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.
NUTRAMEDICS, INC. v. ELIZABETH ARDEN d/b/a COMPLAINTS BOARD
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA (WEST PALM BEACH)
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act usually gives websites immunity. However, in this case, the Plaintiff is alleging that immunity will not apply to Complaints Board because it defames the Plaintiff by selecting ads that suggest fraud. In addition, Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant makes editing decisions by giving defamatory statements a more prominent position to be indexed by the search engines and is therefore editing and controlling content. This is an evolving area of law but keep in mind that if you are exerting influence over the content there is potential liability as a publisher for material posted by third parties.
Nutramedics is a Florida healthcare related institute. The Defendant, Complaints Board, is a website that carries and publishes complaints about businesses. The Plaintiff alleges that its products or services are being labeled “fraudulent” and the results are showing up at the top of Google and other search engines when products or services of the Plaintiff are searched. “Complaints Board” has been sued because it allegedly presents advertising that suggests credit card fraud services are necessary when dealing with the Plaintiff and that positive comments and statements are buried in the comment section and only the defamatory statements are programmed to be indexed and receive prominent attention.
The Plaintiff has sued for initial interest confusion under the Lanham Act, federal and common law trade libel, defamation, and commercial disparagement. Injunctive relief is requested addressing the alleged misconduct in addition to requests for any further relief the court deems just and proper. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1354.
THETANCO, INC. and TODD J. BECKMAN v. DIRTY WORLD ENTERTAINMENT, LLC and HOOMAN KARAMIAN
DISTRICT OF ARIZONA (PHOENIX)
If you are a website with 3rd party content and you are not editing the content you likely have blanket immunity. Once you make a promise to do something, like remove certain material, and you fail to do so, your immunity may be lost. Make sure that your moderators and administrators fully understand what they can, and cannot, do in the context of running a web 2.0 or user generated content website. You should have an operations manual addressing the exact issue of editing and removing content and an auditing program to assure compliance. This is a complex arena and one false move can prove to be costly to an unfathomable degree.
Tanco is a franchisor and operator of tanning salons. The Defendant runs a website by the domain name of “thedirty.com”, which professes to be “all about gossip and satire”. A series of postings on the site allege the Plaintiff and its principals were involved in illegal drug use, pedophilia, illegal business practices, insurance fraud, arson, and philandering. Plaintiff’s counsel demanded that the information be removed from the web and the Defendant advised that it was “in the process of removal”. The Defendant has allegedly failed to remove the defamatory content.
The lawsuit alleges federal trademark infringement, federal trademark dilution, common law infringement and dilution, and defamation. The Plaintiff requests preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, an accounting of profits, the removal of the defamatory posts, actual damages, consequential damages, exemplary damages, treble damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1355.
POWER EFFICIENCY CORPORATION v. RESOURCE ENERGY SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. and LEONARD S. BELLEZZA
DISTRICT OF NEVADA (LAS VEGAS)
You may have heard of “Astroturfing”, which is the practice of a company posting positive comments and reviews about its own products or services. This practice is false advertising. On the flip side is the issue of competitors posting false reviews and comments of a defamatory nature about a competitor. This happens all the time, and if the allegations in this lawsuit are true, this practice is simply another example of an already big problem becoming much bigger as the anonymity of the web creates an unaccountable environment in which misconduct cannot be traced back to the offender. As long as there is a perception thatone can get away with anything on the web, these types of attacks will proliferate. Of course, there are many ways to identify the party who hides behind the cloak of “anonymity” once litigation has begun.
PEC develops and markets advanced energy saving technologies for electric motors. The Defendant was recently formed and employs several former executives of the Plaintiff. The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants have engaged in a clandestine campaign intended to damage PEC’s business and reputation, lower the trading price of PEC’s shares, and make PEC and its products less attractive to potential investors and customers by posting defamatory comments numbering in the hundreds on the web.
The lawsuit alleges false advertising, misappropriation of trade secrets, defamation and libel, and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. The Plaintiff has requested that the court enter preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and an order requiring the Defendant’s to produce all electronic devices capable of storing data for inspection, award compensatory, consequential, punitive, and exemplary damages, and attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1356.
This concludes significant cases on defamation law for the month of August, 2009 from Traverse Internet Law, the Defamation Lawyer.