Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
bloggers, defamation, libel, slapp


Court Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against Blogger For Criticizing Company

from the slapp-this dept

We've seen so many cases recently of companies trying to shut down negative criticism online by suing critics, it's nice to point out a case where those cases get shot down by the courts. Eric Goldman has the details on how a court has thrown out the lawsuit filed by BidZirk, one of many, many companies that will sell your stuff on eBay for you, against a blogger for criticizing BidZirk's service in a blog post. The lawsuit claimed defamation, privacy invasion and trademark violations -- all of which seem like a stretch. If anything, this sounds like a SLAPP situation, where the company isn't suing because anything wrong was done, but because it just doesn't like criticism. In this case, the court found no defamation, as the blog post was clearly the guy's opinion. It found no trademark violation because the guy used the company's name in the course of reporting on the company, which is perfectly legal. As Goldman notes, the unfortunate part of this story is that a blogger had to spend a year and a half in court dealing with this lawsuit. While it's great that he eventually won, many bloggers wouldn't have the time, money or stamina to deal with such lawsuits -- which is why they're likely to keep happening.

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  1. identicon
    Anon, 31 Oct 2007 @ 3:24am


    "defamation, privacy invasion and trademark violations"

    This sounds like a case of throwing enough mud and hoping some sticks.

    Problem is, this approach works all to often.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2007 @ 4:49am

    It will continue to work until something more is done to these companies beyond throwing out their lawsuit after a year and a half.

    It's sad that the legal system has gotten to the point that filing obviously fraudulent lawsuits like this are not punished in some way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Danny, 31 Oct 2007 @ 5:37am

    What a shame...

    1. If a company's approach is not to step to the plate and address the negative critism but to cry lawsuit that speaks very ill of the company and would make me think twice about doing business with them.

    2. I agree with comment #2 some serious punishment needs to be handed down to these companies and people that file fraudulent and frivilous lawsuits. Something to the tune of being forced to pay the legal fees of the defendant, paying fines to the court system, and/or when a case is found to be fraudulent instead of throwing it out automatically rule in favor of the defendant and force the plantiff to pay the defendant the amount they were suing for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2007 @ 6:20am

    A loser pays lawsuit system is very much needed in this country, and these kinds of cases are good examples as to why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Overcast, 31 Oct 2007 @ 6:25am

    A loser pays lawsuit system is very much needed in this country, and these kinds of cases are good examples as to why.

    I agree - that and on criminal charges - if they are brought up falsely and that can be proven, they should have to serve the time the person they accused would have.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 31 Oct 2007 @ 7:14am


    That would suck to be the D.A.! I am sure most criminal charges are made by law enforcement, State or Federal. Should we make them do the time? That would never fly through any facet of the government. Now in claims court, loser pays all, that would work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    * Miss Universe, 31 Oct 2007 @ 8:19am


    Let's remember that the cost to hire an Attorney must still be arranged by the defendant, EVEN IF THE CASE WAS DISMISSED!!

    How may thousands of dollars did it take to even get that far. Could it even have gotten to the point of being TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars. Would he have been skilled enough to do this pro-se or get a legal group to contribute their time?

    So in the end, the fear of litigation - even frivolous - can have an effect on the average person with no legal training to do a pro-se defense.

    How may can afford the thousands of dollars it would take to even terminate a frivolous suit?

    Yes, he could sue to get his funds back, but how may Lawyers would take a case like that - and even if they did - they would still get a percentage of the money awarded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. More help for the little guy

    Public Citizen is a legal help site concentrating in free speech cases on the Internet and helping sites pro bono that are being attacked by these companies.

    I'm still waiting for my first lawsuit attack due to my opinion criticising what I feel are "scam" companies. I also publish unedited comments from third parties that complain about rip off companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Ilena Rosenthal, 3 Nov 2007 @ 2:02pm

    Barrett Vs Rosenthal SLAPP suit

    I was recently a successful defendant in a classic Industry Vs Activist SLAPP suit, now called Barrett Vs Rosenthal. I have been defending myself against Barrett and his 'publicists' in court and in his accompanying smear assaults for over 7 years. The court is now deciding how much exactly the 3 losing plaintiffs, Stephen Barrett, Christopher Grell, and Terry Polevoy will owe for attorneys fees in the Appeals & Supreme Court of California. They will owe somewhere between $300 and $500,000. The more they lost in court ... the nastier their flacks became in their attacking of me ... including hiring private investigators and attempting to highjack my good name and replace it with their loser's version of who I am and why I speak out on controversial issues such as breast implants. During the course of this suit, the losing defendants have threatened many others with similar suits ... and Terry Polevoy, after his loss in the Supreme Court, is now threatening to sue me again! This case has been extraordinarly costly to me personally, my cause, my friends and family (also attacked), and I have been forced to defend myself at enormous expense. On Wikipedia and blogs and usenet ... Barrett's flacks refuse to allow the accurate court account, in their constant attempt to change history. Best regards, Ilena

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2007 @ 6:38am


    I completely agree ... that's why he should sue for damages himself. If he wins it could be truly monumental.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Scope, 8 Nov 2007 @ 12:21am

    I am also threatened in the same nature!

    But that happens in Singapore as well, where I have decided to be the first blogger to fend for blogging rights in court of Singapore, under the 'talented' government.

    That is, if the Singapore court actually admits this nosensical case.

    Wish me luck!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Obama loves me, 5 Mar 2009 @ 10:23am

    Cowards, all of you!

    What ever happened to confronting a situation head on, mano a mano! Why has this country turned into cowards that have to throw stones from behind a computer screen? And why does the recourse always have to be a lawsuit? Can anyone not just pick up the phone or,heaven forbid, meet face to face to discuss an issue or complaint!?!?!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Lisa Migliore, 10 Apr 2009 @ 3:46am

    This type of malicious prosecution by bully companies should come with a price. Laws should allow for a repayment of legal expenses. Perhaps that will make companies that would give poor service and expect not to be told on an incentive to stave off when they attempt to throw their financial weight around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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