Feeds

Retailer sets legal attack dogs on protest website

Unhappy customer didn't get permission to register 'Lowe's-Sucks' site

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Allen Harkleroad was so unhappy with a $3,500 fence he paid Lowe's Home Centers to have installed that he posted pictures he says document the shoddy workmanship on a site called lowes-sucks.com. Now attorneys for Lowe's are threatening legal action unless the site is taken down.

"Your use of the Lowe's Marks and your registration of www.lowes-sucks.com is unauthorized by LF, distorts the goodwill of LF's federally-registered trademarks and constitutes an infringement of LF's trademark rights," a letter penned by an attorney said. (LF refers to the company that manages Lowe's trademarks.) "In view of the above, LF hereby demands that you immediately cease using the Lowe's marks on www.lowes-sucks.com, www.designertoday.com, and any other websites owned or operated by you and/or the MediaPublishers.com division, and agree not to utilize any marks going forward without our written authorization."

For the record, there are no Lowe's logos on the site, and Harkleroad emphasizes there is no affiliation between his site and various Lowe's companies.

Harkleroad said on his site he has no intention of caving in to the demands and has threatened to sue counsel for what he says is their abuse of the Lanham Act, the trademark statute the lawyer invoked in her nastygram.

"I also might remind you that USC 15 1125(a) is in correct (sic) in regards to your claim of infringement, you need to come up with something better than that," Harkleroad wrote. "Better go grab that US Code book you are referring from and find something that you believe matches more closely."

The dust-up is the latest example of large companies using the legal system to quell internet postings they find damaging. Once upon a time, people who were unhappy with a company's products or service had few recourses. With the emergence of the net, they now have a gigantic megaphone with which to complain.

Last week a software developer sued the owner of a site called Whirlpool for allowing comments in forums that criticized its products. The company, 2Clix Australia Pty. Ltd, has informally agreed to withdraw that suit, according to this post.

Not all companies who find their names or likenesses besmirched online seem to be quite as litigious. A site called ebaymotorssucks.com that reports on scams taking place on the eBay Motors site has existed for a while now with no legal action from the online auction house.

Harkleroad says he complained to Lowe's after a chain-link fence was installed that had gaps big enough to allow his dogs to repeatedly escape from his yard. He says he repeatedly complained to Lowe's but was never able to get the problem resolved. He then refused to pay the remaining money he owed for the work and created the lowes-sucks site documenting the entire incident.

After receiving the threatening letter, Harkleroad has begun to question if Lowe's is trying to trample on his right to publicly criticize the company.

We asked a spokeswoman about this. Her response: "We appreciate the opportunity to respond, because Lowe's takes customer service very seriously. I assure you that our customer service team is looking into the issues raised by Mr. Harkleroad." ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.