Internet Trademark Infringement and Product Disparagement

The Internet makes every kind of communication easier. Unfortunately, that includes communications that mislead potential customers with false or misleading claims about products. Also called product defamation, trade libel or slander of goods, product disparagement is any statement about a company or a product that is false and likely to affect its profits. Product disparagement includes negative statements about a product or service, false comparisons of competing consumer products or services and statements harming the reputation of a company. Our Chicago trademark lawyers are familiar with these types of claims.

Types of online product disparagement and trademark infringement include:

  • Outright false claims about a product by a competitor or other party
  • Using anonymous comments or pseudonyms to make false claims about a competitor in online product or service reviews
  • Setting up false rating and review Web sites to disparage a competitor
  • Using a competitor’s logo or trademark in a negative context
  • Using a logo, name or other symbol similar to those of competitors
  • Buying keyword advertising and using HTML meta tags using competitors’ trademarks
  • Posting a Web page, comment or other publication associating a competitor’s product with negative ideas or images
  • Tampering with competitors’ online listings, Web site or other advertising

Internet users are legally liable for online product defamation if the statement was false, they knew it was false, it was not merely as a statement of opinion and your business was actually harmed, or is likely to be harmed, as a result. Internet service providers and online forums are not liable for publishing false product disparagement, but their records can lead the trademark attorneys at our Chicago firm to the users who are. Because this can be difficult, we work closely with respected private detectives to identify the perpetrators of online product disparagement.

Unlike laws against defamation of a person, Illinois and other state product defamation laws protect property rights, so the damages you may claim depend on the harm you can show to your business. This is not true for victims of business reputation defamation, who can claim damages for emotional distress and other non-economic harm. Under the Lanham Act, victims of online product disparagement and trademark infringement are entitled to claim the defendant’s profits, their actual damages and costs of the case. In cases of intentional and knowing trademark violations, victims may claim up to three times their actual damages.

Based in the Chicago area, the trademark lawyers at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle handles every aspect of an Internet trade libel lawsuit, from sending an initial “cease and desist” letter to aggressive representation in court or at the settlement table. In many cases, we can get results quickly by securing a court injunction requiring the defendant to take down the offending site. Our Illinois product defamation attorneys have decades of experience in all types of business litigation, including intellectual property disputes and unfair competition. Based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois and Chicago, we represent clients in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

If your business or its products have been harmed by false, misleading or unfair product disparagement online, please send us an e-mail or call our Chicago trademark attorneys at (630) 333-0000 in Chicagoland and 1-877-990-4990 nationwide for a free consultation.