Tag Archives: Defamation

Watch: Internet Takedowns and Domain Name Disputes for the Generalist In-House Counsel

As all aspects of business inexorably shift toward online, it is not surprising that intellectual property infringement, cybersquatting, and related internet abuses abound. Luckily, there are various procedures available by which aggrieved companies can seek relief short of litigation.

Joshua Jarvis, David Kluft and Anthony Rufo presented a webinar offering guidance for in-house counsel regarding internet takedowns and domain name disputes,… More

Are Your Consumer Contracts Being Invalidated By The Consumer Review Fairness Act?

On March 14, 2017, the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) will officially invalidate a whole bunch of consumer contract clauses that pertain to online reviews.

During the last decade, we started hearing reports about professionals using form contracts to prevent their clients or patients from publishing negative online reviews. Here’s an example of how it worked: You showed up for a dentist appointment and,… More

How To Disparage But Not Defame Your Wedding Planner

It’s March, which means that wedding season is nearly upon us. Let’s say you run your own wedding-related business with one employee: you. A customer gives you a review on the internet that is not only negative, but contains false statements.  Who is harmed by this false review: you, your business or both? And if you want to sue the former customer, what is your cause of action?… More

Defamation Takes A Holiday: Slander And The Salem Witch Trials

witch-hillHypothetical: You go out for a nice stroll one Halloween only to have a neighbor emerge from his house with a pitchfork and accuse you of being a witch in front of the whole village. For the sake of argument, let’s say you are not actually a witch. Can you sue for slander?

For centuries, a civil defamation lawsuit has been available as a remedy —… More

Trademark and Copyright Law Blog Co-Editor David Kluft to Speak on Intellectual Property and Social Media Law

MeDavid Kluft, co-editor of the Trademark and Copyright Law Blog and Intellectual Property partner at Foley Hoag LLP, will be speaking at the 19th Annual New England Intellectual Property Law Conference.  The conference, sponsored by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, will take place beginning at 12:30pm on June 23, 2016 at the MCLE Conference Center, Ten Winter Place in Boston. … More

Are You Sure This Isn’t About Copyright? Chicken Sandwiches, Monkey Selfies and the Boundaries of Copyright Law

CaptureLast week, a wild crested macaque named Naruto (but really People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against photographer David John Slater in the Northern District of California. The suit alleges that Slater infringed Naruto’s copyright in the famous “monkey selfies” (taken by Naruto with Slater’s camera). The complaint requests that the Court order Slater to disgorge any profits he has realized from the distribution of the images and establish a trust,… More

Statute Criminalizing Election Campaign Lies Found to Violate First Amendment and Article 16

CaptureOn August 6, 2015, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in Commonwealth v. Lucas struck down Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 56, § 42 (Section 42), which criminalized the utterance or publication of “any false statement in relation to” a candidate for public office or a ballot question. Violations of the statute were punishable by a thousand dollar fine or up to six months imprisonment.… More

Advertiser Jumps the Gun With Brochure Touting Tests; Fifth Circuit Brushes Off First Amendment Challenge to Lanham Act Claims

1Like claims for defamation or commercial disparagement, Lanham Act claims are viable only if they  involve statements of fact, rather than opinion.  But what happens if an advertising statement concerns an issue that is a matter of scientific debate?  Does that make the statement an opinion, and therefore non-actionable?  The answer, of course, is “it depends” — as illustrated by a recent Fifth Circuit case, and how it distinguished itself from a Second Circuit case with a different outcome.… More

Defamation From Beyond the Grave: Using Your Last Will To Get In The Last Word

CaptureHalloween is a good time to think about how you want to die. Do you want to leave the world peacefully? Or do you want to go down trash talking, making sure that your enemies know exactly what you think about them, and that everyone else knows what terrible people these enemies were?

Take, for example, this 1908 bequest of Garvey White, as recounted by Judge John Marshall Gest of the Philadelphia Orphans Court.… More

What is More Defamatory? A False Accusation of Homophobia or of Homosexuality?

1In July 2014, Judge Barbara Jaffe of the New York Supreme Court dismissed the defamation claims in Kramer v. Skyhorse Publications. Kenny Kramer, the real life inspiration for the beloved eponymous Seinfeld character, had sued comedian Fred Stoller and his publisher because Stoller had written that a guide on the “Kramer Reality Tour” was shouting the catch phrase “not that there’s anything wrong with that” at passersby in Greenwich Village,… More

Catholic Priest Permitted To Conceal Non-Privileged Nature Of Defamatory Communication Until Statute Of Limitations Runs

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In a recent unanimous decision in Harrington v. Costello, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) held that the statute of limitations had run out on a Catholic priest’s defamation claim against his colleague, even though the colleague had allegedly fraudulently concealed the source of the defamatory statement.

Background

The plaintiff, John Harrington, was a priest at St.… More

Nine Thoughts On The Ninth Circuit’s “Innocence of Muslims” Copyright Decision

Innocence 1By now, you’ve probably heard the agonized shrieks of your friendly neighborhood copyright lawyer, decrying the Ninth Circuit’s opinion Garcia v. Google. If you haven’t had the time or inclination to read the opinion, here is a quick synopsis, followed by our list of nine ways in which many find the Ninth Circuit’s February 26, 2014 decision somewhat troubling.

Synopsis

Cindy Lee Garcia agreed to act in a low budget film called “Desert Warrior,” for which she was paid $500.… More

Third Circuit Attempts to Untangle Defamation and False Light Invasion of Privacy

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In Graboff v. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that the defendant’s statement was not defamatory but was a false light invasion of privacy (“false light”). The defendant appealed on the grounds that such a ruling was inconsistent as a matter of law. On February 20, 2014, the Third Circuit finally weighed in on the matter.… More

Commercial Disparagement An Increasing Concern In The Age Of Social Media

tweetsCompanies are turning to social media with increasing frequency to directly communicate with customers and potential customers.  T-Mobile USA is no exception. Not only did the company release an astonishingly snarky press release in January, complete with fake quotations attributed to AT&T, but both T-Mobile and its CEO, John Legere, have recently taken to Twitter to comment on the services of their competitors.  These comments,… More