Reputation Management Lawsuit Is Shot Down–Bernard v. Donat

24 05 2012

By Eric Goldman

Bernard v. Donat, 2012 WL 525533 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 16, 2011). The Justia page.

Donald Ray Bernard is an energy consultant, big game hunt tour operator, former lawyer and former law professor. His LinkedIn page. His Google search results look like the kind of search results I see when someone uses a reputation management service; I find SEOed vanity search results are often linked to a litigious hypersensitivity about reputation (see, e.g., the litigation fusillade from Bev Stayart). Unfortunately, like far too many lawyer-plaintiffs/law professor-plaintiffs, the judge has to teach him what the law actually says.

Bernard alleges that Donat went on an online rampage against Bernard’s veracity and former legal practice, including an attack blog, posts at Complaintsboard and PissedConsumer, attack emails and postings to Scribd. Bernard sued Donat for Lanham Act false advertising, defamation and tortious interference. In this ruling, Judge Whyte dismisses the Lanham Act false advertising claim as unmeritorious (with leave to amend), which (if Bernard can’t successfully replead) will result in the state law claims going to state court.


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