Another recent case underlines the importance of understanding that which is done online will have the same legal ramifications as doing the thing in real life. In Amway Global v. Woodward, 2010 WL 3927661 (E.D.Mich. September 30, 2010), Defendant Woodward, an Amway distributor, was party to a distribution agreement which included non-solicitation terms. Amway sued Woodward for breaching the non-solicitation terms by soliciting Amway distributors to join competing agencies when he blogged about his decision to leave Amway and join another company.
Woodward posted, in part, “If you knew what I knew, you would do what I do.” Defendant argued that the blog post was passive and untargeted. The court rejected this argument:
[C]ommon sense dictates that it is the substance of the message conveyed, and not the medium through which it is transmitted, that determines whether a communication qualifies as a solicitation. The [statement] is readily characterized as an invitation for the reader to follow his lead and join [Amway’s competitor], and this is true despite the diffuse and uncertain readership of the site.
This is just another in a recent spate of decisions which have found that defendants carry an equal responsibility for their virtual actions as they do for any real life equivalent.
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