Third-Party Content

I Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills: EU’s Latest ACTA Proposal Outlaws the Internet

Sometimes a story is so insane that you can’t help but wonder if someone has slipped you some crazy pills.  See, for example, the Google prosecution in Italy.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Subject Area: 

France v. Weiler

Date: 

09/28/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joseph Weiler

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

International

Court Name: 

Paris Criminal Tribunal

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In September 2008, New York University law professor Joseph Weiler was summoned to appear before a French Examining Judge in connection with a complaint of alleged criminal libel made by Dr. Karin Calvo-Goller, a senior lecturer at the Academic Centre of Law and Business in Israel.  Professor Weiler will appear for trial before the Paris Criminal Tribunal in June 2010.

Professor Weiler is the editor in chief of the European Journal of International Law and the affiliated book review sites, Global Law Books and European Law Books. In 2007, Global Law Books published a book review written by Professor Thomas Weigend, Director of the Cologne Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cologne.  Professor Weigend reviewed Dr. Calvo-Goller's book, The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. ICTY and ICTR Precedents, and criticized it as an "exercise in rehashing the existing legal set-up" and "unproductive," among other things. 

In June 2007, Dr. Calvo-Goller wrote to Professor Weiler in his capacity as editor of Global Law Books, requesting that he remove Professor Weigend's review from the site. Her letter detailed several perceived factual inaccuracies in the review, claiming that it went "beyond the expression of an opinion, fair comment and criticism" and contained "false factual statements which the author of the review, a professor of criminal law, could not reasonably believe to be true." It also claimed that "[t]he review is an indirect insult to former ICTY and actual ICC officials, defense counsel of the ICTY and ICTR, who took the time to read and comment on previous drafts of the book."

In a response to Dr. Calvo-Goller, Professor Weiler declined to remove the review, expressing his sympathy for Dr. Calvo-Goller's hurt feelings, but also pointing out the unorthodox character of the request:

 I have seen all manner of reviews and from time to time received letters from unhappy authors. In these long years of experience I have never received a letter such as yours both in content and tone. It departs from what in my view are considered common conventions of academic discourse and academic publication.

. . . 

It is a very extreme request to ask for a critical review to be removed. I could imagine acceding to such a request only in most egregious circumstances of, say, bad faith, conflict of interest etc. In reviewing a complaint such as yours the task of the editor is not to engage in a de novo review, but to assess whether the review falls into one of those extreme categories of egregious unreasonableness.

After noting Professor Weigend's distinguished professional credentials and addressing each specific factual/substantive contention in turn, Professor Weiler concluded that removing the review was not justified:

My conclusion from this preliminary enquiry is that the heavy burden needed in my eyes to suppress a book review has not been met. In fact not even a prima facie case has been made. I found nothing to impugn the integrity or professionalism of the reviewer and, independently of whether or not I share his opinions or conclusions on your book, I must decline your request to suppress the book review by removing it from the site. 

Professor Weiler also explained that he would forward Dr. Calvo-Goller's comments to Professor Weigend and would consider a request by Professor Weigend, if any, to change the review. Professor Weiler also pointed out the comment feature on the website and suggested that it would be "perfectly in order for you to write a comment which, after editorial approval, could be posted on the website and seen by anyone who reads the review."

Professor Weigend declined to make any changes, Dr. Calvo-Goller posted no comment, and Professor Weiler stood by Professor Weigend's decision.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

George Logan v. Fred Ross

Date: 

01/07/2010

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Fred Ross; Does I-XX

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of California, County of Merced

Case Number: 

CV000745

Publication Medium: 

Print
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In January 2010, George Logan, City Attorney for Patterson, California, filed a lawsuit against John Doe defendants individually and collectively referring to themselves as "Fred Ross" over statements appearing on the Patterson IrriTator website and in comments posted to the Patterson Irrigator's website. According to the complaint, filed in California state court, the statements in question asserted that Logan was "in the pocket of developers" and a "joke."  The complaint includes claims for libel and conspiracy to libel.

A post on the Patterson IrriTator recommends that readers refrain from posting comments on the website "if you are concerned about your identity being revealed."

Update: 

03/10/2010-Fred Ross filed a motion to strike the complaint under California's anti-SLAPP law.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital, Inc. v. Yelp! Inc.

Date: 

02/23/2010

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Yelp! Inc.

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Central District of California

Case Number: 

2:10-cv-01340

Legal Counsel: 

Matthew Dean Brown, Benjamin H Kleine, Michael G Rhodes - Cooley Godward Kronish LLP

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital, Inc., a veterinary practice in Long Beach, California, brought a class action lawsuit against Yelp! Inc. in California federal court, alleging violations of California unfair competition law.

The complaint, filed on February 23, 2010, claims that Yelp! promises to manipulate user reviews in exchange for the purchase of advertising on the popular and influential consumer-review site.  In particular, the complaint alleges that Yelp! advertising employees systematically call business owners that are the subject of negative reviews and promise to remove or relocate negative reviews in exchange for monthly advertising deals.  It further alleges that members of the class were "threatened, implicitly or expressly, that if they did not purchase advertising from Yelp, their Yelp.com pages would be detrimentally manipulated, including for example, by removing positive reviews and posting new, negative reviews." The complaint relies heavily on press accounts detailing complaints from other businesses about the alleged extortionate behavior. 

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman responded with a two-part blog post (part 1, part 2) vigorously disputing the allegations, saying that the plaintiff's claims are "false" and "ignore empirical evidence in favor of conspiracy theories."  In part 2 of the blog post, Stoppelman stated that "we have never and will never extort businesses; the accusation is beyond ludicrous," and offered an explanation of why some business owners might get the wrong impression:

Why might some business owners think Yelp is shady? Here's the anatomy of a typical Yelp conspiracy theory:
Step 1. Business owner gets a sales call from Yelp that explains an advertising product which seems nuanced; hears stuff like "Favorite review at top" and "Enhance your presence". Business owner eventually decides, "Thanks, but no thanks on the ads, Yelp."

Step 2. Business owner newly-exposed to Yelp decides it’s interesting and aggressively solicits all their family and friends to write reviews.

Step 3. We've already cautioned against this practice and this is why: a few days later, our automated filter suppresses the suspicious-looking reviews.

Step 4. Business assumes algorithmic process in Step 3 is actually a Yelp employee manually punishing the business for declining to advertise in Step 1.

Optional Step 5. Now-angry business finds the Orly Taitz of internet lawyers who may or may not have read about our recent funding round.
Yelp was served with process on March 2, 2010. 

 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Will Italy's Conviction of Google Execs Stick?

I've no doubt that CMLP blog readers, fellow netizens that you are, are well aware of an Italian court's conviction last week of three Google executives for invasion of privacy of an Italian teenager. 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Philly, Don't Blame Facebook for Missing the Snowball Fight Invite

I understand you're upset, Philadelphia.  Plans for a "flash mob" snowball fight last week got out of control.  Scores of teenagers stormed a local mall and nearby streets

Subject Area: 

Shiamili v. The Real Estate Group of New York

Date: 

03/18/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

The Real Estate Group of New York, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County; Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department

Case Number: 

600460/2008 (trial)

Legal Counsel: 

Andrew I. Mandelbaum - Ford Marrin Esposito Witmeyer & Gleser, L.L.P.

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

In March 2008, a New York real estate broker filed a defamation lawsuit against The Real Estate Group of New York, Inc. over comments appearing on its website's message board.

The Supreme Court of New York, New York County, denied the real estate group's motion to dismiss based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“Section 230”). On appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed. The court held that Section 230 barred the claim. The court explained that the complaint "makes no allegation that defendants authored any defamatory statements" and "merely alleges that defendants 'choose and administer content' that appears on the Web site," adding that "[t]his is precisely the kind of function that the CDA immunizes."

Update:

06/14/2011 - In a 4-3 decision, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the Appellate Division's ruling that Section 230 does indeed bar Shiamili's claim. The Court decided that the defendants' reposting and adding an image to the anonymous comment on their website did not constitute "developing" the allegedly defamatory content. The dissent argued that part of Section 230's purpose was to encourage website owners to voluntarily filter offensive content; reposting and highlighting offensive comments, then, should be outside Section 230's protections.

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Sarnoff v. Falco

Date: 

02/01/2010

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Tom Falco

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed

Description: 

On February 1, 2010, counsel for  Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff sent a demand letter to blogger Tom Falco, who publishes the Coconut Grove Grapevine.  The letter claimed that an anonymous comment to the site was false and defamatory. The comment in question was left below a blog post about a Commission hearing on bar closing times.

According to an attachment to the demand letter, the commenter pretended to leave a comment in Sarnoff's name expressing "support" for "drinking and driving after 3am even if it claims the lives of others," and signed "XOXO Marc Sarnoff." The comment appears to have been removed.

Sarnoff's demand letter stated that Falco had "a duty as the owner, editor, and publisher of the website, to police what is being posted on your website." It continued: "As such, since the post is the direct and proximate cause of injury to Commissioner Sarnoff, it is actionable against you and your website."  The letter made no mention of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

USA Technologies v. Yahoo!

Date: 

09/24/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Yahoo! Inc.

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Case Number: 

09-3899 (Pennsylvania); 3:09-mc-80275-SI (California)

Legal Counsel: 

Matthew Zimmerman - EFF; David M. Given, Nicholas A. Carlin - Phillips & Erlewine & Given LLP; (for John Doe "Stokklerk")

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

In August 2009, USA Technologies, Inc. sued two "John Doe" defendants in Pennsylvania federal court over critical comments posted on the Yahoo! Finance message board dedicated to the company. According to EFF, the pseudonymous commenters

criticized what they claim is the consistently poor performance of USA Technologies' management. The criticism highlighted plummeting stock prices of the company as well as the high compensation rates for management of the company that has been consistently unprofitable.

Seeking the identity of the posters, USA Technologies obtained court permission to serve a subpoena on Yahoo! in California.  With the assistance of EFF, one of the commenters, John Doe "Stokklerk," filed a motion to quash the subpoena. 

In December 2009, after a hearing, the federal court in California granted the motion to quash the subpoena. Under Cal. Civ. Proc. § 1987.2, USA Technologies may be required to pay John Doe's attorneys' fees incurred in bringing the motion to quash, but there is no court order on attorneys' fees yet. 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

HF Reviewing 11/2

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Just Say No to the Sewer: Section 230 No Obstacle to Editing Comments

If you're a fan of high-tech gadgets or Internet drama, you might have noticed the brouhaha brewing at Engadget this week. Long known for its comment sections ranking just above the YouTube level on the scale of man's inhumanity to man, the site prompted a new wave of bile last week with its coverage of Apple's iPad announcement.

Subject Area: 

Stone v. Hipcheck16

Date: 

04/01/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Paddock Publications, Inc., d/b/a The Daily Herald; Hipcheck16

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois

Case Number: 

2009L005636

Legal Counsel: 

Michael Furlong (for Hipcheck16)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

In November 2009, an Illinois Circuit Court judge ruled that Buffalo Grove Village Trustee Lisa Stone was entitled to pre-suit discovery of the identity of "Hipcheck16," an anonymous commenter who allegedly defamed her son in the comments section of a Daily Herald article.  The comments in question arose in the course of a heated political debate between Hipcheck16 and Ms. Stone's son:

The comments at the heart of the case came at the end of a series of posts between Hipcheck16 and Stone's son, who was concerned about online remarks the teen regarded as critical of his mother.

At one point, the teen asked to know the poster's identity and challenged him to debate the issues in person.

Declining an invitation to pay a visit, Hipcheck16 posted a response that said, according to court documents, "Seems like you're very willing to invite a man you only know from the Internet over to your house -- have you done it before, or do they usually invite you to their house?"

The post then continues with references to the boy's "mommy," saying that statements made by her son may cause her political problems after her election, according to court records. (Chicago Breaking News)

According to Chicago Breaking News, the newspaper turned over Hipcheck16's IP address, and Stone sought his identity from Comcast.  Although the record is not entirely clear, it looks like counsel for Hipcheck16 then intervened and sought a protective order, which the court denied in November 2009, though the court ruled that only Stone and a process server—should she file eventually file a lawsuit—could learn of Hipcheck16's identity.  

Later in November, the court granted a stay of the order for a month, to give Michael Furlong, Hipcheck16's lawyer, time to appeal.  Furlong told Chicago Breaking News that he intended to appeal.

Update:

03/15/2010 - EFF and The Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Hipcheck16's appeal.

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Vision Media TV Group v. Forte

Date: 

03/09/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Julia Forte; Julia Forte d/b/a www.800Notes.com Advent LLC

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Case Number: 

9:09-cv-80396

Legal Counsel: 

Paul Alan Levy, Deepak Gupta - Public Citizen Litigation Group; Judith M. Mercier - Holland & Knight, LLP

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In February 2009, Vision Media TV, a company that makes video segments that advertise nonprofit companies, sued Julia Forte, who runs the website 800Notes, a forum site on which members of the public can discuss telemarketing companies and practices. Vision Media filed suit in federal district court in Florida after Forte refused to identify users who posted critical comments about the company and to remove the postings. The complaint, which has been amended several times, currently includes claims for libel, trademark dilution under Florida law, and "defamation by implication."

In January 2010, Forte moved to dismiss the complaint, or alternatively for summary judgment.  She argued, among other things, that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her, and that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunized her for publishing the statements of her users.  In an unusual move, Vision Media TV moved to strike Forte's motion to dismiss because her counsel posted the motion papers on the Public Citizen Litigation Group website. 

Update:

1/27/10 - Forte filed an Opposition to Motion to Strike and for Gag Order.

2/04/10 - The Court denied the Motion to Strike. 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

2/19/10 -AVM added motion to strike denial

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

What’s in the Box?! Piercing the Pointless Secrecy of ACTA

I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you. – Tom Cruise, Top Gun

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Rakofsky v. South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Date: 

12/17/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Sun-Sentinel Company; Tribune Interactive, Inc.; Tribune Company of Chicago

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization
Media Company

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida

Case Number: 

0967800

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Pembroke Pines Police Officer Daniel Rakofsky filed a "Complaint for Pure Bill of Discovery" against the publishers of the South Florid Sun-Sentinel newspaper, seeking the identities of several pseudonymous commenters to a Sun-Sentinel article about him. 

On November 5, 2009, the Sun-Sentinel published an article about Officer Rakofsky under the headline "Officer accused of sending nude photos of ex-lover."  (The article is no longer available on the Sun-Sentinel site, but is available on its mobile news platform and WPTV.com.)  According to Rakofsky's complaint, the comments section associated with the article contained unspecified, allegedly defamatory statements about him posted by pseudonymous users of the website.  

The "pure bill of discovery" used by Rakofsky is a procedural mechanism recognized in Florida, through which the plaintiff can obtain factual information from a defendant (here, the newspaper) in anticipation of filing another lawsuit against an ultimate wrongdoer (here, the commenters).  It is similar to the petition for "pre-action discovery" involved in the Liskula Cohen case in New York.

It is not clear whether the Sun-Sentinel has formally responded as of the date of writing.

Update:

2/24/2010 - The Sun-Sentinel moves to dismiss.

4/16/2010 - Rakofsky opposes the paper's motion.

4/26/2010 - The court denies the Sun-Sentinel's motion to dismiss.

5/18/2010 - The Sun-Sentinel files an answer to the complaint.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Sedersten v. The Springfield News-Leader

Date: 

09/02/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Gannett Missouri Publishing, Inc. d/b/a The Springfield News-Leader

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Large Organization
Media Company

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Case Number: 

09-3031-CV-S-GAF

Legal Counsel: 

Jason C. Smith, Bryan O. Wade - Husch Blackwell Sanders, LLP-Spfd

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

John Sedersten subpoenaed The Springfield News-Leader to obtain information about "bornandraisedhere," a pseudonymous commenter who posted a comment to an article on the News-Leader's website.  The subpoena issued in conjunction with Sedersten's civil lawsuit against the City of Springfield, Missouri, Springfield's police chief, and a former Springfield police officer.  The News-Leader article discussed county prosecutors' decision to drop charges against the police officer, a decision that "bornandraisedhere" sharply criticized in his/her comment.

Gannett Missouri Publishing, the publisher of the News-Leader, objected to the subpoena, and Sedersten moved to compel the newspaper to turn over information.  In December 2009, the court denied Sedersten's motion to compel, ruling that bornandraisedhere's identity was not central to establishing Sedersten's negligence case against the City and its police chief.  The court also recognized that the commenter was entitled to First Amendment protection and had not waived that protection by agreeing to the News-Leader's privacy policy, which reserves to the newspaper "the right to use, and to disclose to third parties, all of the information collected from and about [users] while [using] the Site in any way and for any purpose."

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Florida v. RateMyCop.com

Date: 

05/01/2008

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

RateMyCop.com

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

The Tallahassee Police Department subpoenaed records from RateMyCop.com after an anonymous user posted the name, address, and telephone number of a Tallahassee police officer on the site, according to Wired. When the authorities obtained identifying information for the poster, they arrested and charged Robert Brayshaw with a violation of Fla. Stat. § 843.17. Section 843.17 prohibits publication of a law enforcement officer's residential address or telephone number with the intent to intimidate, hinder, or interrupt any law enforcement officer in the legal performance of his or her duties.

A state court judge ultimately dismissed the charges against Brayshaw with prejudice for failure to comply with Florida's speedy trial requirements. Brayshaw then filed a complaint in federal court in Florida, seeking a declaration that Section 843.17 violates the First Amendment. 

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

EK - editing [10/23/2009] (also related entry State of Florida v. Brayshaw: http://www.citmedialaw.org/threats/state-florida-v-brayshaw)

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jenzabar, Inc. v. Long Bow Group, Inc.

Date: 

05/14/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Long Bow Group, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk County

Case Number: 

No. 07-2075-H

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$0.00

Legal Counsel: 

Paul Alan Levy, Michael Kirkpatrick - Public Citizen Litigation Group; T. Christopher Donnelly, Adam B. Ziegler - Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar, LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

In 2007, Jenzabar, a company that makes software systems for colleges and universities, sued Long Bow Group, the maker of a documentary film about the 1989 student protests at Tiananmen Square called The Gate of Heavenly Peace. The complaint included claims for trade libel, defamation, and various trademark violations. 

Long Bow publishes the TSquare website, which features information and commentary about the events and people depicted in the film. Among other things, it includes articles and background information about Chai Ling, the founder of Jenzabar who was a student leader during the Tiananmen protests and who was portrayed critically in the film.

According to court documents, Chai Ling, Jenzabar, and another Jenzabar executive, Robert A. Maginn, Jr., claimed that Long Bow defamed them on the TSquare website by publishing an "excerpt from an August 2003 Boston Globe column stating that 'fiveformer executives have sued Jenzabar, including the former CEO, whoaccused Chai and Maginn of "a number of unethical, inappropriate,and/or illegal actions."'"  Slip op., at 2-3. The former CEO referenced in the Globe article eventually retracted his allegations anddismissed his lawsuit.

The plaintiffs also claimed that Long Bow violated federal and state trademark laws by using their trademarks—JENZABAR, JENZABAR.COM, JENZABAR.NET, LING CHAI AND CHAI LING—as metatags for those pages discussing Chai Ling and Jenzabar.

In response to Long Bow's motion to dismiss the complaint, in August 2008 the court dismissed the defamation and trade libel claims, ruling that Long Bow had no continuing duty to investigate the accuracy of the Boston Globe article posted on its site.  The court denied the motion to dismiss the trademark claims, but expressed doubt as to their viability:

Although Jenzabar seems unlikely to prevail on this claim because of the dissimilarity of Long Bow's business, Jenzabar has adequately pled the likelihood of confusion element, which is all that is required to survive a motion to dismiss. 

Slip op., at 7.

Long Bow filed a motion for summary judgment in October 2009, arguing that use Jenzabar's trademarks in its metatags does not create a likelihood of consumer confusion, and that the First Amendment protects its use of the metatags because they are directed to Long Bow's truthful and noncommercial speech about Jenzabar and Chai Ling.

In November 2009, Jenzabar filed a motion to disqualify Public Citizen Litigation Group as Long Bow's counsel based on two blog posts Public Citizen lawyers published about the case—Jenzabar Joins Trademark Abusers Hall of Shame (CL&P Blog) and Faulty trademark case pits Tiananmen Square protest leader against filmmaker (Citizen Vox).  Jenzabar argued that the posts will "create controversy" and "cause prejudice to Jenzabar," and that anylawyer who engages in such blogging is in violation of Massachusettscourt rules. Paul Levy of Public Citizen publicly responded to these claims on the CL&P Blog, characterizing the motion as a further attempt to suppress speech.

Update:

12/7/10 -  Superior Court Judge Cratsley granted defendant's motion for summary judgment on the ground that there was no evidence supporting the claim that any reasonable Internet user might be confused about whether Jenzabar was the sponsor of Long Bow's web site.

9/6/11 - Jenzabar appealed the grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment.

10/17/11 - Jenzabar filed its opening brief with the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

12/22/11 - The Boston Patent Law Association filed an amicus brief urging the Appeals Court to recognize "initial interest confusion" as a valid doctrine under trademark law.

1/18/12 - Appellee Long Bow filed its brief with the court. The Digital Media Law Project filed an amicus brief urging the court to reject application of trademark law to critical, communicative uses of trademarks. 

3/2/12 - Appellant Jenzabar filed a reply brief with the court, addressing the claims from Appellee Long Bow and the Digital Media Law Project.

10/18/12 - The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Long Bow, holding that: (1) Jenzabar's infringement claim failed because it did not present sufficient evidence to support a finding of likelihood of confusion; (2) allegations that Jenzabar's trademark was used for the purposes of critical commentary could not support a dilution claim; and (3) the fact that Long Bow's website did not possess a tendency to deceive consumers was fatal to its Massachusetts statutory claim for unfair and deceptive trade practices.

11/2/12 - Jenzabar filed an Application for Further Appellate Review with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. 

11/19/12 - Long Bow filed an opposition to Jenzabar's application.

12/19/12 - The Supreme Judicial Court denied the application for further appellate review.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Edited 1/24 to include updated brief - AFS

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Beverly Stayart v. Yahoo!, Inc. et al

Date: 

02/05/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Yahoo!, Inc.; Overture Services, Inc. d/b/a Alta Vista; Various, Inc. d/b/a Friendfinder.com

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization
Large Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin

Case Number: 

2:09-cv-0116

Legal Counsel: 

Christian S. Genetski, David Tonisson - Sonnenshein Nath & Rosenthal LLP (for Yahoo!, Inc. and Overture Services, Inc.); John F. Hovel, Stephen E. Kravit, Melissa S. Blair - Kravit, Hovel & Krawczyk S.C. (for Various, Inc.)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

In February 2009, Beverly Stayart filed a lawsuit against Yahoo! and two other internet services, Altavista and AdultFriendFinder, for unauthorized use of her name on the Internet. She claimed false designation of origin and false endorsement under the Lanham Act, as well as violation of her statutory and common law rights to privacy.

The dispute originated when Ms. Stayart inputted her name as a search term at yahoo.com and altavista.com and was bombarded with spam sites purporting to sell Cialis (and other drugs to treat erectile dysfunction) or containing explicit banner ads for adultfriendfinder.com.  These sites contained her name either in their “spamdexing” text or their nonsensical URLs (e.g. jewellery-makin-doorway.orge.pl/bev-stayart.html).

Ms. Stayart tried to rectify the situation by notifying the search engines of the misleading results and requested that they be removed. When they failed to take any action, Ms. Stayard filed suit. 

In September 2009, the federal district court in Wisconsin dismissed the case.  The court held that Stayart failed to state a claim under the Lanham Act, and alternatively that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act barred her claim, although it is nominally an intellectual property claim outside Section 230's scope. After dismissing the federal claims, the court declined supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.

Stayart filed a notice of appeal on September 24, 2009.

Update:

11/25/2009: Stayart filed her appellate brief, arguing that she did have standing under the Lanham Act  because of her work for charity; alternatively, she argued that she should be able to amend her complaint to pursue state law claims under federal diversity jurisdiction.

2/10/2010: Appellees filed their brief, arguing that Stayart had shown no intention of using her name for commercial activity and even if she did, Section 230 would bar her claims.

2/19/2010: Stayart filed her reply brief.

9/30/2010: The Seventh Circuit affirmed the trial court, holding that Stayart does not have a commercial interest in her name, despite her charitable activities. Therefore, the Court held she that does not have standing under the Lanham Act. It also held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied her leave to amend her complaint, because it found that allowing her to pursue her state law claims under diversity jurisdiction would be "futile."

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Stylianou Oct/09

Brittany is updating this one -- 07/2011, BGS

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Straub v. Hair Transplant Network

Date: 

07/24/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

ABC and XYZ Corporations, HairTransplantNetwork.com, Hennessey Patrick, John Doe 1-5, Mary Roe 1-5, Media Visions Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of California, Los Angeles County

Case Number: 

BC395051

Publication Medium: 

Forum
Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

Dr. Paul Straub filed a defamation lawsuit against Media Visions Inc., the company behind HairTransplantNetwork.com, on the grounds that he was removed from the website's recommended doctors list and that critical comments were posted on the website's forum.

HairTransplantNetwork.com operates two affiliate websites, RegrowHair.com, which serves as its Q&A Blog, and Hair-Restoration-Info.com, which serves as a forum for patients to discuss their experiences. HairTransplantNetwork.com suspended its recommendation of Dr. Straub in the summer of 2007. Dr. Straub requested that his recommendation be reinstated and that any critical forum posts be deleted.

When HairTransplantNetwork refused to take down the forum posts and to reinstate his recommendation, Dr. Straub filed a lawsuit. Dr. Straub voluntarily dismissed the case eight months later, in April 2009.

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Stylianou Oct/09

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Pages