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I'm about to launch a new website that gives me legitimate reason to write about my experiences with this company, and I'd like to hear if anyone has any opinion about how far I can push it with mentioning their company name and what I think their shortcomings have been.
Personally, I'd just like to write a 'don't use these guys' article and get it to number one for the keywords that they target and screw them that way. Can I do that? Will I be legally up the creek?
I'm 20,000km away, so physical violence is out of the question.
I often advise people that they are on the safest ground when they "stick to the facts" but that doesn't mean someone on the receiving end won't dispute those facts and sue.
Tread lightly and ask yourself if the amount of time and energy might not yield a greater return if invested in some other projects.
You see, if jerks and morons "got it" there wouldn't be any, right? If thieves and scoundrels got it there wouldn't be any. If SOBs actually gave a damn they wouldn't be SOBs, right? Nastiness, however justified, often only begets nastiness. If you want to make a SOB pay then sue 'em. Otherwise, campaigns such as yours can go off in all different directions, some that turn around and smack you upside the head.
My advice: Sue if you have cause. All other means of taking matters into your own hands are very dicey.
If you sue and you win you might be in a better position to publish that. Craft a nice civil action complaint, take it go court, win, take a money judgment....Hard to argue about the rulings of an independent judiciary.
Be particularly careful about the use of trademarks lest you give them cause to add intellectual property violations to their complaint.
My stance is to just let people know that you wouldn't recommend them, don't say why and don't put it in writing.
If you really want to do something, try building a competing site to theirs. Become their competition and win their customers by being better than they are. Once you do that, you don't have to say anything negative about them.
Webwork, I need a miniature version of you to sit on my shoulder on Friday nights to keep me out of trouble :)
I'm afraid the option of taking them on in business is out of the question. I used them to transport my pets from one side of the planet to the other. They lost my pets, crashed into my car (two hours before my flight), and I ended up spending 3 times as much money to land my pets as I'd been quoted at the start. Because I'm so far away they think they can fob me off (until I get back home *cracking knuckles*), so I was hoping a well placed web page telling potential customers of theirs the truth would make them think otherwise. Perhaps I need to think otherwise too. Thanks again guys.
You can always use a trademark as a legitimate reference when there are no other appropriate ways of identification. If the trademark is a device mark (i.e. a special type of symbol, e.g. some type of graphical image) yet the company is still known by a name "foobar co.", then it may be a problem if you refer to the company by using the graphical image rather than the name "foobar co.".
Look at www.taubmansucks.com for an example of a website owner who went through a dispute over the use of a trademark in relation to criticism of a company. He won the action in court, and has documented the entire story.
My recommenndation is that if you have facts to back you up and you sincerely believe in what you are writing is true, and if you live in a country like the USA with various activist groups to back you up, you are in good shape to start a 'sucks' site.
However, I must admit that most of the 'sucks' sites need more dedication from their owners to really hurt the companies they are targeting.
PS Don't forget to get links including from directories like the DMOZ.