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Reybold Group of Companies, Inc. v. Does

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 29, 2017

THE REYBOLD GROUP OF COMPANIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN DOES 1-20, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER J. BURKE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff The Reybold Group of Companies, Inc. ("Plaintiff) filed this action against anonymous online posters John Does 1-20 ("Defendants") alleging federal causes of action pursuant to the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051, et seq., as well as state law claims of trademark dilution by taraishment, injurious falsehood, and defamation. (D.I. 1) Presently pending before the Court is Plaintiffs Ex Parte Motion for Expedited Discovery (the "Motion"), which seeks to obtain such discovery in order to identify those Defendants who have posted the allegedly false and defamatory information. (D.I. 5) More specifically, Plaintiff requests leave to issue a third-party subpoena to ApartmentRatings.com that seeks, inter alia, the internet protocol addresses ("IP addresses") from which the online postings originated. (D.I. 6 at 2) Plaintiff would then subpoena the relevant internet service providers ("ISPs") associated with those IP addresses, in order to identify any name, address, telephone number, email address, and/or payment method associated with the IP addresses. (D.I. 5-1)

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a Delaware corporation and is the manager and owner of the St. Andrews Apartment Complex ("St. Andrews"), located in Bear, Delaware. (D.I. 1 at ¶¶ 1, 7, 9; D.I. 6 at 2) Defendants are unknown persons that have posted information about St. Andrews on ApartmentRatings.com-a website which provides a forum for users to post and review ratings and comments concerning the quality of apartments. (D.I. 1 at ¶¶ 2, 13; D.I. 6 at 2)

         Plaintiff filed its Complaint on June 23, 2017. (D.I. 1) The Complaint includes reference to 14 different "comments" that Defendants have posted on ApartmentRatings.com after February 1, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 16) Because the substantive content of these online postings is relevant to the analysis below, the Court will here provide a representative sample of the comments listed in the Complaint:

(b) anonymous
I would in no way recommend this complex. Apartments are old, lawns are always trash covered, cigarette butts and dog crap everywhere. Trash areas are always a mess. Maintenance stuff never gets done. When it does they have to come back 3 or 4 times. My rent goes up every year and new people get deals, yet I get nothing for staying. I'm out of here this year. There is tons of new stuff around that is cheaper. Rock wood, Emblem, check these out. So much nicer for less money. Also, my UPS and FedEx packages are always getting stolen from my door and they don't do anything about it. Good Riddance $hlt Andrews.
Added Feb 01, 2017...
(e) anonymous I've been living at this place with bad wiring for months now and no one seems to care. I have several outlets that spark when I use them, some that don't work at all, and one that only works when you tap on it. The wiring in my home is obviously not right. I have been begging them to fix it and they keep telling me they're trying to get an electrician out to look at it but no one ever shows. I have children and I should feel safe having them live her[e] but I don't. But let me pay rent one day late and they're all over me. I hate this place.
Added Mar 10, 2017...
(m) Anonymous - Resident I have lived here for about 6 months and I have to say I've never wanted to move out of a place so badly. Maintenance enters without asking, and the level of drug use in this complex is mind blowing. When I'm not smelling marijuana, I'm watching vehicles drive up, exchange money for small packages, and drive off. I've seen the evidence of drug use on the ground and my son has been approached twice and asked if he wants to buy weed. They have security personnel but I don't know why - they aren't stopping this problem, for sure. I've personally picked up baggies and needles and disposed of them. There is a gorgeous new complex going up down the road - brand new. I'll be headed there when my lease is up here. If I could figure out a legal way to get out of my lease I would be out of here tomorrow.
Added April 24, 2017
(n) AfricanFlare90 - Prospective Resident Let me begin by disclosing that I am not a resident but I did tour this property last weekend. That said, there is no way in you know where I will ever be a resident. The apartment was ok, but I found the grounds to be very dirty. I actually stepped in a dog mess during my tour and was told "sadly people don't clean up." The real shock came when I asked about price and was told "before we talk about that I do have other properties." The leasing agent actually told me that in talking to me she felt I would fit in better at the property across the street, because the tenants there were more "my kind of people." I don't know whether she meant because I am African American, or what that comment was supposed to mean, but I quickly finished my visit and left. There should be laws against this sort of thing. I felt very looked down upon. Also, while I was sitting there a tenant came in to ...

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