A district court in Indiana recently entered a judgment for a plastic surgeon against a former patient who complained on the Internet that her facelift led to breathing problems. Among other things, the former patient, since deceased, allegedly impersonated the doctor by posting under his name and creating websites with his name in the URL and/or title.
The doctor’s suit alleged defamation, false light, disparagement, and a trademark claim for false designation of origin. Professor Eric Goldman argues that the court erred in determining that the patient used the doctor’s name in a commercial context – a necessary element of a trademark claim. Regardless, the case together with the recent In Re: Anonymous Online Speakers case, suggests that judges may exhibit less tolerance for gripers who intend to inflict economic injury or seek commercial gain for themselves in conjunction with airing their grievances.
Previously on Post or Perish: Man Bites Dog? Close: Doctor Sues Patient