales information tell them their name may be used for marketing purposes? If not you may have some issues.

To make life easy why not email them and ask their permission. A little bit of work now could save a lot of aggravation down the road.

Thank you very much for your reply. We do not have a contract, as we are online retailer. We do have Privacy Statement as following:

We do not sell or rent your personal information to others. We use customer information we collect for the sole purpose of filling orders, contacting purchasers to inform them of their order status, sending promotional information, enhancing the operation of our site, protecting the card holders from fraudulent purchases, serving advertisements, for statistical purposes and to administer our systems. We may use third parties to help us fulfill orders, to help process payments, to provide customer service, to serve site content, to serve the advertisements you see on our site, to conduct surveys, to help administer promotional emails, to administer warranties purchased, and to administer drawings or contests. We give them access to the information needed to do their job. Sometimes that includes your personal information. Our computer system protects personal information using advanced firewall technology.

Will I get by with this? We were going to publish a Notable Client List such as this:

U.S. Air Force
Houston Police Department
etc. etc.

Not sure whether doing this without getting their consent violate any law…

Thanks in advance for your kind advice.

Well I read that 3 times and I still don’t see how it says you can use their names for advertising purposes … sorry but I think you are treading on thin ice.

Hmm… trademark infringement maybe? Add something to your terms of sale that you may use their name in marketing material if you plan to do this in the future, but you can’t apply it retroactively to customers that didn’t have that term in their contract.

Send 'em a mail or give 'em a call and ask if they mind.

Why would you not want to contact them? Why so nervous? Just pick up the phone and ask them - if they say no, then better to know now than from their lawyer taking you to court.

I’m not a lawyer

If you were to go against the “safe” route and publish the names and one of the parties decided they didn’t want to be listed they would send you a cease and desist letter ordering you to remove their name / logo from the clients list. As long as you comply you’d be good to go.

Ethically I wouldn’t do it unless it had been agreed upon in writing.

Is this based on a law or are you just assuming? If you’ve stolen someone’s credit card and use it to buy things every day, but stop when the person you stole from finds you and tells you to stop, have you no longer stolen (and committed fraud on each place you spend the money)?

I would email them first. No matter what why take the chance and make your best customers mad.

Don’t assume you’ll just get a C&D. Copyright infringement can incur $150k fine per incident, so basically, don’t do it - certainly keep the logos off your site.

Company names, logos, slogans… these are marks used to identify a brand… they’re trademarks, not generally covered by copyright (some logos may be, but many aren’t original enough to qualify for that, and that wouldn’t be why you’d be sued). Not the same laws.

for their own legitimate business/marketing/political reasons your customers might not want to be publically associated with you. (E.g. what if you were not number one in your field - could that be used against your customer by their competitor?)
You could ‘legally’ LOSE a whole lot of business by not asking first.
It isn’t a legal problem - it is a business problem.:slight_smile:

Unless it’s a legal problem, of course.

I’m not familiar with US electronic privacy protection laws, but here in Denmark, such a list would be illegal, and not only could the company be fined, but also the person who made the list public.

I just called up a friend of mine who IS a high paid attourney working on behalf of a well known TV network here in America. He laughed when I asked him if someone could be sued over such a thing. He stressed the fact that no company is going to sue a mom and pop web firm for listing a company that paid them to do a job and never asked NOT to be included. Any judge would take one look at this case - look to see if the name had been removed and the defendant had taken the appropriate steps to resolve the issue and dismiss the case.

Now if you’ve done something to piss off Coke or General Motors - list them as a client and refuse to remove their name despite numerous legal threats then you’re just asking for it.

My point is just if you want to be safe then don’t list the name, if you personally don’t have a problem with it then I’d go ahead and list your clients. The thin line is whether or not you’re outwardly promoting your business using a companies name. If I were to distribute a press release about your company and your client doing work together then I would of course get an approval from their respective departments.

I don’t think there is any trademark issue or legal issue. It should be your right to show to the world that you have done a good job for your big fish … err big clients :slight_smile:

There’s definitely no trademark issue… it doesn’t come close to meeting those requirements. And yes, you can publish it… just like you can list the client in any portfolio pieces. You can have it added to the terms of the sale if you’d like (keeping in mind that retail buyers aren’t necessarily the same as clients working with you directly - customers often enter the relationship thinking they’re an anonymous buyer, whereas clients are ordering custom products / services / etc.), then they need to worry about making sure there’s a non-disclosure agreement specifically saying you’re not allowed to mention any affiliation with them.

The only time that I have been restricted from mentioning or publishing a client’s name is when that client requested that I sign an agreement not to.

I am not a lawyer but if other companies can list their suppliers as partners then accordingly then I do not believe that anyone can be held liable for listing their clients if their is not agreement not to.

The logic behind a listing to me is how do I know that the company being listed is reputable and not doing something illegal.
e.g. Enron

I don’t think that anyone really wants to be associated with undesirables.

I still think this is all by-the-by. What is the problem with contacting your clients and asking their permission to list them in your portfolio? Not only does this make natural sense, it means you have a chance to a) ask for a testimonial to go hand-in-hand with their entry, and b) gives you a chance for a chat and possibly get more work with them.

If you are scared that they will say ‘no’, then surely it’s better to know now rather than puss them off and have them demand you remove their name from your client list.

Hmm… trademark infringement maybe?

Oh, yeah, heaven forbid they get free advertising.

I think this legal mumbo jumbo is a bit silly. Unless there’s some reason why your client may not want to be publicly associated with you, I see no reason why you can’t simply put some text links on your website saying “look at what I’ve done”.

heaven forbid they get free advertising.

Not a good point. If a client was very large company, such as coca cola, putting their name on your site brings in advertising for you, not the other way round. How many people search for coca cola on search engines everyday? it must be in it’s thousands. they’ve seen coke’s fantasic website, and look what’s listed on google… your company. people think “hey, this is what we’re looking for”.

That may not be your view, but it may be theirs.