Facebook’s “Russia State-Controlled Media” Disclosure Doesn’t Violate the Lanham Act–Maffick v. Facebook

Maffick runs several Facebook pages. Due to Maffick’s possible ties to the Russian government, Facebook labeled the pages “Russia state-controlled media.” Maffick sued Facebook. In Sept. 2020, the court denied Maffick’s TRO request. Now, the court has dismissed the Lanham Act claim and denied supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Maffick could amend its Lanham Act complaint, pursue the state law claims in state court, or drop the litigation. It should do the latter.

The Lanham Act false association claim isn’t difficult. The court says it can’t tell what business Maffick is in or how Maffick’s content promotes the sale of any goods. “Nor does the complaint plausibly allege that Facebook’s Russian state-controlled media advisory label was commercial conduct that diverted sales away from Maffick, allowed Facebook to profit from Maffick’s business goodwill, or otherwise amounted to the type of unfair conduct prohibited by Section 43(a).” The label doesn’t represent the origin of Facebook’s goods, either.

The Lanham Act false advertising claim is also a loser. Among other things, the label isn’t Facebook’s ad or commercial promotion, nor did Maffick show how the label caused it a commercial injury. There’s some discussion of standing pursuant to Lexmark, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Reminder: John Ulin and Amy Nashon Stalling of Troy Gould are representing Maffick. #MAGA/#MRGA.

Case citation: Maffick LLC v. Facebook, Inc., 2021 WL 1893074 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 2021)