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Bleeping Computer, a longstanding popular discussion forum that helps people rid their computers of malware, has now countersued Enigma Software Group (ESG), which makes an antivirus software known as SpyHunter.
Bleeping now claims that ESG has been violating Bleeping’s trademarks by registering new domain names that include “bleepingcomputer” and posting some of the company’s webpage’s source code on other websites without its authorization, among other allegations.
ESG had sued Bleeping for libel earlier this year over a series of messages that it claims disparaged SpyHunter and the company as a whole.
As Bleeping’s lawyers, which include Marc Randazza, a well-known 1st Amendment lawyer, wrote in their Monday filing:
Enigma’s lawsuit is plainly nothing more than an attempt to bully and censor Bleeping Computer, and to deter anyone who might criticize it—one more attempt in Enigma’s long pattern of threats, intimidation and litigation. Worse, however, is that all the while, Enigma has been engaged in aggressive, secretive, and cowardly attacks against Bleeping Computer, including ripping off Bleeping Computer’s content and pretending it was authored by Enigma, repeatedly misusing Bleeping’s registered trademark to trade upon its goodwill, and publishing blatantly false claims about Bleeping.
As the following allegations demonstrate, Enigma conducts its business in a manner that is illegal, unethical and simply immoral, thereby demonstrating that Quietman7’s mildly critical statements about Enigma’s product, that so enraged Enigma and lead to this lawsuit, pale in comparison to the egregious misconduct Enigma perpetrates on a regular basis.
The original messages that set off ESG’s suit against Bleeping stem primarily from a September 2014 post, during which one of Bleeping’s moderators, “Quietman7,” wrote that he could not recommend SpyHunter given “reports by customers of deceptive pricing, continued demands for payment after requesting a refund, lack of adequate customer support, removal (uninstall) problems, and various other issues with their computer as a result of using this product.”
Further posts described ESG as engaging in “deceptive pricing” and claimed that SpyHunter is a “dubious and ineffective program.” So ESG sued Bleeping.
“Brimful of mischief?”
The countersuit also claims that ESG, or an entity acting on ESG’s behalf, has registered a number of new domain names with URLs like “bleepingcomputerregistryfix.com.”
Bleeping says that many of these websites, which include infringing URLs and ridiculous subdomains—browser.hijack.bleeping.computer.virus.spywareremovalfreetrial.com—seem to suggest that Bleeping’s own free anti-malware software, known as RKill, is in and of itself a “virus, spyware, or other malware, and specifically malware that can be removed by Enigma’s SpyHunter product.”
“The kinds of people who want to bully and intimidate bloggers and smaller companies out there, and that are so thin-skinned that they can’t handle any criticism and cancel free expression, those are companies that engage in wrongful, or questionable conduct,” Gregory Herbert, one of Bleeping’s lawyers, told Ars.
Another website even claims that RKill is:
a high‐risk Trojan virus infection designed by cyber criminals recently, which bursts in the life of many computer users and causes serious damages to the infected computer.
The hateful virus is brimful of mischief. Once it gets in the target computer, it is able to be hidden deep so as to undermine the entire system. Many computer users have no clue until the computer becomes worse and worse.
It also can confuse antivirus programs with advanced technology so that it won’t be removed by any removal tools.
The virus makers may use every opportunity to control the computer remotely. With the cover of the virus, they can remove or modify your important documents wantonly and steal or encrypt your personal data, resulting in inconvenience as well as unnecessary losses.
Therefore, getting rid of rkill.com is quite urgent.
Ryan Gerding, a hired outside spokesperson for Enigma Software, told Ars that it is company policy “to refrain from public comment on any lawsuits that are still in litigation.”
However, the company has previously published a statement in February 2016, about a month after it filed the initial suit against Bleeping.
The court docket seems to suggest that neither side is backing down and that a jury trial could be set for sometime in early 2017.