No, Just Because A Site Contains 'Academic' 'Advantage' & 'Scam' On The Same Page, It Is Not Defamation Against Academic Advantage

from the bogus-threats dept

There are all sorts of bogus legal threats out there, but every so often you see ones that take the concept of the bogus legal threat to a new and more astounding level. I would argue that the following legal threat, sent to BoingBoing qualifies. On January 13th, BoingBoing received a cease & desist letter from the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh, written by Jubin Niamehr (who appears to be the only attorney at the firm not to get his name in the law firm’s name). The complaint against BoingBoing is almost too bizarre to be believed. Basically, the law firm represents a company named Academic Advantage. In 2009, Boingboing wrote a blog post that had absolutely nothing to do with the company Academic Advantage. However, it did use the phrase “academic advantage” in the title of a post called “Autism as an academic advantage.”

Again, the post had absolutely nothing to do with the company Academic Advantage.

Then, way down in the comments, an anonymous commenter talked about his own experience with autism and academia. In it, that commenter notes that, in his opinion, college was “a scam.” Once again, this commenter is not speaking about the company Academic Advantage at all. He is not calling the company Academic Advantage a scam.

So what happens? According to Niamehr, apparently representing the company Academic Advantage, somehow, this all adds up to a prima facie case of defamation against Academic Advantage:

It is clear there is no purpose to this web address but to falsely accuse the Academic Advantage of
being a scam or at least associating the Academic Advantage with a scam. There is absolutely no helpful
reason for the website to have the words “Academic,” “Advantage” and “Scam” which leads me to
believe it was created for malicious purposes. Claiming that our client’s tutoring services program is a
“SCAM” is prima facie defamation and designed to do nothing more than damage our client’s reputation.

I would love to see this law firm go to court and try to defend the claim that the post on BoingBoing (which is actually quite interesting) was designed to do nothing more than damage Academic Advantage when absolutely nothing in the post or the comments is about the company Academic Advantage. Furthermore, of course, making this even more ridiculous, the “scam” part of it (which again, is not at all about the company Academic Advantage) was put there by a commenter, so even if this was defamatory — which again, it cannot be, since it’s not about the company — then the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh, and its partner Jubin Niamehr, should know that the site itself is protected from such charges by Section 230 of the CDA, since the “scam” claim would have come from a commenter. But, of course, you don’t even need to get that far, since nothing on the page talks about the company in question.

One would hope that Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh did not charge the company Academic Advantage for the time it took to put together such a letter.

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Companies: academic advantage, lazar akiva yagoubzadeh

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Comments on “No, Just Because A Site Contains 'Academic' 'Advantage' & 'Scam' On The Same Page, It Is Not Defamation Against Academic Advantage”

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Not an electronic Rodentsays:

Re: Getting Their Money's Worth, No doubt

Yet another law firm to file under “N”, for “Never hire for anything. Ever.”

Call me a cynic but wouldn’t maintaining a filing under “M” for “Might not be a total bunch of asshats” require signigicantly less work? Trying to maintain a list of bad lawyers is like trying to maintain an internet blacklist. Save you some effort here at least.


So they found BoingBoing via some kind of search (web crawler?) I assume?

Without actually reading the article, it just came up in their list of sites which have the three words together (or have ‘Academic Advantage’ in the same article as ‘Scam’).

In which case, Techdirt is next, and then me! flees

(incidentally, I bet ‘Scam’ wasn’t the only word they looked for in association. My guesses include: ‘sucks’,’smells of pee pee’, ‘raped my childhood’ and ‘is in favour of Wikileaks’).

Vincent Clementsays:

Re: google search

Not a good sign when Google lists “academic advantage scam” as the first or second auto complete suggestion and when you hire a law firm to send out C&D letters to anyone using the words “academic”, “advantage” and “scam”.

Yes, this is a business that I would want to be associated with. Not.

Alex Hagensays:

Yep, it is a scam.

And with a quick Google, I see what I suspected was true; Academic Advantage does indeed appear to be a scam. You can’t entirely blame the law firm, because with all the websites out there filled with people who got ripped off and jerked around by this company, they are probably getting a bit overwhelmed.


Turn-about is fait play?

Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh,

It is clear there is no purpose in the letter dated January 13, 2011 but to falsely accuse BoingBoing of being a scam or at least associating BoingBoing with a scam.

There is absolutely no helpful reason for the letter to have the words “BoingBoing” and “Scam” which leads me to believe it was created for malicious purposes.

Claiming that BoingBoing is a “SCAM” is prima facie defamation and designed to do nothing more than damage BoingBoing’s reputation.

Ambulance Chasers

The firm’s site lists their specialties as “Animal Attacks, Brain Injury, Broken Bone Injury, Car Accidents, Dog Bites, Lemon Law, Negligence, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Slip and Falls, Soft Tissue Injury, Whiplash Injury, Wrongful Death”. These guys are ambulance chasers.

Jubin’s bio page lists his specialties as general corporate and finance stuff. Still, given the company he keeps, this leads me to the opinion that he is the corporate ambulance chaser. They don’t care if it’s right or even if it works, so long as they can pitch the idea to the client, and bill them for it.


Some people do feel it's a scam

A little legwork on Google, tells us that some people do feel that Academic Advantage is a scam:

Disclaimer for 2bit lawyers: I am not saying that Academic Advantage IS a scam, only that these other upstanding citizens – 4 of them – seem to think that it is. Their complaint being that they haven’t been paid for their work…

Great bunch of lawyers, looks like those three words are going to appear together a lot more often on the web. How much did they charge for that?


Ugly tactics to dominate standings

This company, Academic Advantage, seems to me to be working hard (and, in my opinion, unethically) to scare into submission competition for google’s top spot on the search term “academic advantage”.

I think it is an academic disservice to promote a business that tries to monopolize, more so when it appears they use tactics that have little to do with academic advantage or their primary business.

Past Participlesays:

I’m sure, as practicing lawyers, that the partners at Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh are well aware that the following are some common synonyms for the word “shyster”: unscrupulous lawyer; swindler; ambulance chaser, cheater, chiseler, crooked lawyer, mouthpiece, pettifogger, scammer, trickster, unethical lawyer. I also believe that the partners at Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh must be aware that the word “shyster” itself is a synonym for some of the following words: cheat, bluff, charlatan, chiseler, con artist, confidence operator, conniver, cozener, crook, deceiver, decoy, defrauder, dodger, double-crosser, double-dealer, enticer, fake, hypocrite, impostor, inveigler, jockey, masquerader, pretender, quack, rascal, rogue, scammer, shark, sharper, shyster, swindler, trickster.

One hopes that the partners at Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh are aware of such bad, malign, unethical, crooked and downright quackish synonyms for the word “shyster”.

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