Tables Turned

Better be careful what you say about a competitor, as a company called AbsolutelyNew is learning the hard way. A federal court in Illinois recently ruled that a case can proceed against the company. Apparently, a competitor of AbsolutelyNew called Invent Worldwide Consulting put testimonials up on its Web site. AbsolutelyNew promptly stated on its Web site that the testimonials were “clearly fake.” Not surprisingly, Invent was not thrilled with that marketing strategy. It filed suit, alleging that AbsolutelyNew’s comments violated the federal Lanham Act, along with violations of the state Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Consumer Fraud Act. The court dismissed AbsolutelyNew’s motion to dismiss, finding that Invent alleged a sufficient claim of false advertising for purposes of the Lanham Act and the Illinois statutes. Where a competitor makes a statement that is literally false, it does not need to show that customers were actually deceived. By denying the motion to dismiss, the court allowed Invent to proceed with its burden of demonstrating that AbsolutelyNew made a false statement when it claimed the testimonials were phony. Aggressive marketing is nothing new, but if you go there, better make sure you have your facts straight.