Getting sued over negative internet product reviews

by troybh
74 replies
I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.
#internet #negative #product #reviews #sued
  • Profile picture of the author MeelisM
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.
    Well, this seems like a tough situation that could end up in several different ways.

    My question is - did you actually test the product out yourself and write the review based on your own experience? Or did you just create a review from reading other reviews?

    That kinda matters in a situation like this I think.
    If it's a review based on real experience and is unbiased I can't see this going their way...

    MeelisM
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    • Profile picture of the author troybh
      Ya i did do the actual testing and yes I really can not see how this could go their way but I am scared. This is a multimillion dollar company and I am a lowly blogging contractor.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jeff Lenney
        Originally Posted by troybh View Post

        Ya i did do the actual testing and yes I really can not see how this could go their way but I am scared. This is a multimillion dollar company and I am a lowly blogging contractor.
        It's freedom of speech not slander. Keep your receipt you're entitled to your opinions. I'm NOT a lawyer this is not legal advice
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      • Profile picture of the author MagneticKopy
        Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

        Your call. It would be fun to tell them to go screw themselves, but only you know if you want to take them on.

        You could probably get some good publicity out of it. I see no upside for the corporation.
        I was just going to say that. Contact the media.

        But honestly, consult a lawyer.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Raybould
    I'm with Ken.

    Don't see them winning, or looking good,
    regardless of what happens, but do you
    really want to deal with this?

    I know certain companies will be quick to
    send out a C and D letter, and beyond that
    won't do much else...

    ... but others will.

    You have three options here:

    1-Take it down.

    2- Leave it up.

    3- Consult a lawyer, and act accordingly.

    -David Raybould
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    • Profile picture of the author SaraHendren
      Originally Posted by David Raybould View Post

      I'm with Ken.

      Don't see them winning, or looking good,
      regardless of what happens, but do you
      really want to deal with this?

      I know certain companies will be quick to
      send out a C and D letter, and beyond that
      won't do much else...

      ... but others will.

      You have three options here:

      1-Take it down.

      2- Leave it up.

      3- Consult a lawyer, and act accordingly.

      -David Raybould
      I would consult a lawyer.
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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    They might be just trying to scare you. You can call their bluff and leave the review up without responding. Or, you can try to find a lawyer that will help you out pro bono, or for a reduced fee.

    The other option would be to take the review down. If it were me, I'd post the letter and "out" the company. If your review is legit and not just a rambling rant, the public will quickly turn against them.

    I'm not a lawyer though, so take this post with a grain of salt.
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    • Profile picture of the author SunilTanna
      Originally Posted by BradVert2013 View Post

      They might be just trying to scare you. You can call their bluff and leave the review up without responding. Or, you can try to find a lawyer that will help you out pro bono, or for a reduced fee.

      The other option would be to take the review down. If it were me, I'd post the letter and "out" the company. If your review is legit and not just a rambling rant, the public will quickly turn against them.

      I'm not a lawyer though, so take this post with a grain of salt.
      Even if he's legally in the right, it might not be a good business strategy to fight.

      Outrage, or indignation isn't always the best basis for sensible business or legal strategy decisions.
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  • Profile picture of the author SunilTanna
    Whether what you wrote is truly defamatory depends on exactly what you wrote, and the worse you used to express yourself. For example, if what you wrote is clearly your opinion, as opposed to incorrect factual statements, you may be on firmer ground.

    If you care enough about keeping it up , then you should review what your exact words with a lawyer.

    Alternatively, you could consider just taking the post down without admitting liability or fault.

    Ianal
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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    Here's an interesting article I found on a website for corporate legal stuff. Sounds like its an uphill climb for a company to sue for a bad review.

    An ALM Website

    (I have NO affiliation with the above website.)
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  • Profile picture of the author Sean Fry
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.
    One of the greatest things about copyright is that your opinions, positive or negative, are protected. It's journalistic commentary. A corporation does not have "ownership" over your opinion on their product. They only have ownership over their trademarked name and products.

    If this were the case, every time a movie critic slammed a film, the studio could sue the critic and win. Could you imagine the world that would create?

    As long as you're not pretending to be that company, or registering a domain name like xxxxsealersucks.com, you're fine. Although if you want to know for sure, hit up an attorney. There's actually one here that goes by the name of kindsvater I believe.
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  • Profile picture of the author dreamtoreality
    I'll lose faith in humanity if they successfully sue you for a bad review. Then again, considering that burglars have successfully sued homeowners, it's anyone's guess how this will pan out.
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    • Profile picture of the author troybh
      I'm with you dreamtoreality. I guess the actual money it makes me is not much but I really hate to sell my soul as a website owner trying to help consumers to take it down.
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    This is known as a SLAPP - strategic lawsuit against public participation, but you already understand that one. Tell them that you can remove a review. However, you will also take their company down and leave competitors up. Then you will put on your website that you were forced to take down negative reviews. Oh yes, and the text of the lawsuit they sent you. Let us see how the go on this one.
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  • Profile picture of the author jgant
    I suspect they're blowing smoke. I also suspect if your review is based on actually using the product you're probably in good shape.

    HOWEVER, that does not mean they can't start a lawsuit. Even if you have a very strong case, you will have to hire a lawyer and it could go the distance (to trial) costing you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to defend. Even if you win, you lose.

    Consult a lawyer about it and ask about whether in your jurisdiction costs are awarded for the victor and if so will that cover legal fees. Ask whether punitive/double or triple costs are awarded to the victor against a plaintiff starting a frivolous lawsuit. You really need legal advice here because even if you win in the end, you could still be out a lot of money. Every jurisdiction is different.

    That said, they would be STUPID for pursuing this. You could turn it into a publicity nightmare for them. It wouldn't be the first time a big corp really screwed up getting all litigious against a blogger throwing their warchest around only it costing them millions in the end from bad publicity. News publications love these stories and they go viral ... something their legal department may not understand ... but hopefully their marketing department does.

    Spend $100 to $200 on a legal consultation before making any decision. Some lawyer might do this for a good deal (cost wise) because of the potential publicity it could generate.
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    • Profile picture of the author troybh
      I am in washington state which is about as liberal as it can get. Don't know if this helps me or not though.

      They are claiming my reviews are not fair, scientific, objective, fair and that they are biased. All not true. They claim I am possibly certified installer of the other sealers. Not true.
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      • Profile picture of the author troybh
        What is also funny about this is that these are the only real reviews on the internet and I only rank on bing and yahoo. Google I am on the third page for the only real review of these sealers. Wow google goes down too in a viral lawsuit LOL.
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        • Profile picture of the author alvinhy
          Originally Posted by troybh View Post

          What is also funny about this is that these are the only real reviews on the internet and I only rank on bing and yahoo. Google I am on the third page for the only real review of these sealers. Wow google goes down too in a viral lawsuit LOL.
          Google won't because google is just listing your article and not contributing in it.
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      • Profile picture of the author daisy172
        Originally Posted by troybh View Post

        I am in washington state which is about as liberal as it can get. Don't know if this helps me or not though.

        They are claiming my reviews are not fair, scientific, objective, fair and that they are biased. All not true. They claim I am possibly certified installer of the other sealers. Not true.
        Contact your Congressman. Seriously. That's what they're there for. Explain that you purchased a product (include proof if you have it) and that you wrote a review based on your opinion, but you are now being threatened and intimidated and are terrified.

        Your representative should know the law (he'll have aides to take care of this) and they love getting involved in "little guy v big guy". One letter from your Congressman in Capitol Hill headed paper will likely make the aggressive party back down. And going down the contact-your-congressman route is free. Consider this a return on all the taxes you have paid for.
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      • Profile picture of the author jgant
        Originally Posted by troybh View Post

        I am in washington state which is about as liberal as it can get. Don't know if this helps me or not though.

        They are claiming my reviews are not fair, scientific, objective, fair and that they are biased. All not true. They claim I am possibly certified installer of the other sealers. Not true.
        I have no idea if it makes a difference that you're in Washington State. The jurisdiction is also an issue - is it where you're located or where the corporation is located? I have no idea.

        Consult a lawyer. If you wait until they start a lawsuit, court costs may be in play - or not - I have no idea but Kindsvater probably does and if not him, a corporate litigation lawyer in Washington State should.
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    • Profile picture of the author RobinInTexas
      Like jgant said:

      Originally Posted by jgant View Post

      xx--snip --xx

      that does not mean they can't start a lawsuit. Even if you have a very strong case, you will have to hire a lawyer and it could go the distance (to trial) costing you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to defend. Even if you win, you lose.


      Consult a lawyer about it and ask about whether in your jurisdiction costs are awarded for the victor and if so will that cover legal fees. Ask whether punitive/double or triple costs are awarded to the victor against a plaintiff starting a frivolous lawsuit. You really need legal advice here because even if you win in the end, you could still be out a lot of money. Every jurisdiction is different.

      xx--snip --xx


      Spend $100 to $200 on a legal consultation before making any decision. Some lawyer might do this for a good deal (cost wise) because of the potential publicity it could generate.
      1. It really depends on how much you want to spend to leave the review up.

      2. How much income can you attribute to that post?

      How much will the initial consultation with a lawyer cost?

      How much will it cost to retain the lawyer if they sue you?

      Keep in mind that even if you are right, if they sue you, they could win.

      When people go to law school, they learn what the law says, once the graduate and get admitted to the bar, they start "lawyering school" and start learning that there are many things that don't work the way they are supposed to.

      So it goes back to #1 & 2 above.

      I am not a lawyer, in fact have no legal training whatsoever. I don't even play a lawyer on tv.
      In no event will I be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of my opinion. Taking legal advice from anyone via the internet is a bad idea, you should do your own research and consult proper legal counsel before embarking on anything after breakfast.
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      ...Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just set there.
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  • Profile picture of the author alvinhy
    To OP another great example would be Top Gear saying how bad the car is on TV.
    I do not see how the companies will be able to sue them, since they have tested the product and their opinions are based on themselves.
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  • Profile picture of the author V12
    You might want to look up Warrior Kindsvater. He is a lawyer.
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  • Profile picture of the author derekwong28
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  • Profile picture of the author clever7
    Of course you can write whatever you may desire in a review if you are honest and you don't disrespect the product owner.

    People like the truth, but do you believe that it will be advantageous for you to show to the public that they cannot trust someone else’s product?

    I would modify my review, and make it more neutral than negative.

    When you don't say something good about a certain product in a review, the reader already understands that this is not a special product. You don't need to emphasize what is bad.


    You should also answer the message you have received and tell your enemy that you modified your review, and that he shouldn't become so upset because many times people buy a product even after reading a negative review because they don't believe in reviews.







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  • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
    Some product reviews can lead to a lawsuit. For example, if you got sick after eating at Joe's Diner, you can say so. However, saying, "Joe's Diner will make you sick," is actionable.

    I'd like to read the review you wrote. Can you post a link?
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  • Profile picture of the author palmtrees
    I would not worry about this at all. If it happened to me, I would not take it down, or alter it in any way, and I would post the letter they sent you instead. I would actually kind of enjoy it if this happened to me, because they are being jerks and they have no ground to stand on, and they deserve to be called out on trying to infringe on your freedom of speech (I'm not a lawyer, blah blah). You are the good guy in this situation. Stand your ground!

    This is assuming that it is an honest review of the product and you don't have something weird going on here.
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    • Profile picture of the author troybh
      FYI I did a general product specific review on wood sealers. Puchased a bunch of different ones and posted before and after pictures of how the sealers worked against wear and tear and also posted text of my reviews which were pretty obvious with the pictures.
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  • Profile picture of the author m5smiley
    I would definitely get legal advice and, if all is good on your side, ride this through some publicity and see how viral you can get it. This could be very good for your site!
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  • Profile picture of the author Ronno99
    Ignore it. They aren't going to sue you. At least wait until they do something more than send you a scare letter before you react.

    The guy ^ who said post it on your site/use it to your advantage is on to something. Use it to get attention and stir sh*t up.
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  • Profile picture of the author ECTally
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.
    The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff here, so, as long as your review is based on facts, then you are quite safe.

    For instance:

    Factual: The sealant smells very pungent.
    Libelious: The smell could kill a child

    Having said that, TripAdvisor published a list of the dirtiest hotels in America in 2011, which saw a Tennessee hotel, Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center, topping the list of ten.

    The company's owner, Kenneth Seaton, filed a lawsuit against TripAdvisor, charging that the defendant is liable for "maliciously and wrongfully contriving, designing and intending to cause respected customers to lose confidence in the Plaintiff ... and to cause great injury and irreparable damage to and to destroy Plaintiffs business and reputation by false and misleading means."

    The case was dismissed, and the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgement three months ago.

    Note: This is not a legal advice.

    Refs:
    Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLC | Digital Media Law Project
    http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/cg...ext=historical
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  • Profile picture of the author brenda221
    Legal advice would definitely be recommended in this case. I'm no lawyer, but did you try talking to the company to find out if you can reach a compromise? A single review is not really worth going to all that trouble for, and in a lot of cases, they're simply trying to protect their reputation so agreeing on making a few changes to the review might get them off your back - just a thought.
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.
    Ignore them.

    People who are actually going to sue don't send letters stating an intent to sue. This is a tactic used by people who can't afford a lawyer. If they were serious, you would have received a cease and desist from an attorney, not an email with a threat.

    Don't reply. Don't talk about it on your site. Just ignore it.
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  • Profile picture of the author brutecky
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.

    Sounds like they are trying to scare you into doing what they want. I would tell them to kiss off. Keep in mind though .. Im not a lawyer .. and I dont play one on TV
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  • Profile picture of the author meepmeep
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    Any advise on this one.
    1. Delete this post.

    2. Consult a lawyer.

    I know people are giving you well-meaning advice but the fact of the matter is that every jurisdiction is different and what may make sense in one, may not be relevant in another.

    (Besides, what does common sense have to do with laws or the legal system? )

    Only an attorney, licensed in your area, can give you competent, expert, legal advice.
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    • Profile picture of the author troybh
      Well as for the specific review. From the pictures people can plainly see that this sealer sucks and there is no way to sugar coat this. Of course they want this down. They manufacture crappy product and market the crap out of it. In the end it sells millions in home improvement stores.

      Wow trying to find a lawyer specializing in internet law is quite a task especially for someone with very little money. I am sure this is a slam dunk for any attorney but I dont have the pockets for any type of SLAPP lawsuit.

      I did not receive an email but a non registered mail fed ex letter in the mail complete with lawfirm letterhead and signed by a lawyer.
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    Oh, you got an actual letter from an attorney and not just an empty threat? If it were me, I would scan it and post it on the site - and still not respond. But that's just me.
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    • Profile picture of the author MagneticKopy
      Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

      Oh, you got an actual letter from an attorney and not just an empty threat? If it were me, I would scan it and post it on the site - and still not respond. But that's just me.
      Ha! Ron you rule for that... But I guess that's why your name is Ron Rule
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      As usual, people here have a lot of opinions without a lot of basis for them.

      The fact is, no one can know the best solution for you -- or even give a probable scenario -- without training (like a law degree) or experience (they've been through this themselves).

      Your best bet is to consult a lawyer. Anything else is just opinion and fluff. You can't afford to assume or speculate about this and spending a couple hundred bucks now is money well-spent.

      Someone said that if they really intended to sue, they'd do so without threatening first. Maybe. But you can't know that for sure. Nobody can know that.

      Magazines, trade journals, TV shows, radio shows, podcasts, blogs, etc. have been doing reviews for decades. A bad review isn't typically grounds for a lawsuit. But as someone else pointed out, the devil is in the details. That is, saying something like "I ate this and it made me sick." vs. "This food will make you sick." can mean the difference between a lawsuit or not. One is simply a report of your individual experience. The second statement might be construed as defamation or slander.

      You can't know where you stand without getting some qualified legal advice. So you can choose to kowtow to their threat and take the bad review off. Or you can fight it. Maybe their threats are empty. Maybe they're not. If you fight, you may win, but end up with a lot of legal expenses.

      However, before you panic, I'd get an hour's worth of competent legal advice -- and THEN make a decision. At least you'll have a better idea of where you stand. And then if you still feel like "giving in" is the best decision, at least it's a smart, INFORMED decision and not a panic reaction.

      But DON'T make a decision strictly based on statements here. (Some of the statements in this thread are absolutely ridiculous.) They're all just opinion from people with NO legal training or experience (myself included). Be smart and get some legal advice, at least some idea of where you stand and what to do next.

      Hope that helps!

      Michelle
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      • Profile picture of the author troybh
        Thanks night.
        Guess next question is how/where to find a good lawyer for $100-200 to look over my site and write a letter back to their lawyer telling them that they don't have a leg to stand on. I just found out trying to find a lawyer on the internet is really hard. Way too many internet marketers doing law sites out there.

        Im looking on elance. Seems like way to go...
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        • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
          Originally Posted by troybh View Post

          Im looking on elance. Seems like way to go...
          eLance??? No, no no! That's not the place to find a lawyer! You need to get OFF the Internet.

          Go to Google and type in "[Your city] libel lawyer." You'll quickly find lists of lawyers in your town, many of whom don't even have a decent website (or a website at all). You'll find a list like at Lawyers.com. Start calling around, briefly explain what you need and ask if they offer a free consultation.

          Pick 3-4 who seem to know what they're doing and have a chat with them (free). The lawyer may not even speak to you, but the office paralegal probably will. She can't offer legal advice over the phone, but after hearing your situation, she CAN point you in the right direction. If they think they can help you, they'll invite you for an appointment. If they can't, at least ask for a referral.

          Just follow the trail and keep going.

          I did this a few months back regarding an issue with my current employer. I was seriously angry about a situation ad wanted to know what my legal options might be. I got as far as speaking with a paralegal in a local labor lawyer's office over the phone. She couldn't offer legal advice, but she DID give me a couple of options which gave me some direction.

          It ended up being moot. The issue fizzled out. Nothing happened and everything is fine. But at least I knew how to start looking for what I needed.

          Hope that helps!

          Michelle
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        • Profile picture of the author Cali16
          Originally Posted by troybh View Post

          Thanks night.
          Guess next question is how/where to find a good lawyer for $100-200 to look over my site and write a letter back to their lawyer telling them that they don't have a leg to stand on. I just found out trying to find a lawyer on the internet is really hard. Way too many internet marketers doing law sites out there.

          Im looking on elance. Seems like way to go...
          Troy, many attorneys will do a free consultation to help you determine what you need to do. Start there. I certainly would not look for an attorney on Elance. Do a search on Google for a lawyer in your area who practices within this area of the law. You could also post your question on a site like AVVO (avvo dot com), and get some opinions from several lawyers - people with real law degrees - which is far better than soliciting opinions here from people who don't have law degrees.

          Once you have a consultation - or get a few responses on AVVO or a similar site - then you can make an informed decision. Getting opinions on here is pointless because it's all speculation at this point. YOU NEED TO TALK TO A LAWYER. And there are plenty available (even very good, experienced ones) who will do a free consult to help you determine the direction you should go.
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  • Profile picture of the author seonutshell
    Shake em down, say you will "settle out of court"
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    "justice" and "being right" is VERY EXPENSIVE. Make sure you've dotted your I's and crossed your T's.

    I laugh at idiots who cavalierly say they are going to sue XYZ for whatever. When you have real life experience, it almost never pays.

    He/She who has the most money/inhouse lawyers/most to lose almost ALWAYS win.

    Just make sure you are on solid ground with your reviews. It can become more complicated if you are "selling" reviews, generating traffic to your blog etc....vs. just a consumer posting a personal review.
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  • Profile picture of the author bostjan33
    Banned
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.
    In most cases, lawsuit is not possible and that was just their tactics. See, we have a nice thingy called the "Freedom of speech", which is covered in 5th ammendment (at least I think it's the 5th one). So I really doubt that anyone would go to court over this one.
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Originally Posted by bostjan33 View Post

      In most cases, lawsuit is not possible and that was just their tactics. See, we have a nice thingy called the "Freedom of speech", which is covered in 5th ammendment (at least I think it's the 5th one). So I really doubt that anyone would go to court over this one.
      This is exactly the kind of ridiculous/ignorant statement I'm talking about. This kind of thinking holds that all opinions/statements are covered by "freedom of speech." Uh, no, they're not.

      Libel, defamation and slander are taken very seriously. I'm NOT a lawyer, so I'm fuzzy on the details. But if certain statements, implied or explicit, are determined to cause material harm and damage (both financially and/or public opinion or whatever), the accused CAN be held liable.

      Hate speech is another example of what's NOT covered by "freedom of speech."

      Personal opinions are one thing. A review or product test with accompanying results is one thing. But if statements are determined to have caused damage, the accused may be held liable. I think intent and gain (or possible gain), have a lot to do with it. If the OP gains financially at all through his reviews (like via affiliate sales), he'll be held to greater scrutiny.

      And quite honestly that's the extent of my knowledge. The devil IS in the details and I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know the details of this kind of a situation.

      But ask big publishers. They live, eat and breathe by libel, defamation and slander laws. Finding themselves on the wrong side of such a lawsuit (with the right plaintiff) could cost them their business.

      My guess is the OP is perfectly safe, if he did exactly what he described to us. AND the person threatening him is just bluffing. But none of us here can say for sure. And even if he's right, it could cost a lot to prove he's right. Then it becomes a question of how important is it to prove he's right (if the other party ISN'T bluffing)?

      Don't be cocky or stupid. If you're ever in such a situation, be cautious, talk to a lawyer. Don't let your mouth and arrogance bankrupt you.

      Michelle
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      • Profile picture of the author bostjan33
        Banned
        Originally Posted by Nightengale View Post

        This is exactly the kind of ridiculous/ignorant statement I'm talking about. This kind of thinking holds that all opinions/statements are covered by "freedom of speech." Uh, no, they're not.

        Libel, defamation and slander are taken very seriously. I'm NOT a lawyer, so I'm fuzzy on the details. But if certain statements, implied or explicit, are determined to cause material harm and damage (both financially and/or public opinion or whatever), the accused CAN be held liable.

        Hate speech is another example of what's NOT covered by "freedom of speech."

        Personal opinions are one thing. A review or product test with accompanying results is one thing. But if statements are determined to have caused damage, the accused may be held liable. I think intent and gain (or possible gain), have a lot to do with it. If the OP gains financially at all through his reviews (like via affiliate sales), he'll be held to greater scrutiny.

        And quite honestly that's the extent of my knowledge. The devil IS in the details ad I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know the details of this kind of a situation.

        But ask big publishers. They live, eat and breathe by libel, defamation and slander laws. Finding themselves on the wrong side of such a lawsuit (with the right plaintiff) could cost them their business.

        My guess is the OP is perfectly safe, if he did exactly what he described to us. AND the person threatening him is just bluffing. But none of us here can say for sure. And even if he's right, it could cost a lot to prove he's right. Then it becomes a question of how important is it to prove he's right (if the other party ISN'T bluffing)?

        Don't be cocky or stupid. If you're ever in such a situation, be cautious, talk to a lawyer. Don't let your mouth and arrogance bankrupt you.

        Michelle
        Well, there's no need for such BS language, ok? We're all just sharing opinions and I didn't say that my statement is a legal one, nor that I'm a lawyer. So pls, be polite, ok?
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        • Profile picture of the author Sully1975
          https://www.eff.org/bloggers

          Have you tried the Electronic Frontier Foundation?

          Often they have an answer or at least a bullet point summary of what to do.

          Secondly, I have heard that they have attorneys on board or affiliated lawyers that work very reasonably.
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        • Originally Posted by bostjan33 View Post

          Well, there's no need for such BS language, ok? We're all just sharing opinions and I didn't say that my statement is a legal one, nor that I'm a lawyer. So pls, be polite, ok?
          Sorry, but yes: there's indeed need for such BS language.

          This is the problem with internet forums: people carelessly give out "opinions" on topics they're not remotely familiar with just because they feel "entitled" to have an opinion, no matter how misinformed or uneducated that opinion might be.

          The OP is requesting feedback on a VERY hairy situation (a lawsuit!), and you merrily responded with a very misinformed comment. As a result, poster Nightengale nuked you down mightily, as she should.

          Just as people should be responsible for the actions they take, people should also feel responsible for the opinions they publicly share. Therefore, if you have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about legal grounds, perhaps the responsible thing to do would be to keep your opinion on legal matters to yourself, don't you reckon? :rolleyes:

          Like I said, this is a very common problem in internet forums, and it ticks me off me to no end
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          • Profile picture of the author ronrule
            Originally Posted by Anonymous Affiliate View Post

            ...The OP is requesting feedback on a VERY hairy situation (a lawsuit!), and you merrily responded with a very misinformed comment.
            To be fair, don't confuse a letter with a lawsuit. There's a huge difference ... "legal threats" are meaningless. If I responded to every single one of them - which any lawyer will tell you to do (since that's how they make their money), I'd have wasted tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees over the years. Out of a dozen or so letters exactly like this, do you know how many actually went beyond sending that first letter? One. And even then no suit was ever filed, they just sent a second copy of the same letter.

            For the most part, they are empty threats. Unless you know you are doing something wrong, there is absolutely no reason to respond to the first letter you receive. None. Knowing and understanding this will save you time and headache, because most people simply send the "demand letter" with the hopes of scaring you into doing what they ask out of fear of a lawsuit. Very few (less than 10%) will actually pursue it. And if they do, it's not before sending a second and third letter.

            First letter - ignore it.
            Second letter - Consult an attorney and ask if/how you should respond. Do not pay THEM to respond.
            Third letter - retain the attorney and let him/her handle it from there.

            Attorneys won't tell you this, they want to bill you to respond to the first letter. I made that amateur mistake once and paid an attorney $2,300 for them to "research case law" and then send a letter to someone informing them I would comply with their request. Complete waste of money.

            People make the mistake of thinking an attorney is your friend, and they'll always give you helpful advice. That isn't true ... they're a business, just like any other business. Once you've retained them they are obligated by law to do their best job to represent you, but up until that happens they are "pitching their service" just like anyone else. So of course when you call an attorney, they're going to say "Yeah, this is delicate, let me handle it for you" - that's how they make their income. Anyone who's been doing this a while knows how it really works.

            Your own individual stamina is a consideration too. Providing the review is properly worded, there is nothing a company can do to make you take it down. They can sue you, and you can spend a bunch of money defending yourself, but they won't actually win. And they know it - it's a bully tactic. They know that if they have more money than you, you'll cave and meet their demand, which is what they want. It's a mathematical formula, plain and simple ...

            Product costs $X
            Potential Audience of likely buyers who will see the Review = Y

            If X(Y) > $Cost to sue you, they'll do it.
            If not, they will just send letters.

            That's it.

            In the OP's particular situation, I still think the best way to handle it would be an offer to re-test if the company was willing to send a new sample, to ensure there were no issues with the previous sample due to improper storage, age, etc. You're extending an olive branch and giving them the opportunity to reveal whether or not they stand behind their brand - this will help tremendously if the situation does escalate further. Since we're talking about a product, they don't want a lawsuit. Lawsuits get press, and press gets more eyeballs on the negative review, and especially if the reviewer gave them the opportunity to re-test using a sample acquired directly from the company for the express purpose of performing the test.
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  • Profile picture of the author JanePlaten
    Banned
    You might not like what I am about to say, but this is the truth. If your reviews are any good and reliable, there are some people out there who trust you to tell them the truth about a product before they get to spend money on it. These are people who know the value of a buck and who depend on you to tell them what is worth spending money on and what is not. Once in a while, there will be some products which are not worth investing in, and I am sure that the people made aware of this appreciate your help.
    This is only a moral obligation to your readers. But think about it as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Originally Posted by JanePlaten View Post

      You might not like what I am about to say, but this is the truth. If your reviews are any good and reliable, there are some people out there who trust you to tell them the truth about a product before they get to spend money on it. These are people who know the value of a buck and who depend on you to tell them what is worth spending money on and what is not. Once in a while, there will be some products which are not worth investing in, and I am sure that the people made aware of this appreciate your help.
      This is only a moral obligation to your readers. But think about it as well.
      Jane, exactly HOW does this help the OP?

      His audience's opinion of him means NOTHING in this scenario. The person suing him and the lawyers don't care a whit about that. It has absolutely no bearing on the situation. "Moral obligation" doesn't amount to a pile of sawdust when it comes to lawsuits and the law.

      Good intentions are cold comfort when you're facing a judge.
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  • Profile picture of the author SteveSki
    This news article shows what could happen if the company you wrote an honest negative review on has deep pockets and wants to screw you....

    Fracking Victim Sued for Defamation After Proving Drinking Water Flammable | NationofChange
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Originally Posted by SteveSki View Post

      This news article shows what could happen if the company you wrote an honest negative review on has deep pockets and wants to screw you....

      Fracking Victim Sued for Defamation After Proving Drinking Water Flammable | NationofChange
      This is an excellent example of how when you're right doesn't mean you're right. The poor guy!

      The arrogant, ignorant minnows in this thread have no idea what the sharks can do -- and that the powers that be will support them if they have friends in the right places, regardless of what's "right." History is littered with stories of the powerful oppressing the powerless, in spite of the law.
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    I was up against GM, Ford, and Chrysler simultaneously once in a trademark dispute and was able to resolve all three amicably, with no financial impact. Companies have a duty to protect their brand - they send letters like this out all the time. I never respond to the first one. There's rarely a second ... when there is, the wording depends on whether I'll respond or not.

    A lawyer will tell you to respond to the first one. As others have said, it really all depends on how your review is worded. One other option in your situation is that you could respond with a request for the company to send you a "new sample" and you'll review the product again and, if the results are different, you'll update the old review with the new one. This reinforces the fact that you are a legitimate review site and want to be impartial - and will help your case if the company escalates.

    If they're unwilling to go this route, their letter was nothing but a bully tactic to protect a bad product. If they are, keep your word and give them an honest, unbiased review from the sample they send you. The results might actually surprise you - there are lots of factors to how a product performs and it is possible you tested a bad batch, or old inventory that had broken down, stored at an improper temperature, etc. I work with a lot of big brands and this is how we usually addressed bad reviews (sending the reviewer a product ourselves, directly, instead of having them test something from a random store we didn't know anything about).

    Also, consider the possibility that the company doesn't even KNOW you received this letter - many companies have a law firm on retainer to find and handle things like this, and aren't observing every individual situation. Most companies are honest and responsible - it won't hurt to talk to them directly, but I wouldn't respond to the lawyer personally. Not at this stage at least.
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  • Profile picture of the author hsinclair
    Originally Posted by troybh View Post

    I run an informational website that does reviews on wood sealers. Well one of the products that I gave a bad review for one of their sealers and sent me a letter threatening to sue me if I do not take this review off. I tried to be objective in the review and I do have amazon and adsense on all pages. Any advise on this one.
    As long as you're not committing libel or slander you should be good. If you are not being truthful in your review then you'll have issues. If you're speaking from your actual experience then you should be okay (legally speaking).

    The only other issues you might have is if you are profiting from another competing company or product.
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    Harry Sinclair
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    Creating an information blog site concerning Internet Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, blogging, WordPress, WordPress plugins, and other blogging information.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sweersz
    Leave it up. You're not legally obligated to take it down.

    Moreover, if all companies sued publishers for the negative mentions in their reviews then all reviews would be positive and bland. That kind of censorship isn't cool in the realm of commerce.

    Ignore them. I wouldn't even worry about it.

    Trust me on this.
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  • Profile picture of the author seriousmny
    I would stand my ground. If you tried the product and this is your true review of what happened while using the product then I believe you have a right to keep the post up. No product has had 100% positive reviews all of the time. It would draw a red flag for me if a product has no negative reviews and everybody likes it all the time.

    With all that being said, I would also consult an attorney to get a professional opinion on the matter.
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  • Profile picture of the author PPC-Coach
    Leave it up and post their letter too.

    Contact your local media outlet too.

    USE THIS FOR VIRAL GOODNESS!

    Headline: "Company tries to sue local contractor because of bad review!"

    A news place will eat that up.

    Take advantage, even if you do get sued, it'll be worth it for all the publicity you can milk this for.

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  • Profile picture of the author adelewilliams
    Banned
    You should ask a lawyer's opinion. Maybe you can sue them for threatening you. It doesn't seem normal to me to write you such things. What would happen if others like you would write similar bad reviews. That company whould sue them all?
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    • Profile picture of the author An Al
      Originally Posted by adelewilliams View Post

      You should ask a lawyer's opinion. Maybe you can sue them for threatening you. It doesn't seem normal to me to write you such things. What would happen if others like you would write similar bad reviews. That company whould sue them all?

      Good point I was waiting for someone to mention. Last time I checked, blackmail/extortion was illegal.
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  • Profile picture of the author Danielle Murphyx
    Banned
    If you have a business and you sell stuff, you need to also be prepared for bad reviews. What if all the hollywood stars sued everyone who criticised their albums, films or outfits? I think it's normal and you have nothing to worry about. (i am not a lawyer)
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  • Profile picture of the author brottkzb
    I also suspect if your review is based on actually using the product you're probably in good shape.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    If you're doing this to make money you should devote a portion of your
    budget to legal advice for occasions just like this.

    You need to disregard everything that's been posted in this thread to this
    point and get a legal consultation ASAP.

    There is no other correct answer... PERIOD.
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    If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
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    • Profile picture of the author clever7
      Originally Posted by Tsnyder View Post

      If you're doing this to make money you should devote a portion of your
      budget to legal advice for occasions just like this.

      You need to disregard everything that's been posted in this thread to this
      point and get a legal consultation ASAP.

      There is no other correct answer... PERIOD.
      Forgive me if I seem to disagree with you, but I believe that the best solution is to modify the review and make it neutral, instead of dealing with lawyers and having expenses and more problems for having an enemy.

      I believe that this is the best solution without a doubt because it puts an end to the problem.

      The OP doesn't want to be a hero and prevent the world from buying the inferior product of his enemy, and he can be wrong.

      So, why should he face this battle?
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      • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
        Originally Posted by clever7 View Post

        Forgive me if I seem to disagree with you, but I believe that the best solution is to modify the review and make it neutral, instead of dealing with lawyers and having expenses and more problems for having an enemy.

        I believe that this is the best solution without a doubt because it puts an end to the problem.

        The OP doesn't want to be a hero and prevent the world from buying the inferior product of his enemy, and he can be wrong.

        So, why should he face this battle?
        Get serious... where did I say anything aout facing any battles?

        Your advice is no better than all the rest offered before it... my point stands.
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  • Profile picture of the author Terry Crim
    If you are monetizing the review this brings a different dynamic which can go against you but it depends on your site, the disclosures you make, the wording of the review and the overall impression of the site and review.

    If you are concerned then consult an attorney, no advice given in this thread has any merit towards your situation other than possibly making you feel better that a few have been in similar situations. It doesn't mean you won't be sued or not responding will some how protect you or that the letter is "just" a bluff threat and they won't take action.

    I don't know they won't, I also don't know that they will and neither does anyone else. I can't advise you one way or the other other than to give my opinion which won't give any protection to you in the slightest.

    If you are monetizing the review and it is a negative against the company or product then it would appear you are trying to profit from harming the product, brand and company. Intention has a lot to do with it, and that is deemed from the overall impression of the act which would be your site overall impression, the review itself and the profiting off the review. Brings a added dynamic that the lawyers will grab onto to bring against you. You could be sued for millions of dollars AND attorneys fees on top of it not to mention any additional claims of damage or harm to reputation etc...

    Big risk to just accept advice in a public forum.

    Not to mention it could be taken and used against you by the prosecution or whatever, the lawyers sueing you if it comes to that beyond the C&D Letter. I am not in your situation so I don't know what I would do until I were in your shoes.

    That's my opinion and as such isn't of much help to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author biggerk9
    dont see how this would be libelous in any way since its really just freedom of speech. Do they have your personal contact info? name, address, etc? sounds like they are bullying you. You could just go on another 3rd party review site and make the review?
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    • Profile picture of the author troybh
      Thanks for all the pointers. Well I guess I am with ronrule on most of the issues here. I am going to do absolutely nothing for now. I can not accept taking down a review just because of a letter sent to me. I will see how it goes. Attorneys do not like to work for free and not gonna pay one at this point.
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  • Profile picture of the author cuie
    BTW: What would happen if the person didn´t live in U.S?

    I know this might be stupid question but I just don´t know international law

    I have wondered this before. I live in northen Europe. How could those enforce me to take that review out?

    They could of course contact the hosting company which would probably remove my site. But theoretically, how can U.S. companies sue people over-seas?
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    • Profile picture of the author djtrillian
      The short answer is that it's very difficult and expensive to sue someone overseas.

      The other thing that people often forget is in order for a lawsuit to have any meaning, the person that loses must actually have money or assets that can be legally seized. Otherwise if a big company sues for a lot of money and wins all they have is a worthless piece of paper saying they won. And they know this, but they also know they can scare people with threats that in reality would be too expensive in both money and bad PR.

      This happens all the time in small claims actions, someone 'wins' their suit but ends up with nothing because either the loser of the suit just doesn't have the money or they have salted it away somewhere.

      And, as others have said, this is not to be construed as legal advice :-)


      Originally Posted by cuie View Post

      BTW: What would happen if the person didn´t live in U.S?

      I know this might be stupid question but I just don´t know international law

      I have wondered this before. I live in northen Europe. How could those enforce me to take that review out?

      They could of course contact the hosting company which would probably remove my site. But theoretically, how can U.S. companies sue people over-seas?
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  • Profile picture of the author stevebent
    You can get free legal advice online, I asked a question about incorporating, it took a few days for him get back to me but maybe he could be helpful Law Offices of Clifford R. Ennico
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    Also, if you do need an attorney, I recommend this one:

    DUI? Dealing Drugs? Better Call Saul!
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    How many legal questions are asked on the Warrior Forum as though there
    are no LEGAL forums out there. The WF is cool but sometimes you need
    an "expert" answer so you should seek an expert or at least ask questions
    on forums dedicated to those kind of issues. Do a quick search and you'll
    find forums where actual lawyers can answer your questions.

    -Ray Edwards
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