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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Skullcandy vs Free Speech

Old ghosts never die...
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Skullcandy, the company that “makes the sickest headphones, Earbuds & Gaming Headsets, all with Lifetime Warranties” and based in Park City filed on April 7th a suit against Nathan Rees an Orem man, claiming he maliciously posted libelous, negative reviews of the company’s products on the Internet.

The suit claims that Nathan Rees trashed Skullcandy on the company’s eBay Web page after eBay shut down his own auctions of their products earlier this year. Initially, Rees; who is running an eBay reselling business; wanted to become an online reseller for the headphones manufacturer but was initially denied by Skullcandy.

It seems that Rees purchased about $15,000 worth of Skullcandy products in order to auction them on eBay. But Skullcandy alleges he used unauthorized, copyrighted photos from the company’s website for his auctions. In an effort to stop him, Skullcandy contacted eBay about the copyright violation, and eBay shut down Rees’ auctions. That in turn caused Rees to go to Skullcandy’s eBay page and post comments such as "Probably the worst company ever" and "This is a terrible seller, slow shipping, very bad customer service.” Matthew Barlow, attorney for Skullcandy accuses Rees to sign up with different accounts “so he could leave negative feedback under different names."

While leaving negative postings about a company on a website is common and not illegal in itself, Skullcandy claims the comments were "false and misleading statements and unfounded misrepresentations" that ultimately led to a drop in company sales. It seems to me that Rees comments represent what he thinks about the company, so even if he is the only one believing what he states, then, that’s true for at least one person and does not seem to be unfounded. I’m rather dumfounded to see that the power of one is so huge that it can curb the sales of a big company like Skullcandy… That actually bodes well for democracy.

Rees said he did in fact criticize Skullcandy on its eBay sales page, but that his comments were true. He claims that many customers he has sold Skullcandy products to have later complained that they break easily. Again, if you find only one customer saying that the product breaks too easily, then, that statement is true for at least one person and can’t be considered as misleading…

Of course, there is a fine line between libel and Free Speech, but when you are in the skateboard business, shouldn’t you be used to trash and hate mail? Or should you expect all your customers sending you roses and praise for each transaction? And since we don’t know whether posting a picture of Skullcandy is free promotion for the company or libel, we will abstain…

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Tuesday, May 31, 2011 




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