On February 19, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut denied Quiznos’ motion for summary judgment on Subway’s suit for false and deceptive advertising in violation of the Lanham Act, along with state law claims for commercial disparagement and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Doctor's Associates, Inc. v. QIP Holders, LLC., 2010 WL 669870 (D. Conn.). The case arises out of Quiznos’ advertising campaign to introduce their “double meat” line of sandwiches. The advertising campaign involved an internet-based contest and two national television commercials that compared certain “double meat” Quiznos sandwiches to certain Subway sandwiches.Quiznos claimed that its new line of sandwiches had “two times the meat” of comparable Subway sandwiches.
On July 29, 2009, three plaintiffs filed suit in the Supreme Court of New York County, New York against a number of individual defendants (both known and unknown), website hosting company GoDaddy.com, micro-blogging site Twitter.com, and blog tool and publishing platform Wordpress.com. The suit alleges that the individual defendants published defamatory statements about the plaintiffs (alleging their involvement in criminal conduct and corruption) on websites hosted by GoDaddy and Wordpress. The same statements were also allegedly published via Twitter.
Late last year, I had the opportunity to carefully review all of the civil cases interpreting the limitations of the immunity afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The simple rule emerging from those cases is clear: If the “essential published content” is willingly provided by a third-party, the interactive computer service provider publishing that content enjoys the full immunity afforded by Section 230. (See FAQ: What is Section 230? & Craigslist Sues South Carolina Attorney General to Avoid Criminal Charges Against the Site and its Executives). The broad immunity afforded by Section 230 should result in a quick dismissal of the claims against GoDaddy, Twitter, and Wordpress.
In the e-commerce or Internet law context, "Section 230" refers to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a federal law which has significantly altered the traditional legal principles applied to defamation actions and others claims based upon content published on the Internet.