Most of the companies who market the products that we review on this web site recognize that our comments fall well within the realms of both “Fair Use” and “Fair Comment.” As such, they may not be happy about what we have to say, but they recognize that we’re well within our rights to say it.
Of course, there’s always exceptions to this rule.
In our 11 year history, we’ve received more than our share of “cease and desist” letters. In these, manufacturers/retailers accuse of us of various copyright and trademark violations, threatening us with ominous legal consequences and prohibitive court costs if we do not remove the “offending” review (incidentally, they never contest the content of our reviews).
This is a simple bullying tactic. If these companies have actually consulted with lawyers, they know full well such a threat is without merit. For instance, just recently, for example, a court threw out Wal-Mart’s attempt to stifle criticism through trademark law.
Additionally, any lawsuit brought agains UltimateFatBurner.com would meet the legal definition of a SLAPP suit:
“…a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”
As the judge in this case so elegantly put it:
“[t]rademark rights do not entitle the owner to quash an unauthorized use of the mark by another who is communicating ideas or expressing points of view.” L.L. Bean, Inc. v. Drake Publishers, Inc., 811 F.2d 26, 29 (1st Cir. 1987).
Making threats of legal action when you know you do not have an actionable case are acts of intimidation and even harassment, and they do not bode well upon the company making it. Do you want to spend your money on products from a company that goes out of its way to squash legitimate criticisms?
That said, our latest “cease and desist” letters have come from the following companies (our policy is to post all “cease and desist” letters live on our web site, plus spread the word of scummy behaviour through our blog, Twitter list, FaceBook page and so on).
Soula Ltd., Makers of Proactol
Product reviewed: Proactol
Legal threats:Yes. Alleged violation of copyright and trademark.
Specifics: Read the “cease and desist” letter and the follow up correspondence between myself and Darren Beale, Business Development Manager for Soula Ltd, click here!
WeighLossGuide.com, Makers Of Melt-Rx
Product reviewed: Melt-Rx
Legal threats: Yes. Alleged violation of trademark.
Specifics: Read the “cease and desist” letter as well as my response to “Dr. N. Gornakova” from WeightLossGuide.com, click here!
Synetgy LLC, DBA, Makers Of Phenocal
Product reviewed: Phenocal
Legal threats: Yes. Alleged violation of trademark, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Specifics: Read the “cease and desist” letter as well as my comments here, click here!