Who Owns Your LinkedIn Profile?

At first, this seems an absurd question. Of course, the individual owns it. But, is this accurate? And what do we mean by "own"? What what is owned? What if you work at a company? What if that company supports your LinkedIn activity? What if that company pays you to make contacts? To be sure, there are many questions of ownership. In this discussion, I'd like to focus on one, specific question: who owns the expressions about your current employer? First of all, I'm not a lawyer. I don't even know if this is a real question. This question came up at the intersection of two contexts. One is this article in Wired on a LinkedIn-related laysuit. The other context was a project where we're doing a LinkedIn social media plan for a client. To begin, I'd like to define some terms. By "expressions" I mean anything on your LinkedIn profile that could mean anything about a company. By "own" I mean have legal control over. So, my question amount to this: can a company control expressions about it on your profile? There seem to be 3 levels of expression.

1. Outright trademarks

It seems obvious that clear, trademarkable material is owned by the company. This is true in just about every instance. So, if you put the IBM logo on your website or use any of its material, they might be interested.

2. Direct Claims

What about claims you make about a company? If I said that Company X was great (or not great), what could Company X do about that? Could they make you change it? Assuming it's not true, then I think that they definitely could. What if it's true but different than what they want you to say? In this case, could they make you use their own formulation? If controlling brand-related materials or trademarks can be controlled, then why not other expressions? It could just as easily be argued that any expression is central to a company's brand or trademark.

Fair use?

Does fair use come into this at all? Could it be said that an expression about a company is just a quotation or sorts?

3. Indirect Claims

What about implied claims? Implied claims could exist in your own text. I am thinking here of job descriptions and professional specialties and goals. To the extent that this text means something, then it just seems to be a less clear case of expressions of type 2, q.v. It's no different to mean indirectly than to mean directly.

The Argument

So, my argument is this:
Your current employer can control not only anything you say about it directly but also anything you imply about it in your job description or anywhere else.
So, if this is true, then a company could make you alter your text to reflect their own. I suppose you could just refuse to talk about the company, but that would mean you can't say that you work there. Nor could it be reasonably known that you work there because then, by implication, people would know what company you are "talking about" when they read your job description. This seems like a strong claim. There must be something wrong with it. But, what?