Case Study – Ellasaurus Products Enterprises
Ellen Carson is the author and illustrator of a successful series of children’s books that chronicle the adventures of Ellasaurus, a four-year-old orange dinosaur. Ellen has done well with the books, but decided she could earn considerably more money by creating a merchandising business around the Ellasaurus character. Thus, she recently created Ellasaurus Products Enterprises (EPE), a company that develops and markets Ellasaurus toys, stuffed animals, coloring books, pajamas, and Halloween costumes from its location in Flint, Michigan.
EPE has been able to get some major retailers to stock the Ellasaurus product line, but others have been willing to take on a new and unproven product line. Ellen has decided to sell the Ellasaurus merchandise online directly to customers. She also sees an online presence as a great way to build and maintain customer loyalty. Ellen envisions a Web site with a number of virtual community features in addition to the product store. For example, she would like to offer online games, discussion areas, interactive stories, and other activities that would promote EPE products and her books.
The Ellasaurus book series is targeted to children who are between four and six years old. Ellen expects the EPE product line to appeal to a similar demographic. Ellen has visited sites such as Hello Kitty and Nick Jr., which appeal to similar age groups, to get ideas for the site. She would like the site to be appealing to her main audience, but she would like to obtain registration information from site visitors so EPE can send marketing e-mails and facilitate social networking activities among her customer base. Ellen plans to sell merchandise to U.S. residents only at first, but she would like to sell internationally within a few years. The site will allow visitors from any country to register and participate in the virtual community features. Ellen will use some copyrighted illustrations from her books on the Web site. She will also include themes from the story lines of her books in some of the games that will be available (free) on the site to registered visitors.
Ellen has hired you as a consultant to build on her ideas and formulate the best ways to comply with potential intellectual property issues, privacy, and ethics laws. Your assignment this week is to create a report that discusses at least two intellectual property issues that might arise in the operation of the website, and describe the laws, ethics, and privacy issues that Ellen faces because of the ages of her intended audience members. Be sure to deal specifically with advertising issues as well as issues that might arise in managing the virtual community elements on the Web site. Additionally, outline the laws with which the site must comply when it registers site visitors under the age of 13, and include your recommendations regarding how Ellen can best comply with those laws.