Fighting For Bloggers' Rights!

Aug 26th

[Update: The judge killed the immoral 100% bogus lawsuit, and thus I am no longer accepting donations. Thanks to everyone who helped me. If you would like to support free speech online please donate to EFF or Public Citizen. Optionally you may also want to read the EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers, Chilling Effects or CyberSLAPP, all of which are great resources.]

Well Traffic Power just filed a civil lawsuit against me.

I looked at many of the sites that were referenced in my comments, and it looks as though many of them were forced to remove their comments / content by Traffic Power, or decided to remove it on their own. A couple examples are SEO Consultants Traffic Power section and & SE Roundtable's post located here http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/000596.html

As far back as June 4th, 2004 I removed a comment that I thought was offensive, and I thought generally I was keeping the content in bounds of any sort of legal limit. It is ok to have an opinion. It is ok for others to post their opinions. Since the initial time someone cold called me stating they were from Traffic Power the content has aged over a year and never once has Traffic Power attempted to contact me outside of blog comments, a cease and desist, and a lawsuit.

Could you imagine being a client for a company that communicates like that?

Had at any point in time Traffic Power made ANY LEGITIMATE ATTEMPT to tell me what specifically I or my site did wrong, I probably would have promptly removed it.

Imagine if your company had trade secrets disclosed on a website that got around 100,000 pageviews a month. Would you wait a year to sue for trade secrets being disclosed? Would you fail to point them out specifically so that they may be quickly removed if they were legitimate trade secrets?

Their lawyer has sorta gave me an ultimatum. Verbally he stated that if I removed ALL content related to Traffic Power from SEO Book.com that they would drop the suit. Currently I am drafting a request for a written statement, since verbal agreements do not override papers, and they already filed papers on me.

I have not decided whether or not it was in by best interests to fight this yet. I have a bit of money, but not tons. I have a bit of time, but not tons.

As far as potential upsides to proceeding with the legal ordeals:

  • It would preserve the content others have wrote on my site. I would not go mangling the content of those who aided in making this site more complete and / or more useful.

  • It would teach me a good amount about the legal system at a fairly young age.
  • Few people heavily rely upon me and I have minimal living costs, so I have little to lose on that front. Especially since I am young enough and quick learning enough to where even if I had nothing I could still do well in a year anyhow.
  • I hate to admit it, but I have for some odd reason always been more motivated to take action by negative influences such as incidents like this.
  • It would be an ego stroke to win, although I am not sure what legitimate value that has, and there are much better and cheaper ways to get a good ego stroke.
  • My posts rank well in search results, and it probably drives significant traffic to my website. That, in turn, may save a good number of businesses a significant amount of money.
  • I already rank second for their lawyer's name, and if I beat them I am certain I could easily boost that ranking to #1.
  • Others who were sued (it looks as though 5 people and 5 companies - although many of them might be people who commented on my site) would not need to go it alone.
  • Traffic Power would probably realize that bullying and intimidation are not the solution to bad PR. The real solution is fixing the problems that cause the bad PR. Even if my site has it's information taken down there are plenty of other sites that have similar information posted to them. Unless their business model or client communications strategy change I can only guess that other sites will continue to post bad stuff.
  • Since there is no specific information in the lawsuit it would probably get thrown out of court the first day.
  • There are still blatently defamatory forums created about me. It seems a bit stupid for me to give in because they hired a lawyer when it is obvious that someone out there is doing far worse to me, and that anonymous third party promotes Traffic Power and lies blatently about me.
  • I may be able to countersue, but I hear it is hard to sue companies working out of Las Vegas. That is the reason many telemarketing type companies are located in Nevada.
  • I have some friends who are far richer than I who stated they may be willing to help cover associated legal costs.

As far as potential downsides to proceeding with the legal ordeals:

  • It would eat time that I could use to focus on productive and useful ideas, tools, marketing methods, and learning.

  • There may be something worth suing for in the posts or comments. I am rather naive to the laws that govern such behavior. I do know that by me deleting and annotating the deletion of that one offensive post it shows that my intent was not purely evil or negative. It also helps show that if Traffic Power made any legitimate attempt to tell me specifically what was wrong they may have got a solution prior to them needlessly spending money talking to a lawyer.
  • The lawsuit would eat money that I could invest, give to charity, or spend on better things.
  • The Traffic Power story has died down, and it may make me look like a lamer to keep being involved in that story.

When I asked for more information or specifics Max D. Spilka told me it was too volumous to state. Some of my legal friends have stated that too volumous usually means there is nothing there.

Some of the opinions are fairly harsh, with some people stating things like:

  • In my opinion, all trafficpower.com is is just a bunch of cheep everyday crooks. They should all be in jail.

  • traffic-power.com called me today at 4:34am in the morning!!! What the F*@k ! They do not even check the time zones of who they are calling? I line in Hawaii .. Can anything be done to stop these people?!?!

I also left the posts that were pro / for Traffic Power as well, while also noting that none of them ever listed a specific URL.

For those who want to dig through the archives:

  • here is the initial post I made about the time I was cold called by a person who stated they were representing Traffic Power.

  • that post may have led to me being included in the bogus defamatory hate forums I noted here
  • on this page, someone asked me why I am not suing them over the content which is on the fake forums
  • this post notes that they may have changed names, as originally referenced by an SEO Consultants page that was later taken down.
  • here I cover what I thought was a fake press reference to the situation
  • recently they sent me a cease and desist order
  • they also recently sued Traffic Power Sucks

I am fairly certain I am probably just going to pull the content. Not so much for the legal reasons, but more for karma related ones, sorta like Nick's reasonings here.

If you bring enough negative crap into your life then eventually you can't help but become it.

Also, if Traffic Power did not exist, some other company would take that market position. This blog can not really help those people because I can't keep giving extended coverage to everything I do not think is good or my blog will just become a rant blog or whinge blog.

I tried creating something that was free and more of a bottoms up thing for SEO when I was a bit more naive than I am today, but if fell flat on it's face because some people claimed it was a self promo maneuver, even though I registered it by proxy and tried to remove much of my personal bias from my writing.

Ultimately though I am just an exceptionally small voice in an exceptionally crowded field. Recently O'Reilly even mentioned that one of my affiliates was a deceptive advertiser because they bought a link next to his cuban cigar link and had a footer affiliate link on their site.

Danny Sullivan is one of the few people in this industry that has a credible voice outside of this industry. He is probably one of the few people who can set initiatives, bring things together, and change things. I am still a bit too young, naive, and not-so-business-savvy to pretend that what I do can in any way fill that sort of a role. I really don't think me actively highlighting one or a few specific companies really makes anything better in the grand scheme of things.

If you posted comments to any of the prior posts please make sure you keep a copy for yourself if you want it, as the posts may be taken down soon.

If you post comments to this page make sure you also post them on your own blog or website, as this post may be taken down soon.

In the extended portion of the post is a rough copy of the "NOTICE! YOU HAVE BEEN SUED" notification. I am interested in your thoughts and comments. -------------------------------------------------------

Software Development and Investment of Nevada d/b/a Traffic Power.com., a Nevada corporation,
Plaintiff
vs.
Aaron Wall, an individual, d/b/a SEO Book.com, and DOES I through X; and ROE CORPORATIONS I through X, inclusive,
Defendants.

CASE NO.: A508400
DEPT NO.: V

SUMMONS - CIVIL

NOTICE! YOU HAVE BEEN SUED. THE COURT MAY DECIDE AGAINST YOU WITHOUT YOUR BEING HEARD UNLESS YOU RESPOND WITHIN 20 DAYS. READ THE INFORMATION BELOW.

TO THE DEFENDANT(S): A civil Complaint has been filed by the Plaintiff(s) against you for the relief set forth in the Complaint.

Aaron Wall
SEO Book.com
144 Dahlia Drive
State College, PA 16803

1. If you intend to defend this lawsuit, within 20 days after this Summons is served on you, exclusive of the date of service, you must do the following:

a. File with the Clerk of this Court, whose address is shown below, a formal written response to the Complaint in acordance with the rules of the Court, with appropriate filing fee.

b. Serve a copy of your response upon the attorney whose name and address is shown below.

2. Unless you respond, your default will be entered upon application of the Plainiff(s) and this Court may enter a judgement against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint, which could result in the taking of money or property or other relief requested in the Complaint.

3. If you intend to seek advice of an attorney in this manner, you should do so promptly so that your response may be filed on time.

4. The State of Nevada, its political subdivisions, agencies, officers, employees, board members, commission members and legislators, each have 45 days after service of the Summons within which to file an Answer or other responsive pleading to the Complaint.

Submitted by
____________
Max D. Spilka, Esq.
Neveda Bar No.: 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave, Ste. 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
(702) 933-5400
Attorney for Plaintiff

SHIRLEY B. PARRAGUIRRE, CLERK OF COURT
By: PATRICIA BOGGESS AUG 11 2005
Deputy Clerk Date

Clark County Courthouse
200 South Third Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89155

-------------------------------------------
MAX D. SPILKA, CHTD.
Nevada Bar No. 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
Telephone:(702)933-5400
Facsimile:(702)227-0799
Attorney for Plaintiff,
Software Development and Investment of Nevada
dba Traffic-Power.com., a Nevada Corporation,

DISTRICT COURT
CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA

Software Development and Investment of Nevada d/b/a Traffic Power.com., a Nevada corporation,
Plaintiff
vs.
Aaron Wall, an individual, d/b/a SEO Book.com, and DOES I through X; and ROE CORPORATIONS I through X, inclusive,
Defendants.

CASE NO.: A508400
DEPT NO.: V

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
Arbitration Exemption Claimed: Injunctive Relief (exraordinary relief)

Plaintiff, SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT OF NEVADA dba TRAFFIC-POWER.COM., a Nevada corporation, ("Plaintiff"), by and through its attorney MAX D. SPILKA, ESQ., for its causes of action against the Defendant, AARON WALL, an individual d/b/a SEO BOOK.COM ("Defendants"), and each of them, complaints and allegations as follows:

GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

1. Plaintiff is a corporation duly organized and validly existing in the State of Nevada doing business as Traffic Power and is in the buisiness of internet advertising and internet placement optimization..

2. Upon information and belief, Defendant AARON WALL is an individual residing in Centre County, State of Pennyslvania, and doing buisiness as SEO BOOK.COM.

3. Defendants DOES I through X, and ROES Corporations I through X, are individuals and entities of unknown form whose names and capacities are unknown to the Plaintiff who, therefore sues said Defendants by the ficticious names. The Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon allege, that each of the Defendants designated as DOE or ROE, is in some manner responsible in whole or in part for the transaction and occurences alleged herein and through their negligent, intentional or reckless conduct caused damages to the Plaintiff as set forth more fully below. The Plaintiff will seek leave to amend this Complaint to intert true names and capacities of DOES I through X and ROE Corporations I through X when Plaintiff ascertains them.

4. Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon alleges that at all times relevant, that Defendants, and each of them, including the ficticiously named DOE or ROE, were the agents of the other and in doing the things alleged herein, were acting within the course and scope of such agency and with the consent and permission of the co-defendants. For ease of reference, the named Defendants may be referred to collectively in the singular as "Defendant", and reference to one shall constitute reference to the others as well.

5. The actions complained of herein arose out of the conduct of the Defendants, and each of them, regarding Defendants' misappropriation of Plaintiffs trade secrets and Defendants' defamation of Plaintiff.

6. Plaintiff undertakes rigorous and extensive measures to safeguard information about its business. Internet placement optimization is a highly competitive business, and if Plaintiff's trade secrets are revealed competitors can gain a prejudicially unfair advantage over Plaintiff. Accordingly, Plaintiff's trade secrets are provided to a limited number of people, only on a need-to-know basis and subject to strict confidentiality agreements.

7. An unidentified individual, acting alone or in concert with others, has recently misappropriated and disseminated through web sites Plaintiff's confidential information. This information could have been obtained only through a breach of Plaintiff's confidentiality agreement. The unauthorized use and distribution of this information violates Nevada's trade secrets statue and has caused irreparable harm to Plaintiff.

8. Information concerning Plaintiff's trade secrets is not commonly known to the public or to others who can obtain economic value from their disclosure or use. The secrecy of this information provides Plaintiff a substantial business advantage.

9. Plaintiff competes in the highly competitive markets for internet advertisers and internet placement optimization. To succeed, Plaintiff must develop innovative market strategy and bring that strategy to the market before its competitors.

10. If Plaintiff's competitors became aware of Plaintiff's trade secrets, those competitors could benefit economically from that knowledge by directing their own market development and strategy to frustrate Plaintiff's plans. This strategic advantage to Plaintiff's competitors could, in turn, irreparably harm Plaintiff. Consequently, Plaintiff maintains such market strategy and development as trade secrets.

11. Plaintiff invests significantly in advertising and promotional activities surrounding its market strategy and development. The unautorized disclosure of Plaintiff's trade secrets causes Plaintiff to lose control over such information. Accordingly, Plaintiff protects such information as a trade secret.

12. Plaintiff takes reasonable steps under the circumstances to maintain confidentiality of its trade secrets. Plaintiff has established trade secret policies for its employees and requires all employees to execute strict confidentiality agreements.

13. Further, during their employment, Plaintiff's employees are reminded repeatedly that information learned durring the course of their employment is confidential. Moreover, when employees leave Plaintiff's employment, those employees are required to return all property belonging to Plaintiff. Plaintiff's information subject to its confidentiality agreement constitutes "trade secrets" under NRS 600 A. 030.

14. At unknown date or dates, Doe I, alone or in concert with Does I through X, began disseminating Plaintiff's trade secrets to the public, with such information now available on various web sites. Among other things, Defendant or Defendants posted proprietary relating to Plaintiff's solicitation, procedures on publicly accessible areas of the internet.

15. Also at unknown date or dates, Defendants maliciously published or caused to be published false and defamatory information over the internet concerning Plaintiff and Plaintiff's business.

16. Pursuant to Defendant's malicious intent, the publication has been read by the public.

17. The false and defamatory matter is calculated to damage Plaintiff's reputation, and at the time Defendants published or caused to be published such false and defamatory information about the Plaintiff over the internet, Defendants knew that the information published was false and defamatory and making such defamatory publication, Defendants acted with malice toward the Plaintiff.

18. Plaintiff has always enjoyed a reputation for honesty and truthfulness.

19. As a direct and proximate result of the breaches set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in a current amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined.

20. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

I.
FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Misappropriation of Trade Secrets)

21. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 20, as though fully set forth herein.

22. Defendant Doe I, alone or in concert with Defendants Does I through X, misappropriated Plaintiff's trade secrets by:

a. Acquiring those trade secrets by improper means such as theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, and/or espionage (hereinafter, "Improper Means");

b. Acquiring those trade secrets by Improper Means and disclosing them to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent;

c. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were derived from or through a person who had acquired them by Improper Means;

d. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain the secrecy or limit the use of those trade secrets;

e. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were derived from or through a person who had a duty to Plaintiff to maintain the secrecy or limit the use of the trade secrets; and/or

f. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent, without a material change in Doe I's position, and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were in fact trade secrets and that knowledge of those trade secrets had been acquired by mistake or accident.

23. As a direct and proximate result of the breaches set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

24. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

II.
SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Defamation / Liable Per Se)

25. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 24 as though fully set forth herein.

26. As provided earlier, Defendants published over the internet false and defamatory information regarding the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff's business with the intent of causing substantial injury to Plaintiff's reputation.

27. At the time Defendants published or caused to be published the false and defamatory information about the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff's business, Defendants knew that the published information was untrue.

28. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' actions set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursement, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

29. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

III.
THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Injunctive Relief)

30. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 29 as though fully set forth herein.

31. Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendats are continuing and will continue to misappropriate Plaintiff's trade secrets. By reason of that ongoing misappropriation, Plaintiff will suffer severe and irreparable harm and damage, which damage will be difficult to ascertain, and Plaintiff will be without an adequate remedy at law.

32. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' actions set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

33. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

IV.
FOURTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Punitive Damages)

34. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 33 as though fully set forth herein.

35. Defendants' conduct described herein was done with a conscious disregard for Plaintiff's rights, and with intent to vex, injure, or annoy Plaintiff, so as to constitute oppression, fraud and malice under Nevada law, entitling Plaintiffs to punitive damages in an amount appropriate to set an example of or punish Defendants.

36. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' wrongful conduct, Plaintiff is entitled to punitive or exemplary damages in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

37. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

WHEREFORE, for all claims and causes of action as alleged herein, Plaintiff demands judgement against the Defendants, and each of them, as follows:

1. For an amount exceeding $10,000, plus interest and costs, in an amount to be determined at trial;

2. For a Preliminary Injunction restraining the misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secrets;

3. For an Injunction permanently restraining the misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secrets;

4. For a judgement awarding punitive damages;

5. For interest on all claims from the date of damage;

6. For attorney's fees and cost; and

7. For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper in the premises.

Dated this 11 day of August, 2005.

_______
MAX D. SPILKA, CHTD.
Nevada Bar No. 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
Software Development and Investment of Nevada
dba Traffic-Power.com., a Nevada Corporation,

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Marlon\Traffic Power - Wall\Complaint.wpd

Page 7 of 7

Published: August 26, 2005

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Comments

nolo
August 31, 2005 - 4:32pm

Just writing to join the chorus encouraging you to contact a lawyer -- and not one who's just gotten out of law school. Put out a tip jar for expenses.

Greg
August 31, 2005 - 5:37pm

Good luck, Aaron. Strongly recommend you get a lawyer (hopefully you're getting one today.) Due to the WSJ article, you may be able to get a good one who's also good at publicity. I would also recommend fighting this unless the lawyer suggest otherwise: you can make this very bad for them, and bullies need to be smacked.

Paul P
August 31, 2005 - 6:01pm

Nice WSJ article. You should be getting contacted shortly by some attorneys willing to represent you pro bono (& lots of free publicity for them)

A Reader
August 31, 2005 - 7:52pm

Counts 2 and 4 sound like BS. Have your lawyer look at the communications decency act of 1996, which would seem to immunize you and your ISP from liability for what third parties post on your blog. For example, there is a site called ripoffreport.com that will publish consumer stories regardless of their truth (or lack of it) or whether they are defamatory. The CDA prevents business owners who were wrongly singled out from getting the posts removed.

Attorney Maria Crimi Speth in Phoenix AZ is familiar with this issue.

Michael
August 31, 2005 - 8:09pm

Fair Use quote from the WSJ article "company has coerced prospective clients into signing up for its service through aggressive telemarketing"

In my personal case, I feel that this is certainly true. My number was listed on my personal, non-commercial website whois registration information. They called the number to advertise their services. The number was to a personal cellular phone and it has been illegal for more than a decade to place telemarketing calls to such a number.

I sued them last year under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 [47 USC 227] and won a $5,149 small claims court judgment against them (for making a commercial prerecorded call to a cellular number, for failing to send me a copy of their do-not-call policy, for failing to train their staff in proper use of the do-not-call policy, and for willfully or knowingly violating the law).

I just hadn't gotten around to collecting as I thought they might have gone out of business or hidden assets, however, if they want to use their name again on public records, then they are still in business and collectable. I'll have to file to domesticate my judgment in Nevada, but that should not be too hard. Once cannot let a company like this get away with strong-arming people when they do it themselves, in my personal opinion (gained from my own experience with them).

Just because my number was listed in my website registration, it does not grant them prior EXPRESS permission that is *required* before they may place commercial calls to a cellular number. Had they even sent a copy of their do-not-call policy, I would not have even filed against them.

The TCPA gives you specific private right of action to go against the companies that violate the law. Do your own research at http://www.tcpalaw.com/ [tcpalaw.com]

August 31, 2005 - 8:17pm

This is just another example of companies bullying anybody for reporting things the way they are when it loses them money. It also shows the short comings of a system that claims "freedom of the press" and then allows people to sue for printing things that work against someone who is willing to throw money at some government department.

People in the USA are SUPPOSED to be allowed to express their opinions in a non violent manner.(of course corporations say otherwise). Here is an answer for you: Start a fund! collect funds to support fighting this lawsuit through pay pal. When SCO tried their nonsense with Linux, Redhat was ready to fight and protect its users. You have a high site ranking, people value your content, those reading it should help fight to protect it. I don't have tons of money, but I'd contribute to fight this kind of attempt of corporate censorship for financially and politically.

By the way, I'll also be telling people about the business practices of Traffic Power and all their aliases. I have contacts with many business who might have their software if not for people strongly advising otherwise for ethical reasons. Business who attempt this kind of nonsense be warned: It has a strong possibility of backfiring.

August 31, 2005 - 8:34pm

I'm sure web community operators are 100% behind you, Aaron, good luck. Yes, you must get a lawyer and respond in some fashion. I don't think there's much traction for a suit, but if you don't respond you'll lose in a default judgment.

(Nice going on the small claims victory, Michael - I hope you can collect.)

August 31, 2005 - 8:44pm

In any case if you decide to go against fighting them, just open a tip jay, a paypal donation button somewhere.

We all know you, and you are respected authority who always help people in their need. Everyone today is talking about you, I think TP is getting more than enough negative PR they can handle.

I just wish I could help you in anyways. I don`t understand USA laws properly, but would hate to see end of "Freedom of Speech"

Nathan
August 31, 2005 - 9:01pm

Aaron,
Looks like some good advice offered here on the legal front. I haven't read through all of the posts you linked to (maybe you've done this already), but reading through the comments on one of them it definitely looks like someone affiliated with 1p was posting using a variety of false identities. MT stores the IP of each commenter, so you should be able to correlate where those came from and track them back to where they came from. If any of them were indeed from 1p, that might be useful in your legal defense. If you do decide to remove any posts or comments, make sure to keep a copy offline somewhere. E-mail me if you need help.

October 5, 2005 - 6:56am

Hi Aaron,

I'm a grad student in journalism at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

I'd like to interview you about your case for a story I'm writing about blog law. Sorry, but I can't think of a better way to get hold of you than by leaving a comment here.

Please contact me as soon as possible at the above email address if you're willing to help out.

Thanks, and best of luck.

Hamish

August 31, 2005 - 9:02pm

Hi Aaron,

Maybe someone already said something but, I would get a hold of ACLU or the Electronic Frontier Foundation http://www.eff.org/ they could help you.

Anyway Good Luck

Todd

Tony C
August 31, 2005 - 9:30pm

Aaron--

This case has the strong potential to bankrupt you and TrafficPower. Have you considered asking your users for help? Micropayment PayPal donations would help with your legal defense.

In the end, I think you will be vindicated, but it might be pricey.

Good luck.

Tony C

Matt Ishida
August 31, 2005 - 10:00pm

Ah, vague lawsuits that can be interpreted to find fault in anything you have on here, isn't it nice to know these can be filed still?

If they can't compete, they sue, if they can't sue, they give bad PR about you, if they can't do that... then they haven't been in business very long have they?

ryan
August 31, 2005 - 10:03pm

Gigalaw.com is also a great resource. As for TP (Use this when slamming the jerks...it could mean toilet paper or totem pole, etc.) there obviously a horrible SEO firm if they have so much negative feedback. And if they are horrible, people should know this, and not use their services.

To elaborate more, why in the world would someone pay thousands or more to a SEO company anyway? What a joke and a rip-off. I'm a "professional" SEO and online marketer. I am a one man, under paid department, that ensures all of our 3 sites pull up under our major keywords. And all 3 own google/yahoo with the keywords I chose. You want some tips? (It's more involved than this, but, it's a start.)

Aaron, my friend, I know you sell a book on this, so I apologize if I say too much, and feel free to remove the post. However, you got slashdotted, so, hopefully that will help your book sales.

What is the goal of a search engine?

Besides making $, it is to deliver the most accurate results for what the user is searching for. This is important to remember and practice when SEO'ing your site(s).

Title tag - each page in site should only have one keyword. The major keyword you want that page pulling up under when searched. This tag hold more weight then any other. Your desrciption tag is the text that displays under your title tag in the search engine, so put some thought into this and make it appealing.

Copy/content - Write loads and loads of text saturated with you major keywords. The more the better. Keep you keyword saturation aligned with the title tag keyword you have chosen.

Links, links, links - Try to get as many websites linked to you as possible. Sites with high page ranks prefferably, but they all help.

Google/Yahoo advertising - Do yourself a favor and fork up $2-300/month for 2-3 months and pay for some ad listings. Though they claim not to, I have seen favorability in the organic results.

It is much more involved than this, but the basic layout is here. Keep it ethical, rich with content, and updated content, and you will be fine. I have not met a website yet, that I could not get within the top 4 on google's first page. Except some porn sites, but I don't like working with those sites anyway and refuse SEO for them.
Don't submit your site to "6000 search engines" or whatever you see advertised. The spiders will find your site within a week.

You know, I really could write a good 60-70 pages on the subject....maybe I should write "The second SEO book on the planet".

Anyway, TP, and the rest of you scammers like TP just suck. Do a little research or buy Aarons book, or there are plenty of people like myself that make a little extra side $ contracting.

edis
August 31, 2005 - 10:37pm

how did you obtain the secrets of TP breaking the law? did you? did someone who published them on blog? or were "secrets" obvious after some professionally performed analysis from outside? doesn't it differ? while some of published stuff can be assumed as "position taken", there should be no even try to remove opinions, as such they are, whatever way they are mixed with facts.
if the facts are wronged - yes, they might wish not to misinform.

it is up to TP to be responsible for praising or self-critical publicity - they can always invest into that, being creative (preferably avoiding fake stuff they lean towards somehow), not running after those, who are creating (or just providing way to create) and who's kinds of publicity they dislike.

if TPs techniques are being disqualified on highly professional level as unprofessional, misleading by main SEs (major regulators/influences in their market) - well, there is nothing for them to do, but swallow the facts and align behavior with professional expectations.

zerth
August 31, 2005 - 10:38pm
August 31, 2005 - 10:47pm

This is not legal advice, and I am not an attorney.

If I were in your situation, I would immediately file a countersuit pro se, and proceed with the case defense pro se as well.

Pro se legal advocacy (in latin means "for oneself") requires a certain type of individual (you must be detail oriented and have a knack for learning new things), but if you dig in and learn the federal rules of procedure I assure you that you will do an excellent job of making opposing counsel quite angry - and potentially winning a countersuit as well.

Lawyers simply fill out forms, and there are two types of attorneys out there - those that know the judge, and those that know the law. Very few fall into the second category, you can scorch the earth with an attorney that doesn't properly follow the rules of procedure by analyzing their pleadings, and filing rebuttals. The federal system is inherently fair albeit strictly "by the book", so knowing the judge doesn't mean much in district court.

Pro se legal advocacy is great fun, and doesn't cost you a dime. Their time, however, does cost something, and the longer the case drags on the more out of pocket expenses they accrue.

Reply in private if you need more public legal resources, and once again - I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice, just 1st amendment protected free speech and personal opinion.

Regards

Jeff
August 31, 2005 - 11:15pm

I wouldn't be surprised if aid comes in the form of lawyers from the larger blog operators. There is potential precedential value to this action so there may be a number of amici waiting in the wings to say "not so plaintiff".

While you're busy organizing your defense I wonder, if there are many aggrieved people who used this service, who is organizing "the other plaintiffs"? Might as well get all the issues on the table at one time. If the user's claims are viable - which would go hand in hand with your defense - then it may make sense to pull this all together.

August 31, 2005 - 11:27pm

This is pathetic.. .I cant believe 1) they would sue over people comments, they are JUST comments.. since when is it illegal to say your opinion?

Can I get sued if I call someone an asshole online? its not TRUE, the person is a HUMAN not an asshole... but yet thats not against the law? So even if UNTRUE statements were made, which Im not sure is the case... then whats the big deal? Your not advertising and selling the info as fact, and detouring users from their site by targetting them?

the earlier poster is right... free speech is dead, if they win this, then I have even less faith in the legal system than I already have...

hope you win, and they need to pay damages along with your lawyers fees, etc. They should have to pay enough money to actually "hurt" as penalty for them wasting the government/courts time and attempting to ruin freedom of speech on the internet...

damn corporations hate it when you point out the negative facts...

all that aside, its not even YOUR comments. How can a person be held responsible for what others write in their blog? Thats just insane! You gotta moderate your board, and take part in stopping freedom of speech YOURSELF? they want YOU to be unamerican? just so the truth isnt told?

absolutely amazing how low people will stoop...

August 31, 2005 - 11:40pm

had to add one more comment of support! dont back down! if you need to contact every major blog owner for support. Get a nice draft about your rights being taken, explain the possible outcome, and that blogs all over are subject to the same abuse.

Explain that if you LOSE this case, then any of the blogs on any blogserver can be attacked by any company just because they dont like comments of a user... This is freedom of speech on the line..

Send an email to all of them if you have to , live journal etc. its possible someone has a good lawyer, or even are related to a good lawyer that may be willing to help just to get his reputation known, and to stop the chance that even their own company may be sued one day over it.

Im sure theres a lawyer out there who will take your case without fees if your truly in the right.

Its not a simple case, this is a ground breaking case that can effect ALL blogs on the internet... dont take it sitting down and betray all the users by censoring their posts unfairly..

easy to say for me because I dont need to go to court etc... but I would say, go through that effort, even if you LOSE, I think there will be appeals, and others rushing to your aid to prevent that from happening.. I can only hope...

You can even research similar cases on the internet and possibly contact the lawyer of those cases... if he wont help, he may know who can..

heres a case where the lawyer helped fight for freedom of speech when the DeCSS DVD encryption was cracked...

http://www.eff.org/IP/Video/MPAA_DVD_cases/?f=20000428_ny_nyt_article.html

I remember there was even a group of lawyers who specially worked to help hackers who got busted.. to help clear their name and give them a decent defense when they had no chance. I wish I knew the group.. but there are organizations like that out there.. dont give up the fight, and dont be afraid to ask others for help! You dont want to go at it alone thats for sure, and not just ANY lawyer, it would be great to get one who specializes in internet/technology, and freespeech.

me
August 31, 2005 - 11:48pm

It sucks, but the myth of free speech is just a myth?

Has it ever, really, existed - in public? Free speech is what is left when you take away the law.

And I agree with an earlier poster - the type of free speech left is diminishing. Only time will tell the extent to which this is good, in some areas (incitement to hatred etc) and bad when you cannot critique a company's product.

'God help us all'

Best Wishes
Me

September 1, 2005 - 12:02am

Hire a lawyer and respond. This case can probably be removed to federal court and there may be some possibility of changing the venue to PA. This might permit you to deal with an opposing counsel with more sense.

September 1, 2005 - 3:08am
September 1, 2005 - 3:19am

>this case almost had a precedent

as far as I know, not really, at least not that example. they sent him a cease and desist and I believe he pulled the content.

anonymous
September 1, 2005 - 6:26am

*this is not legal advice, i'm not a lawyer*

I'm in law school, so i have to say that.

dude--get a lawyer, ask her for a way to delay it. Ask if you can have it removed to Federal Court in your area, rather than trucking your ass to NV. After Burger King, your odds aren't bad. Plus, they'll be scared poopless if you get it into Fed Ct (not known for being Plaintiff-havens).

Plus, the complaint doesn't look that bad. you might actually be able to have it dismissed for failure to state a claim (see Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 12(b)(6)). So yes. If you know any lawyers, or people who know them, find one and throw down with this company. The pleading is really weak, and you should have no problem. Mention also Rule 11, because that's a really cool rule.

The rules are here:
http://straylight.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/overview.htm

and this is rule 12:
http://straylight.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule12.htm

and this is rule 11:
http://straylight.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/Rule11.htm

Note: if the Plaintiff's attorney thinks it's a BS claim, you can nail the attorney and the firm for fees!

Mike
September 1, 2005 - 6:40am

I'll be following your situation with interest. Best of luck to you. I'd offer my advice, but everyone seems to have helped already. By the way, a recent google of 1P lists the following in the description:

"Your Company Deserves First Place ! You’re in a race against your competition and to the winner goes the spoils."

...too bad they're listed second, just after your blog. What kind of company is this if they can't even get THEMSELVES in first place?!

Ralph Morris
November 18, 2005 - 11:03pm

I fail to see what case they have. Their SEO techniques (if you can even call them techniques) are unethical and against Google guidelines. You are right to highlight their aggresive methods in extorting money and certainly in the UK this would come under 'fair comment' under voluntary/statutory rules that govern publishing - defamation hardly applies here.

I'd fight these idiots all the way even if I had to stand up and prepare my own case - I'd make mincemeat of them. I would also submit all the hundreds (thousands?) of examples of the way this company conducts its business. It doesn't take too many brain cells to pull their case apart. Go for it!

Richard
September 2, 2005 - 10:58pm

I agree it should

A) Be delayed
B) Be dismissed for failure to state a claim
(how one "interts" is a term of art I have
never seen, will have to search for this later)
C) Should be defended by counsel.
D) I would ignore the recommendation looking for Rule 11 sanctions against counsel as it is likely to merely p.o. the judge.
E) Ignore the recommendation to go Pro Se (In Pro Per is better)
F) Consider filing a counter-claim for tortious interference with your customers and potential customers,
G) Plan on spending about $7500 unless someone takes it on a pro bono basis.

For trade secrets to survive as a viable claim, they will have to prove that the alleged secrets were (a) known by a limited and known number of people (b) whose formulation was not duplicable without special knowledge and (c) essential to the conduct of business. (Remember Coke and how Pepsi tried to replicate it?)

Now don't forget that you are always entitled to know that you were served *properly* and can contest the service of the papers without joining the case.If you were not properly noticed then the case cannot start.

And you should remember to demand a jury trial, which many may bemoan but are often able to come to a proper conclusion.

I would also see about possible violations using the telephone. It may not do you any good but it never hurts to have a record.

At least the press is paying attention and maybe will do better if your make it available on RSS.

Ultimately, you will have to be the one to face the dragon, and if everyone here shows up, it will make a difference. Good luck, and welcome to the world where lots of people have fought similar fights alone. Oh, and ave some extra money available to buy a copy of the transcripts. At least this is a country where transcripts are taken and available.

Richard
September 2, 2005 - 11:07pm

Addendum:

2 thoughts for you:

"Even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and kicked."

"[Judicial]reform is no sport for the short-winded." (Judge Vanderbilt, NJ Supreme Court)if

October 14, 2005 - 6:35pm

Simply duck this with minimum costs and time.

Law is an ass.

Kym
October 16, 2005 - 3:13pm

I think these people have revealed themselves for what they are and you have succeeded in making a point that has been noted by many people. the thing to do now is to back off or play the game.

I would document every sentence that you "intend" to delete from the site with propoer URL and page location references and provide it to their lawyer for verification that in taking the action to delete them will then satisfy their demand. That way the comments are preserved in legal papers at least.

If they respond yes then delete them. If they do not respond then keep asking. Given them three business days to respond each time and then sent another letter referencing the first asking for their confirmation.

Make sure you ask what additional comments, if any, would they like deleted requested URL and page position. Pre-empt the volumious response, by stating the the search of your site revealed no further references to their client's name or business.

At least if you get to court then it will be clear that they had a remedy in their hands and failed to use it and you have indicated your willingness to work with them in this matter.

But do inundate the lawyer the letter and followups as every letter he has to read costs his client money :) In fact become his penpal. Call him up and ask if he got the letter, read the letter, when he intends to respond to the letter, if there is anything more you can do to help him etc. Every call costs his client money.

When he has not given you any information within one month, delete the posts and advise him that given that he has not responded you have taken that action and assume that there are no futher posts they wish to be deleted and that you will await specific advice from them regarding any further posts.

And keep a record of all contact.

July 18, 2006 - 6:03am

I am keen to know the progress of this issue? Is everything resolved by now?

July 18, 2006 - 7:58am

Read the top sentence of my post at the top of the page.

September 13, 2005 - 11:01pm

If you copied the complaint directly, I think it's funny that they misspelled libel.

Brad Fallon
www.SEORadio.com

danielle
February 26, 2007 - 6:50pm

I am being sued for posting comments on my myspace blogs. This is frivolous and I am also in another state. I don't have money for an attorney and wonder if you can help me with filing a response? my email address is jokerswild1111@yahoo.com. Thanks

Brian
July 20, 2006 - 9:17am

I overlooked that part. I was reading your stories on Dave Taylor site.

September 21, 2005 - 5:19am

you should have falsified your who is.

corporate america has long screwed up this country.

hide your assets in swiss banks and let them sue you and win but you cannot squezze blood out of turnips.

this is no longer the united states of america.

we are the bush iraq corporate federation (BICF)

f)(* the first admendment to the jerry fartwell like organization that is suing you.

"either you with us or the terroists"
"i am with the terroists"

Paul P
August 26, 2005 - 10:50pm

I find it interesting that they are suing you for revealing their “trade secrets”. What was that... that they use fake forums?

[aaron edited this part out]

August 26, 2005 - 11:30pm

I think the crux of the matter is: are your comments a completely open and unmoderated forum? If you *ever* delete or edit a comment, then your legal position changes from a "common carrier" (like the phone company) to a "publisher" (like the NY Times) and you are then indeed responsible for all comments and material on your site, like it or not. A disclaimer doesn't matter, either.

If you moderate or edit comments, Aaron, my suggestion to you is that you very seriously consider wiping out all comments or material that relate to the plaintiff in this matter, because the law *is* on their side, not yours.

Good luck, whatever you do! I'm not impressed with their legal tactics, but I can understand where they're coming from too, unfortunately.

August 27, 2005 - 12:09am

Unfortunately they aren't really doing business as Traffic Power any longer and are instead calling themselve First Place or 1p. So we have to wonder how many victims are being saved. You should comply with this order by changing everywhere in your site that says 'Traffic Power' to say 'First Place 1p'. That way you comply with the order and still do your bit to protect the innocent victims.

August 27, 2005 - 12:47am

are your comments a completely open and unmoderated forum? If you *ever* delete or edit a comment, then your legal position changes from a "common carrier" (like the phone company) to a "publisher" (like the NY Times) and you are then indeed responsible for all comments and material on your site, like it or not.

so what if one deletes blog spam or forum spam?

surely there has to be some level in between responsible for everything ever posted and a free for all page. If there isn't I see some laws getting changed after a few cases where the publisher has a few hundred thousand dollars to throw into defense.

Not sure if I really want my name down as the one who fought to change publishing laws as they relate to the web though, as that may require a bit more energy than I have.

BTW Jason if you search Google for 1P this site ranks #1.

Paul it is probably comments like those that helped everything else I wrote become lawsuit worthy.

I am still waiting for their reply to the letter I sent. Once their lawyer drafts a satisfactory written agreement I will probably swiftly end up removing contents relating to "traffic power".

August 27, 2005 - 1:00am

I dont believe I ever removed anything on my site due to TP. Nor did TP every contact me.

I am so sorry for you - its such a pain to have to deal with this.

Let me know if I can help.

August 27, 2005 - 1:05am

http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/000596.html

I believe one of the comments someone left on my site referenced that post, stating that Google just knocked out the java redirects and look at the traffic power comments below it...right now there are no comments though.

August 27, 2005 - 1:08am

That was do to a server crash. All comments from a certain time period on, were lost.

August 27, 2005 - 1:09am
August 27, 2005 - 3:54am

Good luck Aaron! Tough choice really. I don't envy you your choices, and good luck!

Mike
August 27, 2005 - 4:54am

Aaron, I sure hope you fight this. Good luck with this either way you choose to go.

A Reader
August 27, 2005 - 6:58am

You know, you can just go down and file a countersuit for malicious prosecution. Do it in Penn State so they have to travel to Penn. Sue them for 100X what they are claiming--talk to a lawyer. It doesn't cost that much for an initial consultation.

August 27, 2005 - 8:58am

I see they were smart enough to register 1psucks.com before someone else got it.

August 27, 2005 - 1:11pm

Make sure you take the time and trouble to go through with at least the motions of defending this lawsuit.

If you fail to comply with all the necessary legal steps outlined in the writ, you will automatically default to 'No Contest' and your 'ass will be grass' as the saying goes.

It would not be in your interests, for example, to wait for a letter from the other party since this may take some time to come through and the period you have to file an intent to defend could expire.

NFFC
August 27, 2005 - 1:42pm

Its a tough choice, one that only you can make. If it were me I would get a good lawyer and throw every ounce of time, effort and finance I had at winning this thing. If you lose, which I seriously doubt, at least you walk away with both balls intact and having made your stand for the truth.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

August 27, 2005 - 2:32pm

Personally, I think you should fight this on general principal, but I can also see the wisdom of NickW's post you referenced (I wouldn't spend money to fight Doug).

Throw up a defense fund donate button and I will contribute.

I guess the legal standard of publisher vs. common carrier (as Dave posted above) muddies the waters a quite a bit. Would someone like the ACLU or other freedom of speech outfits have interest in this type of action?

You have done a lot of good things for SEO (like your open source tools and lots of good info) and I'm sure there are many who would be willing to help, if asked.

martin

woot
August 27, 2005 - 4:07pm

what about getting up a donation section as previously mentioned, then get this post slashdotted !

August 27, 2005 - 4:14pm

Aaron: If you want an idea of what a year-long lawsuit that involves hundreds of motions and counter-motions, leading to a resolution in favour of the little guy, check out www.taubmansucks.com

Would any sane person put themselves in the position of wasting so much time for so little value? I wouldn't recommend it.

Hank Mishkoff's first mistake in defending himself was to respond to the suit out-of-state. Don't let a lawyer talk you into doing anything in Nevada unless there is no alternative. As mentioned in a comment above, you should be able to defend yourself in your home state, unless certain conditions apply.

Good luck.

August 27, 2005 - 4:25pm

Aaron, definitely get yourself a lawyer - may cost a little at first, but you need to know if there is an actual case to answer.

Namely, because there may not be a case to answer, and this could all just be bluff.

You need someone in a position of professional responsibility to be able to advise how the courts may view the matter if progressed.

August 27, 2005 - 4:30pm

"Throw up a defense fund donate button and I will contribute."
Ill 3rd that!

John Jenkins
August 27, 2005 - 4:44pm

I'm not a lawyer yet, so you need to consult a local attorney, but I'm not sure that the Nevada courts can assert personal jurisdiction over you. You probably have to make a special appearance to contest personal jurisdiction. The problem is that if you lose that argument, you've litigated the issue and you have to fight the suit there.

The other option is to let the Nevada court enter a default judgment which will have to be executed in Pennsylvania. When they try that you could collaterally attack jurisdiction, but you can't do anything about the decision on the merits.

It is a dangerous game to let them take the default judgment and you should only do that on advice of competent counsel.

Brad Bristol
August 27, 2005 - 5:31pm

Sorry to hear this Aaron.

This is how people like TP deal with problems.

I don't post at thread watch any more (it been scummed by massa), so please contact me thru my email. I want to help.

lots0

Brad Bristol
August 27, 2005 - 5:39pm

Ask your lawyer about counter sueing them and fileing suit in Pennsylvania against TP for harrasment. Only look into fileing it in the local federal court.

August 27, 2005 - 6:20pm

Hey Aaron. You might want to see if you can get some free legal advice from Len Tillem on KGO Radio. He's located here in San Francisco and will be on the air Saturday - Sunday: 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM PST. You can call these phone numbers (I'm unsure if they have a toll-free line) and also listen online. People from France even call in.

Good luck.

Huh. What.
August 27, 2005 - 6:22pm

Don't settle. Drag the suit out. My guess, you can get sanctions against them if you're in an anti-SLAPP jurisidiction. THe lawsuit looks like it was a chop-shop job, and I bet this company is about ready to keel over on its own, anyways.

Matt
August 27, 2005 - 6:39pm

Yeah, put out the tip jar and start a legal defense fund. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Do not ignore the suit, and do not sit around waiting for them to give you more details or any such nonsense. That way lies disaster. Unless I miss my guess, they have no obligation to give you more details at this point; if Nevada is a notice pleading state, the details will come out in discovery -- which is weeks or months down the road. In the meantime, you need to consult with a lawyer NOW. A complaint has been filed. If you don't file an answer within a certain period of time (usually a few weeks or thereabouts), they can take a default judgment against you.

John Jenkins is right: A Nevada court may not have personal jurisdiction over you; however, the Internet is making such questions more complicated than they used to be. He's also right that you shouldn't let them take the default judgment against you except on advice of counsel. The jurisdictional issue needs to be looked at very closely before you make that kind of decision. Again, the important point here is that you need to consult with a local lawyer now.

August 27, 2005 - 6:51pm

Aaron, I do agree with Brian, NFFC and others to get a lawyer and stand with the truth.. but still I suggest don`t waste your time with these shitheads.

It will cost you a lot of time and mental tensions, TP are not worth even 1 cent going after.

But still if you are willing to go on fighting with them, just consult your lawyer and see how much time and effort it requires. People like these TP and IP are suffering from frustuation and have plenty of time to waste.

SHITHEADS...

August 27, 2005 - 7:44pm

Aaron..so sorry about all this junk. Yours is one spot on the Web I read regularly, and you provide a valuable service. Please let us know if there's anything we can help you out with - petitions, armed thugs, bake sales (okay, maybe not the armed thugs.). :>)

August 27, 2005 - 7:58pm

Seems like Traffic Power just walked into a public relations nightmare for them.

How big are they actually?

ThomasB
August 27, 2005 - 8:26pm

It really is a tough one. I'd personally go with NFFC's advice, but be sure that you keep enough money to survive. I'm pretty sure you'll get a lot of support from the community in this case.

August 27, 2005 - 8:58pm

Hi Aaron

Good luck with whatever course of action you decide to pursue. Either way the community will be routing for you.

Vinnie

DaveAtIFG
August 27, 2005 - 9:53pm

As others have suggested, file a response within the alloted 20 days and buy some time to explore your options.

One of those options may be a "legal defense fund." Try it, you have nothing to lose and it may provide you the means to fund your defense, if needed. Personally, I'm in.

Mona
August 27, 2005 - 9:53pm

Aaron,I am a lawyer, and I strongly, emphatically concur with those who have told you to see a lawyer NOW. Even if all you decide you want to do is default. Additonally, I am offering you some observations, but I am ***not*** intending my comments as legal advice or entering into any attorney-client relationship with you. I offer them as issues you could raise with a lawyer licensed in your state or in NV, and as general observations for the public good.

There defintiely is a question as to whether the suit should not fail for lack of personal jurisdiction over you. This matter would have to be researched and argued by the competent lawyer you should consult.

Further,
iIn the state in which I am licensed, defamation claims must be alleged with far greater specificity than the papers served on you contain. Perhaps this is not the case in NV, and I do not know NV's pleading requirements -- you should consult with a competent lawyer. But if it is the case, then failing to specify exactly what comments were made that are purportedly defamtory, would be fatal to the claim, unless amended.

My hunch, from a distance -- and you must NOW consult with a competent lawyer in your state or in NV to find out if anything I've said is correct -- is that this complaint is not meant to succeed if you actually defended it. It is meant to scare you into folding. It is meant to scare others, via publicity, into ceasing from all Internet criticism of TP or 1P.

In any event, no matter what you do decide to do, the decision absolutely must be made in consultation with a competent lawyer.

And finally, Instapundit has linked to stories on this suit. You may, therfore, find a lot of help and support coming in.

Mike Thomas
August 27, 2005 - 10:04pm

In my not so humble opinion, this threat from traffic power is a very sad joke. I recommend laughing in their face and squeezing every bit of negative publicity out of this lawsuit you possibly can.

August 28, 2005 - 5:57am

Aaron was mentioned today in the popular Blogspotting blog. They didn't link directly to seobook.com, but rather linked to other blogs that do. Maybe BusinessWeek is worried about being sued too :-O

August 28, 2005 - 8:37am

Aaron,

as you know I was "attacked" with similar crap just a few weeks ago - bringing copyright and trademark law in where they don't belong...

However I went with your's and others advice to just let it fade away, take down all crap and forget about it...

of course it's what they want,
but do you want the hassles, nerve- and timespend`?

cheers,christoph

August 28, 2005 - 12:32pm

seems to me you can get them back by countersueing them for the forum thing...

Slander, anttacking honour...

That on itself is enough from their side to make you win. I'd say delete nothing. What do they want you to do? Lie about their businesses and tell your readers it's legit?

You can't be blamed/attacked for telling the world how it is.

It's not your fault they deliver a bad product and a very very bad service.

August 28, 2005 - 3:25pm

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

I hope you fight them. I hear your point about the work, etc. But when you say that other bad people are just waiting to take their place, consider that you will have helped make it that much easier (as the quote above says so well).

August 28, 2005 - 3:28pm

If only Traffic Power had asked you first, and officially, to take some comments down and told you why to be so kind to do so, you could agree if they back up that claim with figures and facts.

But since it's your blog, you're responsible for the comments. I have to agree on that. If you decide to not moderate, you'll have to carry the consequences.

If you have pay pal, people could donate to help you fight your battle.

Good luck !

A Reader
August 28, 2005 - 8:01pm

Sir, you are a SLAPP victim:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLAPP

To learn more google "SLAPP".

For them to win, they generally prove monetary damages.

The first legal step is the "show cause" hearing.

They must appear and convince the jusge of the validity of the legal basis for their suit.

I would move to have the case thrown out there.

The next step is discovery, supeonas for documents, depositions etc.

I would simply subpeona ALL of their internal emails, their entire customer and customer support databases, their CEO, their financial recors, EVERYTHING.

See how they respond.

August 28, 2005 - 8:02pm

Sir, you are a SLAPP victim:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLAPP

To learn more google "SLAPP".

For them to win, they generally prove monetary damages.

The first legal step is the "show cause" hearing.

They must appear and convince the jusge of the validity of the legal basis for their suit.

I would move to have the case thrown out there.

The next step is discovery, supeonas for documents, depositions etc.

I would simply subpeona ALL of their internal emails, their entire customer and customer support databases, their CEO, their financial recors, EVERYTHING.

See how they respond.

Eric E
August 28, 2005 - 11:25pm

Aaron - you're a kind & helpful guy, and don't deserve this headache. just know whether you decide to fight or you manage to resolve this, you have many of us around the world rooting for you! - EE

August 29, 2005 - 12:46am

I'd like to second Mona's suggestion that you consult an attorney before doing anything, including responding to these charges. You may well be able to get the case kicked for lack of personal jurisdiction, but if so, you could easily lose that opportunity simply by attempting to defend the case on the merits.

August 29, 2005 - 2:38am

Aside from all the previous comments about making sure you're legally covered (that's a must) ... what a total PR disaster by Traffic Power ... and it's all their own doing!

If any business - big or small - wants to know how NOT to go about public relations follow what Taffic Power has done.

It sounds and reads like a simple scare tactic from Traffic Power, who are unable to take critisicism and it's intimidation at its best. Also by going this route, it's as if TrafficPower is trying to hide something: maybe something they are not proud off...

If TP really wanted to "nip this in bud" then they should have contacted Aaron privately and sorted things out a long time ago.

If this is a cheap publicity stunt from Traffic Power it will fail and fail miserbaly. For you see, word of mouth on the Internet is a massive tool that works - As you can see from the general support Aaron had gotten here .. and these thigs spread. Soon enough Traffic Power will become the laughing stock of the internet (they're well on their way now!)

BTW, I never before visited this site until I came across it in my rss feeds. And I like it, and will subscribe to it.

Finally, Aaron: getting the legal side right first, milk this for all its worth in a publicity sense. Just as TP are getting bad publicity you will get the good kind.

All the best.

Eric Rusch
August 29, 2005 - 4:58am

You're a great guy Aaron. I'd gladly kick in some dough to fight the slime balls. Actually, I'd just finally get around to buying your SEOBook.

marty
August 29, 2005 - 7:27am

I looked at your early comments about 1p/TP, I think these might be the Trade Secrets:
1. Hire salespeople who have no idea about Search Engines and/or the internet
2. Pay them nothing much to improve their ability to sell
3. Always have a "special" of $3000
4. Call yourself Frank when posting on other blogs
5. Create your own forums to say how great you are, and lock everyone else out so they can't deny it.
6. Cold call people at 4am
7. Sue people

Hmmm.. strong plan there.

August 29, 2005 - 12:11pm

If legal costs are an issue I would start looking towards your closest law school. Find a recent graduate that wants to hone his skills and make a name for himself. Who knows, he might be the next Melvin Belli.

Good luck . . . . FWIW: I used to be a paralegal, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Nick Wilsdon
August 29, 2005 - 3:38pm

I’m really sorry to hear about all this Aaron. INAL of course and I'm sure you've been talking to one for a more considered opinion. I don't see any shame with taking down the content - frankly you probably have better things to be doing with your time. If we're running a critique of bad apple SEO companies then we're going to be here a while - bottom line, top quality web marketing is easier to sell than to do for most people. Until companies wise up to this and start making informed decisions nothing is going to change.

The only thing that bugs me about this whole episode is the way they have come after you.

seomike
August 29, 2005 - 4:46pm

This information could have been obtained only through a breach of Plaintiff's confidentiality agreement.

They should sue Google then because it's their cache that gave their trade secret away.

TRADE secret my @$$ people have been using crappy java doorway cloaks for years. I'd make them prove they invented it? Which they can't. Hell you can read about them on spider food and that site hasn't even been updated in 2 1/2 - 3 years. It's when TP had their clients link to those freaking doorways that got all their clients in a heap of trouble. How the hell can you sue someone for that???

You should set up a paypal legal fees donation acount on your site Aaron, fight these freaking guys.

ALL YOU WHITE HATS should rally to this because this is black hat terrorism at its finest. You all should be putting your money were your mouth is and get break out your wallets!!!

Paul P
August 29, 2005 - 4:55pm

"Paul it is probably comments like those that helped everything else I wrote become lawsuit worthy."
- Aaron Wall

I suppose it would be legally OK if put it in the form of a question like, "Is Traffic Power admitting to using fake forums as a SEO tactic?".

It's unfortunate where America is going... FREE SPEACH IS DEAD!

Paul P
August 29, 2005 - 5:27pm

"what about getting up a donation section as previously mentioned, then get this post slashdotted
- woot

I'm not a man of means, but if you do decide to fight this, I'll throw in $20.

Perhaps a middle-of-the-road solutions is to have an attorney review the copy in question and tell you what is clearly legal and clearly not legal. Obviously you can't slander, but, as far as I know, you are allowed to report that "pundits claim this or that." An attorney may bring a little clarity into what is in compliance, even if you don't plan on fighting this.

PS: I sympathize with your situation. No offense taken if you have to remove the question in my last post ;-)

Best of luck.

August 29, 2005 - 6:15pm

What a bunch of douche bag pussies.. I never deal with that company. Start a fund Aaron, we'll all chip in!

August 29, 2005 - 10:40pm

Dude, what were you thinking?

No one can rely on other people or corporations to turn the other cheek when it comes to insults on blogs, however slight they might be. We have free speech but it won't stop the lawsuits or the nasty feedback.

Case in point. A few months ago, I was spammed by a radio dj from the midwest. He was trying to set up an interview with my company CEO about a story we were involved with. Great airtime. Not a targeted market but a cool idea. Why not?

But, while I read his pitch, I picked up on something that led me to believe he wanted us to pay HIM for the interview. Turned out he rents airtime from a syndicated network and has the right to charge his guests.

The emails back and forth after that were a bit foul and unprofessional because I really told him what I thought of his pitch and he wasn't too happy.

But I never blogged his name, stations or company name. I knew the power of our corporate blog would bury his sites in the rankings and everyone would be able to read what I wrote about him.

I'm glad I didn't blog about that situation, I'd probably be sitting next to you outside the courthouse one day.

Just like grandma used to say, if you can't say anything nice about anyone, don't say anything at all. Unless you have the balls and the money to back it up.

Good luck.

August 30, 2005 - 12:25am

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) has written a Legal Guide for Bloggers which you may find helpful, http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/. For information on defenses to claims based on comments posted by third parties, see the FAQs on Section 230 (a federal law that protects forum hosts), http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-230.php. For example, Zeran v. AOL, 129 F.3d 327, 330 (4th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 524 U.S. 937 (1998) held that Section 230 “creates a federal immunity to any cause of action that would make service providers liable for information originating with a third-party user of the service.”

justme
August 30, 2005 - 7:10am

just take it down and move on with your life, seriously. is it really worth all your time and energy...maybe even money? use the 20 days to think about it.

ink
August 30, 2005 - 4:46pm

Once upon a time, an east coast company, a competitor, sued my employer, a California company, in the U.S. District Court. They had to file in the U.S. courts, and in the California U.S. district because that was the jurisdiction where my employer resided. That was the rule.

But, I digress. When a close friend (a very skilled attorney hated by every other attorney in town because most of the time he beat them) heard that we had been sued, he called me to give me a piece of advice. He said, "When you walk into the U.S. District Court, you are taking a walk with Alice in Wonderland."

Years later I remembered his advice, after our little company lost the litigation before a district court judge whose boss in the court system was a shareholder of the company that sued us, after we lost our appeal, and after the U.S. Supreme Court OVERTURNED all the prior decisions and making us effectively the "winner."

It was a pyric victory for everybody connected with the company, because the company had gone out of business several years before we "won" to limit our wealthy shareholders liability in the litigation.

Yeah, you'd better spend a couple of thousand bucks for some expert legal advice before doing anything else.

If you've been sued, then you have to be served with the papers. All I read here is a letter from an attorney and you've said nothing that tells me you've actually been sued. Received threats, yes, sued, I don't see the evidence that's happened.

Look for a good tech attorney, one who works for a well known and respected firm with strong internet and intellectual property litigation experience. Don't screw around with this. Even if you are willing to comply with their demands, you are setting a precedent for yourself, and that can be a very big target on your back for others.

Ross
August 31, 2005 - 12:18am

What makes me angry is how the lawyers win no matter what happens. What a screwed up system we have where legal expenses are so high that deep-pocketed companies can intimidate people simply because the cost of consulting a lawyer is beyond the little guy's means.

LAWYERS MUST DIE

Alright, I better stop ranting now

Lena
August 31, 2005 - 7:03am

You might want to check out:

Attorney: Ronald D. Coleman - http://www.coleman-firm.com/

General Counsel: http://mediabloggers.org/about/

Many Bloggers are joining and becoming members.

Found out about the above sites while following Michael Bates from batesline.com when Tulsa World's made legal threats against BatesLine.

Good Luck!

August 31, 2005 - 12:25pm
A Reader
August 31, 2005 - 3:35pm

The only claim that should survive a motion to dismiss is the trade secrets claim. The defamation claims are taken care of by 47 USC 230. And even then, newspapers can't be held liable for trade secret publication unless they did so with knowledge. Since anyone can post a comment here, it seems like a lot (though possibly not all) of the suit is DOA

January 6, 2008 - 4:36pm

Looks like the CEO of Traffic Power is now in Jail!

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2008/01/03/seo-firm-ceo-jailed

January 6, 2008 - 8:17pm

Yup. Sorta sad honestly. That guy probably had many opportunities to go clean. His brother is the CEO of a multibillion dollar company. Not sure why he didn't just go honest. Who wants to be in jail in their 60s?

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