Defamatory, abusive content, denigrating comments, fake “reviews” by consumers – companies are paying increasing attention to their online reputation, given the harmful consequences likely to result from an attack on it.
Our lawyers have extensive experience in the field of online reputation, which involves specific skills in different areas such as the Law on the Freedom of the Press, the Data Protection Act, or the Law on Confidence in the Digital Economy.
Distinctive aspects of online reputation litigations
Two key constraints need to be taken into account with regard to online reputation:
- Establishing evidence of damaging content, and the risk of this evidence disappearing if bailiff reports are not made quickly enough; and
- The limitation period for legal actions, which for press offences is generally 3 months after the contents in dispute were first put online.
Some examples of preliminary actions to carry out regarding online reputation pre-litigation and litigations
Depending on the message of the content and the context in which it was put online, our lawyers offer recommendations on which litigation strategy to adopt.
To this end, we can prepare a letter or a notification via a dedicated interface on the website/forum on which the contested content was published and/or write a letter of formal notice to the editor of the site on which the damaging content was found, so that he or she will remove it.
If the editor does not respond, our lawyers can draw up a notification to the website host, as provided for under the Law on Confidence in the Digital Economy, in order to have the content removed.
In the event that the author of the contested content is anonymous, our lawyers can prepare and support identification requests allowing the author of the content to be found.
Some examples of grounds and objectives for legal proceedings specifically concerning online reputation
The grounds and objectives of online reputation litigations vary according to the case, for example:
- The right of the press makes it possible to have defamatory or abusive content concerning a company withdrawn or have a search engine remove suggestions of corresponding search terms which are abusive or defamatory from association with the name of a company;
- Tort liability can be the basis of action for the removal of denigrating content;
- Trademark infringement may serve as the basis for action to prevent a third party from using a trademark as an adword to promote its own products or services, creating confusion as to the origin of the goods or services it offers; and
- The provisions of the Criminal Code concerning identity fraud can serve as a basis for tort action against the author of the offence.
According to the litigation strategy adopted, our lawyers can:
- In the event of a criminal offence, initiate criminal proceedings, for instance by drawing up a criminal complaint; and
- Initiate civil proceedings, for instance in the event of a press offence, denigrating comments or fake consumer reviews, within the framework of summons for urgent proceedings or a substantive examination of the case.
We can assist you throughout the course of these litigation proceedings, notably by drawing up conclusions, ensuring a hearing, and assisting you on the execution of the judgment handed down.