Statement from ABOR Chair Larry E. Penley on litigation against Facebook regarding unauthorized use of ASU trademark on Instagram
August 22, 2020
“Minimizing health risks for students and members of the university communities is critical to ensure university campuses are as safe as possible, especially now as fall semester begins.
“The board is working hand-in-hand with our university presidents to provide a safe and quality education for our students, following state and federal health guidelines and the response planning principles developed by the Arizona Board of Regents to minimize health risk to students, employees and the community.
"Social media accounts that promote unsafe public health behaviors are detrimental to the work we must do together to stay safe and healthy. Facebook and Instagram have guidelines to protect people from harmful content and that which threatens the safety of others.
"Deeply troubling was an Instagram account that promoted parties off-campus at Arizona State University in which attendees are encouraged to avoid social distancing and to not wear masks.
“Beyond the federal trademark infringement, false advertising and trademark dilution of the ASU trademarks used to promote harmful behavior in the account, it is unconscionable that Instagram refused to remove this account, violating its own community guidelines and therefore disregarding critical public health protocols.
“ASU’s efforts to resolve this issue directly with the account owner and with Instagram were unsuccessful. Therefore, ASU was authorized to initiate litigation against the account owner and Facebook, which owns Instagram, and the board fully supports this lawsuit.
“The board is pleased that the lawsuit prompted Instagram to remove this page, as it should have done in the first place. The board will not hesitate to pursue legal avenues against other social media accounts that violate laws designed to protect the universities’ brands and the public health safety measures in place at our universities.
“It is understandable that students want to gather with friends, but we must take every precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19. In order to have a productive semester, everyone must abide by the health guidance put forth by the Arizona Department of Health Services, ASU, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.”