Thursday, October 15, 2009

Defamation Lawyer: Traverse Internet Law on Defamation. September, 2009.

Defamation Lawyer Disclaimer

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.

FILED: 9/30/2009

Many companies issue laptops and do not allow any business to be conducted on other computers. There are numerous benefits to this approach. One such benefit is that upon termination of an employee the retrieval of the laptop is an effective retrieval of important company information. If you allow employees to retrieve, maintain, and store valuable trade secret information and even standard business contact information on their own computers the risk of misconduct increases substantially.

ChannelAdvisor is a Delaware corporation with customers and clients worldwide. It provides numerous products and services to assist its clients in diverse aspects of online business and e-commerce. The Defendant is a former disgruntled employee of the Plaintiff. On August 11 and 12, 2009, the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant created and used multiple email accounts to send out false and defamatory messages to customers and clients of ChannelAdvisor in the United States and all around the world. The Defendant resides in Victoria, Australia. She is alleged to have improperly retained confidential and proprietary company information in the form of client and customer lists as well as contact information and used that information to target her defamatory email messages.

The Plaintiff has sued for libel per se, intentional interference with contract, intentional interference with business relations, misappropriation of confidential business information and trade secrets, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act. Prayer for relief includes preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, special and general damages to be proven at trial, punitive and exemplary damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1362.

FILED: 9/30/2009

There is an entire chapter in “Google Bomb”, my new book, about these review sites themselves. The Federal Trade Commission has recently passed a new set of rules which more clearly define the obligations of parties promoting products or services to disclose economic interests. This is a huge and pervasive problem and if your company, products, or services are the subject of “product reviews” you should consider reviewing those sites for misconduct.

NutraMedics is a Florida corporation operating out of Palm Beach County, Florida. The company is involved in the online sale of various nutraceutical products. Defendants are alleged to have launched “product review” websites that contain false information, are fictitious and biased, and nothing more than unlawful competition by the Defendant to sell its own products. In addition, ads have been allegedly purchased by the Defendants with terms such as “warning” and “scam” prominently displayed in the ad when people are searching for various products of the Plaintiff. Those ads divert the traffic to the false “product review” sites.

The lawsuit alleges initial interest confusion under the Lanham Act, federal and common law trade libel, defamation per se, commercial disparagement, tortious interference with prospective business, and civil conspiracy. The Plaintiff requests preliminary and permanent injunctive relief as well as any further relief the court deems just and proper. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1363.

FILED: 9/11/2009

In effect, Merrill Lynch is claiming that the Defendant impersonated a Merrill Lynch employee and his false attribution is business defamation. There are plenty of legal bases for dealing with a problem like this, and defamation is likely not the strongest argument in this case. It’s interesting to see the evolution of the definition of defamation moving ever so slowly from a requirement of the publication of an untrue factual statement to defamation based upon statements by implication. In other words, the law is very much a living and breathing thing and it evolves over time. The question any business will want to ask itself when faced with a potential impersonation situation, and there are plenty of these types of problems online today, is whether the business has been damaged. Then leave it up to the attorneys to figure out the legal angles of attack since most non-lawyers would not see this as a potential defamation situation.

Merrill Lynch is a Delaware corporation and leading global financial management and advisory company. Defendant Lenning is alleged to have registered the domain name “”, created an account on, and enticed applicants to enter into an alleged paid training program for a job at Merrill Lynch. All of the communications aimed at this “phishing” operation appear to be coming from Merrill Lynch.

The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement under section 32 of the Lanham Act, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and false representation under section 43 of the Lanham Act, fraud, business defamation, unfair business practices under California Business and Professions Code, and violation of the California Anti-Phishing Act of 2005. The Plaintiff has requested that the court enter preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, order the transfer of the infringing domain name to Plaintiff, and award actual damages, treble damages, statutory damages, punitive, and exemplary damages plus interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1364.

FILED: 9/09/2009

Once again a “product review” website is alleged to in reality be a competitor-funded attack mechanism. Considering the fact that there are thousands of these types of sites online it’s not surprising to see a couple of federal lawsuits each month. If your business is involved in cooperating with, condoning, or assisting these types of sites in any way your liability and legal exposure is very significant. Affiliates running “product review” websites marketing your products could also be creating liability and exposure for your business.

Plaintiff is the sole developer, manufacturer, and seller of Longevinex, the leading Resveratrol dietary supplement sold in the United States. The Defendant allegedly operates a product review and evaluation service that contains false and misleading statements about the Plaintiff’s products. The Defendant is alleged to be funded by competitors.

The lawsuit alleges libel, disparagement, trademark infringement and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, and unfair competition under California Business and Professions Code. The Plaintiff has requested that the court enter temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief, award compensatory damages, exemplary damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1365.