PHILADELPHIA – Defendants in a lawsuit filed by weight loss company GOLO LLC allege GOLO’s claims are an attempt to suppress free speech, among other accusations.

“GOLO has asserted claims under the Lanham Act, for common law unfair competition, and for trade libel, even though – as GOLO acknowledges –  defendants’ only purported 'competition' consists of publishing reviews of GOLO’s diet and supplement, and attempting, like any internet publisher, to garner web traffic to those reviews,” defendants HighYa LLC and BrightReviews LLC stated in the Sept. 25 memorandum of law in support of their motion to dismiss.

GOLO's case against HighYa LLC, BrightReviews LLC, Dmitry Ozik and Vladimir Rappaport was filed June 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. GOLO filed the lawsuit because the defendants, who operate consumer review websites, allegedly allowed users to post negative reviews of GOLO.

The memorandum states “GOLO is attempting to use laws designed to protect against unfair competition as a tool for suppressing speech about it that it does not like. The law does not permit that.”

Defendants proffer several arguments in favor of dismissal. They argue that they cannot be accused of violating the Lanham Act because it doesn’t apply to non-commercial speech. (The Lanham Act primarily applies to trademark registration, although it prohibits false advertising.)

The websites HighYa and BrightReviews  “offer two kinds of reviews of consumer products and services: (i) editorial reviews, which are authored by defendants, and (ii) reviews submitted by third-party commenters who have used the products and services at issue, and whose reviews are posted underneath the editorial reviews,” according to the memorandum.

Additionally, “The trade libel claim fails as a matter of law because all of the statements GOLO is challenging (a) were published outside of the statute of limitations, (b) are immune from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and/or (c) have not been adequately alleged to be false, to have been published with fault, or to have caused pecuniary loss,” the memorandum states.

Attorney Paul Safier represents Defendants HighYa, LLC and BrightReviews LLC. Plaintiff is represented by M. Kelly Tillery of Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia.

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