Thursday, February 12, 2009

Defamation Lawyer:Traverse Internet Law Federal Court Report: January 2009 Defamation Lawsuits


The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute.


SOUTH BEACH SKIN CARE, INC. v. ROBERT MARKIN, ET AL.
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA (MIAMI)
1:09-CV-20249
FILED: 1/29/2009

I’ve been blogging on this issue lately. “Review websites” are often run by competitors or affiliate marketers of competitors. The reviews on the sites are rarely objective. Often times there will be false and defamatory claims made about a product in order to sell a competing product, although only time will tell as to whether the Defendants were operating in this manner.
The Plaintiff is the owner of a website located at “www.lifecellskin.com”. It holds a copyright registration of the contents of the website. Defendants own various competing websites. All of these websites sell an anti-aging skincare product. Defendants are also alleged to own “www.bestwrinklecreamsreview.com”. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants operate this allegedly “neutral” website for customer reviews but the website is actually comprised of comments posted by the Defendants disparaging the Plaintiff’s product.

The lawsuit claims defamation and copyright infringement and requests preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1273.


ENAGIC USA, INC. AND ENAGIC CO. LTD. v. RICHARD CABADOS, ET AL.
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA (LOS ANGELES)
2:09-CV-00101
FILED: 1/06/2009

I have included this as a defamation case because although it is brought as a trademark infringement and unfair competition matter this is in reality another example of product disparagement and online defamation. The technical trademark infringement laws are often used to address this type of alleged defamatory attack.

The Plaintiff is a company organized under the laws of Japan. The Defendant is an individual residing in California. Defendant is alleged to be operating two review sites that consistently contain reviews that find the Defendant’s water treatment devices superior to the Plaintiff’s. The websites claim the reviews are completely unbiased. The Plaintiff claims that the information on the site is intended to mislead and deceive the consuming public with false reviews. Additional search engine optimization techniques are being used to draw customers to this review site when searching for the Plaintiff, and Plaintiff alleges that these websites are nothing more than advertisements disguised as impartial reviews.

The Plaintiff has sued for federal trademark infringement, unfair competition, and state law unfair competition. A permanent injunction is requested addressing the alleged misconduct, requesting the award of compensatory and punitive damages, triple damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1274.


TRI-MARKETING, INC. v. MAINSTREAM MARKETING SERVICES, INC., ET AL.
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
0:09-CV-00013
FILED: 1/06/2009

This is a classic, and too often repeated, response by an alleged copyright infringer. When caught, we will occasionally see an infringer not only claim that their site has been copied by your business, but actually issue a DMCA takedown notice against a website. This type of action is particularly problematic when one considers that the webhosting company is required to takedown your website for a minimum of 10 days upon the receipt of a DMCA takedown notice. This very powerful weapon can be used with absolute impunity by individuals spread all over the world, located in countries with whom the United States has absolutely no treaties and no goodwill. In other words, it can be used with no risk as a sword to attack competitors. Fortunately for the Plaintiff in this case, the Defendant does not appear to have gone that route. If the allegations are true, this is yet another example of defamatory statements being used to gain a business advantage.

Plaintiff is a Minnesota corporation engaged in the business of telemarketing services, including lead generation for the insurance industry. Extensive comparative information within the body of the lawsuit lays out claims of copyright infringement by the Defendant and an attempt to use its content to compete. Plaintiff notified the Defendant of its infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright and the Vice President of the Defendant began claiming that the Plaintiff had copied the Defendant’s website and not the other way around.

This lawsuit alleges copyright infringement and defamation and requests an award of compensatory damages, injunctive relief against further copying of Plaintiff’s website, an award of attorneys’ fees, and an award of other relief as the court deems proper and just. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1275.

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