In a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, the Court used an innovative technique to analyze the plaintiff’s claims of deceptive trade practices. The Court looked to consumer comments in response to the defendant’s blog posts to determine whether potentially misleading posts caused consumer confusion. The Court’s decision is a reminder of the growing trend to rely on social media as evidence during litigation.
In the case of QVC, Inc. v. Your Vitamins, Inc., QVC sued a competitor based on blog posts disparaging QVC’s competing products. The parties in this case are competitors in the dietary supplement market. When QVC released two products that directly competed with Your Vitamins, Inc. (“YVI”), Andrew Lessman, YVI’s founder, took to his blog. In three different blog posts, Lessman compared his products to QVC’s products, reaching unflattering conclusions about QVC’s dietary supplements. Among Lessman’s allegations was the charge that Hyaluronic Acid (“HA”), one of the active ingredient in a QVC supplement, was linked to cancer.
In response to several of Lessman’s blogs, QVC sued alleging multiple claims, including violations of the Delaware Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”). QVC also moved for a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”), requiring Lessman to remove the blog posts.