October 24, 2017

Tenth Circuit: Communications Decency Act Does Not Provide Immunity from Suit

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in General Steel Domestic Sales, L.L.C. v. Chumley on Tuesday, November 1, 2016.

General Steel employed Ethan Chumley until 2005, when he left to start his own company, Armstrong Steel. The two parties have had numerous legal disputes since then. Armstrong Steel initiated a negative online advertising campaign against General Steel, so that when internet users search for General Steel, negative advertisements from Armstrong Steel appear that redirect the internet user to Armstrong Steel’s web page entitled “Industry Related Legal Matters.” The web page contains 37 posts, 20 of which are at issue in this action. The 20 posts summarize, quote, and reference lawsuits involving General Steel, and contain selective snippets of court documents.

General Steel filed suit in district court with four claims: (1) unfair competition and unfair trade practices under the Lanham Act, (2) libel and libel per se, (3) intentional interference with prospective business advantage, and (4) civil conspiracy. Armstrong Steel sought summary judgment, claiming immunity from suit and liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA). The district court found that Armstrong Steel was entitled to immunity for three posts because they simply linked to third-party content. However, the court refused to extend CDA immunity to the other 17 posts and the internet search ads, finding that the defendants were not entitled to immunity because they created and developed the content by selectively quoting and summarizing the court documents in a deceiving way. Armstrong Steel appealed the district court’s denial of immunity and claims appellate jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine.

The Tenth Circuit analyzed whether the CDA provided immunity from suit or simply immunity from liability. The Tenth Circuit noted that if the CDA provided immunity from suit, the appeal would be effectively unreviewable, but if it provided immunity from liability, the Tenth Circuit would lack jurisdiction because the order of the district court was not a final order. The CDA does not contain “an explicit statutory or constitutional guarantee that trial will not occur,” so it does not provide immunity from suit.

The Tenth Circuit dismissed the appeal.

The Top Ten Mistakes Companies Make in Online Advertising: How to Comply with the FTC Act

Have you ever done an internet search and clicked on what appeared to be a likely answer, only to find yourself staring at a fake news site advertising some product? Or conversely, have you ever thought that you might get more search hits if you made your firm’s web page look like a news website? Learn about the pitfalls to this approach on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, as Scott R. Bialecki and Claude C. Wild, III, discuss the FTC’s advertising laws at CLE’s lunchtime program, “The Top Ten Mistakes Companies Make in Online Advertising.”

In addition to fake news sites, Mr. Bialecki and Mr. Wild will address such topics as website testimonials, endorsements in social media, online disclaimers, use of competitors’ names on websites, and related enforcement considerations. They will also examine common advertising and trademark infringement missteps associated with online advertising.

This program is a must-see for all attorneys with an internet presence. Don’t miss it!

CLE Program: The Top Ten Mistakes Companies Make in Online Advertising

This CLE presentation will take place on Wednesday, May 16. Participants may attend live in our classroom or watch the live webcast.

If you can’t make the live program or webcast, the program will also be available as a homestudy in two formats: video on-demand and mp3 download.

Advertising Law in 2011: Attending This Program Could Help Support Your Immune System!*

* Cannot be verified by any credible medical organization.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t see some real benefits from attending this excellent program on September 9, 2011. CBA-CLE is bringing in, just for you, legal professionals from the Federal Trade Commission and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, nationally known private practitioners, and national business experts who will join together in Denver for this informative workshop about complying with truth-in-advertising laws.

No other program in the state will offer you the in-depth, comprehensive approach that this seminar will with its distinguish faculty of experts!

Topics of the program will include:

  • Priorities from the Colorado Attorney’s General’s Office, Consumer Protection Section
  • Federal Trade Commission Updates from the Bureau of Consumer Protection
  • Substantiating Advertising Claims, including Health Claims and Green Guides
  • The Use of Social Media in Advertising
  • Copyright and Trademark Primer for Non-Intellectual Property Attorneys
  • Competitive Issues, including the Lanham Act and National Advertising Division

Register today and mark your calendars for this great program. We look forward to seeing you there!

CLE Program: Advertising Law in 2011

This CLE presentation will take place on Friday, September 9. Participants may attend live in our classroom or watch the live webcast.

If you can’t make the live program or webcast, the program will also be available as a homestudy in three formats: video on-demand, mp3 download, and audio CD recordings. The course materials will also be available.