It looks as if Andrew Tuohy of the Vuurwapen Blog is being sued in federal court by the folks at FireClean. I’ve read over their lengthy federal complaint. A good bit of it is their ridiculous patent covering vegetable oil mixes. Generally speaking, the deck is stacked against plaintiffs in these kinds of cases. I believe corporations are considered public figures in these kinds of suits, which means they have to prove actual malice, which means they have to prove Mr. Tuohy knew his statements were false or that he recklessly disregarded the truth. That’s why you see accusations in their complaint like “Tuohy published this disparaging statement knowing it was false, or with reckless or negligent disregard for the truth.” This is a tall mountain to climb for FireClean.
But regardless of that, getting a suit dismissed, or prevailing in a jury trial requires hiring a lawyer, and given the amount of scientific data at play here, I wouldn’t imagine that’s going to be easy or cheap. There is no federal anti-SLAPP law, though there was one introduced in the House last year.
As for me, I keep it old school when it comes to lubes, so I wouldn’t buy FireClean anyway, but I definitely wouldn’t buy it after this. The other thing I believe FireClean may find out is that discovery is a bitch. The Vuurwapen Blog is raising money for it’s legal defense. I’d be sure to contribute. If FireClean wins this suit, the blogosphere’s free speech rights and our ability to criticize products without fear is going to be dangerously compromised.
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