Enigma Software Countersued For Waging A 'Smear Campaign' Against Site It Claimed Defamed It

from the ctrl-alt-middlefinger dept

Enigma Software -- creator of the SpyHunter suite of malware/adware removal tools -- recently sued BleepingComputer for forum posts by a third-party volunteer moderator that it claimed were defamatory. In addition, it brought Lanham Act trademark infringement claims against the site -- all in response to a couple of posts that portrayed it in a negative light.

The posts pointed out that the company had a history of threatening critics with litigation and had engaged in a variety of deceptive tactics, including triggering false positives to promote its spyware-cleaning products and placing paying customers on a periodic payment plan that ran in perpetuity under the guise of a one-time "removal" payment.

A somewhat bizarre decision by the judge presiding over the case allowed Enigma's questionable complaint to survive BleepingComputer's motion to dismiss. In doing so, the decision also suggested the judge was willing to poke holes in Section 230 protections -- something that's been happening far too frequently in recent months.

This bogus lawsuit should never have gotten this far. Enigma's original defamation claims contained wording found nowhere in the posts it didn't like, and the company had to make several inferences on behalf of the website it was suing to cobble together its complaint. The lack of a decent anti-SLAPP law in New York kept its defamation claims from being ejected on arrival. Faced with having to litigate its way out of this stupid mess, BleepingComputer has gone on the offensive.

The assertions made in its countersuit suggest Enigma Computer has been -- for quite some time -- fighting speech it doesn't like (the forum posts it sued over) with more speech. Unfortunately, if the "more speech" deployed is just shadiness and bogus claims (the same sort of thing it's suing BC for), then "more speech" isn't really a remedy.

Lawrence Abrams of BleepingComputer gives a brief overview of the latest filing at his company's website. (h/t The Register)

Yesterday, BleepingComputer filed its Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaims in response to Enigma Software's Second Amended Complaint. In our filing we stand by our statements that Bleeping Computer has done nothing wrong, that there is no smear campaign against Enigma Software, and that any of the statements posted by the site's volunteer, Quietman7, are either true or purely opinion.

On the other hand, since being sued we have uncovered information that makes us believe that Enigma Software or their agents have been allegedly performing a long term campaign of attacks against BleepingComputer.com.

Our counterclaim includes examples of the following:

  • Defamation of Bleeping Computer.
  • Using our trademark "Bleeping Computer" without our permission.
  • Creating web sites and web pages that use the trademark "Bleeping Computer" to associate the site with malware and other unwanted programs.
  • Registering at least one domain with our trademark "Bleeping Computer".
  • Copying text from BleepingComputer.com and hiding it in non-viewable HTML on their sites for search engine optimization purposes.
  • Actively stating that the BleepingComputer.com security utilities called Rkill and Unhide are viruses.

Furthermore, in all of the above examples, the sites are or have been promoting Enigma's SpyHunter product.

The filing [PDF] fills in the details. Enigma (or its agent) has been creating websites that funnel users to its SpyHunter product while simultaneously suggesting BleepingComputer and its tools are malware.

One site is called Adware Bleeping Computer Removal, which hints that "Bleeping Computer" is something that is unwanted and in need of removal. Sure enough, the site offers instructions on how to remove adware while providing a handy link to download SpyHunter. Another Enigma software-pushing site uses the URL bleepingcomputerregistryfix.com.

Others are hidden behind URLs a bit more innocuous. Enginemachinesupplyshop.com contains pages that claim two tools BleepingComputer has created -- RKill and Unhide -- are "malware/viruses" that "infect" users' computers and should be removed. Naturally, the site recommends SpyHunter. It also includes statements that seem far more defamatory than any of the allegations Enigma is suing BleepingComputer for.

rkill.com is a dangerous computer virus which can destroy the infected computer and record your personal information. If you’re not careful when you visit websites or use online resources, your computer is vulnerable to virus attacks. It has the ability to slow down the computer performance seriously. The computer user’s personal information may be got by the virus makers through the virus, such as credit card or bank account details and social contacts’ information. Therefore, the best way to cancel the malicious behaviors of rkill.com is to get rid of it as soon as possible.

This is what RKill actually does.

RKill is a program that was developed at BleepingComputer.com that attempts to terminate known malware processes so that your normal security software can then run and clean your computer of infections. When RKill runs it will kill malware processes and then removes incorrect executable associations and fixes policies that stop us from using certain tools. When finished it will display a log file that shows the processes that were terminated while the program was running.

BleepingComputer provides this utility free of charge to users.

The entire filing is worth reading to see just how much Enigma has allegedly done in an attempt to do damage to BleepingComputer's reputation. From what's shown here, it looks as though Enigma's history as a shady, litigious pusher of dubiously-effective software isn't exactly history. It's still very much a part of its reputation management scheme -- one that does nothing to elevate Enigma's esteem and everything to drag critics in the same business down to its level.

Filed Under: cda 230, free speech, reviews, slapp, smear campaign, spyhunter
Companies: bleeping computer, enigma software


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Aug 2016 @ 1:53pm

    Oops

    On the other hand, since being sued we have uncovered information that makes us believe that Enigma Software or their agents have been allegedly performing a long term campaign of attacks against BleepingComputer.com.

    Our counterclaim includes examples of the following:

    [Several seriously skeevy actions]

    Furthermore, in all of the above examples, the sites are or have been promoting Enigma's SpyHunter product.


    So to sum up, in an attempt to hide their shady practices and underhanded actions when it comes to those that say 'mean things' about them, they sued someone who in turn went on the offensive to show just how dodgy they actually are.

    Streisand effect to the rescue!

    I can only assume that at this point they'll either double-down on their foolishness, or scramble about in an attempt to either settle the lawsuit or drop it as fast as possible in an attempt to stop BleepingComputer from digging up even more dirty laundry to air.

    Given their actions so far, I'm guessing they'll double-down, because that hole's not going to dig itself now is it?

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 17 Aug 2016 @ 1:57pm

    Why do they keep digging themselves deeper?

    It's an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a big bleeping mess.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Aug 2016 @ 3:58pm

    respect for BleepingComputer; most sites are VERY easily intimidated

    Any site like BleepingComputer earns a great deal of respect for not automatically folding when threatened by a lawsuit. It seems that the vast, VAST majority of websites will automatically delete negative user comments about a company or product without a second thought. And it makes no difference if they know the [allegedly defamatory] comments are 100% true and provable, and even if the threats are coming from a company with a reputation for bluffing, extremely few site owners want to risk even a remote chance of being taken to court.

    It's a sad situation, but SLAPP bullying of websites is extremely effective, resulting in widespread censorship of anything a scammy company doesn't want people to read.

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

    • icon
      Steve Zissou (profile), 17 Aug 2016 @ 10:32pm

      Re: respect for BleepingComputer; most sites are VERY easily intimidated

      Well... an itty bitty website like mine who would be instantly bankrupt from simply getting a lawyer let alone getting them into the court room to defend user's speech.

      It bothers me greatly. The silencing of people's speech is wildly inappropriate... how do you combat that without resources though? I don't know.

      What's really depressing... is when people have resources but choose to steamroll over their users regardless (which i think was your point).

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

  • identicon
    Matti-han, 17 Aug 2016 @ 4:43pm

    Litigious assholes take note: Suing an entity in a state without an anti-SLAPP law does not work well when they can counter sue for the same type of injuries and have a much stronger case than you.

    Of course, it would be better to not be an asshole at all but you have to take baby steps with this level of stupidity...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Aug 2016 @ 6:00am

      Re:

      "Of course, it would be better to not be an asshole at all "

      These types of people do not understand what you are talking about. They see themselves as some sort of savior warrior cleansing that land.

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

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 18 Aug 2016 @ 10:40am

        Re: Re:

        Everyone sees themselves that way. If they didn't, they'd be clinically insane. That's how the human mind works.

        Everyone is the hero of their own personal narrative. Everything that they do is always justified (or at least justifiable) and someone has to make the 'hard choices' in life.

        It's why certain justification buzz words like 'hard choices' should ring alarm bells in the listener's mind.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Aug 2016 @ 11:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Self reflection does not exist?
          Bunch of narcissistic people in denial?

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 18 Aug 2016 @ 2:53pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I dunno. I know a couple of assholes who are completely aware that they're assholes. They take pride in it, even. But if they're "insane", then "sane" has no meaning. They're not crazy, they're just assholes.

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

  • identicon
    Benjamin Butler, 12 Sep 2016 @ 10:56am

    Enigma Software

    Enigma Software totally riped off the Lucas Arts Logo guy. Someone needs to notify Disney and let them file suit. That will end them. Don't mess with Disney, they are the devils of copyright law.

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


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