Tag Archives: directbuy

How not to write a cease-and-desist letter: Comparing the Dozier Internet Law threat letters against InfomercialScams and InvendorEd

Do you want to have your reputation ruined, pay a million dollar fine, and in general tick everyone off? If so, Dozier Internet Law is the law firm for you! But if the thought of being in the presence of “Super Lawyer” John “Bull” Dozier is too intimidating, you can examine the form that Dozier seems to use to wreck their clients. (Just note that Dozier thinks US law likely will not govern the matter!

Our friend Donald E. Morris of Dozier Internet Law (presumably not a “super-lawyer” like his boss, John W. Dozier, Jr.,) is at it again. After threatening Infomercial Scams over its warnings against DirectBuy, now DonJohn is attacking Inventor Ed for statements on Inventor-Link.

This post compares the DirectBuy and Inventor-Link threat letters. The sections below are in order, except for “Legitimate Free Speech” which floats between the letters.

Section: “Please be advised”

DirectBuy

Please be advised that our firm has been retained by DirectBuy, Inc. to investigate and take legal action against you for the series of unwarranted and defamatory attacks against it made by you and your visitors on your various websites. Specifically, these websites are www.infomercialblog.com, www.infomercialratings.com, and www.infomercialscams.com.

Inventor-Link:

Please be advised that our firm has been retained by Inventor-Link, LLC to investigate and take legal action against you for engaging in the following activities (1) defamation of our client, (2) tortious (sic) interference with our client’s business; and (3) violation of our client’s website User Agreement.


Section: “Our Client”

DirectBuy:

DirectBuy, Inc., has been in business for over 35 years and has provided consumers with the opportunity to save on products for their homes through its members only program. Our client provides its members with access to thousands of products and provides a high level of customer service. DirectBuy has established a well founded reputation for the quality of its services and customer satisfaction and your unwarranted actions and baseless accusations have damaged that reputation and adversely affected our client’s business.

Inventor-Link:

Our client provides a professional service to inventors worldwide employing an experienced staff and a well-developed system for evaluation and development of inventors’ ideas. It provides prospective inventors with clear information and disclaimers, and it is very selective with regard to whom it chooses to represent.

Section: “Willfully”

DirectBuy:

Your have personally posted many willfully false and misleading comments about our client. Examples of your defamatory statements include:

  • “Direct Buy Nightmare” — www.informercialscams.com;
  • “all scams are posted uncensored!” — www.informercialscams.com
  • You are reporting the following SCAM” — www.informercialscams.com; and
  • “Recently, we noticed a sudden influx of 4 and 5 star ratings for the Direct Buy program… We don’t know if Direct Buy is behind this or not. But we do have our suspicions given the fact that the reviews came from the SAME LOCATION, say the same thing, and highlightpoints that most cusomters wouldn’t be concerned with.” — www.infomercialblog.com

Inventor-Link:

You have willfully posted false and defamatory comments about our client on numerous websites, including Inved.Org, InventBlog.com and About.com. Moreover, in republishing statements found on our client’s website, after having misrepresented yourself as a prospective customer, you also violated our client’s website User Agreement as well as state and federal laws.

Defamatory statements that we have found include, but are not limited to:

Inved.org

  • “Who is behind it? They use Paypal ® so no way to find out. Only the shadow knows and he’s not talking at present.”
  • “Thus far three inventors (two from the northern England and one from Ireland) may become victims unless they take heed and it looks like they are.”
  • “There is an Oregon-based invention company targeting UK inventors for enormous upfront fees (CS, 000 – £10,000) BEFORE they know what they are buying ($10,000 -$20,000).
  • “Plus, why would a US-based company ONLY target UK inventors when the US has many more inventors and free resources to find them? It makes no sense unless UK inventors have proven easy prey compounded by the fact that litigation for UK inventors would be out of the question due to issues such as (a) jurisdiction, and (b) cost of a lawsuit across the pond”
  • “He was suspicious wanting to know how I got his phone number, where I live, what is my full name…etc. Very weird (Spanish inquisition format)”
  • “Upon site entry and after reading the usual prom promotional diatribe one fills in a generic “tell us who you are and what you have “form. Eventually one receives a free “Smart-Start Evaluation Program” (the bait).”
  • “their Evaluation appears to represent an incomplete rendition of PIES (Preliminary Innovation Evaluation System) pioneered in the 1970s by Dr. Gerald Udell”

InventBlog.com

  • ‘Hit Paypal’s “Submit” button and it is all over but the shouting One will never know who/where that money was cashed by.”
  • “Of course, they are going to counter with “we don ‘t do any marketing or licensing” or for that matter ANYTHING!”
  • “inventors being required to remit money via Paypal® before knowing exactly what they are buying.”
  • “They are moving into dangerous territory for several reasons by seemingly practicing law without a license.”
  • “there appears to be NO contract (b) allegedly they write patents which is illegal.”
  • “Their resumes and CVs are confidential because they have nothing of consequence anyone would consider credible! Likely they were all former pen pushers while they worked for invention companies to learn the ropes.”
  • “Hiding and Evasiveness appears to be something they are very good at.”
  • “Bottomline: they’d rather “waste you” than let you in on who they really are. It’s an old, old salesman’s tactic -evasiveness rears it’s ugly head again.”
  • “No wonder they operate in Hiding and are Evasive.”
  • “It is but one more way to hide who is behind this enterprise.”
  • “Who are these fools anyway!?!”

Forums.About.com

  • Is it a scam, you ask? Let’s just say they “extrapolate” money out of UK inventors with a big smile on their faces as they head for the bank! http://inventblog.com/2007/0 7/who-is-inventor-linkcom.html”
  • “Take a look here: http://inventblog.com/2007/0 7/who-is-inventor-linkcom.html”
  • Here’s a new one being “worked”for more material from current/former clients you might learn something from too: http://inventblog.com/2007/08/who-is-pacific-world-marketing.htm/#comment-2151”
  • “It’s not even a Marketing Plan and obviously it would appear they don’t personally DO anything other than provide this stupid document you can put together yourself – - – even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again!”
  • “Why would a US based company only target foreign inventors one wonders. One reason, assuming what he stated is true, has to do with jurisdictional issues. It would be very hard for a UK inventor to get monies back from a foreign company (it is registered in Delaware as a corporation).”
  • “Anyway, glad to have spared you all that wasted money. What shysters!”
  • “Your invention is not what they are after………………….if you get my point.”
  • “More likely than not the generic evalation they did for your invention will be “exactly” the same as the one provided to an inventor I’m in communication with.”
  • “(one assumes you’ve already received results from their free “Smart-Start Evaluation Program.”) And what a load of crap that is. It’s a generic “evaluation” (Who is giving it? What are their credentials to evaluate anything?! More importantly who owns this outfit?!!)”

Section: “Statements”

DirectBuy:

The above statements made in reference to DirectBuy, Inc are utterly false and without merit, and they are defamatory per se in that they depict our client as engaging in fraudulent activity that violates civil and criminal law.

Inventor-Link:

These statements are defamatory in that they are utterly false and malign our client’s reputation by stating that its business practices are centered around ‘preying’ on UK inventors and that it is ‘hiding’ behind a ‘scam’ that provides ‘nothing’ of substance to ‘victimized’ customers. Even though you have presented these disparaging remarks as from an inventor guide’s perspective, your attempts to inform inventors have crossed the line in many ways and on multiple websites revealing a malicious intent on your part to harm our client. Much of the information you received from our client was retrieved through misrepresenting yourself and has been intentionally mischaracterized by you in order to drive customers away from retaining our client.

Section: “Addition”

DirectBuy:

Additionally, you actively encourage and solicit defamatory statements from customers on your www.infomercialratings.com and www.infomercialscams.com websites. According to a recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC, 389 F. 3rd 921 (9th Cir. 2007)] you likely have serious financial exposure to DirectBuy.com for each and every one of the defamatory statements made by your visitors. Furthermore, your actions have also resulted in damages to our client and its franchisees in Canada, subjecting you to claims in that country as well.

Inventor-Link:

In addition to the defamatory statements that have been published, your actions have also violated our client’s website User Agreement. This Agreement states explicitly:

By using this site you agree and understand that the HTML code, look, feel, content, company name, logo, text, and any likeness or derivative of such content is the sole property of Inventor-Link LLC and may not be used in any manner without the expressed written permission of Inventor-Link LLC. Furthermore, we strict/y prohibit any links and or other unauthorized references to our web site without our permission.

You have not received permission to use text from our client’s website, and yet you have republished the following text:

“Official Site of Inventor-Link LLC – Your Link to Success for Your… We know how to get your idea from a rough sketch to a finished product in the marketplace. If your idea has what it takes, we can help you get the results you want. …www.inventor-link.com”

You have associated your disparaging remarks with bona fide text from our client’s website with the purpose of harming our client’s business and diverting actual and potential customers. By using legitimate text that rightfully belongs to our client you are in violation of its website User Agreement.

Your attempts to spread libelous and defamatory material about our client have caused serious and irreparable injury to it, its reputation, and its business. Our client will not stand by and allow this misconduct to continue.

Section: “We hereby demand that you”

DirectBuy:

We hereby demand that you:

  • Immediately remove from all of your websites all defamatory and disparaging remarks regarding our client made by you and your visitors, and
  • Immediately cease and desist in publishing defamatory statements about our client, whether the statements are made by you or third parties, and
  • Compensate our client for its attorney fees and costs

Inventor-Link:

We hereby demand that you:

  • Immediately remove and retract all defamatory and disparaging remarks regarding our client from all posts and publications;
  • Immediately cease and desist in publishing defamatory comments about our client;
  • Immediately remove and retract all text that was copied from our client’s website; and
  • Compensate our client for damages it has suffered as a result of your activity, and for all Attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in relation to this matter.

Section: “Legitimate Free Speech

DirectBuy:

Please not that this law firm does not attempt to restrict legitimate free speech, and we believe that the Internet is an important medium for dissemination of accurate and truthful information and for fair comment on issues of interest. Your activities, however, unlawfully encroach upon our client’s rights.

Inventor-Link

It is not our intention to restrict legitimate free speech, for we believe that the Internet is an important medium for dissemination of accurate and truthful information and for fair comment on issues of public importance. Your activities, however, violate our client’s rights. In the statements listed above, you have depicted our client as a company that: 1) is ‘fly-by-night’ and does not have an experienced staff; 2) ‘hides’ and does not work at the address they provide to prospective customers for the purpose of ‘evading’ them; 3) does not provide unique evaluations to prospective customers; 4) does not provide a contract and/or clear description of its service to its paying customers; and 5) does not substantively serve it’s customers beyond collecting its fees. These conclusions, along with your statements in support of these conclusions, are false and their continued publication increases the damages you have already caused to our client.

Section: “This letter puts you on notice”

DirectBuy:

This letter puts you on notice that should you refuse to comply with our demands by September 28, 2007, we will have no choice but to recommend that our client pursue all legal causes of action, including the filling of a lawsuit, to protect its interests. We will pursue both damages and attorneys’ fees and costs incurreed by our client as a result of your actions.

Inventor-Link:

This letter puts you on notice that should you refuse to comply with our demands by October 18, 2007, we will have no choice but to recommend that our client pursue all legal causes of action, including a lawsuit based on the foregoing claims, to protect it and its business interests. We will pursue damages, attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by our client as a result of your actions.

Section: “strongly recommend”

DirectBuy:

This is a very serious matter that requires your immediate attention. We therefore strongly recommend that you contact us immediately to address and resolve this situation. This letter is your one and only chance to resolve this matter amicably.

Inventor-Link:

We strongly recommend that you contact us immediately to address and resolve this situation.

Section: “copyrighted”

DirectBuy (only)

Please be aware that this letter is copyrighted by our law firm, and you are not authorized to republish this in any matter. Use of this letter in a posting, in full or in part, will subject you to further legal causes of action.

That’s it! Happy kirking!

More on Dozierinternetlaw and Directbuy

One of the most exhausting, if fulfilling, aspects of covering the Dozier Internet Law imbroglio (you know, the company that got caught red handed sending threatening super-secret cease-and-desists) is the sheer quantity of blog posts that need to be covered.

Brendan of I Hate Linux comes out with two new posts:
In “Dozier Internet Law actions indirectly limiting research?,” he complains how Dozier’s record of negative publicity makes it hard to do his own research on the company.
The day before, he wrote, “A double standard from John Dozier,” apparently finding John “John Kerry” Dozier in a flip-flop.

The Blog of M’Gath takes a break from following dozier to note Consumer Reports‘ views of DirectBuy — the home improvement company that hired Dozier.

Additionally, Fair Use Day picked up the Ars Techncia summary of the case, while I note that Public Citizen Litigation Group lists “DirectBuy and their lawyers at Dozier Internet Law in their “miscellaneous internet free speech cases” section.

Finally, the tdaxp network is busy, as well. Besides a daysworth of headlines at Jim River Report, Dozier Internet Lawsuits is go!

More links on Dozier Law Firm’s DirectBuy scandal

One of the hardest things about following the John Dozier scandal (well, the latest scandal, with DirectBuy — I’ve only done one post each on their handling of the SecureComputer and CuppyCoffee suits is the scale of the blogosphere’s response.

Besides Sean’s summary of DirectBuy’s malfeasance, a whole slew of blogs picked up the Ars Technica summary:

Blue’s News
Corporate critics feel the stinging lash of DMCA misuse.

Digg, Electronics Almanace, and Technology Owl:
Two recent cases show that companies aren’t always fans of criticism, and some will file misguided DMCA notices and defamation cases to scrub it from the Internet.

Techno Blogo
…a company called DirectBuy (perhaps you’ve seen their infomercials on TV) accused the owner of infomercialscams.com of defaming it by allowing critical postings that label the company a “scam” or a “nightmare.”…

That’s it for now!

The Blog of M’Gath analyzes Dozier Internet Law, P.C., crazy copyrighted see-and-dee

Gary McGath, who doesn’t pronounce the “c” in The Blog of M’Gath, is the latest online journalist to cover the Dozier Internet Law public-relations disaster.

Everything that Gary writes is so good is is hard to know what to excerpt. I hope he doesn’t mind a longer-than-usual blockquote, simply because everything is so well done:

Direct Buy, not liking the fact that infomercialscams.com was letting people post their complaints about it, had Dozier Internet Law, P.C., send a cease and desist letter (PDF) demanding that the reports be removed, as well as demanding unspecified compensation.

The letter claims that the following are “defamatory statements”:

  • “Direct Buy Nightmare” — www.informercialscams.com;
  • * “all scams are posted uncensored!” — www.infomercialscams.com;
  • * “You are reporting the following SCAM” — www.infomercialscams.com; and
  • * “Recently, we noticed a sudden influx of 4 and 5 star ratings for the Direct Buy
    program … We don’t know if Direct Buy is behind this or not. But we do have our suspicious given the fact that the reviews came from the SAME LOCATION, say the same thing, and highlight points that most customers wouldn’t be concerned with.” — www.informercialblog.com

The letter doesn’t deny the specific scamming activity which Direct Buy is accused of, yet it categorically states that the last claim is “utterly false and without merit.” How does Dozier know that there was no such influx from a single location? Does he have access to the site’s logs?

Just by the way, Dozier Internet Law presumably would regard me as a “letter pirate” for having quoted the above text.

(Perhaps the reason I like Gary’s post is so much is that we think the same — my reaction was pretty similar in my first post, DirectBuy and Dozier Internet Law SLAPPS Infomercial Scams.com).

The DozierInternetLaw / Direct Buy case comes closer to mainstream media attention

The DirectBuy home improvement firm has been the subject of numerous investigations, and Dozier Internet Law‘s “cyberlawyers” mishandling of a client’s case made the Franchise Times. So both companies are used to bad publicity from their business practices. Now it appears that their lawsuit against Infomercial Scams (check out the Public Citizen and tdaxp summaries) is creeping ever so close to mainstream media coverage.

Walter Olson of Overlawyered, who appears on Fox News, Headline News, and other shows as a legal expert, has an excellent case on the Direct Buy / Dozier case titled “Nastygram: Don’t you dare post this nastygram on the web.”

Read it.

Additionally, South Dakota Politics, a blog featured prominently in the real-life election thriller Daschle vs. Thune, also joins the fray.

And if all that isn’t enough to attract your attention, John Dozier’s bizarre public statements have attracted a second post by Public Citizen.

Ars Doziera

Ars Technica, a popular website on the technical arts that includes breaking news, user forums, and other features, prominently features the Dozier Internet Law / DirectBuy scandal by comparing it to another bizarre lawsuit.

The Ars Technica article focuses mostly on the contributions of Public Citizen and Willam Patry (who, I learned, is also Google’ top copyright lawyer).

One of the hardest things about following the story is how quickly people are coming forward. Wicked Boring discusses this as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, New York Attorney Malpractice Blog quotes an length an earlier essay, Citizen Media Law Project is not impressed, and Curtis (who previously discovered by John Dozier is a plagiarist) tries to throw cold water on collective non-violenct self defense

That’s it for now!

More Blog Reactions to the DirectBuy / Dozier Internet Law Scandal

Aside from my initial post, the blog reactions to DirectBuy and Dozier Internet Law I have posted have all been before Public Citizen and Slashdot got into the debate. (For the background of the story, check out my preliminary case study.)

As time goes on, though, more and more bloggers are picking up the story of the DirectBuy / Dozier Internet Law strategic lawsuit against public participation.

Modemac briefly writes “Direct Buy sends a threatening letter to infomercialblog.com, then threatens the blog author for copyright violation if he dares to publish the letter itself on his site‘” whereas Patry Copyright Blog writes an encyclopedia article on the case.

I Hate Linux has published a follow-up to his first post on the scandal, while Primrose Road has taken notice, as well.

Additionally, a poster over at the 13th Man Direct Buy’s tactics “enlightening.”

Legal Research Blog and The Consumer post their thoughts, too, for good measure.

Jim River Report has headlines reading “Attention: Dozier Internet Law,” “Dozier Internet Law,” and “DirectBuy.”

The best follow-up, however is Curtis’s discovery that John Dozier’s comment on behalf of Dozier Internet Law was partially plagiarized from another web site, in violation of their terms-of-use and copyright! Ha ha ha!

Anatomy of a DirectBuy Spam Page

DirectBuy, a company that specializes in high-pressure sales tactics and suing bloggers, also creates spam pages and spam domains. I won’t link to them because these cookie-cutter websites clog up search engines, but searching for, “DirectBuy – Tulsa” and “DirectBuy – Los Angeles” will reveal exactly what I am talking about.

Each spam page appears to be identical, except for the town name and some randomly generated material. On top is a “DirectBuy” logo, followed by a horizontal menu with “Home,” Remodeling,” “Building,” and other links, ending with “Free Visitor’s Pass.” The left side menu has entries such as “Home Furnishing,” Home Improvement,” and” Kitchen Remodeling” and a link to “News Articles” (which are press releases — mainstream media news articles about best buy are less positive). There is also a “Member Testimonials” (sic) that includes an unverified quotes saying good things about the company.

The main body of the page has a sizeable flash animation, the left two-thirds of which are pictures of products you can presumably “buy direct” at DirectBuy, while the right one-third contains the text “Achieve your dream home for much less that you’d except! – Find out how at DirectBuy. Request a Visitor’s Pass.”

The rest of the body of the page has nearly identical text. The format appears to be “Direct Buy of CITY has helped people just like you save thousands of dollars since 1971. With [number of showrooms] in CITY, you too can have the power…” &c.

A word should be said about visitor’s passes, which are mentioned several times on the front page(s). The “pass” concept is part of a high pressure take-it-or-never-come-back sales approach that is described elsewhere in the blogosphere and also by Consumer Reports.

DirectBuy Spam: The Good, the Bad, the Strange, and the Ugly

Earlier today I described a typical DirectBuy spam website. Further investigation that spam is playing a larger role in the propagation of DirectBuy in the wake up Dozier Internet Law’s incompetent bullying on their behalf than I thought.

The blogs mentioned below are spam blogs, meaning that the are created by computer algorithms. They steal content from other sites, sometimes linking back to the original site, and display oversized ads to generate revenue. “Good” spam blogs are those that at least are helping spread the word about Direct Buy’s tactics (however unwittingly). “Bad” spam blogs appear to be set up by DirectBuy in an attempt to squelch public participation. The “ugly” … well, read on:

The Good
“Business Teacher” links (twice!) to my post on Donald E. Morris while displaying an oversized google ad.

“Internet & Web-Related Blog Feeds” links to Dozier’s history of unhappy clients.

“Lemon Law Directory” is a strange spam blog with no ads (I guess it is used to link to other spam blogs — it appears to be both automated and “clean”) that noticed by full-text of the ‘copyrighted’ cease-and-desist.” “Puykif” links to the same post.

The Bad
“Recommender: Shopping Questions and Answers” appears to have an astroturf “question” that directs readers to dynamic appointment, a front organization for DirectBuy.

The Ugly
Adisgusting spam site has a post titled “Hacking is Wikipedia? DirectBuy” that uses a half-paragraph from my article, “Is DirectBuy Hacking Wikipedia?” to display a large photo advertisement of “Adult Friend Finder members near New York.” (Even worse, of the twelve females shown, only one is actually attractive. Eek!)

Is DirectBuy Hacking Wikipedia?

I don’t know, but Wikipedia’s Revision history for “DirectBuy” now discusses “possible user of sleeper accounts. The text that keeps getting removed reads:

Complaints

Many customers have complained that they have been deceived by DirectBuy into signing expensive contracts for the privilege of purchasing goods supplied by the company. A three-year membership usually costs about $5,000, with yearly fees in the hundreds layered on top of that. Furthermore, potential members are told at the information sessions that unless they commit to it right then and there, they will be ineligible for membership for another seven years. While DirectBuy prices have been proven to be lower than some of their competitors’ prices, all purchased items incur a processing and shipping fee, which is not included in the original price quote. In many cases, these additional costs usually bring the total price to that above what can usually be found at many traditional retailers.[citation needed]

Critics of DirectBuy

The section has been removed repeated by users “Wiseard” and 206.228.159.59.”

While it is clear that DirectBuy intimidates those who complain and floods the web with spam, the question of whether they violate Wikipedia‘s conflict of interest policy is an open question. Certainly I’ve run against over-zealous wikipedians in the past (who deleted the entry for “5GW” and wished to destroy information on “Unrestricted Warfare“), so nothing is certain at this time.