Cisco ran into some trouble with anonymous blogging by one of its employees. In dealing with the embarrassment (and hey, potential litigation) from the revelation that the popular Troll Tracker blog was written by its own Rick Frankel, the company has made a public statement about its new policies regarding anonymous blogging. On its own anonymous blog.
Cisco’s official blog, The Platform, has a post (official, yes, but technically anonymous, signed only by “Cisco”) called “Lessons Learned,” in which the company gives a mea-peripherally-culpa and talks about the new era of blogging rules to be enjoyed by Cisco’s 63,000 employees.
“Our recent experiences have shown us that as corporate blogging becomes more prevalent, new questions arise about transparency and etiquette,” says the Voice of Cisco. Much as we enjoyed the Troll Tracker blog, we’d have to wonder how new the question “Should I anonymously put forward opinions about court cases to which I or my company are a party?” really is. But hey, Cisco says it learned lessons. It didn’t say it was a fast learner.
The crux of the new policy appears to be:
“If you comment on any aspect of the company’s business or any policy issue the company is involved in where you have responsibility for Cisco’s engagement, you must clearly identify yourself as a Cisco employee in your postings or blog site(s) and include a disclaimer that the views are your own and not those of Cisco. In addition, Cisco employees should not circulate postings that they know are written by other employees without informing the recipient that the source was within Cisco.”
All good, all sensible. But it doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter for the rest of us, which is this: While Frenkel remains a Cisco lawyer, Patent Troll Tracker has been dormant (or at least hidden from the public) since its author’s dramatic self-disclosure. And no new champion in the epic battle against patent trolls has risen — no, Howrey does not count.
IP law is complex and confusing and, on occasion, a real slog. What we need is firebrands to post caustic manifestos (under 500 words, please) and screeds, to take shots at lawyers, IP holders, courts. For the love of all that’s legal, we need entertainment. Come home, Rick Frankel, all is forgiven (except by the guy who posted the energetic attack in the comments on the “Lessons Learned” post).
— Brian McDonough