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Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Atty since 1986. Real estate, tax, and other business law questions
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Our business is in a very small specialized field. There is ...

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Our business is in a very small specialized field. There is a magazine that is the most widely read for our field that is published online with a large message forum. It is also owned/operated by the largest companyin our field with a monopoly worldwide. This forum is used to continually libel our company, our product and us the owners. When we have made posts noting that others contain no truth we are then attacked for not allowing others freedom of speech and that we have no rights to defend our company, product or ourselves personally. Many have asked the moderator (owner of the magazine and website) to remove permanentaly these offending posts that are nothing but continual attacks on our company- all of which are ignored. Our requests have been ignored and the product bashing and lies are allowed to continue unhindered. Do we have a case against the owner of the magazine/website/messageboard of allowing this continually ?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 6 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for writing to me. I will need just a little bit more information before I can respond:

First of all, have the attacks harmed your business to any measureable amount?

Second, can you prove that the posters are telling lies?

I'll look forward to your response!

BTW, sometimes there can be a delay of many hours before I can get back to you. Be patient; I won't forget you, and I can usually respond within no more than 8 hours.

Merry

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Reply to Merry A. Kogut's Post: This message board is used by many as a "research" tool for which brand to buy. We are talking specialized and large $$ items here - musical instruments that are prodominately hand made that start at $10,000.00 As noted we are small family company 40 years in the business, our competition is a very large conglomerate that is 2 of the major companies in the world owned by one of them and its accepted they do have a world monopoly in our field. We, myself, husband other employees and reps that do the sales have field many comments from the parents of children studying this instrument who note the negative remarks about our company and we have to continually jusify with proof these comments are not true. We have been told they have made their decision solely based on these comments and have placed their order with the giant companies since we have been noted as inferior by posters on this board.   Posters on the board state they were considering us first but after readings comments from others their minds are now changed.

When I or other employees have posted that this is not true and ask these people for fact to prove their claims since we have no records of all these wild accusations, other posters mock us and state that as owner or employees we have NO RIGHTS to ask for proof or to make our case and we should be banned from posting at this board. I have been personally attacked by individuals citing that I am rude and have no right to defend my company that the family has worked hard to keep alive in a difficult market for over 40 years.

The current topic of bashing our company that has been resurrected again, was begun in 2002 and whenever the market in our field gets tight - its resurrected to tarnish our otherwise good reputation with our clients and the market place in general to give an edge to our compeition. One poster that wrote some completely ridiculous and outrageous info back in 2002 or 03, which I challenged them to prove their libelous accusations (again) - recanted the whole statement last year noting it was all made up, they were young and stupid etc.. none of what the wrote ever happened. The same woman called me after she had made the post to apologize when she had heard people in the field now that she was older repeating her absurd comment from years back realizing that people did believe it and did use it as criteria not to trust our company or buy from us, when she knew none of it was true.

There was another poster that worked for a company that distrutes these instruments and was the main distributor for our competition and sold us on the side silently as not to draw their main suppliers anger for selling our product. I had many parents noting the remarks of this poster, this music teacher that seemed very knowledgeable in what she was saying. After researching all her posts she was no teacher, she was a 15 year old that had been studying this instrument for a few months and decided to jump on the bash us wagon to sound like she was cool and a professional. I called her boss and sent her copies of the offensive emails.. nothing happened until I did it again with more copies where the little twit was not only bashing US but mocking clients of the boss. THEN her posts ceased but she was only told to stop because it was costing her boss business, not do to the business it was costing us. She made one post that a certain model we build was " a piece of crap" and she would not recommend it to anyone - after people had been asking others on this board about this particular model of ours. I replied that her comments were not true, she cited one of the local schools owned an OLD one that was in bad condition and falling apart etc.. I advised that was impossible since A' this model had only been debuted on the open market for the past few years vs. a LOT OF YEARS to make it old, it had never been sold to date in the state she lived in and this model had never been sold to any school to this point in time much less in her state.

Another poster who is an adult, a former client.. bought one of our instruments from us and it was shpped overseas to her. This is a long drawn out issue but it came to be that she was playing the exchantge rate on the market against the US$ and when it was in her favor to buy she did.. then as the market changed again and it was in her favor to sell and make a profit on her refund suddenly she developed all these problems with her instrument and demanded it come back and a refund. We did oblige but there is a time line in her numerous posts that all tie in where her bashing and lies against us continue to build and get more outrageous by the day.. she states in one post we cheated her of over $3000 then in another post that jumps up to more money and this continues to esculate until she claims we cheated her out of over $13,000 on her refund and all these other horrid things that were supposedly done.    Her attack on us was both on this message board and in harrassing emails to me personally. The lies are outrageous and I have had conversations and emails with others in this field that have dealt with her and will never deal with this woman again for much the same reasons as what she did to us she did to them on a lesser scale.   But she has hundreds of posts on this board with wild accussations of us lying ot her, stealing money from her, cheating her and on and on. A lot of which I posted facts of the business between us which other taking her side said was lies and that I had no right to defend my company when it was obvious what pain I causing this woman as well as taking advantage of her financially and that of course pulled in others to jump on this bandwagon. It was a nightmare. IN the end she was refunded her sale price in full and as per the terms of all the companies in this field she was out the costs of shipment to herself and the return to us. The return to us was more expensive than quoted and we did not bill her difference but absorbed that to be rid of her. Soon as she had the bank tranfer in full that she claimed she never got, she was ranting about buying one of the competitions models that was so wonderful and how great they were to her, never cheated or lied to her or sent her a faulty instrument.

The instrument when it came back was in the same "new" condition it left in and none of our staff from technicans to musicans we hire could find anything wrong with it. We loaned it to some musicans at a conference in town adn they all raved over it how great it was etc.. we did nothing to it when we got it back from her and evenutally it found a new home at a slightly reduced price since we had to sell it used now and those people have never had a problem or complained once.

There have been numerous instances where other posting (adults and professionals in this field) have asked and demanded that the moderator remove all these posts against us and they all go ignored,
including my own requests. You want copies of some of the posts I can email you the sections of the site or copies if you want. My husband after 40 years of fighting to stay alive in this field is at the point of shutting down we cannot keep losing sales for all this crap our yearly production is a fraction of what our competition makes and sells. Is this them behind all of this.. of course it is. Some posting erroneous information are even their own employees. This is a small field - many of their laid off employees only know working in this field and come to us for employment. They are once again short on trained people in certain production areas and are attempting to raid our employee pool which they have done in the past. One younger employee has come to us weeks running now telling us how they call him at home to tell him to quit and come to them and he will be paid nicely for any information about us he has as well. He has not left, now they call his wife at home during the day to talk him into leaving.

The attacks on us on this internet board often coincide when they are trying to steal employees from us or there has been a lot of recent good publicity for us within the various print media of our particular field.

The owner/moderator of this magazine and message board that is an offshoot of it, is loosely related to the owner of the 2 major companies that are our main competition. Standing up for us or stopping this obviously would not be in her best interest within the family.
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for taking the time to supply so much excellent information.

It sounds to me as though you should file a lawsuit against the other company and at the same time ask for a restraining order (injunction) against them allowing posters to post false information. One of the torts (civil claims) you can make against the other company is "tortious interference with a business." You'll probably want to file this in federal court since it's an internet issue and involves more than one state.

Do you already have a corporate attorney? What you'll need is a large law firm with a lot of bucks and experience in different areas of the law, as opposed to someone who would be overwhelmed by such as small case.

I'd suggest one of the large firms that have experience with one business suing another.

Yes, this is going to cost you a lot of money upfront, but, on the positive side, there is the possibility that you can stop the practice and also win some damages from the other company - if that is you can prove that the statements being posted are lies.

As far as stealing employees, do you have them sign a non-compete agreement at the time of hire? You should consider that, too.

I'm limited in how far I can help you on this board. I can't recommend particular attorneys or anything.

One of the first steps you should take is interviewing several attorneys/law firms and decide which one you like best, XXXXX XXXXX you have to pay for an hour's consultation at three different firms. You will be hiring an expensive "employee" and have will need to have complete confidence in the firm.

Best of luck to you. I'd love to hear from you in a month with an update so that I know you're making some progress.

Act right away and least get a temporary restraining order (injunction) for right now.

 

If my answer has been helpful to you, please click "ACCEPT" so that I may be paid. This is the only way that I will receive compensation for the work performed. Please consider clicking "BONUS" as a nice way of saying "thanks" for a job well done. Clicking "FEEDBACK" to leave your positive comments is always greatly appreciated.

The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Merry A. Kogut or Key Peninsula Law in Washington.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Reply to Merry A. Kogut's Post: We actually did go after them for anti-trust
laws years back but they have so much political pull here with so many high ranking politicans due to campaign contributions the lawyers were scared off one by one. We truly are the David
getting their butts pounded by Goliath and need to find some way to at least kick them in the nuts to get them to back off. Pay lawyers big fees to sue a multi billion dollar empire when we gross 1.5 million a year.. right now its hard enough to make payroll each week. We have gone from 25 full time employees plus ourselves to 12 full time and ourselves.

I have to sit back and think this through - it might just make more sense to let them have it all and when they jack up their prices so outrageously high (worse than they are now) so that only the wealthy elite can buy them then the rest of the others will realize what they have created by doing this company's bidding for them to rid it of any competition, specifically us. It's kinds hard to advertise against them when they own all the publications geared to this market, they own all the companies that make the needed supplies and accessories except for a few small companies like oursleves and we buy from those others like us, otherwise we'd be putting money back into their pockets to use against us. We make everything 100% here in the USA, they mass produce and a lot is done in a secretative China factory location. We cannot compete with the China mass production giving our people a livable wage in this country.

I need a break from this and work.. I will get back to you later this weekend or monday.

Thanks for now
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 6 years ago.
Good idea. Take a break. I wish I could be of more help.
Jane Doe Deer, Attorney
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Satisfied Customers: 3864
Experience: Atty since 1986. Real estate, tax, and other business law questions
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