(CN) - A permanent-makeup company may be liable for blog posts that accused a rival of "butchering and defacing customers," the Illinois Appellate Court ruled.
Premier Products and Premier Pigments filed the lawsuit against the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professions and five individuals, alleging defamation, fraud, tortious interference and deceptive trade practices.
Premier claimed that defendants have used a blog called "Wake Up In Your Makeup" to destroy its reputation in the permanent-makeup industry while promoting their own products as safe and trusted.
The posts also allegedly accused Premier of using industrial paint in their permanent tattoo pigments.
While an anonymous Internet user named "not Maggie" authored the posts, Premier said the defendants encouraged clients at makeup conferences to read the posts for themselves.
The defendants asked the trial court to dismiss the case under Citizen Participation Act, the Illinois version of an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law.
A Cook County judge agreed that the defendants had immunity and dismissed the lawsuit, but the appellate court's Chicago-based First District reversed last week.
The blog posts about Premier are not protected speech in the public interest, according to the court.
"Dismissal as a matter of law on these grounds is improper as it is not an uncontested fact that the action of creating a blog/message board posting of this type constitutes an act of participation in any governmental process or a reasonable expectation that these cryptic, critical remarks about a competitor would influence the electorate to take some unspecified action within their government with regard to consumer protection in the permanent makeup industry," Justice Patrick Quinn wrote for the appellate panel.