Sucks Site Lawsuits Move To Include Facebook As Well
from the really? dept
We’ve covered how it’s a dumb idea for companies to sue so-called “sucks sites,” (sites that complain about a company). First, plaintiffs in such lawsuits almost never win. The trademark claims almost always fail. No one is confusing the sucks site with the company they complain about. Second, just bringing such a lawsuit tends to call significantly more attention to the complaints against the company (the ever popular “Streisand Effect”). And yet… they still keep on coming. The latest one has a bit of a twist, though. Rather than suing the owner of a website, the organization is suing the guy who set up a complaint group on Facebook. Other than that, though, the scenarios are basically the same. In this case, a beauty school student set up a Facebook group to complain about things happening at the school, and the school sued for both the use of the logo (trademark infringement) and on claims that many of the posts to the group were defamatory.
The trademark claim hopefully gets tossed aside quickly. No one’s going to confuse the group for being a part of the school, and it’s difficult to see how they’ll make a claim that the use was “in commerce.” The defamation claim really depends on what was said… but if it was said by other students, then it’s difficult to see how the student who started the group can be held liable for them. Besides, some courts at least have noted that online forums are the equivalent of a bunch of friends talking over drinks, and the speech should naturally be taken less seriously. One hopes that the judge in this case recognizes the nature of basic online conversations as well.