Mark Randazza and Randazza Legal Group, announced a major victory on behalf of online legal marketplace Avvo in Avvo, Inc. v. Chang Liang, et al., after a Federal Court in Arizona awarded Avvo a $2 million dollar judgment against hackers who created a rip off website that copied the well-known legal review site.
Avvo, the leading legal marketplace connecting lawyers with consumers, features a legal directory with detailed, Avvo-rated profiles with consumer and peer reviews. In Avvo, Inc. v. Chang Liang, et al., the defendants engaged in a “phishing” scam, and created fake websites that copied these Avvo profiles entirely, in an effort to trick consumers and lawyers into revealing personal or confidential information.
Avvo discovered the site and was able to have it taken down before it was functional. Avvo has seen no indication that any users revealed personal information. “We are deeply committed to helping consumers and lawyers connect, and take every precaution to protect the privacy and security of the millions of people visiting Avvo.com to do just that,” said Avvo Chief Legal Officer Josh King. “We took immediate action to eliminate any threat to that protection, and are confident that the court’s judgement sends a strong message in deterring any future breaches to our secure and valued network.”
“We are delighted that Avvo had the confidence in us to handle such an important matter,” said Managing Partner Marc Randazza. “The Court not only awarded damages and costs for prospective corrective advertising, but also granted full attorneys’ fees under the Octane Fitness standard. Avvo stood up to protect privacy, fight against phishing, and got a significant judgement.”
The Lanham Act permits fee awards in “exceptional cases” and the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Octane Fitness that an exceptional case is one that “stands out from others.”
Here, the District Court specifically found that this case is “exceptional” under the Octane Fitness standard because the hackers’ fake website blatantly and egregiously duplicated Avvo’s intellectual property for nefarious purposes.
Merely winning a case is not enough to qualify as “exceptional” under the Lanham Act. The phishing scam and the degree of proof made this case exceptional. Randazza and the attorneys at Randazza Legal Group hope that this case will serve as a warning to hackers and thieves who engage in phishing scams.
The case is Avvo, Inc. v. Chang Liang, et al., case number 2 :16-cv-00892-PGR, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.