Lifestyle Lift and consumer-oriented Web site RealSelf.com have settled a legal battle over negative reviews. Background on this case can be found here and here, but the upshot is that earllier this year numerous Lifestyle Lift customers were displeased with the "lunch-time lift" firm's facelift procedure, and they consequently posted reviews about it on RealSelf, a site devoted to aesthetic surgery.
Lifestyle Lift sued RealSelf, claiming trademark infringement, and RealSelf countersued, claiming Lifestyle Lift padded RealSelf's site with shill reviews.
UPDATE Lifestyle Lift recently sued another firm, Infomercialscams.com, using a similar approach. From Online Media Today:
Public Citizen also is representing the site InfomercialScams.com, which was recently sued by plastic surgery company LifestyleLift.com for trademark infringement. LifestyleLift alleges that InfomercialScams.com — which hosts users' complaints about LifestyleLift — uses the phrase Lifestyle Lift in a URL (http://www.infomercialscams.com/scams/lifestyle_lift_complaints) and buys the keywords "lifestyle lift" on search engines. The company argues that the result is that users looking for Lifestyle Lift will instead by directed to InfomercialScams.com.
The judge who heard the case dismissed it on May 2, 2008.
The Lifestyle Lift-RealSelf.com lawsuit was noteworthy on at least two fronts. First, it was a prime example of a trademark owner invoking trademark law to stifle online "word-of-mouth reviews." Second, RealSelf fought back with a novel counterclaim against Lifestyle Lift alleging that it wrote shill reviews.
Eric Goldman, who has followed this issue and advised RealSelf on how to proceed, published a blog entry that announces the parties have now settled the lawsuit on confidential terms. Read the dismissal order. While it is unclear who actually "won" this lawsuit, the conversation about Lifestyle Lift continues, undeterred, at RealSelf.