California Supreme Court Welcomes FilmOn’s Trade Libel Lawsuit

May 14, 2019

FilmOn’s trade libel suit will live to see another hearing! Several years back, the company slapped DoubleVerify, an advertising consultancy, with a libel claim. FilmOn objected to DoubleVerify’s classification of it as an adult content provider that allowed for intellectual property infringement. So far, DoubleVerify has prevailed. But California’s highest court recently announced that it wants to take another look.

Trade Libel Lawsuit Overview: FilmOn v. DoubleVerify

The saga started several years back. DoubleVerify, a service that helps brands choose effective advertising channels, categorized FilmOn, a streaming service, as a platform associated with intellectual property infringement and “adult content.” FilmOn sued for trade libel, but both district and appellate courts in California dismissed the case using the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which allows for quick dismissals in cases that involve constitutionally protected speech that’s a matter of public interest.

Most people thought the case was closed, but California’s Supreme Court has opted to hear arguments.

According to the order, DoubleVerify’s reports may have been “too tenuously tethered to the issues of public interest they implicate, and too remotely connected to the public conversation about those issues, to merit protection under the catchall provision.”

In other words: DoubleVerify’s professional reporting had very little to do with the public discussion around p-rn, especially since it was a private report, generated for profit, and exchanged confidentially. As such, the Supreme Court isn’t yet convinced that the district and appellate courts got the ruling right.

What Does It Mean If The California Supreme Court Overturns the FilmOn Trade Libel Ruling?

Some people in California’s legal community welcome the review as they feel state judges have been interpreting the anti-SLAPP law too broadly, which allows defamers to claim nearly any statement as one of public interest.

Others, however, feel that overturning FilmOn will usher in a new era of censorship and a possible wave of unconstitutional trade libel lawsuits that will favor corporations and hurt “the little guy,” while simultaneously flying in the face of the First Amendment.

Proving Trade Libel

Fair warning: trade libel is not easy to prove in the United States. Thanks to constitutional protections, slander and libel claimants must prove purposeful intention and material harm. To put it another way: merely saying “bad things” about a person or business does not amount to an actionable trade libel claim. Motive, falsity, and material impact all matter.

Connect with a Trade Libel Lawyer

Gordon Law Group works with businesses targeted by trade libel. Whether a competitor is peddling false information to gain an edge, or an unreasonable client has publicly and inaccurately disparaged your product or services, you may be able to fight back with a trade libel lawsuit.

Give us a call to discuss your situation. The worst that could happen is discovering you don’t have a solid case and should turn to marketing techniques. But it’s better to know sooner rather than later. The longer lies fester, the more damage they do.

Get in touch today to begin the conversation. Let’s determine your options.

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