Monday, October 24, 2016

Pay Close Attention to the Statute of Limitations in Defamation Cases

As business defamation lawyers, we are used to facing challenges as Plaintiffs.  One of the main challenges is the short statute of limitations for most defamation matters.  In this video, the Raines Feldman cyber liability team discusses statute of limitations issues for business defamation litigation.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Companies Can Fight Back Against Anonymous Internet Defamation by Employees

American companies are under attack in the form of anonymous defamatory reviews hosted on a myriad of employer review websites. is perhaps the most infamous.  As a business defamation lawyer, it is my job to combat the very unfair playing field.  The way it stands now, sites like Glassdoor hold themselves out as sources of accurate, factual information regarding various companies.  Furthermore, these sites represent that all reviews are only from former or current employees.

In fact, these websites do absolutely nothing to verify whether or not the anonymous reviewers ever worked at the companies being reviewed.  Quite naturally, these sites are often used by business competitors to trash each other anonymously.  Additionally, often one employee posts multiple defamatory reviews giving the impression that numerous employees have had poor employment experiences.  The harm to companies extends not just to recruiting and hiring of talent but the reputation of the company among its customers.  That is because the search engine rankings for such sites is typically quite powerful.

Employer review sites have made defamation a profitable business.  Glassdoor just received $50 million dollars worth of venture capital funding.  When companies such as Glassdoor are sued, they often refuse to provide identifying information regarding the defendants - often defying court orders. In some circumstances, review sites will even hire lawyers to defend the anonymous posters in an effort to protect their identity.  Defamation certainly pays but businesses and corporate executives pay the price with permanently damaged reputations.  

In this week's video, we present another way for businesses to attack online defamation.  The idea is to add a cause of action not just for defamation but breach of contract as well.  The way to do this, as we discuss, is to require employees to execute non-disparagement agreements in employment contracts in addition to employee handbooks.  A breach of contract claim has a four year statute of limitations as opposed to one in California.  Additionally, non-disparagement covers speech much more broadly than defamation.  Defamation is susceptible to defenses such as opinion, hyperbole and truth while non-disparagement is not.  Enjoy the video.

Monday, June 13, 2016

CDA Section 230 Takes a Big Hit in California

Business defamation lawyers need to take note of the Hassell v. Bird decision in California.  This published case signals a shift in California jurisprudence which has typically favored review sites like Yelp, Glassdoor and Ripoff Report.  As discussed in the video, Bird defamed Hassell in three anonymous Yelp reviews.  Hassell sued and obtained a default judgment including an injunction requiring Bird and/or Yelp to remove the defamatory postings.  Yelp refused on the grounds that its due process rights were violated since it was not a party to the litigation.  Additionally, Yelp refused on the grounds that section 230 of the CDA provided total immunity from liability and, as such, Yelp need not comply with the Court's order.

Yelp's arguments were not convincing to the Court.  Under California law a non-party may be compelled to comply with an injunction.  Under the CDA, state laws not inconsistent with the federal statute are unaffected.  The Court reasoned that non-party compliance with an injunction is not the same as a finding of liability for purposes of the CDA.  Thus, in California, non-party websites like Glassdoor, Yelp and the like may be compelled to remove material determined to be defamatory.

Businesses and executives have a new tool in California for eradicating defamatory material even when the website itself, like Ripoffreport, refuses to remove such content.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Obtaining Jurisdiction Over Chinese Intellectual Property Infringers

The Raines Feldman cyber liability team recently discussed the challenges associated with suing Chinese companies that infringe American or European intellectual property.  The scenario is quite common, and, as Los Angeles intellectual property litigators, we deal with this often.  In recent cases, we have specifically handled infringement cases occurring in the digital media space. Specifically, we have sued Chinese mobile gaming companies that have stolen our clients' source code and repackaged it as a competing mobile game.  These mobile games are often distributed through either Google or Apple.  Revenue is generated with associated advertising companies like Google's Admob. In other words, to obtain jurisdiction over Chinese infringers, follow the distribution and follow the money.  Both often lead to California.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

J-M Manufacturing v. Phillips and Cohen

This week Los Angeles digital media lawyers Erik Syverson and Steve Gebelin report on the California Court of Appeal decision in J-M Manufacturing v. Phillips and Cohen.  As Internet defamation lawyers, we took great interest in this case because it involves a law firm being sued for defamation based upon a press release trumpeting a trial victory.  J-M Manufacturing felt that Phillips and Cohen falsely reported the outcome of the case.  As you will hear in this week's video, California law provides reporters/publishers great latitude in characterizing public legal proceedings.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How to Remove Defamation from Glassdoor

Internet Defamation lawyers from Raines Feldman discuss how a business can remove defamatory reviews from  Beverly Hills attorneys Erik Syverson, Steve Gebelin and Scott Lesowitz provide the analysis and practical advice.