Aster Graphics Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Industry News Site

Last week, we reported how the California-based division of third-party toner-maker Aster Graphics filed a defamation lawsuit against Steven Giannetta and several un-named persons (see Aster Files Libel Lawsuit). Now, this week, Action-Intell reports that Aster Graphics has filed a lawsuit against an industry-news website, TonerNews.com, which published articles written by Giannetta, and which allegedly slandered Aster.

On May 1st, Aster Graphics, which is headquartered in Zhongshan, China, filed a complaint against Copy Communications, Inc., which publishes TonerNews.com, of Hollywood, Florida, in the Circuit Court of the Seventeenth Judicial District in and for Broward County, Florida.

While Aster Graphics is seeking $1 million in damages against Giannetta, it appears to be seeking much less from TonerNews, with the lawsuit papers stating that “This is an action in excess of $15,000, exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney’s fees.” However, Action-Intell notes that the  the “’in excess of $15,000′ figure simply means that enough is at stake that the case will be heard by the Circuit Court in Florida, not at the County Court level.”

Aster’s complaint states that TonerNews is liable because it controls what is posted on the site, and that the following allegedly defamatory TonerNews articles led to it filing its lawsuit:

  • An April 4, 2019 article, “Chinese Clone Toner Manufactures [sic]Now Selling On Amazon Under Secret Brands,” which it says “falsely accused Aster of numerous unlawful business practices, including selling its products under secret brands on Amazon, operating multiple seller accounts, hiring ‘review farms’ to buy its products and author fake reviews of them, manipulating product listings in order to unethically increase sales of its products.”
  • An April 12, 2018 article, “Aster Graphics’ [sic]Releases Clone Non Hp Authorized CF 248A Toner,” which Aster says “falsely accused Aster of releasing an unauthorized clone of a Hewlett Packard toner cartridge.”
  • An article published on or about April 11, 2019, “Tonernews.com Now Releasing Info [sic]To Public About Secret Chinese Clone Toner Accounts On Amazon,” which Aster says “linked to an article that was posted the previous week which falsely accused Aster of violating Amazon policy and acting as a ‘backdoor distributor’ on Amazon of cloned toner cartridges.”
  • An article published on or about April 16, 2019, “How Is Canon & Hp [sic]Going to Stop the Epidemic of Chinese Clone Toners on JD & Alibaba?”, an article that  Aster say “falsely accused Aster of ‘raking in a fortune’ selling cloned Hewlett Packard toner cartridges on the website Alibaba.com.”
  • An April 18, 2019 article, “No Punishment: Busted Aster Graphics Starts New Secret Amazon Account,” which Aster says “falsely accused Aster Graphics of creating a secret account on Amazon to sell its products in violation of Amazon’s policies.”

Aster also alleges that the TonerNews articles violate  Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), as Aster says the website represented itself as being an unbiased news source, when, the lawsuit alleges, the website was actually “created and utilized by TonerNews to promote the business of its clients and/or partners and malign and impugn the integrity of the products and services of the competitors of its clients and partners, including Aster.”

More Resources

April 2019: Aster Graphics Files Libel Lawsuit

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