by Paul Alan Levy
After Lifestyle Lift sued Justin Leonard for allowing putting its name in the “path” for pages on his infomercialscams.com web site where consumers commented on the merits of Lifestyle’s product, claiming trademark infringement and dilution, Leonard issued a warning that the case was so lacking in merit that attorney fees could be awarded if the suit proceeded. When Lifestyle persisted in its suit, the district court ruled from the bench dismissing its lawsuit. Lifestyle Lift then coughed up $17,500 rather than face a motion for fees under both Rule 11 and the Lanham Act. Other documents in the case can be found here.
Lifestyle has shown a habit of filing suits against its critics, dragging them to the Eastern District of Michigan in the expectation that the high cost of defending will quash criticism. It is to be hoped that Leonard’s successful resistance serves as a lesson – both to companies that get bad legal advice telling them how easy it is to suppress criticism through phony trademark claims (they should ask skeptical questions), and to the critics who receive such threats and face such suits (it is worth standing up to trademark bullies).