Another tech libel fight is percolating. This time, prominent 3-D printer manufacturer, CobbleBot LLC. (“CobbleBot”), is arousing discord amongst backers and tech trendsetters. The situation is instructive in that it illustrates what is — and isn’t — a viable internet defamation case.
3-D Printing Virtuosos
Based in Houston, TX, CobbleBot is one of the main players on the 3-D printing scene. After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised upwards of US$300,000 from over 1,000 sponsors, CobbleBot began producing large, exceptionally precise 3-D printers for only $299 a pop. The company promised to ship orders by March 2015, at the latest.
Shipping Issues Lead to Online Gripes
Though CobbleBot has produced and shipped many of the promised printers, the company has also dropped the ball on orders. And you know what happens when customers aren’t satisfied – especially when they’ve prepaid: RANT ON THE INTERNET!
Support Letter Legal Warning
One early CobbleBot supporter was particularly vocal about his discontent, and after inquiring about his missing printer a carefully worded letter landed in his mailbox. An excerpt:
Got a letter saying that the legal department puts holds on orders related to anyone that they MAY be defamatory. Are clear to say that “Keep in mind that the support department does not have access to the legal department’s records, so we don’t know anything for certain. We are just attempting to explain the type of hold that we saw placed on your account and what that typed of hold means.”
Under Texas defamation law, certain things are considered defamatory per se including “falsehoods that injure one in his office, business, profession, or occupation (Main v. Royall, 348 S.W.3d 318,390)
Bluntly speaking, CobbleBot’s letter ranks on the disingenuous spectrum. After all, defamation and trade libel attorneys understand that negative customer opinions don’t meet the slander or libel bar under Untied States law.
What CobbleBot Would Need To Prove To Win A Defamation Case Against Online Detractors
Judging from reports, some customers’ dissatisfaction with CobbleBot is justified. After all, they ordered printers that never shipped. And thanks to the First Amendment and U.S. case law, mere negativity does not amount to libel; neither does the awful truth.
To emerge victorious in an internet defamation case, plaintiffs must prove that defendants:
- Made a false statement(s) of fact about the plaintiff;
- Referred to the plaintiff in the statement(s);
- Acted with reckless disregard for the truth, negligence or actual malice; and
- Caused material harm to the plaintiff via the contested statement(s).
Speak With An Internet Defamation Case Attorney
Kelly / Warner maintains an active – and highly successful – internet defamation legal practice. A pioneer in the field, our attorneys have won hundreds of cases. Often, we’re able to clear up a situation within a matter of weeks. To learn more about our online libel practice, click here. To speak with an experienced internet defamation lawsuit, get in touch.
The longer you wait, the longer the situation will fester. Take action.