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Skullcandy, the Park City-based manufacturer of audio accessories and extreme-sports apparel, has filed a suit against an Orem man, claiming he maliciously posted libelous, negative reviews of the company's products on the Internet.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, alleges Nathan Rees of Orem trashed Skullcandy on the company's eBay Web page after eBay shut down his own auctions of their products earlier this year.
"He signed up as several different people so he could leave negative feedback under different names," said Matthew Barlow, attorney for Skullcandy. "Skullcandy has collected the evidence necessary proving it was him leaving the negative comments."
Initially, Rees who runs an eBay reselling business from his Orem home wanted to become an online reseller for the headphones manufacturer but was told no by Skullcandy, Rees said.
According to the suit, Rees purchased about $15,000 worth of Skullcandy products to auction off on eBay. But Skullcandy alleges he used unauthorized, copyrighted photos from the company's website for his auctions. In an effort to stop him, Skullcandy contacted eBay about the copyright violation, and eBay shut down Rees' auctions.
That in turn caused Rees to go to Skullcandy's eBay page and post comments such as "Probably the worst company ever" and "This is a terrible seller, slow shipping, very bad customer service," the suit says.
While leaving negative postings about a company on a website is common and not itself illegal, Skullcandy claims the comments were "false and misleading statements and unfounded misrepresentations" that ultimately led to a drop in company sales.
Rees said he did in fact criticize Skullcandy on its eBay sales page, but that his comments were true. He claims that many customers he has sold Skullcandy products to have later complained that they break easily.
"That's how I feel about their products and it's not all their products, some are great," he said. "But a lot of their products have problems. They break.
"If I go to Home Depot, buy a fridge and it breaks a week later, and I go online to write a bad review of that fridge, it's my opinion. That's all there is to it," he added. "I have these broken products, so they can't say I went out of my way to write bad reviews."
Skullcandy is asking for damages to be determined by the court and for a public apology, according to the suit.