Tra diffamazione, danno reputazionale e concorrenza sleale denigratoria

L’appello del 9° circuito No. 21-16466 del 2 giugno 2023, Enigma c. Malwarebytes decide una lite di vecchia data tra due aziende di sicurezza informatica , una delle quali aveva diffamato l’altra (designating its products as “malicious,” “threats,” and “potentially unwanted programs”)

Dal syllabo iniziale:

<<The district court primarily based the dismissal on its conclusion that Malwarebytes’s designations of Enigma’s products were “non-actionable statements of opinion.”

The panel disagreed with that assessment.

In the context of this case, the panel concluded that when a company in the computer security business describes a competitor’s software as “malicious” and a “threat” to a customer’s computer, that is more a statement of objective fact than a non-actionable opinion. It is potentially actionable under the Lanham Act provided Enigma plausibly alleges the other elements of a false advertising claim.
The district court held that the tort claims under New York law failed because Malwarebytes was not properly subject to personal jurisdiction in New York. That meant Enigma’s claim for relief under New York General Business Law (NYGBL) § 349 failed because that statute did not apply to the alleged misconduct. The panel disagreed and concluded that Malwarebytes is subject to personal jurisdiction in New York. As this action was initially filed in New York, the law of that state properly applies.
The common law claims for tortious interference with contractual relations and tortious interference with business relations were also dismissed by the district court. Those torts are recognized as actionable under California law, as they are under New York law, but the district court concluded that Enigma failed to allege essential elements for those claims under California law. The contractual relations claim failed because Enigma did not identify a specific contractual obligation with which Malwarebytes interfered. The business relations claim was dismissed because that claim required an allegation of independently wrongful conduct, and that requirement was not satisfied following the dismissal of the Lanham Act and NYGBL § 349 claims.

Because the panel held that the Lanham Act and NYGBL § 349 claims should not have been dismissed, the panel concluded that the tortious interference with business relations claim should similarly not have been dismissed. The panel agreed with the district court regarding dismissal of the claim for tortious interference with contractual relations, however, and affirmed the dismissal of that claim>>.

(notizia e link alla sentenza dal blog del prof. Eric Goldman)

Buona nota alla sentenza nella Harvard law review.

Concorrenza sleale denigratoria e interferenza illecita nelle relazioni contrattuali altrui

Un tribunale della California giudica la lite promossa da ENIGMA SOFTWARE GROUP USA LLC, contro MALWAREBYTES INC., competitors nel settore del software antivirus e antiintrusioni (US D.C.NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN JOSE DIVISION, Enigma c. Malwarebytes, 9 agosto 2021, Case 5:17-cv-02915-EJD) . 

L’azione si basa spt. su concorrenza sleale denigratoria e interferenza nelle relazioni contrattuali: M. aveva qualificato come “malicious,” a “threat,” and as a Potentially Unwanted Program (“PUP”) il software di E.

1) Ex Lanham act, § 43.a , a plaintiff must allege that: (1) the defendant made a false statement of fact in a commercial advertisement, (2) the statement actually deceived or has the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of its audience, (3) the statement is material, (4) the defendant caused the statement to “enter interstate commerce,” and (5) the plaintiff has been or is likely to be injured as a result of the false statement.

Domanda però rigettata poichè , come nel caso Asurvio LP, Enigma has not pleaded that Malwarebytes’ alleged labels are verifiably false rather than just subjective opinions. Enigma’s allegations that users view statements categorizing Enigma’s programs and domains as “malicious, “threats,” and PUPs as statements of fact rather than subjective opinions are not supported by the facts presented. The allegations ignore that users of Malwarebytes are aware of why it opines that a given software program may be a PUP based on Malwarebytes’ disclosed criteria and can choose to quarantine or unquarantine the detected program, p. 17.

Si tratta insomma di mere opinioni.

2) tortious Interference with Business Relations.

Quest’azione richiede che l’attore provi (1) an economic relationship between the [claimant] and some third party, with the probability of future economic benefit to the [claimant], (2) that the opposing party knew of the relationship, (3) an intentional, wrongful act designed to disrupt the relationship, (4) actual disruption of the relationship, and (5) that the act caused economic harm to the claimant..

Ebbene, il rigetto della precedente domanda porta al ritgetto pure di questa: Here, Malwarebytes argues that since Enigma’s Lanham Act and NYGBL § 349 claims fail, Enigma’s tortious interference claim must also fail because Enigma does not allege any other independently wrongful conduct. Mot. at 2021. The Court agrees, and, therefore, grants Malwarebytes’ motion to dismiss the claim for tortious interference with business relations on this ground, p. 19.