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.