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Software developer sues to muzzle website users

Comments responsible for 'severe downturn in sales'

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An Australian accounting software developer blames a "severe downturn in sales" on people who bad-mouthed its products in online user forums. It wants a judge to muzzle their comments.

The company, 2Clix Australia Pty. Ltd, is also seeking about $125,000 in damages from the operator of the website which hosted the forums.

According to a statement of claim posted on the defendant's website, at least 35 comments on forums hosted by the Whirlpool site are "false, malicious and causing financial harm to [2Clix's] trade and business". Among the challenged statements are incendiary comments such as these:

If you deal in Foreign Currency at all, I would avoid it. It was one of the big issues we faced ... and don't get me started on the inventory and manufacturing system - what a joke.

And

I was put onto this forum recently after discussion with peers, about how frustrated, dissatisfied and ultimately ripped off I feel after purchasing 2clix earlier this year ... Our company has been trying to implement 2clix for sometime now and we are still in the implementation process and feel like we are getting nowhere fast.

The comments are contained in two threads - one titled 2Clix or Not 2Clix and the other Anyone used 2clix? - that ran from September of last year through July.

Since January 2Clix has suffered a "severe downturn in sales" that cost the company about $750,000 over six months, according to the 2Clix complaint, which was filed in the Supreme Court of Queensland. (All currency amounts are in US dollars.)

"The plaintiff further says that unless the first and the second thread are removed from defendant's website it will continue to suffer irreparable damage to its trade and business."

Whirlpool members have bandied the idea of forming a defense fund for site operator Simon Wright. See this forum for details. ®

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