MANHATTAN (CN) – Sybervision and Blackstone Nutrition conspire to deceive consumers through Web sites that post bogus “product reviews” that defame competitors and violate trademarks, which the defendants hijacked by buying as Google key words, USA Herbals claims in Federal Court.
USA Herbals and its affiliate, Curb Your Carvings, accuse the Orem, Utah-based companies and their owners and operators, Steven and Garrett DeVore, of “fraudulent Internet marketing”.
“Defendants maintain a series of Web sites purporting to provide ‘product reviews’ to consumers,” the complaint states. “The defendants’ Web site claim to contain unbiased and helpful consumer information. However, the ‘reviews’ are fake and the Web sites are nothing more than a marketing scheme for defendants’ competing products, which they promote on the sites. The defendants recently targeted one of CYC’s successful products by purchasing the brand name as a ‘key word’ on search engines such as Google. When a consumer enters CYC’s product name as a search term, the defendants’ Web site purportedly ‘reviewing’ the product is displayed as a search result, along with CYC’s product name and inflammatory language like ‘warning’ and ‘scam’ prominently displayed in the search result. … The defendants instead divert consumers using CYC’s proprietary content to their competing products with lies and misinformation. As a result, defendants derive profit by deceiving unsuspecting consumers at the expense of both the consumers and CYC in violation of federal trademark and copyright laws and various other state laws.”
Plaintiffs demand an injunction and damages for, among other things, defamation, conspiracy, trademark and copyright violations, unfair competition, deceptive trade and tortious interference. They are represented by David Valicenti with Cain Hibbard Myers of Pittsfield, Mass.